Interview with Danielle D - an American living in Melbourne, Australia

Danielle Duffey is an American expat living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, her 5 and 3 year old sons, and 2 cats. Her husband inspired the move after being posted to Australia for a 2 year work contract. 
About you

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: New Jersey & Massachusetts, USA

Q: Where are you living now?
A:  Middle Park, Victoria (Melbourne)  
Q: How long you have you lived here?
A:  18months     
Q: Did you move with a spouse/ children?
A:  Yes, husband and 2 kids   

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A:  My husband got an opportunity within his company to move here for 2 years
About Melbourne

Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Melbourne, how’s the quality of life as an American in Australia?
A:  Melbourne is very family friendly, easy to get around and there is so much to do.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A:  I never lived in a city before so I do miss having a big backyard.

Q: Is the city safe?
A:  Yes, Melbourne is extremely safe compared to the US!   

About living in Melbourne

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Melbourne?
A:  It was a bit difficult finding a property, the rental market is very saturated and places are rented pretty quickly. The realtors set up 15 minute “inspection” times and you end up viewing properties with several other people. It is frustrating dealing with this process, but there are a lot of places available and things come on the market weekly.

Q: What’s the cost of living in Melbourne compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A:  It is a bit more expensive but I think the salary is higher so that compensates a bit.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A:  I have met a lot of nice Aussies that have become friends, but mostly my friends are other expats that I happened to meet on my own. I only have one other American friend and the rest are from all over the world.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A:  Yes, for me it was. I made the effort to meet people, and I think having kids helped.
About working in Melbourne

Q: Did you have a problem getting a work visa/permit?
A:  n/a, I came with my husband who got the visa through work.

Q: How does the work culture differ from home?
A:  From talking with my husband, it seems a bit more casual here, but I do not know first hand.

Q: Did a relocation company help you with your move?
A:  Yes.
Family and children

Q: Did your spouse or partner have problems adjusting to their new home?
A:  No.

Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A:  Yes they did, they love living at the beach and having so many fun playgrounds around.

Q: What are the schools in Melbourne like, any particular suggestions?
A:  My oldest just started prep (kindergarten) this week so I am not completely familiar with the schools. So far they seem fine!

Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Melbourne?
A:  They have Medicare here, but only for Permanent Residents and Citizens. The doctors seem good and it is not nearly as expensive as it is in the US.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A:  I would tell someone if they were not sure about what area to live, they should drive around a bit, or just rent someplace for 6 months to see if they like it. There are several rental properties that offer 6 month leases, so it would give someone the time to get a feel for the areas.

~ interviewed January 2010
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