I cannot believe it's been 4 months already. But at the same time, it feels like forever. As cliché as it is, it's true. (side note are you someone who uses or doesn't use an accent over the "e"?, I need to know).
Just as a recap, we decided to move across the world last June and in December sold our loft, all of our belongings, and stored our heirlooms in my sister's basement (she's a saint). Here's more on my thoughts about our move before we left.
It's been glorious and awe inspiring. Australia and New Zealand are incredibly beautiful and maybe it's in our heads but culturally we feel like the "chill" factor is rubbing off on us. Not knowing what's ahead us us in this next year makes me feel so alive. And it's also been nerve racking and stressful with a lot of flying around, losing things, staying in 3 family homes and 16 Airbnb's, and lots of conversations around how Sloane misses Chicago and is sad we "sold her room and bunk bed." (side note: one day, a woman asked Sloane if she had a teddy and Sloane responded, "I once had a really big Teddy, but my Mom and Dad sold it." - heartbreak).
Update on the questions/concerns from the last post
Q: So yea, what are you going to do about health insurance?
Having international catastrophic insurance has been just fine. There has been a moment or two where I've thought that Romy had an ear infection and wished I could have taken her to see a doctor but honestly those have always been hit and miss when I take her in anyway. She's fine.
However, I have this weird thing with my shoulder where I get these calcium deposits that irritate my tendons. It's been mildly irritating the last couple of years (my older sister has it, too, and had to get shoulder surgery) but last month it flared up like no other and every day was getting worse and worse to the point where I couldn't take my shirt off by myself or pick up Romy. When I would stumble or have any kind of jerk it would shoot razor sharp pains that were debilitating. It was so painful and frustrating, and I was becoming useless to Brandon. I had to go see a doctor.
In Australia, you have to first see a general practitioner who then refers you to a specialist. This cost me $85 AUD which is $66 USD. He suggested that I get an ultrasound and then a cortisone injection. The first visit for the ultrasound ($160 AUD / $124 USD) confirmed that my shoulder is messed up (one doctor said it was either that of "a 90 year old woman, or someone took a bat to is 4 months ago. It's the worst I've ever seen"). Then the next visit for the cortisone injection ($350 AUD / $271 USD). Total cost $595 AUD/ $461 USD.
I've received a cortisone shot before in Chicago for the same shoulder issue and it didn't work and just the shot cost me $400 USD out of pocket! And we had GOOD insurance!
This time around, the same treatment cost me less in Australia with no insurance and the shot actually worked. So much for being sooooooo worried about not having American insurance?
I had another friend who was in Thailand and got scraped on his head so bad he had to go to the ER. He researched what the equavilant of care would have cost him in the US - $2k. What did it cost him in Thailand? $28.
We have this incredible fear of not having insurance in America where people actually don't leave their soul-sucking jobs because of it. It dictates our lives in so many ways. It's so sad and we need to shake ourselves from it somehow.
Q: And your kids?
The kids have been great. Brandon and I try to split the days in half taking turns watching them so we each have time to ourselves. When we had a longer stint in Melbourne, we signed Sloane up for swim lessons, which she absolutely loved! Romy has learned to sleep in unfamiliar places, which is so nice. And we've found they both travel really, really well in the car which was especially dreamy when we had 2-5 hour car drives every other day in New Zealand.
Several times Sloane has asked us when she is starting school. So I think it's time that she has some structure. But I know as soon as that girl starts schools she's going to be asking to stay home so she can play with us.
Q: What are you going to do for work?
Work has been great and hard. I knew intuitively that coming here I would need to "start over" but it wasn't until I got here that it hit, "oh, I'm starting over". It made me appreciate the incredible community I had built up in Chicago but also gave me the inspiration to know that I could do it again. And after reaching out to a couple of women and finding out how lovely and responsive they were, I knew it was going to be just fine. The women-owned business community is alive and thriving in Melbourne and I'm excited to find out more about it.
I've linked up with One Roof - a women-focused coworking space, Scale Investors - women-focused angel investors, and Now to Launch - an incubator for refugee entrepreneurs in the food industry. Each of these has been really rewarding.
Q: How long are you going to be gone?
We still don't know! But Brandon has a pending job offer which would potentially start when we get back to Melbourne in June which would keep us there for a while. We're still crossing our fingers on this one! (5/4 - Brandon got offered the position! He really loves the company and starts in July after we get back from all of our travels and his work visa goes through)
Q: Can I come visit?
YESSSS and Yes!
Here's the breakdown of how we've spent our time so far:
December 15 - January 2 - Boise, Idaho. That's where my two sisters and Mom live! We hung out and spent the holidays chasing kids around and eating a lot of food.
January 2 - January 21 - Gold Coast, Australia. We stayed with Brandon's brother and family. They had a pool and three kids, one of them Sloane's age. We went down to Byron Bay and up to Brisbane, hiked through Lamington National park, and just did a lot of hanging out. And just like Boise, we ate a lot of food.
January 21 - March 8 - Melbourne. Brandon did a ton of interviewing and coffee chats. I did a lot of coffee chats and joined One Roof (the Melbourne-based coworking space for women I mentioned earlier). We stayed in St. Kilda and loved adventuring around the playgrounds, seeing the penguins come in at night and trying different pastries at the cake shops on Acland street.
March 8 - March 14 - Tasmania. Glorious. We went to the MONA, Mt. Wellington, Bruny Island, Launceston, and hung around a lot of farm animals at our Airbnbs.
March 14 - April 2 - Sydney. Probably one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to! The dramatic ocean cliffs and hills make for incredible views around every corner. The highlight was scoring orchestra tickets from a friend to the Sydney Opera House! It felt so special! Bondi Iceburgs pool is also a must.
April 2 - April 17 - New Zealand. A tourist visa in Australia is good for a year, but you have to leave the country every 90 days. So New Zealand was the most convenient country to stamp our passports. We landed in Christchurch, rented a car and made our way north, staying in Greymouth, Moetapu Bay, Wellington, Tongariro National Park, Hamilton, and Piha. The highlights for us were Godley Head Park, Arthur's Pass, Nelson Lake, the ferry from the South to the North Island, Wellington, finding alice and wonderland mushrooms on the side of the road!, Waitomo Caves, Hot Water Beach, and Cathedral Cove. I can't recommend visiting New Zealand enough. It's an incredible country.