This post is PART 2 for How To Marry Your Foreign Partner In Malaysia
Like my previous posts, I have been getting questions about what is life after marrying my foreign partner, moving away from home and what’s living in Australia like. Our one year anniversary is coming up and I just got my Partner Visa! I think a life update is needed. I am going to be as informative as possible. Before you read on, please note that I am sharing this from *my experience* and official procedures may differ from yours.I am splitting this post into three sections because it’s easier for me to explain.
Moving to Australia
Very early in our relationship, we both knew that it would be me moving to Perth. For obvious reasons – the lifestyle in Australia is better, the currency is stronger and it’s a First World country. Other factors also weighed in – I went to university here so I knew my way around, my family likes Perth and it’s a five-hour flight away from each other. It was a no-brainer decision for us.
Even though I knew that I was going to move to Australia from Day 1. There isn’t any amount of “prepping” or “being ready” that will make you 100% ready to move to another country. It’s almost 1 year of being away and I miss home so much. You have to be mentally strong because homesick hits you like a ton of bricks when you realize that you are missing your best friend’s pregnancy, birthdays, family celebrations and other special occasions.
In 2016, both Don and I travelled to see each other 6 times. If I am being technical, we saw each other every month EXCEPT February and August. HOW CRAZY IS THAT? Can you imagine how much we spent on flights and other travelling expenses? During our visits, I slowly took my things over to Perth – clothes, electronics, shoes & some bags. I brought my absolute essentials from KL because I wanted to start fresh in Perth. I was living in my childhood room before getting married and I didn’t’ want to bring over EVERYTHING. Even with packing just my essentials – I brought over 40kg worth of things and even had my parents bring more of my things when they came to visit.
In March 2017 – I applied for the Australian Partner Visa. The same day I applied, I received my Bridging Visa A. This visa lets me stay in Australia until a decision is being made on my Partner Visa and it also gives me full working rights. The process varies on the application. Some can take 6 months, some can take up to 18 months and etc.
March 2017 – Submitted our application + Bridging Visa A
October 2017 – Contact with Case Officer asking for updated Police Clearance, Medical Exam and updated FORM40SP (We didn’t date the form before submitting it)
November 2017 – Visa granted!
For those asking as well, this will not change your citizenship and I am still a citizen of Malaysia. I will write a blog post about this!
Living in Australia
My transition from “visiting” to “living” was very smooth. I wouldn’t even consider my visits as “visits” because I lived in Perth for two years before Don and I got into a relationship. My family used to holiday in Perth almost every year. I knew my way around, I had friends and had an existing relationship with the city. It was like… going back to my second home every time I visited Don.
I moved to Perth at the worst possible time in terms of job opportunities. Western Australia is currently going through mini-recession. Companies are cutting back. People are losing their jobs. People are not spending as much as they used to and created a domino effect on other industries. After months of struggling to get a job, I met with a recruiter for advice. She encouraged me to get at least two years of local work experience to get myself a foot in the door. I work part-time at a digital marketing agency and I do a bit of design work and copywriting.
I keep in touch with my old friends from university and my old housemates (in the 2 years I was a student, I lived with 12 different people!). I make it a point to meet up with them every other month. I feel that it’s very important for me to make my own friends rather than being friends with Don’s friends. I have a group of Malay friends here who I do outdoorsy stuff with. They are really awesome in terms (even though I don’t think they know how helpful they have been) of helping me settling in here. Ever so willing to answer all my technical migrant questions.
Assimilating into the community & culture (Lifestyle)
I feel like the topic Friends and Assimilating into the community & culture will combine into one. I found joining a fitness class, club or going to the same places all the time helps with making friends. After months of going to my pilates class, I now have a group of friends I see after class for coffee. My local barista gives me a “special” price for coffee because I go to this cafe every day and make the effort to have a chat with him. It also helps that Don grew up in a neighbouring suburb from where we live. When we meet friendly locals, they know I am his wife and they make a special effort to say hi to me when they see without Don.
Other than that, I make the effort to put myself out there. Moving to another country is starting all over again. I had to find a place to do my hair, eyelashes, waxing and etc. I had to find my own dentist, doctor and etc. I did all on my own with the help of Mr Google. Don did help out with advice and suggestions but everything else was on my own. Again, I moved to Australia to be with my husband. It was my decision and I needed to own it instead of depending 100% on him.
Life back at home
Before leaving for Perth, I made sure I tied up loose ends. Cancelling my credit cards, suspending my phone line, paying off any debts and etc. If anything comes up, I appointed my mother as my stand-in/PIC. When it comes to keeping in touch with friends and family, we are so blessed with smartphones. It takes A LOT of effort to keep in touch with friends and family. You get so caught up with settling into your new home, working on your relationship and checking out new faces; you can easily forget life at home. I call my mother every week. Text my friends any new updates about me. There is no excuse to not keep in touch with your friends in this modern era. Best part, every time you visit home it’s like a holiday!
Read part 1 here: How To Marry Your Foreign Partner In Malaysia