Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting Settled

I promised a few friends and family members that I would keep a blog of our adventures in Australia...so here it is! We arrived last Tuesday after approximately 24 hours of traveling. The first day was somewhat of a fog, but we managed to set up a bank account, get Peter a SIM card for his phone, and nap. We tried to stay up as long as possible to get used to the time difference, but that didn't last long and we were out by about 3pm.
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were a whirlwind of apartment searching. We initially planned to lease a furnished apartment, but that idea fell through around apartment tour 10 during which we realized furnished apartments in our desired location and price range are a) extremely tiny and b) furnished with gross 80s furniture at best. So on Friday, we officially amended our search to exclusively unfurnished apartments which allows us to pick out our own slightly higher quality furniture (IKEA sadly meets this standard) and affords us approximately two more square feet. So either way, we aren't talking about a palace here, which Peter and I knew from the get go. We don't plan to spend tons of time in our apartment anyway...I'd rather be out exploring!
We found two nice unfurnished apartments this weekend and are currently waiting to hear about our applications. Getting an apartment here seems to be strangely competitive. You can contact agents for a private showing, if they are willing, but most of the time you show up to a scheduled showing that lasts for about 15 minutes and is open to anyone who wants to see the apartment. We attended some showings where we were the only ones, but there were at least 5 other people at the showing for one of the apartments we applied to, so hopefully we are chosen.  I'm still unclear on how they choose who gets the apartment, but Peter has a stable full time job so I'm assuming that puts us ahead of at least some of the others.
The first of the two apartments we are after is in South Yarra, the neighbourhood we have been staying in this week. It's a really cute area with tons of shops and restaurants and trendy looking people walking dogs. I would compare it to uptown for those of you in Minneapolis, with a bit more going on business-wise. It's a little quieter and two train stops south of the City Central (CBD) and two train stop north of Peter's campus. The apartment is nice and includes all of the appliances and a small "study" in which we could put a couch for any guests that show up in the next two years :). The building is new and modern, with great views of the skyline, Yarra River, and ocean from the balcony. This is Peter's first choice apartment.
For the sake of making our lives interesting (slash difficult) my first choice is an apartment we saw on Saturday right downtown across from the main train station.  It's anything but quiet, located right in the heart of the action. The apartment itself is about the same size as the South Yarra one, but with two levels and a spiral staircase leading to the bedroom. We would have to rent or purchase a fridge and washer/dryer but the location makes it worth it to me! I will post an update with pictures when we find out which place we get!
Saturday and Sunday were our last free days before Peter had to begin working. We spent them exploring downtown, the campus where Peter will work, the river area, eating at some great restaurants, and we even made a trip to see the ocean.
Flinders Street station, right across from Potential apartment 2.
The Yarra River in Melbourne 
Melbourne at dusk 
The ocean! 
Necessary selfie- we definitely look jet lagged. 

Peter started work today, and this is really the first time I have had a chance to sit down and give an in depth update. We are both still exhausted and jet lagged. Not to mention our legs feel like they might fall off at any moment because of all the walking we have been doing. It doesn't take long to figure out why everyone is skinny here. 

A few observations so far:
1) Australians are extremely friendly. We have come across so many nice people already, which gives us hope that we might make some friends and not become cat people at 25.
2) No one uses ice in their drinks. When we ask for water, it comes in a glass jug and it's lukewarm.
3) Very few people know where Minnesota is and no one is very interested once they ask if it's near California and we have to break the sad news that it's in the MIDDLE of the country. Sometimes we use Chicago as a reference point, but even that is lost on many people. One person knew of Minnesota because of the Timberwolves, which I thought was funny.
4) coffee is weird. I can't elaborate on this because I don't drink it, I just know that every time Peter orders it as he would in the US he is met with confusion and blank stares. I also know it's a lot stronger here, given that I tasted a sip and it was even more repulsive than normal, which is saying something. Again, I really hate coffee. Instead I found this fabulous chocolate store down the road and ordered hot chocolate.

5) People dress really well here. I have found this to be true in every country I have visited, but especially here. Australians wouldn't wear the clothes I go to Target in to clean their toilets, or put them on their dogs for that matter. I have seen more dogs wearing designer sweaters and coats here than people in my entire 25 years. 

That's probably enough for now. The next post I do will probably include pictures of our new place!!

3 comments:

  1. Funny what you say about the coffee: when I'm in LA for work and I ask for a coffee at Starbucks (yuck) they just look at me weird.

    We drink our coffee as the Europeans do: short, with a little milk, bitter and strong. American coffee has a long way to come.

    Enjoyed your blog. Hope you enjoy your time in my town :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have so many questions about the apartment hunt! Did y'all find an agent to help with locating apartments, or did you just look at online listings? It sounds like y'all moved because of Peter's job, so does that mean his employer had a relocation specialist for you to work with? My husband and I will be starting grad school in July and don't have jobs yet, so I am afraid we will not be able to secure housing quickly now that I know you have to put in BIDS for apartments!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We just used listing websites (realestate.com.au was the main one) and didn't have any professional help! It's quite a process- you'll find something! But, it may be wise to stay in a temporary accommodation (airbnb, hotel) until you get settled so you aren't rushed into signing a lease and you can scope out the area and decide which neighborhood suits you best! Good luck with you move!

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Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!

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