The Expat Chronicles: To Toowoomba…and Beyond

This month we chatted to Ruby, who relocated with her husband from Cape Town to Toowoomba in Southern Queensland, Australia.

Where did you move from?

Malmesbury in Cape Town, South Africa.

Where did you move to and when?

To Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, in February 2007. Toowoomba is a wonderful city!

What was your reason for leaving your home country?

My sister and her family moved to Cairns in 2005 and loved it. That’s what sparked the interest. We also heard there was great opportunity there in our fields – my husband is a University professor and I was a qualified Nursing Sister. In South Africa he had to commute and was being paid peanuts and I couldn’t take working in a State Hospital anymore! It was soul destroying. So I resigned and started a home business in textiles. I missed the work, but not the conditions. We started to talk about being able to do our work in GREAT conditions in Australia. My sister was also very convincing and she did a lot of research for us. We finally decided when our house got broken into for the third time in 2 years that we needed to get our of South Africa.

What is the best thing about your new country?

The fact that we are both appreciated for the work we do and the skills and experience we have. I have never loved my job as much and neither has my husband. He got a great job at a local University (Toowoomba has many universities and schools, so it was a perfect fit for us) and I work at a clinic.

What do you miss the most about your home country?

I miss my other sister and the friends we had in Cape Town. Honestly, that’s about all I miss. Ok, maybe table Mountain and the soapies I watched in SA!

Anything you struggled to get used to in your new country?

Everything was an adjustment, but nothing was difficult to adjust to at all. The biggest change I saw was how different the kids are here. I find them outgoing, friendly and mature, but not precocious. They are treated like “little adults” and grow up really well adjusted, in my opinion.

Will you ever go back?

I don’t think so. As much as I love South Africa, Australia is out home and will always be our home.

Which country do you identify with most strongly now?

Australia. I love the country, the people and the energy. It’s not perfect by any means, but it feels better for me. Safer, cleaner, calmer, less aggressive.

Which country’s sports teams do you support?

We support Australia! We are here and we plan to stay here, so there’s no point hankering after South African teams and things.

How does the food compare?

The food is actually pretty similar – we eat much the same as we did back in South Africa. There are some weird and exotic fruits and meats and seafood, but we stick to barbecue, fish and chips, salads, take aways and the things we are used to!! I still haven’t had Kangaroo and I don’t think I ever will! The Australian wine is pretty good too!!

How has your life changed?

I now LOVE my job, for the first time ever, and I can say the same for my husband. We would never have felt safe enough to hang out in park in SA, but Toowoomba has so many parks and we literally find a new one every weekend and go and picnic. So we feel safer. We are more wealthy here because we are paid well for our skills and experience. We are genuinely happier than we were in SA. Which makes me sad, but that’s the way it is!

What advice would you give to others wanting to do the same?

If you are on the list of jobs in demand, it will definitely be easier for you! Whatever you do, don’t come to Australia on a 457 visa – it’s just too risky. Don’t bring your things with – sell everything and buy here! We made the mistake of trying to bring our furniture over and learnt the hard way! All the lugs have to be changed, it takes forever and it costs a fortune. Certain things may not be brought in – gas products, certain furniture like cane also can’t come in. Don’t waste your time – sell it and buy here. If you have kids, you should strongly consider coming to Australia. We don’t have kids, but we witnessed first hand how my sister’s children’s lives changed for the better! Also, Australia is HUGE and each place is different, so choose your city very carefully.

To find out how 1st Contact Visas can help you with your relocation plans, visit or call 0808 141 1664 (in the UK), 0800 003 163 (in South Africa) or 1800 039 300 (in Australia).

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