The time has come. We are finally going to stay in one place for longer than 4 days… and even more importantly, we are going to have a place to call home! (well, for a short while anyway.) We have both been dreaming of the day we get to Melbourne, have our own double bed, our own fridge, and even our own wardrobe. As simple as these things may sound, anyone who has been backpacking for any length of time will understand what we are talking about. To be able to lounge out on the sofa without other random travellers scattered around beside you; to be able to pop your food in the fridge without labelling it with your name and “DO NOT EAT” all over it; to have your own house key and shoe rack; to sleep without the constant fear of the heavy snorer in the dorm rooms…. the list goes on.
Don’t get us wrong, we could not have had a more incredible time meeting people from all over the world in hostels throughout the past 6 months, but sometimes you’ve just got to have your own space. And Melbourne seemed like the perfect place for us. As we arrived, our bank accounts were looking pretty sad, so we both set out on the job search the minute we got there. For anyone thinking of doing something similar in Aus, we would recommend booking in your RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) course early on. It takes a morning to complete and only costs the equivalent of £30, and basically means you can work behind a bar serving alcohol. After we got that done, the hunt was on. Our to do list (full of real life adult things) was pretty easy to complete in a day:
- Open a bank account (Westpac is recommendable as there's no monthly fee)
- Apply for a TFN (Tax File Number) which you can do online here: https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/tax-file-number/apply-for-a-tfn/foreign-passport-holders,-permanent-migrants-and-temporary-visitors---tfn-application/
- Get a 'myki' card (Oyster card equivalent), you can do this at most big stations or at any 7Eleven corner shop
- Buy general life stuff... For this go to K-Mart, it literally has anything and everything from socks to household appliances to pretty much anything useful you may ever need, and it's ridiculously cheap
- Get a bike, trams are extremely slow and most of the time you'd be quicker cycling. Plus it's an excellent way to see the city and get to know your way around. There are so many for sale on Gumtree.com and also on Facebook Marketplace
We have both agreed that Melbourne has a similar sort of vibe to London, although the change in weather is obviously a huge benefit (and the fact that there are multiple beaches). There are so many trendy suburbs circling the CBD, and after spending some time here we realised that the ‘eating out, drinking out’ culture can truly be likened to the English capital. Both cities are all about cosy, friendly bars; after work drinks; and BRUNCH… Aussie’s love a good brunch. Both have incredible restaurants that span the vast majority of the world’s cuisines; both have amazing theatre and comedy shows; both are full of well-dressed, fashion conscious people; and most importantly the locals all possess an overall friendliness that means you can’t help but smile as you walk past passersby in the street. Oh - and both are crazy expensive. One thing that has made it very easy for us moving over this side of the world however, is the difference in the wages. Any bar job over here will pay you around 25 dollars per hour, and get this… they even increase your wages on the weekend! Compared to the £7 an hour paid as minimum wage at home, this has been making it a LOT easier for us to save up that hard-earned cash.
Finding accommodation in Melbourne is one of the main struggles travellers face upon arrival. For anyone stuck in this situation, try to join all of the facebook groups possible. The main one is called ‘Fairy Floss Real Estate’, where other students and young working professionals advertise spare rooms in their homes available for long/short term leases. Otherwise, airbnb often has private rooms on offer, and if you’re in a small group you can find cosy family homes and apartments to share. Having moved into our apartment and both got full time jobs, it's safe to say we are feeling happy at being settled and seeing that bank balance rising... well, for the moment anyway.