A chance meeting on a plane saw lawyer Eve Lynch, now 38, make the move from her hometown of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, to Sydney. She and her husband, Tim, have five children.
“I was never one of those people who dreamed about coming out to Australia; in fact, I never even
thought about visiting. It was only after I finished law school, when I met and became good friends with an Australian girl, that I booked a flight to come out to see her for a holiday. I got on that plane in October 2005 with an idea that I’d travel around the country and do office and nannying jobs to support myself until I returned home to resume my career in law. But then I started talking to a guy – another lawyer – seated in my row. It’s funny how you never recognise those pivotal moments as they’re happening, but that’s the day my whole life changed.
It’s fair to say I fell in love with Tim and with Australia at the same time. Once you get a taste of the weather, the laid-back culture and its people, it’s hard to turn your back on. Although I’d never had an issue with living in the UK, suddenly it didn’t seem so appealing. We did the long-distance thing for two years while I went back and did my training in law, but I was counting down the days until I could be here by Tim’s side permanently. The day I finished my contract, I booked the next flight out; I’ve been living as a proud Aussie since 2008.
The best way to describe life since I made the move is ‘breakneck speed’. Tim and I married in 2010, had our first baby the following year and have added a new member to our family every 22 months since. Starting a family so far away from your own isn’t so tough; I find people here are very easy to get along with – they’re friendly, with a great sense of humour – and I also make friends quite quickly. To add to my good fortune, my sister moved here in 2010 after she met and married an Australian guy as well, so of course our parents are forever visiting.
I’ve never really felt homesick or lonely – in fact, I made things official by becoming an Australian citizen five years ago.
It’s probably relatively easy for Brits to get used to the Australian way of life because we’re quite similar, but what I love about Australia is not only that it’s bright and sunny and filled with exotic animals – although I do enjoy that – but that it’s a place where it feels like anything is possible.
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you have as good a shot as anyone else to fulfil your ambitions. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
“Adjusting to Australian life hasn’t been easy, but I’m getting the hang of it.”
Jen Plahm, a 37-year-old PR consultant from Chicago, US, was working in Utah when she met Australian travel writer Craig Tansley. They married last July, two years after her move to Queensland.
“If someone had said to me that I would one day move – not only to Australia, but to the Gold Coast – I would have thought they were crazy. I travelled to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne each year for work, so, while the other cities weren’t unfamiliar, it was Melbourne that I felt connected to. With its fashion, lifestyle and weather, it reminds me of Chicago, which is another way of saying it feels a lot like home.
Meeting Craig was just as surprising. I’d moved to Park City in Utah for work, but it wasn’t exactly noted for its dating scene for my age group – lots of 24-year-old ski bros or married men. Craig arrived in 2015 as part of a group media famil [familiarisation] that I was looking after and we hit it off right away, so much so that he extended his stay after everyone else went home. For the five days I hosted him, we spent our time doing the most insanely romantic things any two people could do: hot-air ballooning, horseback riding, candlelit dinners, and by the time I dropped him off at the airport, we were both like, ‘How can we make this work?’
Moving to Australia was not what you would call easy. We spent time travelling before we decided to settle on the Gold Coast, where Craig’s family is, but there was so much paperwork and expense. We weren’t in the habit of putting photos of each other on our social media accounts, so that was an issue because those things are checked, as are the dates and times of any activities you’ve done together, letters or emails you’ve written, and even shared bills. After 20 months of work, I got my de facto visa and I’m waiting to receive my permanent residency. I can’t become an Australian citizen because it would mean having to forfeit my US citizenship; quite an ask.
Living by the ocean and the change of pace are two of the things I love most about living in Australia. Here, people are relaxed and not so caught up with what you do or where you went to school. It’s more about getting to know who you are as a person and I respect that. Also, in America you get two weeks off a year, but in Australia there’s a holiday every other week and that’s a way of life I can really get behind!
The adjustment to Australian life hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. At first, Craig would have to explain some of the common words that are shortened, such as ‘Chrissie’ and ‘servo’, but now that I’ve started asking ‘How are you going?’ rather than ‘How are you doing?’, I’m certain the rest will follow.”
“It would be difficult to find anyone who loves Australia more than I do”
The relationship that brought her to Australia may not have worked out but Lucy Pearson, a 33-year-old book blogger at The Literary Edit, insists “the best mistake I ever made” led her to a love far greater.
“You never expect your life to take on a different path just by catching the ferry, but sometimes it can be as simple as that. It was during a three-week holiday out here in 2015 that I raced to get onto the Manly ferry after a festival. I started talking to a guy with bare feet and a happy, relaxed attitude and when he asked me out on a date to watch the sunset over in Watsons Bay [in Sydney’s eastern suburbs], I couldn’t say yes fast enough; our connection was electric.
I cancelled my flight to Melbourne two days later, spent six days with him, then decided to pack up my life in London to move back here to be with him. It was all based on a feeling.
You’d find it difficult to find anyone who loves Sydney as much as I do now, but I was never unhappy in England. I had a great job, lived in a lovely house, earned lots of money and enjoyed the company of a wonderful group of friends and family. It was only once I arrived here that I realised what a special place Australia is.
As my relationship with the guy began unravelling not long after I arrived, my passion for the country – and for Sydney itself – intensified. I love the relaxed nature of the locals (good luck finding a guy who’d want to take you to watch a sunset back in England) and the community feeling you get, but it’s the coastal walks, the daily ocean swims and, yes, you know I’m going to say the weather.
The heartache when we finally broke up was painful, but I still swear he was the best mistake I’ve ever made because he led me to my true love: Australia.
Australian men are an interesting bunch. They’re more chilled out than the men back home and they’re far more adventurous in spirit, which is a trait that draws me in, but the whole relationship thing is still a work in progress. I recently broke up with my last long-term partner, and I’m having to make big changes in terms of my career in order to be able to stay in the country now that my application for a de facto visa has been pulled.
How badly am I wanting to stay? I’ve already spent thousands on my previous visas but I also recently shelled out a further $20,000 in order to study marketing and communications, which buys me extra time.
Sure, it’s been tough financially at times, but there has never for a single second been a part of me that’s considered going back to England.
They say that when you meet the love of your life, you just know – and that’s exactly how I feel about Australia. It’s the ultimate love story.”
This article appears in Sunday Life magazine within the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on sale January 26.