Settling Down Under: A Two-Year Emotional Roadmap for Expats Moving to Australia

Jul 10, 2024 | Downsizing


Moving to a new country like Australia is more than just packing boxes and hopping onto a plane; it’s a significant change that impacts every part of your life. From the bustling streets of Sydney to the peaceful beaches of Perth, each part of Australia offers a unique cultural experience that invites exploration but can also bring about feelings of uncertainty and displacement.

Many expats moving to Australia embark on their journey with high hopes and excitement, imagining a life filled with sunny days and new adventures in Australia, only to find that the reality of Australian immigration can be more complex than anticipated. Imagine stepping off the plane with new opportunities ahead but also feeling a bit nervous. The first days can feel like an extended vacation. The vibrant cityscapes, unique wildlife, and distinct culture can be thrilling, from meals of Vegemite toast to surfing lessons. This initial period sets the tone for your journey, filled with optimism and curiosity about moving to Australia.

0-3 Months: The Honeymoon Phase

Excitement and Adventure: The initial months are filled with excitement and adventure. Everything is new, from the stunning landscapes to the unique wildlife. You’ll be eager to explore your new surroundings, try local cuisine, and immerse yourself in Australian culture. For more ideas on cultural, adventure, and nature experiences, you can explore Australia’s official tourism website.

Curiosity and Enthusiasm:There’s a sense of curiosity as you learn about local customs, traditions, and slang, essential for understanding the process of Australian immigration. This period is often marked by enthusiasm and a positive outlook on your new life.

Homesickness: Amidst the excitement, you may experience bouts of homesickness, missing family, friends, and familiar comforts.

3-6 Months: The Reality Check

As the days turn into weeks, the novelty can start wearing off. The excitement of new experiences often comes hand in hand with the daunting task of building a new life in unfamiliar surroundings. It’s a reality that hits home when you’re trying to navigate everyday tasks in a different accent, from ordering coffee to understanding local idioms. Suddenly, things you took for granted in your home country become small challenges, each of which can feel overwhelming.

For Jane, originally from Manchester, England, adjusting to the Australian accent was like deciphering a new language. “I remember feeling so lost the first time I went to a local market. Everyone was so friendly, but their way of speaking was so different. It made me realize just how far from home I really was.”

Adjusting culturally is often the most significant challenge. While Australians speak English, the slang and colloquialisms can seem like a foreign language. Social norms and expectations might differ vastly from what you’re used to. Simple interactions can leave you feeling like an outsider. Homesickness, loneliness, and moments of doubt might sneak up unexpectedly, making the path to feeling truly settled seem elusive.

Tom and his family from New York found the laid-back Aussie lifestyle refreshing but initially struggled with the cultural nuances. “We loved the openness here, but at times, it felt like we were missing something in social gatherings. It took time to understand the unspoken rules, like when to use ‘mate’ and when not to!”

6-12 Months: Finding Your Footing

Establishing Routine and Finding Comfort: By now, you’ll have settled into some routines and discovered your favourite spots in your new city, which can provide a comforting sense of familiarity. Over time, these routines evolve, blending old habits with new experiences. Whether it’s enjoying your morning coffee at a local café, exploring the vibrant atmosphere of a farmers’ market each weekend, or discovering a new hobby inspired by your surroundings, these small rituals contribute to creating a sense of normalcy. They serve as the foundation for crafting a new sense of home after moving to Australia.

Arjun, who moved from Mumbai, India, found solace in his morning runs along Bondi Beach. “It became my ritual, rain or shine. It was my time to clear my head and appreciate the beauty of this new place. Eventually, Bondi felt less like a tourist spot and more like my backyard.”

Building Relationships: Friendships start to form, and you begin to feel a sense of community. Participating in local community events, joining clubs, or engaging in workplace social activities can pave the way to forming new friendships. Expat groups and online forums can also provide a space for sharing experiences and finding emotional support. These connections can become a lifeline, offering comfort and camaraderie. Maria, originally from Barcelona, found solace in a local expat group. “Having a group of people who understood what I was going through was priceless. We shared tips on everything from where to find Spanish ingredients to navigating Aussie bureaucracy. It made a world of difference.”

Career and Financial Adjustments: Settling into a new job or understanding the local job market can still be challenging. Financial adjustments, such as understanding the cost of living, become clearer.

12-18 Months: Integration and Adaptation

Cultural Integration: You start to feel more integrated into Australian society. The cultural quirks that once seemed strange now feel normal.

Emotional Stability: Emotions stabilize as you become more comfortable and confident in your new environment. The initial waves of homesickness diminish.

Sense of Belonging:  A growing sense of belonging emerges. You begin to consider Australia as your home and take pride in your new life.

18-24 Months: Feeling Settled

Emotional Balance:By the end of the second year, most expats moving to Australia feel emotionally balanced. You’ve likely overcome the major hurdles of cultural adaptation and built a strong support system.

Identity and Dual Belonging: Many expats start to embrace a dual identity, feeling connected to both their home country and Australia.

Future Planning: With a sense of stability, you can start planning for the future, whether it’s career advancement, long-term residence, or even citizenship.

Tips for Navigating the Emotional Journey

Stay Connected: Maintain connections with loved ones back home through regular calls or visits.

Seek Support: Join expat groups or seek professional counselling if you’re struggling with adjustment.

Embrace New Experiences: Be open to new experiences and embrace the unique aspects of Australian culture.

Practice Self-Care: Prioritize self-care to manage stress and maintain emotional well-being.


Expats moving to Australia undertake a transformative journey. By understanding the emotional timeline, you can better navigate the ups and downs and ultimately find your place in this beautiful and diverse country. Remember, feeling unsettled is a natural part of the expat experience. It’s a testament to the significant changes you’re embracing. Loneliness and nostalgia can be reminders of your roots, while every little victory represents growth and adaptation. Celebrate the journey, with all its ups and downs after moving to Australia.

Australia, with its diverse landscapes and cultures, has the potential to become a new home away from home. Through understanding and sharing these heartfelt experiences, you can transform the feeling of being unsettled into an opportunity for growth, connection, and ultimately, belonging. Your new life in Australia can be rich and fulfilling, blending memories from your past with the vibrant new experiences that await you.


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