Interview with a British expat in Hobart

interview with Ruth from UK living in Australia

Today’s interview is with Ruth, a British expat who is living in Australia. Ruth is a 30 year old Scottish woman, currently living in Hobart, Tasmania with her husband and young son. She started blogging in 2011 – while she was still living in Edinburgh – to keep her brain ticking over during life as a stay-at-home parent. She is an interested but amateur photographer, a green-leaning campaigner, and a shockingly bad cook and crafter. She hopes that one day people might pay her to write. Ruth’s expat blog is called Dorky Mum.

Where are you originally from?

I was born on the Isle of Harris – a tiny island in the very North of Scotland. Over the last fifteen years I’ve also lived in Edinburgh and London, but our move to Australia last year was my first experience of expat life.


In which country and city are you living now?

I am now happily settled Hobart, Tasmania – about as far away from Scotland as I could possibly get!


How long have you lived in Australia and how long are you planning to stay?

We moved here in September 2013, and are currently on a four year visa. It’s early days, but I think we’d like to stay here longer if we can do so.


Why did you move to Australia and what do you do?

We moved here because my husband was recruited for a job at the University of Tasmania. I’m currently still a full-time parent, but hoping that I can find some flexible work relating to communications and campaigning.


Did you bring family with you?

My American husband, and my four year old son.


How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?

It has all gone much more easily and happily than I could ever have imagined. We really feel like we’ve landed on our feet, and there have been very few wobbles. The first few weeks of getting set up with phones, internet and the like was as much of a nuisance as it is when you move anywhere, but beyond that it has been fantastic.


Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialise with other expats?

So far I haven’t actually met many expats here. I’m sure there are some, but most of my socialising has been through my husband’s work, through fellow bloggers and Tweeters, and through parents at my son’s kinder -most of whom are local. Tasmania is a very friendly place, we have been made to feel so welcome here.


What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?

You’re truly spoiled for choice with things to do if you move to Tasmania. For a small city, Hobart has a very lively arts and festival scene, along with excellent restaurants and food producers. It’s very easy to get around, there is stunning scenery for walkers nearby, beautiful beaches, wildlife and parks, lots of historical monuments and towns. I’m so glad we have the next few years to explore – I don’t know how people come to visit just for a few days.


What do you enjoy most about living in Australia?

Tough to choose! I’d say the friendly people, the great food, and living by the water.


How does the cost of living in Australia compare to home?

We have been able to afford a house here that we would never have even dreamed of in the UK, in a really lovely area. So that’s a big bonus. That said, the actual day to day living – energy, petrol, food, eating out – is pretty expensive, probably more so than we expected it to be.


What negatives, if any, are there to living in Australia?

The slow pace of life wouldn’t be for everyone, and a young couple who were used to going out clubbing every night would definitely find it very quiet. The lack of broadband is a bit annoying, as is the fact that in order to get anywhere you have to pay pretty expensive airfares. That’s about it though.


If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving to Australia, what would it be?

Be patient. Don’t rush in and try to do everything, see everything, or make friends with everyone all at once.


What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?

Being far away from friends and family has probably been the toughest thing. It’s pretty much 2 solid days of flying from Tasmania to get back to the UK, and the same to visit my husband’s family and friends in the US.


What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?

  1. Take your time making a decision about where you’re moving to, so that when you do make that decision you’re completely happy with it. My husband still has a copy of an email I sent him, listing about 20 reasons why I didn’t want to move to Tasmania. I laugh at it now, but realistically working out the pros and cons of such a big move was a process I had to go through in my own time.
  2. Be kind to yourself when you first arrive. Have a list of essential things you need to get down, but don’t feel you have to do them all at once. Ticking off one or two each day is good progress, and if you manage that then reward yourself with a nice walk around your neighbourhood, or an hour in a coffeeshop you’ve never been in before.
  3. Try and find one or two people online that you connect with before you move, so that you can meet a couple of friendly faces soon after arriving. The Hobart people who I chatted to on Twitter before I moved, and whose blogs I read, are now turning out to be a great source of advice, and hopefully potential friends.
  4. Send postcards! This sounds silly, but keeping in touch with family and friends back home is so important, and when you take the time to sit down once a fortnight or so and write a postcard rather than just firing off daily emails and text messages, it makes you focus much more on the positives – all the exciting things you’ve been doing – rather than the negative grumbles about what’s not going so well.
  5. Try and embrace where you are and enjoy the new experiences, rather than just recreating everything that’s familiar and comforting from home.


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