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Creating a New Life in Australia

With SmartStepstoAustralia

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Have you fallen in love with Australia, its friendly citizens and gorgeous land? Have you fallen in love so hard that you are considering moving to Australia? This Expat Blog is for you! Read the experience of Karen Beakley, founder of SmartStepstoAustralia to learn the what it’s like to relocate to Australia with three children!

Let’s get things started! We’d like to know the origin and destination of your move, and most importantly what made you decide to pack up and leave? How did you experience that?

In 2008, my husband and I went backpacking around the world and fell in love with Australia. We returned home to Hampshire in the UK and went on to have three kids, but we couldn’t get Australia out of our minds.

One day, my husband found out the job he’d done for two decades was going to come to an end at some point in the next few years as they were closing a number of departments. We knew he’d find it difficult to find a similar role in our area, especially as there would be so many people from his company also looking for work. It gave us a big push to think about our future and what we really wanted out of life.

We initially considered whether other locations in the UK could offer us the lifestyle we wanted, but we decided that the places we loved like Cornwall and the Isle of Wight weren’t practical for us (pay was low, work in our niche was limited, house prices expensive and the weather wasn’t great). We also considered Canada as it was closer to home, but the cold weather put us off. We wanted sunshine! We knew deep down that the solution for us was Australia – it was just hard admitting it as it was so far away.

It was scary deciding to leave everything and everyone behind. It felt daunting packing up and selling our house and moving without jobs, but we knew if we didn’t give it a go then we’d always regret it.

In 2014, we finally moved across the world to Brisbane, Australia.

Choosing a good moving company is painful, we know that. Tell us – how did you manage to find the perfect one among the thousands of existing ones?

We knew we wanted to ship our belongings, so we began researching companies early. When choosing which container shipping companies to contact, I did lots of research online and chatted to people in forums.

While I know it’s not possible to guarantee a smooth delivery, what I really wanted was a company that would offer great customer service and communication. I wanted to know that if there were any problems, they would quickly deal with them. We got multiple quotes and then met up with our favourite three companies. This helped us choose the one that felt like the best fit for us.

I had a list of questions so I could make sure I asked each company the same things and so I could make sure the quotes were like for like. An important part of our decision was choosing a company that could pack our things into a van or lorry and load our container offsite as our road was too narrow to bring the container directly to our property.

Talking to a few different international removal companies was helpful as it gave us different perspectives on what we were planning on taking and we picked up different tips from each of them.

Let’s get to the fun part! Take us through the moving day – did everything go as planned?

Getting ready to ship our things with three kids under five was a bit of a challenge. We had lots of things that needed cleaning like bikes, sports gear and tools. Plus, we had a full loft and shed that needed to be gone through. On moving day, we organised for our kids to go to daycare so we had a full day to focus.
I organised a pile of things that were coming with us on the flight and put these to one side so the packers knew not to touch them. I also put any kitchen and cleaning items we were still using in a cupboard and labeled that they were staying. We also had a pile of stuff that we wanted to take if it would fit – stuff that would be handy to put in the container if there was space but wasn’t essential.

The team of packers came in and wrapped everything at lightning speed. We made sure they left the mugs until last so we could keep making them endless cups of tea as they worked! There were a few times when they asked us to take legs off things or dismantle them a little more for transit, so it was handy that we kept a small bag of tools out until the end.

Overall, it was a busy but fun two days.

Are you master of chaos or is chaos master of you: What are 3 tips that you think could help others make their moving day less chaotic?

  1. Find someone to take care of your kids and/or pets for the shipping day(s) if you have little ones. The packers need the doors open most of the time as they’re coming and going, so if you have little kids or a dog, you’ll spend your day worrying they’re going to escape. Knowing they’re somewhere safe takes a weight off your mind so you can focus on moving home.
  2. Put things that you don’t want the packers to touch in piles and stick a big label on them so they can’t get mixed up. Things like food that you’re still eating, products/mops/buckets you’re still using for cleaning your house that you don’t want to pack, luggage that you’re taking on your flight, things you still need to sell etc. When the packers arrive, walk them around and talk them through the things that are staying so they know what they’re doing. They move so fast that you won’t be able to keep tabs on them so make sure everything is clear from the outset.
  3. Take out shipping insurance. We decided to take insurance out with an external provider as it worked out a lot cheaper than using our moving company. It took a few extra minutes to organise (listing the total cost of groups of products like kitchenware, clothes, bedroom furniture) but it was worth it. A number of things were unfortunately broken during transit and during the delivery and unpacking of our things by the delivery crew. Knowing we were insured was really important and it was very quick and easy to claim.

Let’s talk money. Did your move cost as much as you thought?

We literally had no idea how much our move was going to cost when we started planning things. It really helped to get multiple removal quotes so we could compare things. We didn’t base our choice of shippers on price alone though, it was more important to choose the right fit, but it was helpful to have quotes to compare.

I’m not sure whether shipping our things cost any more or less than buying a whole new house of belongings would have, but we found it helpful to have our own things in our new home as it helped us settle. I also didn’t want to have to shop for an entire new house of furniture with three kids under five in tow, so it was convenient to have all of our things delivered to our new home.

Any last words? 😊

When we decided to relocate, I was worried about moving all of our things as we have a lot of stuff. I knew it would involve a lot of time and energy to declutter, sell things we didn’t need and get organised. It did take time but taking it a step at a time really helped. We began planning for the move early, and went through a room at a time thinning out our things. I think it was important not to overthink it – we got our three quotes, chose the company and then moved on to the next task.

The day the shippers left, it felt like such a relief that one of the major relocation milestones was finally sorted. We went straight out to celebrate as I think it’s so important to spend a bit of time appreciating every achievement when you’re moving to a new country.

When your shipping container arrives in your new home in your new country, it feels like Christmas! For us, getting our things delivered felt like the final piece of the puzzle and it made all of the effort worth it!

We would like to thank Karen Beakley from SmartStepstoAustralia for taking the time to share her story with us! If you’re also preparing yourself to move to Australia, don’t hesitate to check our website for useful tips and tools – we’d love to help you.

Disclaimer: the views shared on this blog belong only to the client. Sirelo is an independent platform and the expat testimonials provided are intended for informational purposes.

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