MOVED TO CANBERRA FROM SOUTH AFRICA
Published January 2014
The ACT is defined as regional for skilled migration purpose from 16 November 2019. While potential applicants can complete the Home Affairs Skillselect EOI from this date, the 491 Canberra Matrix can only be submitted from 1 January 2020.
The 2019 eligibility criteria will apply to all 190 Matrix submitted on or before 31 December 2019.
The 2020 eligibility criteria will apply to all 190 Matrix submitted on or after 1 January 2020.
The eligibility criteria for 190/491 nomination in 2020 will be published on or before 28 November 2019.
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Click on a story below to watch and read the case study
Published January 2014
Falling in love brought Courtney Moore to Canberra for the first time in 2009. The year before she had met Stephen Moore, a Brumbies and Wallaby player, at an after-match function in South Africa, and romance blossomed. Thanks to Skype, texting, emails and many phone calls the long distance relationship flourished, and then Steve invited Courtney to visit Australia. As they say, the rest is history. Now married and proud parents to one year old Theodore, the family love living in the nation’s capital.
“For a girl from subtropical Durban, with the beach and the beautiful Indian Ocean on my doorstep, Canberra is a very different kind of city,” says Courtney. “Steve was born in Saudi Arabia of Irish parents who were working there, and spent a few years living in Ireland before the family immigrated to Queensland when he was five. Steve moved to Canberra in 2009 when he joined the Brumbies.
“We love Canberra and the easy lifestyle that it offers,” says Courtney, “and we’re still discovering new places and things to do. Visually it’s a beautiful city, with the Brindabella Mountains in the distance and the lovely tree-lined streets. It’s also a very active and outdoorsy place. I soon realised that although there is no beach, Canberrans love spending energy outside! Just go down to Lake Burley Griffin to see cyclists, joggers, walkers, mums pushing prams and people walking their dogs, windsurfers, rowers, boot camps and yoga classes on the lawns. There are also many beautiful nature trails to hike, with Mt Ainslie and Red Hill being our favourites.”
Courtney admits that there were times when she was lonely. “When I arrived in Canberra I had no friends or family, except for Steve. His career regularly takes him away from home and initially I did spend quite a bit of time on my own. But I was really struck by how people take you under their wing. Our neighbours have been fantastic to us and we’ve become great friends.
“Soon after settling into our new home in the inner south we decided to get a puppy to keep me company,” says Courtney. “Kaiser is a Weimaraner and is very much part of our family. We love how dog friendly Canberra is. Red Hill Nature Reserve is a short walk away and the Yarralumla Dog Park and Red Hill dog group are great places to take Kaiser for exercise, and to meet other dogs and their owners.
“When I was pregnant with Theo walking Kaiser became difficult and I was overwhelmed by the many kind and genuine people who went out of their way to help me. There is a great sense of community here. Neighbours would call to take Kaiser for walks or to drop off dinners, and they would check in to see if I was okay while Steve was away on a rugby trip.
“Now that we have a baby I’ve realised how family friendly Canberra is. With all my relatives in South Africa and being a first time mum, I relied heavily on the local health care system for pre and post natal information and guidance. There truly is an abundance of resources for parents and babies and nearly all services come at no cost.
“As Theo gets older I’m struggling to get through the bucket list of family things to do in Canberra. Besides the parks and playgrounds, there always seems to be something on at Questacon, the Australian National Botanic Gardens, local libraries, schools and pools, or the National Arboretum (and once again, at minimal or no cost).
“In summer we love going for a swim with our dog at Point Hut Crossing near Tidbinbilla. Another great spot for a picnic and quiet time is the Lanyon Homestead, and the lawns of the Yarralumla Yacht Club are a good place in the evenings for fish and chips. Theo loves to crawl on the grass and the views of the lake are great,” says Courtney. “Of course once the rugby season starts Bruce Stadium is a favourite and supporting the Brumbies is a must.”
Courtney and Steve have visited many of the local wineries and their restaurants. “The wine festivals are a great way to explore the wineries and to sample their fare,” says Courtney. “A favourite stop for Steve is Clonakilla Wineries - the owners boast Irish heritage,” she explains with a smile.
“To make the most of Canberra,” suggests Courtney, “you have to embrace it. When you start doing a bit of research you will find there is something fun and interesting to do almost every day of the week.”
“We’ve had wonderful weekends away at the nearby coast and especially enjoy dog-friendly Culburra,” she says. “Canberra has fantastic markets and there are some trendy shops in Braddon which I love to visit, as well as all the galleries, museums, theatres, exhibitions, concerts, restaurants, cafes and nature trails. You might hear people from other states giving Canberra a hard time, saying there isn’t much to do, but honestly, there is! “
Published October 2013
Earlier this year Leeanne Honeyball made an interstate move after her application to participate in the ACT Public Service (ACTPS) Graduate Program was successful. She tells us about settling into the nation’s capital ...
Tell us a little about yourself and your family. How long have you lived in Canberra and where did you move from?
Last year I completed studying a dual degree at the University of Queensland, Brisbane. I had been studying for many years with the intent to move to Canberra and work in the public service. My partner, Ashley and I have nine year old boy/girl twins, Tyler and Lilibeth. We moved to Canberra in January this year and we live in Gungahlin.
You are one of a select few participating in the 2013 ACT Public Service (ACTPS) Graduate Program. Tell us about the program and what motivated you to apply for a position?
When I was in my final study year, I specifically searched to see if the ACT Government had a graduate program. I was pleased to discover that it has. The program appeals to me because I wanted a whole-of-government perspective. The fact that Canberra is a city-state provides a rare public service context to work in, one than I knew would provide special opportunities.
The program goes for 10 months and includes three different work rotations. The first rotation starts in the host Directorate where the Graduate is employed. I was lucky enough to be offered a position in the Education and Training Directorate in the Human Resources Branch.
During the second rotation you get to work in another Directorate for 3 months. I went to the Chief Minister and Treasury Directorate working in Public Sector Management. The third rotation you usually go back to your host directorate but work in a different area.
I am currently at the Education and Training Directorate for the remainder of the program and I am working in the Media and Communications team. The variety of work is a positive feature of the program.
As part of the program, I have also been studying the Graduate Certificate in Public Administration through ANZSOG Institute for Governance at the University of Canberra. The program finishes in December and I will be offered a permanent position at the end.
Taking up the ACTPS Graduate Program offer entailed uprooting your family and moving from Brisbane. How have you and family settled in?
It takes a lot of careful planning to move interstate, especially when you have kids.
It was a big task moving out of our home in Brisbane and finding a new home and new school for my twins in Canberra. Luckily, after careful planning we were settled in before I started the Graduate Program and in time for my kids to be enrolled into their new school.
My children and I enjoy catching the bus together. They get off at the school bus stop ahead of me while I continue on the way to work. They have some good friends at school. As a family we are slowly making friends and have some great neighbours.
Tell us about your first impressions and experiences of Canberra.
There are a lot of open spaces and it feels like there is an interesting mix between urban and rural lifestyles.
People are friendly and supportive, very willing to make friends with newcomers which is great. There are also a variety of Facebook groups where you can find information to help with settling in.
Would you recommend Canberra as a great place to raise a family? What places do you enjoy visiting?
I think Canberra is a great place to raise a family. There are a lot of friendly people here and there are many great online communities available to help connect with new people.
We like going to different places both indoors and outdoors. We enjoy going to farmers’ markets and cafes. We have also been to the Royal Australian Mint, the War Memorial, Parliament House, the Arboretum, Gold Creek Village, Questacon, Yerrabi Pond and Tidbinbilla.
The kids have been lucky enough to go to many other places through school and holiday care. We are still discovering all of the things that Canberra has to offer.
Has Canberra surprised you in any way? What do you most like about the city?
I’m surprised by how easy it is to get around here. I don’t feel like I need my car because I have had positive experiences with the bus networks here.
I like that you can travel all over the Territory and that nothing is really ever that far away.
Published March 2015
Meet Eddie, one of the 16 ACT tertiary students who have been selected as a 2015 Ambassador as part of the StudyCanberra program.
StudyCanberra is an initiative of the ACT Government in partnership with ACT tertiary education providers and aims to promote Canberra as Australia’s destination of choice for local, national and international students wanting to study at university.
As part of the program, a group of current ACT tertiary students were selected to showcase our city and all it has to offer prospective students. These Ambassadors come from four different ACT institutions and across nine different nationalities, representing the diversity of Australian and International students studying in Canberra.
The Ambassadors, including Eddie, have had a busy couple of weeks taking part in the inaugural StudyCanberra Student Ambassador Training Day, followed by Orientation events at local tertiary institutions where they have been able to share with other students why the love studying in Canberra so much.
It is that idea of sharing with other students that made Eddie, who originates from Ghana but has been living in Italy, get involved with the StudyCanberra program.
“I have been in Canberra for less than a year, but the experience has been great. I believe a great city like Canberra needs to be known in every corner of the globe to future students who wish to come and study in Australia” said Eddie.
“I visited Perth 8 years ago and fell in love with Australia and had wanted to move there for my studies, but a friend who moved from Italy to study in Canberra convinced me that Canberra was the best place to study. I am glad I did - Canberra is very beautiful, peaceful and conducive for studies.”
In his short time living here Eddie, who studies Media at the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT), has already gotten heavily involved in the local community, becoming a member of the CIT Student Association, the Council of International Students Australia, a local radio station and his local church.
The sense of community here in Canberra is also one of the reasons Eddie loves the city so much.
“Every day is memorable for me because of the friendliness and kindness of Canberrans. There has not been a single day that I have stepped outside without a Canberran saying ‘good day mate’! It just brightens your day. Other cultures even when you say ‘hi’ they wouldn't respond. Great experience and one that will stick with me for good.”
Eddie says that there are a lot of reasons why students should study in Canberra! Here’s his top 5:
Published April 2014
Determined to study at one of the world’s top universities brought Nabid Alam from Bangladesh to study a Master of Business Information Systems at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.
As an international student, there were a few hurdles for Nabid. The first was to make study in Australia financially possible, which he did by winning an Australian Government Endeavour Award.
In addition, Nabid had to prepare for his International English Language Testing (IELTS) exam and juggle travel and accommodation arrangements, all while he worked in a high pressure graduate role in a Bangladeshi bank.
“This was my first time leaving Bangladesh and it was a very big step – leaving my family and friends. It was a really difficult decision – and a real challenge, but I was up to it,” he says.“I was also a bit scared about the pressure of coming to ANU because I had been working in a bank and out of study for a couple of years. I was about to start a new degree in a top university and wondered how I would fit into the ecosystem.”
Nabid hit the ground running. He met with each of his lecturers right at the beginning of his study to gain an insight into course objectives and expectations and how best to manage his study load.
“It’s a really good thing to understand your lecturers’ expectations. They have all been very friendly and always available. Even if your study plan looks difficult and challenging at first, it isn’t actually that difficult to manage – you get into a good routine.”
Nabid will graduate with a Master of Business Information Systems later this year.
While he has enjoyed his experience at ANU, Nabid is looking forward to spending time with his family again. His mother and brother will travel to Canberra to attend the graduation ceremony.
My name is Arnaud, and I am from France, Strasbourg and I have now lived in Canberra for almost 3 years. I am studying at the University of Canberra, and I am studying a double Master, a Master of Business Administration/Master of International Business.
The quality of education at the University of Canberra is very, very good and very, very motivating. The fact is, all of the lecturers are here to help you, and they are doing there best when they know that you are an international student. Most of all living on campus is also great because you are living with Australian people or students from other countries, which is very great to discover other cultures and to make new friends from all around the world.
What I love about studying in Canberra, it is actually the environment. Because it is a big city, with great Universities, but it also brings you that lifestyle that you cannot have anywhere else, as it is a city which is quite wild, it is very green, very peaceful and also you can have places to have fun if you want to, you’ve got all that you could look for in a city, in Canberra.
To survive in Canberra as an international student, a few tips would be, don’t be shy. English is quite easy when you practice it, so you do not have to be shy you have to talk with everyone. You will improve your English, which will make you feel better, after getting involved in the city, you will feel more confident. And then it helps to take all the opportunities that are proposed to you, to get parts of programs, of challenges or anything that could bring you some other experience, not only as an international student, but even as a student.
My name is Yanina Ferreyra, I am from Argentina and I’ve been in Canberra for two year and a half.
When I first came to Canberra, my first impression was that is was such a tidy city. It was very beautiful and very clean. Everything was like, kind of very nice, organised. The transport system was very easy, the buses I remember were something very surprising- the time of the buses.
The safety and security in Canberra is amazing. I really like it, I feel very safe. When you hear a sound or something in a dark street, the only thing you can think of is a possum there or a kangaroo. That is the only thing that can scare you here.
Studying in Canberra was very different to my first experience back in Argentina. I found the education here very personalised. I was surprised in the first class when the teachers put their phone numbers on the board, I was like ‘why are you giving us your phone number?’ The teachers said you can contact me, its fine.
My friends back in Argentina sometimes, they can’t believe a lot of things I tell them about Canberra. The nightlife that Canberra has, having nightclubs or places open from Monday to Sunday that is something that doesn’t really happen in South America.
The life-style here, when people start working in the morning, work until the afternoon and then going to live their life, that is something I really like about this city.
I can’t believe I am here.
My name is Man Lam Tsang, you can call me Alfred. I am from Hong Kong and I came here four years ago.
There are many things that brought me to Canberra. First of all I would say, the excellent education here and also the people and culture here as well. Speaking of education, I guess the, one of the main reasons would be that there is opportunities for myself to get into ANU, one of the top Universities in the world. And, also the people and culture here, I really enjoy interacting with them and so its perfect. Really good living environment and stuff.
When I decided to study there was a couple of things on my checklist. First of all I would say the education, the reputation of the college and also the facilities supporting the students to learn, and also the environment.
I tell my parents that I am living on campus and made a lot of friends, a lot of events going on and even, like, you know, studying, participating in student societies and also organising a lot of events, for first year students as well. When I told my parents, they found that I have a really fulfilling university life and, which is, they could be a little bit jealous as well because they couldn’t find such a fulfilling life when they did university.
Compared to Sydney and Melbourne, I think Canberra is really special and also it is really suitable for students to study, especially the really good environment. So you wont have too much distraction from, like, entertainment and stuff to interrupt, like, you know, well, sort of like, distract your study. So you can focus more on that. And, also there are heaps of supporting facilities to help students to study, and form their own society as well. So I would say, really good.
Published December 2015
It was during the Spring of 2012 that we first decided to make a trip to Canberra. We were on the look-out for a new holiday destination in Australia, but it was a journey that changed the course of our lives forever.
Hello, we're Joseph and Rosemarie! We're travel aficionados who are pleased to called Canberra home. We come from the dot-sized island of Singapore. But our journeys began long ago. You see Joseph is from India and I am from Malaysia. We lived in several countries and journeyed through crowded cities jostling through maddening crowds and suffocating pollution. We travelled as far and wide as our time and budget could accommodate. We named those journeys as holidays or adventures but in reality we were looking for a place to call home.
Home for us was a place, which needed to have security, peaceful surroundings, good neighbourhoods, less traffic and lots of fresh air. It also needed to have modern amenities in a bucolic setting. We thought such a place never existed until we made that eventful visit to Canberra.
Canberra is a place where you hear the chirruping of birds throughout the day. They wake you in the morning and return with you in the evening through glorious sunsets. The restaurants cook up a storm and people smile at you along the streets. The air is clean and crisp and mobs of kangaroos sometimes watch you along the roadside. The city is full of lakes and parks and a beautiful day would draw families out for a picnic. We had enough reasons to believe that we found our Utopia!
It’s been more than a year and a half since we migrated to Canberra. We have seen the change of seasons and lived through two winters. Every season with its own colour and mood is special. We feel closer to nature here and enjoy its transformation throughout the year. We don’t find anything in Canberra monotonous. It’s a young city filled with verve, vigour and fabulous food.
Canberra has kept us busy. This city constantly offers us festivals we must visit, new restaurants we need to try, beautiful treks to explore, brilliant roads to cruise on, amazing people to befriend and rich cultures to immerse ourselves in. Canberra has embraced us and made us its own and we would never leave here.
Canberra is ideal for families who want a balanced lifestyle. It's buzzing with festivities throughout spring to summer, filled with markets both day and night, a plethora of walking trails just a 40 minute drive from the city and the best part is that you get home from work in a mere 20 minutes, in time to join the family for a great evening. If you're considering about making Canberra your home, you're on the right track.
We knew no one before we migrated here. In fact we had no family or friends in Australia to begin with. But today we have made more friends in Canberra then we ever had anywhere else. Prior to the big move over, we relied on social media to make a few Canberran friends and on our first evening in Canberra, we met the Wilsons for dinner. Their experience and advice were invaluable in starting our new lives in a new city. They are such a lovely couple and they have become our dearest friends ever since.
Once we had organised a permanent place to call home and unpack all the boxes, it was time to focus on employment. We learnt that the key to being successfully employed is to gain local experience. And the best way to gain valuable local experience is through volunteering and this is exactly what we did.
After several months of volunteer work, job applications, rejections and interviews we finally secured paid work in the industry we love. Both of us work in Communications and feel blessed to pursue the same occupations we laboured so hard to excel in throughout our professional careers. It took time and lots of patience but we knew that building a new life for ourselves would take perseverance and effort.
Canberra springs surprises all the time through its many festivities and seasons. It is a beautiful, serene and a great place to raise a family. However it is the people who live here that is the greatest factor that contributed to our never-ending love story with this city. Canberrans are warm and fun loving people. They are helpful and easy going. They are multicultural and tolerant. They are also foodies at heart. We are proud to be called Canberrans.
Published May 2015
We are a young couple who moved to Canberra from London about 6 months ago and are thoroughly enjoying it! Australia has always held a special place in our hearts and so we knew one day we would make the permanent and incredibly exciting move from the UK.
When deciding where to live in Australia the ACT Government were so welcoming and helpful we were left in no doubt that Canberra was the place for us. We were very impressed by the relaxed and safe lifestyle, the short commuting times and the abundance of natural scenery right on Canberra’s doorstep. Now we are here, we could never have imagined our lives would change so much for the better. It’s not just the big things that Canberra has to offer that makes it so appealing, but aspects that you may not always think about. Just last week we were walking home and a kangaroo bounced right past us. This is one of the many small things that makes Canberra really special and unique in our eyes compared to the larger cities in Australia. All of this has really helped us to settle in and call Canberra our home: it has absolutely exceeded all our expectations and we love it!
In London I worked in IT and Dominic worked as a software developer in Finance. Dominic was able to transfer with his employer and I now work very closely with the government. It’s a great feeling liaising with the institution that helped us.
What has surprised us the most about Canberra is how many interesting and varied events it puts on. Each month there is something different to see and most of the time these are free; for example we have been to the Australia Day Celebrations, the National Multicultural Festival, Enlighten and the Canberra Balloon Spectacular to name just a few! Canberra has also recently played host to a number of international fixtures such as the AFC Asian Cup and the ICC Cricket World Cup, both of which had a range of prices to suit all budgets. There is never a dull moment and it’s lovely to see Canberra coming together and showing the rest of Australia that Canberrans know how to throw a party.
We are very much looking forward to seeing what Autumn is like in Canberra - seeing how the city and its environment changes. We have heard that it’s a beautiful time of the year with all the different tones of yellows, oranges and reds showing on the trees and although it gets colder, the sun still makes an appearance most days – coming from England that's fantastic.
For anyone who is thinking of a move to Canberra we would say go for it. There is a world of opportunity here and this coupled with its high quality of life, friendly community and vibrancy makes it a perfect city to move to. Our advice would be not to worry about getting a job before migrating over. This can seem daunting but it is a lot easier to secure employment if you are living in the city and you do hear about a lot more jobs through word of mouth.
The second piece of advice we would give would be to enjoy it and make the most of what Canberra has to offer. It’s a truly beautiful city and once you have migrated it can be easy to settle into a routine but make sure you set aside time to explore the city: whether this is attending one it’s great, fun filled events or going for a walk around the picturesque lakes.
We have been absolutely thrilled at how our new Australian lives have turned out and are very excited about our future here. We can confidently say Canberra is definitely the place to be
Published September 2015
My wife and I are from Pakistan and are blessed with two beautiful kids. We are both working professionals and coincidentally have the same career path in Training & Development. Like most Pakistanis, we are quite welcoming, hospitable and adaptable. We love travelling and always looking for a reason to travel.
We moved to Canberra in August last year. Before coming here we were living in the cultural hub of Pakistan; Lahore, a historic city of more than 10 million people. Immigrating to Australia is a decision that we made by choice, as there were other options that we could have availed. My mother, two brothers and a sister migrated to Canada sometime back. We chose to move to Australia due to its weather, commitment to environment & nature and the scenic landscapes. We also chose Canberra because of our professional aspirations of working in the field of training and development in Canberra.
I have developed a great liking for Canberra due to its serene setting and weather conditions. I am an avid traveller and particularly interested in natural sightseeing. I have travelled to base camps of some of the highest peaks in the world that are located in the North of Pakistan, to Europe and Far-east as well. We wanted to raise our kids in the best possible environment, which is offered by Canberra, with its strongest indicators for education and life quality. Living in Canberra has fulfilled my dream of a good life in a peaceful environment.
I have a Masters degree in Business Administration. Being a Training & Development professional, Canberra has provided me with opportunities to work in diverse areas of professional development ranging from Performance Management, Organisational Behaviour, Managerial Skills, Operations Management and more.
Canberra being a knowledge city with dynamic organisations, offers excellent professional opportunities across different industries and public sector alike. I have researched work opportunities for professionals who have the skills set similar to mine.
My online search and professional liaison with Australian partners assure us that there are ample professional and business opportunities in the area of training and development. These opportunities are available not only as full time employees in private and public sector organizations but also in contracted services. As a matter of fact, I have been greatly impressed by the importance extended to Training & Development specifically in Canberra and as a whole in Australia.
Since we arrived here, we were touched by the general behaviour of people towards us. They have been welcoming and quite gentle in every way. Whenever we are roaming in a mall or park, people play with our kids and talk to them, calling them with the sweetest of names. People are generally very pleasant and have a great sense of humour. They don’t shy away from sharing a laugh and cracking a good joke every now and then.
We love how the traffic is very organised and the environment is very pure. City life is full of various events and festivals organised regularly all year round including Floriade, the Multicultural Festival, Enlighten, Royal Canberra Show and more.
Our first event in Canberra was Floriade with such a vibrant and colourful feel to it. We loved it.
My family and I simply love nature and wildlife. Canberra has provided us with all this and much more. It has lots of parks, nature reserves, lakes, bike paths, clean air, many species of colourful birds, kangaroos and other wonderful things. Beautiful skies and colourful seasonal plants make the everyday scenery an ever-changing delight to the senses.
Our advice to people considering migrating to Canberra is to be prepared to have a great quality of life, clean air, a relaxed vibe and no traffic jams, while having great professional opportunities in a beautiful city. For those seeking to move from foreign countries, you will find an astonishing diversity of cultural backgrounds and nationalities. For those seeking to move from other cities in Australia, you will find that Canberra is a great place where you find much more than just politicians.
Published February 2015.
We relocated to Canberra from Shanghai, China in July, 2014. I am Romanian, but we have lived in China since the year 2000.
Even though China was good and is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, we decided that living amongst 1.4 billion people, and the crowds and stress on the environment that comes with it, wasn’t for us. After in-depth research and extensive travelling looking for the best place to live in the world, we decided that Australia was the best choice for us. We considered the social, political and economical projections for the future and Australia seems to be the place that has some of the biggest opportunities and lowest liabilities among all other nations on the planet.
We chose Canberra because of its excellent geographical location offering lots of outdoor activities opportunities and a balanced climate, the high level of education at primary, secondary and tertiary level, the opportunities for employment offering, the best income across all of Australia and the overall lifestyle. It seems that we’ve made the right choice given that Canberra was ranked world’s ‘best place to live’ by OECD in 2014.
I am sure you could imagine that moving from a city with more than 25 million people to a city with just over 380,000 people can be quite a change. Our lifestyle changed almost completely compared to our life in Shanghai.
What we like most about Canberra is the natural environment; we think it’s wonderful to feel so close to nature in your daily life, to see animals (kangaroos, rabbits, foxes, possums) and birds (parrots, cockatoos, magpies, crows, ducks, swans), to breath clean air and to hear the sounds of nature.
We also like the dedicated bicycle paths that are completely separated from motorways. There are a lot of opportunities to spend your pastime in an active and meaningful way: hiking, mountain biking, fishing, skiing in the winter, swimming in pools and open water, etc. The sea is less than 2 hours away, while Sydney is 3 hours away and Melbourne about 7 hours away by motorway.
Canberra is small enough to offer a relaxed and natural environment with a countryside-like feeling and at the same time big enough to offer all amenities required for a dynamic and modern contemporary living in a world level city.
Before arriving I was quite confident about my employment prospects in Canberra. I have a range of qualifications and work experience that offer me a relatively broad choice on a qualified job market. I am a qualified teacher with a Master in Education, an experienced Fitness Centre Manager having run my own clubs, a Strength & Conditioning coach having trained decorated athletes and a Youth Coach that led many successful sport programs for children.
My wife is an Engineer, but her experience is in customer service related jobs.
I started looking for jobs 3-4 months before my arrival in Canberra. I applied for some jobs, but as I found out, it can be challenging to secure a job before you get here. After I arrived though, and I was able to write an Australian address on my CV and provide an Australian contact number, I started to get replies for my applications.
A few weeks after I arrived I started to coach some after-school sport lessons and a month later I got a casual position as a Fitness Coach with a club. Four months later I signed a full-time contract as a Community Education Programs Coordinator and shortly after that I was able to secure a full-time teaching position with a good new private school in the ACT.
My wife went to study a Certificate III in Accounting at Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) and she also found a casual job with a nice fast food restaurant.
Here is the advice I give for newly arrived immigrants:
I think that Canberra is often overlooked by many immigrants as a place to settle, in favour of big cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, but the truth is that in many aspects it may be the wiser choice to live here.
Published December 2014
I fell in love in with Australia and Canberra back in 2011 on a visit here when I had a 12 month working holiday visa. Once the Visa ran out, I went back home to the UK but soon realised that I wanted to return to Canberra. I had made some great friends and their families had almost become family to me. In fact on my return I was offered a place to stay by the family I lived with in 2010.
It took me 3 years to return but I cannot begin to tell everyone how much greener the grass really is on the other side and how amazing it feels to be back. It has brought me such a pleasant outlook and perspective on my own life in the present and for the future.
This is my 5th month in Canberra and I cannot believe how much this place has changed in such a short time, breaking through Winter into Spring was a beautiful sight to see, it also looks like the Summer really brings out the best in the Aussie lifestyle with many unique and interesting events happening over that period, I don’t think I will have any problems being heavily involved with some of these occasions, which is something I am quite looking forward too.
One of my favourite things about Canberra is the true luxury of life here; everyone appears to be happy and vibrant, full of health and always seeking something to do. I quite admire that about Australian people. There are some amazing restaurants and bars, fantastic free events with some beautiful parks and lakes to enjoy, especially when that bright light in the sky always seems to be out (coming from the north of England, I wasn’t aware it had a name the “Sun”). I also like the convenience Canberra offers – 2 hours to the beach in summer and 2 hour from the mountains for winter sports such as Skiing and Snowboarding.
I have played professional football (soccer in Australian terms) in the UK for a few teams, and also been heavily involved in coaching the young players within the academies. During my time in Canberra I have been able to progress my soccer coaching relatively easily. There is great scope and space to help educate the young children, not only on the importance of exercise and healthy living - but there are some very technically gifted soccer talents here in the ACT. Since my arrival back in Canberra I have been lucky enough to commence soccer coaching, and playing, again with Woden Valley.
My advice to anyone having the thoughts of moving to Canberra is to:
Above all, it’s such an exciting adventure moving to a new country with new possibilities, so what’s not to like.
Published November 2014
We are a young family from Mexico City who recently moved to Canberra seeking a more relaxed and safer lifestyle. In Canberra peace and quiet are found everywhere, even in busy places, which is exactly what we were looking for.
My family and I are very keen on nature, wildlife and sustainability, and Canberra has provided us with all this and much more as it has lots of parks, nature reserves, lakes, bike paths, clean air, many species of colorful birds, kangaroos and other wonderful things. Beautiful skies and colorful seasonal plants make the everyday scenery an ever changing delight to the senses.
We have been living in Canberra for nine months and we already feel a part of the community, we have many friends, acquaintances and connections and we have visited many of the attractions the city has to offer. We still have many more to see. We´ve also enjoyed the many cultural and artistic events that Canberra offers all year round.
Our children were quickly accepted in the excellent public school system, and the school they attend has been very supportive of our particular needs. All the staff and teachers are good and cheerful people who have accepted us with a warm attitude. The education our children are receiving is of high standards.
My wife Jenny and I share the responsibilities of taking care of the children, and in doing so we have found their school to be a great way to meet new people and make new friends. Similarly, through our own courses and training we have networked positively, allowing us to understand the professional culture in Australia.
We arrived in Canberra in a time of political change which, in all honesty, complicated the job seeking process for my wife and me in the beginning. Yet after a few months of getting interviews, doing volunteer work, studying courses and getting involved with the community, we both found professional opportunities in our fields. Jenny is now practicing alternative healings and massages in a new business well located in a wellness centre, and I have started my own practice of house and landscape design with good success.
Our advice to people considering migrating to Canberra is to be prepared to have a great quality of life, clean air, a relaxed vibe and no traffic jams, while having great professional opportunities in a beautiful city. For those seeking to move from foreign countries, you will find an astonishing diversity of cultural backgrounds and nationalities. For those seeking to move from other cities in Australia, you will find that Canberra is a great place where you find much more than just politicians with arrogant attitudes.
My family and I consider our moving to Canberra to be a great change in our lives!
Published September 2014
In 2013 Faisal Murabet, his wife Hala and their three children, Sarah, Tia and Hashem, migrated to Canberra from Jordan. Here, Faisal and his family share their story and tips for other families planning on making the move.
My family and I are from a small but beautiful country, Jordan. Unfortunately though, being in the Middle East we had some concerns about our safety which made us think of our kid’s future and as parents we always wanted the best to our 3 kids.
It all started when my supportive wife Hala said that we should think of immigrating. We then started doing our research and found out that Australia is on top of the list for the best country to live in!
We chose Canberra to live in. It is the best city to live in for families – there are plenty of parks, kids activities and low crimes. It is a very safe to live in and the people are lovely.
Sometimes I think that that not all Australian citizens know how lucky they are to live here, with strong public schools, job opportunities, freedom of speech, no corruption nature, animals – really, what more do you want!
We do miss our family and friends back home, but that is really the only hard part and we hope we can travel more often there to visit, like once every 1 or 2 years!
When we got our visa approval it was one of the happiest days of our life! At the same time though, we were a little bit tense and wondered what we should do next. It is important to have very good planning for your move. Here are some of my tips to help anyone who wants to immigrate to Canberra:
Published August 2014
My wife Florence and I are from France; we lived in Germany for 4 years during my PhD and moved to Canberra about 4 years ago for me to work as a postdoctoral fellow at CSIRO Black Mountain.
Since we arrived here, we were quite impressed by the gentleness of the people here and how safe the city feels. It was a marked difference compared to our overstressed lifestyle in European cities.
We were surprised during the first few weeks here to see people coming up to us whenever we were pulling a map of the city out, either to tell us what places we should visit or just to chat. We found it very easy to settle in here compared to other countries we lived in.
Florence quickly found a job and we are both enjoying the standard of living that Canberra has to offer, it is above any other European city we lived in. We got married in Australia 3 years ago and this place and the friends around us really hold a special place in our hearts. It is really a place where people are given the opportunity to live up to their potential and we feel that we could really make a difference.
Coming from France we just couldn’t imagine a life without good wine and cheese. We discovered a lot of excellent vineyards in north Canberra where we could source great wine locally. We were afraid that living here would mean to lose some of our identity and values but we realised that they were very similar and we wouldn’t have to give up much by living here.
We are rather outdoorsy persons; we love bushwalks around Canberra with 4 distinct seasons. It doesn’t take much driving to reach wild places like nature reserve of Tidbinbilla and we value that. It is a real pleasure to drive around Canberra and something that I particularly enjoy on the way back is the sight of the Telstra Tower, it really means home for us now. I really enjoy cycling to work and running around the various lakes. The city and the landscapes are stunning.
We think that Canberra is the ideal size of city for us, we can find here everything we could possibly need while remaining at a human scale, and we can still encounter friends and colleagues at the grocery markets and there is a real sense of local community. People may not think of Canberra as a prime holiday destination, but it has a lot to offer in term of quality of life for the people who actually live and work here. We are used to commute much longer and further back in Europe and it is a pleasure to drive and cycle to work here. Canberra is very bike friendly, and rider and cars are encouraged to share the road fairly.
We enjoy the access to cultural events in Canberra, museums open 7 days and for free, and we love fireworks (Skyfire) and hot air balloons! We enjoyed the celebrations for the centenary of Canberra at lot, we feel privileged to be there. Canberra feels like a unique mix of culture, good mood and family friendly events.
We are engaged with our local community with volunteer work in Canberra schools. Florence assisted a French teacher at Maribyrnong Primary School to help the students prepare for a poem reading competition. I am also committed to Hawker College through the “Scientists in School” program where I had the opportunity to meet students, explain what the work of a scientist at CSIRO is and encourage them to pursue a career in science.
We are also involved in our local church. We are part of the welcoming team and Florence is one of the leaders of the Sunday school. On multiple occasions we also helped at the Another Chance Op Shop.
Local communities are very important to us, we invested a lot of time and resources into them and every aspect have been very rewarding. We definitely gave Canberra a chance when we moved in 4 years ago and we are feeling well integrated now. We travelled a lot for work and holiday and we really call Canberra home now.
With its great schools and universities, Canberra is the ideal environment to raise a child and we are excited to welcome a baby home within the next few weeks.
This week, we just applied for Australian citizenship and it is with a great honour that we took the last step of our integration. We cannot overstate how much it means to us.
We moved here for work, but we stayed for the community.
Published July 2013
Rachael, Paul and Mickey (10) Hayward arrived in Canberra from the UK a little over three years ago. It’s been an eventful couple of years, with Rachael volunteering at Mickey’s school and also opening her own business. Rachael tells us more here:
Tell us a little about yourself and the reason(s) you and your family immigrated to Australia?
We first came to Canberra in 2004 as Paul was in the British Royal Navy and had a posting to the British High Commission for four years. We fell in love with the city instantly.
We were lucky enough to travel extensively throughout Australia but of all the places we visited, Canberra was our first choice to migrate to due to the easy living, outdoor lifestyle and community spirit.
So you prefer Canberra to the bigger Australian cities?
We like the fact that although Canberra is the Capital of Australia, it is not too busy like Sydney! We also find Canberra an ideal city for schooling and sport for our youngest son Mickey and it is also ideally located to make travel to other areas (Sydney, Melbourne and the Coast) easy.
Also we love that there are four definite seasons in Canberra. The summer is gorgeous and not humid, autumn sees the trees turn the most beautiful colours and winter is cold but the skies are so blue. Spring comes around very quickly and sees the start of Floriade, an annual festival which celebrates this lovely time of the year.
Tell us about your first impressions and experiences of Canberra.
Our first impression of Canberra was that it was very colourful with all the cockatoos, rosellas and galahs. There was hardly any traffic and everything was so very clean and well maintained. Everyone we saw seemed to have a spring in their step and it was never too much trouble to say G’Day to us. We felt very welcome which was extremely important to us.
Our very first outing in Canberra was the Jazz in the Park at the Botanical Gardens which run through the summer on Sundays. We were amazed that this (and many other family events around Canberra) was free. It really helps bring the community together and there are so many different events that cater for all tastes. Having been to a few now though, our favourite by far is the annual Skyfire firework display which is all set to music and attracts tens of thousands of people each year.
You are very involved in Mickey’s school, and recently volunteered your time to create a beautiful mosaic artwork in the school foyer. Tell us about your motivation to get involved and about the artwork too.
I got involved with volunteering at the school to integrate myself in the local community when we bought our house over here. I firstly helped out in the school canteen to make friends and to learn how the school system worked. I then joined the school Parents and Citizens’ Association and was involved in the school fetes, craft fairs and other fund raising events.
I approached the principal and volunteered to do a mosaic artwork in the school foyer with the children of the school. After 18 months it is now finished. The inspiration for this was the Canberra Centenary. The mosaic includes lots of native wildlife, Telstra Tower, the Museum and Lake Burley Griffin. It was an amazing experience working with the children from designing the mosaic to the completion of it.
I have met some incredible people along the way and it is wonderful to see the school community coming together to create this fantastic artwork.
As someone who loves creative art, what would you say about opportunities to enjoy art in Canberra? How does it compare to where you moved from?
The diversity of the museums and art galleries in Canberra are inspirational and can be equally enjoyed by both young and old. The National Gallery has many different exhibitions.
In Canberra, the opportunities to enjoy art are so much easier than where we lived in the UK, as we would have to travel (for example to London) to see international exhibitions.
You’ve recently started your own business. That’s quite an accomplishment. Tell us about it.
I have been involved with Stained Glass now for approximately 17 years having learnt the trade from doing a four year apprenticeship in the UK. I also taught adult education courses in several colleges in the UK. My dream has always been to ‘go it alone’ and set up my own business. This was an unreachable goal in the UK, but one we felt I could achieve over here in Canberra. I have now successfully set up ‘Groovy Glass’ and have also branched out to become one of the only suppliers of stained glass materials in Canberra. I also have a stall once a month at the Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston.
Is all your family passionate about art? What other interests/hobbies do you enjoy?
My family are not particularly passionate about art, although they do support my love for it. Paul and Mickey would much rather be on a bike ride, playing golf or playing football (soccer!) for Tuggeranong United, where Paul is the coach, than walking around an art gallery.
Moving countries can be challenging – do you have any tips/advice for others considering the move?
It is worth a holiday visit beforehand (as long as possible) to get a feel for the place.
Have a sense of adventure, put yourself out there and meet as many people as you can. Some you will form great friendships with.
Check out job websites such as SEEK and check prices for houses/rental properties on allhomes.com.au.
Keep an eye out for emigration expos. This was very useful to us prior to getting the ball rolling to migrate. There are numerous stalls where you can find answers to your many questions.
If you arrive in Canberra and your containers are still in transit, the Green Shed on Mugga Lane is a fabulous recycling centre which you can buy cheap second hand goods, from cutlery to furniture to bikes. Well worth checking out!
Published November 2013
There’s no doubt about it, Mark Young has itchy feet and an adventurous spirit. Originally from the United Kingdom, Mark first visited Australia at the age of 19 while on a working holiday. After touring Asia he decided to explore ‘the land down under’ and spent several months doing just that. In spite of living and working in nearby Sydney for a few months, Mark did not get round to visiting the nation’s capital.
Skip a whole lot of years to September 2008, and Mark, this time with a wife and three young children in tow, arrived back in Australia. In search of a better quality of life the family had decided to immigrate to Canberra.
“My partner was offered a job,” says Mark, “and we decided to make the move. We lived in Canberra for two years, thoroughly enjoyed the easy lifestyle that the city offers and made some very good friends. Canberra is a family-friendly city with plenty of events and activities which catered for our three children of different ages and interests.”
For no particular reason other than they wanted an adventure and to explore more of Australia, the family decided to move to Perth. “We wanted to experience life in a big city and of course, we wanted to live at the coast,” says Mark. “Sun, sand and surf is the dream destination that most migrants from the UK are after when they relocate to Australia.”
Life takes many twists and turns and in September 2013, after living in Perth for three years, the Young family returned to Canberra. “Perth disappointed us,” Mark says. “If you’re not at the beach, there’s nothing to do. We’d got used to Canberra where there are so many fantastic events and something going on every weekend. After a while the kids dug their heels in and complained when we suggested a trip to the beach.
“Once we decided to leave Perth, Canberra stood out as the very best option for our family. The job opportunities and lifestyle here are second to none.
“We’ve spent some holidays in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, and while these are great places to visit we could not see ourselves living there. We’ve not yet been to Brisbane but it does not appeal to us because of the high humidity.”
Mark has just come back from Mulligans Flat, one of the Australian Capital Territory’s many nature parks. Together with a team of 50 others, volunteers and staff from the ACT Government, he helped with a kangaroo count. Spread out and ‘sweeping’ across sections of the nature reserve the team counted 505 kangaroos during the morning. Mark was delighted to spot 12 kangaroos to add to the tally, and also enjoyed watching the many wallabies which bounded away as the ‘sweep’ progressed.
Published September 2013
Almost two years ago Niki and Darren Bruno left the UK with their two young boys, Nathan and Oliver, in search of a better quality of life. We asked them to tell us about their journey.
What motivated you to uproot your lives in London and move to the other side of the world?
Niki: It seemed in England that we were working day, noon and night, spending no time together, with nothing to show for it. We couldn't see a future for ourselves or our children in England and decided to emigrate.
Darren: Migration was something we had looked into for a while. We looked at all sorts of countries but after lots of research we decided that Australia was top of our list as the place to make a fresh start, so we applied to Australia first.
Why did you decide to settle in Canberra rather than somewhere else?
Niki: Quite honestly we would have been happy to live anywhere in Australia as long as it was not in one of the big cities. After the hectic pace and insecure life we had in London we were looking for a more relaxed and safer environment for us and our children, with good opportunities. We also wanted a place where our children would be free to enjoy being children, whereas in London you worry about letting your children outside and they seem to grow up too quickly.
Darren: In the end my occupation as a property manager determined our destination. We discovered that it was on the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government’s Occupation List and this gave us the extra points we needed to apply for a visa. Canberra has turned out to be the ideal place for us. We feel as if we’re living in the country yet we’re able to enjoy the many benefits that come with it being the capital city. We love it here.
What are the things that you most enjoy about Canberra?
Niki: There’s always something on! Canberra is easy to navigate and the place is so family orientated. One of our favourite things is something as simple as having a BBQ in the park with friends and the kids swimming in the pool or river. There’s nothing better.
Darren: Weather in Canberra over summer is nice and hot, but it’s a dry heat so you’re not sticking to everything, so that’s nice. Compared to England it seems that the summers are very long and there are lots of opportunities for outdoor fun. Even in winter the sun shines and we’re told that Canberra has more days of sunshine than the Sunshine Coast! We were surprised though at how cold it gets during the winter nights.
How different is your life now to the one you left behind?
Niki: I would say that our lives are very different in one way but the same in others. We still have to work, send kids to school and do the daily routine of things, but the major difference is that we seem to have more quality family time, do more things together and relax more at weekends. So even thought the daily routine hasn’t changed much our lifestyle has and we are less stressed, more relaxed, go out more and we’re definitely less wet and cold! LOL!
Darren: We sometimes miss family and that can be a little difficult at times. However we’ve always been a strong and independent family unit of our own and now we consider some of our close friends here our family.
How has the move changed your life?
Darren: We feel that we are actually living our lives the way we want and love being here. We’re very conscious that life is precious and should be enjoyed. We believe that moving to Canberra saved Niki’s life. A couple of months after arriving she had a major health issue and underwent an operation to remove a kidney. We cannot say enough good things about Canberra’s wonderful health system.
Niki: My illness was a shock. I was saved by the quick thinking, in depth testing and excellent treatment provided by the health professionals in Canberra. We are grateful to be living in Canberra and appreciate the wonderful quality of life that is possible here. I wish we had moved 15 years ago when I first met Darren. It would have given us a chance to be established before the boys came along.
What are your plans for the future?
Niki: We plan to stay in Canberra and build our business here. In London I worked as a psychologist. Whilst recovering I enrolled at the Australian National University to obtain a graduate certificate and I have now started my own business which is growing nicely. I feel that we have been so blessed by moving to Canberra.
Darren: We are planning to stay in Canberra for the foreseeable future (not sure where we will be when we retire!). We would very much like to build our own place and are very much excited about that prospect, but there is no rush, we are happy as we are.
Published November 2013
More than a decade ago Son Ngoc arrived in Canberra from Vietnam on a student visa. He and his family, wife Thao Le and daughter Phuong Mai, recently became permanent residents. Son tells us about his experiences...
How long have you lived in Canberra and where did you move from? Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
I first came to Canberra from Vietnam to study for my Masters degree at the Australian National University (ANU) in 2001. At the time I was worried. I had not previously lived abroad and was not sure how I would cope. Fortunately there was no need for concern. There was a lot of support from lecturers, administrative staff, as well as other students.
I was impressed to find that facilities at ANU are excellent. The large and rich libraries, computer labs, study rooms and student common rooms helped me to concentrate on my studies and I completed my degree with good results.
Many years later when I decided to study my PhD, Canberra was the obvious choice. This time my wife, Thao Le, and my daughter, Phuong Mai, accompanied me. My wife came with limited English ability but it was not difficult for her to find a job in the hospitality and services industry. Her ability to work was a great help, being the main source of income for our family while I was studying.
We have seen that Canberra is the best place in Australia for international students and their dependents to find jobs with good pay. We have experienced a friendly, fair and supportive working environment.
We are now permanent residents and I work as a researcher at the East Asian Bureau of Economic Research, at ANU’s Crawford School.
What do you most like about Canberra?
Canberra is a great place for my family and me. It is a small city in terms of population (380,000 people), but quite large in terms of land area. We love the low population density and the many green open spaces. The city is safe and clean too.
We enjoy visiting the abundance of parks with Glebe Park and Commonwealth Park being two favourites. We also enjoy going out for dinner with friends and watching fireworks in Civic on New Year’s Eve or the annual Skyfire event.
Our traditional Vietnamese food can easily be found at grocery stores or at restaurants. There is a wide variety of food from different cultures and we like to eat out at different places. We also enjoy visiting markets on the weekends where we can buy very fresh produce from local farmers.
Do you miss family and friends back in Vietnam? Have they visited you here in Canberra?
Of course we miss our family in Vietnam. Family and friends visit us and we maintain close ties with our previous home.
Luckily for me my younger brother, Giang Ngoc, followed my footsteps and also spent time studying in Canberra. He, too, has settled permanently in Canberra with his family, so we have some relatives here.
Would you recommend Canberra as a great place to live?
Yes. I feel lucky to have had the chance to study and live in Canberra. Our family has made many friends from studying and working here, and feel part of the community.
Our twelve year old daughter is deeply integrated into school and society and has a good future. She has made many friends at school and thanks to her we have got to meet more local families, and to know about their lifestyles.
Our time in Canberra has been memorable. We have developed deep connections and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
Published January 2014
Tony Nsofor has lived in and travelled to many places around the world, including London, Barcelona, New York, Cape Town, Los Angeles and Dubai. When he decided to emigrate, his top priority was choosing a destination "characterised with an impressive work-life balance.”
You’re originally from Nigeria where you worked as a chemical engineer. After several years furthering your studies and working in the UK, you decided to emigrate. Of all the destinations in the world to consider, what were the reasons you chose Canberra?
There are several reasons why I chose Canberra but the most important is the personal aspiration to progress in a city characterised with an impressive work-life balance. Things are accessible, the city is a beauty being well planned and managed, the weather is awesome, crime rate is low and the prospect of establishing and excelling in a business is high. It’s also a great place to raise a family.
Did you know anyone in Canberra who influenced your decision to move here?
I have two friends, both post-graduate students, who have lived here for 18 months. Before applying for ACT sponsorship I checked out literature and information about other states too. However, learning that Canberra is a planned city got my interest; I appreciate organisation and planning. Other impressive statistics and first-hand information from my friends helped seal my decision to come to Canberra.
Would you describe Canberra as a multicultural and friendly city?
I find Canberrans are friendly, warm and welcoming to visitors and new migrants.
Whereabouts in Canberra do you live?
I live in one of the inner north suburbs. It takes me only 6 minutes to drive to my office or 10-15 minutes when I use the bus. I get to save time commuting compared to other places where I’ve previously lived.
What kinds of activities and entertainment do you enjoy in Canberra?
I must confess I enjoy the outdoors. I love picnics in the parks around the city. It always feels like the first time whenever I revisit the city landmarks. I love Sunday morning breakfast outdoors and soccer games with new friends.
Would you say that Canberra offers new migrants more opportunities than other cities in Australia?
I am not in the right position to compare opportunities in Canberra with other cities in Australia; however, I can proudly say Canberra has availed me so many opportunities. I got a lucrative job within 6 weeks of settling in the city and other good things followed. What more can I ask for?
Have you explored the region around Canberra?
Unfortunately I haven’t done much exploration of the regions around Canberra because there are lots of places to still see and functions to attend in the city. That being said, I have gone sightseeing at Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, Allan McGrath Reserve, Mount Majura and Isaacs Ridge Pine Plantation. Exploring regions around Canberra is still definitely in the plan.
Are you planning to one day start a business of your own in Canberra?
If things go according to plan, I intend starting a project management consultancy in the future.
Any other comments for others considering the move?
Canberra affords migrants a high standard of living. The move was worth it!
Published April 2014
You were born in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Tell us about your childhood years.
I had a happy although unconventional childhood. My father managed gold mines and we did a lot of travelling because of Dad’s work. In-between attending regular schools Mum home schooled me and my two brothers, depending on where we were living. I loved moving from place to place and experiencing new things. We were a very close knit family and were lucky enough to spend many holidays travelling all over Australia and overseas too.
Dad then started his own business in Perth and I went to secondary school there before taking up a hairdressing apprenticeship.
How did you come to live in Canberra after growing up on the other side of the country?
It’s a long story! After completing my apprenticeship I spent a few years working in Perth before taking up a job offer on an international cruise ship. I absolutely loved this experience but when my visa expired I needed to return to Australia.
My mum and dad are originally from Cowra in New South Wales and they’d returned to live there where many of our extended family is based too. My plan was to spend some time with family before arranging a new visa and returning to the cruise ship. Well I never did return to that cruise ship. I met Ben, (we’ve just celebrated our ninth anniversary), and I opened my own successful hair salon in Cowra.
We love the casual rural lifestyle. However Ben, a bricklayer, found it difficult to find regular work. Very little development takes place in small country towns. While on holiday in Melbourne Ben was offered a permanent job by a big company, so I sold my salon and we made the move.
I found work and within a few months was running two salons for a national franchise. We’d been in Melbourne for 18 months when I won a competition run by the franchise I worked for. The fabulous prize was ownership of a franchise store in Forster on the mid north coast NSW.
Ben did not enjoy Melbourne and we’d always wanted a sea-change. Forster was an amazing experience and we learned a lot. I was working seven days a week so we hardly saw each other. We had no time to enjoy the seaside, it was really tough going. We decided to sell the salon and moved back to Cowra to reconsider our future.
Ben was offered a job in Canberra and was spending Mondays to Fridays there, coming home on weekends. We hated being apart and after a few months decided to move to Canberra permanently.
Was it an easy decision?
Growing up in WA I hardly knew that Canberra existed but of course I would follow my husband anywhere. I must admit Canberra is not somewhere I thought I would live.
Straightaway my mind was changed. I loved it, absolutely loved it. It’s like city meets country. It’s got everything you need, the shopping and food and it’s trendy. When friends visit from interstate we love to go out, there are so many cafes, bars, restaurants, clubs and pubs. There’s so much going on I simply can’t do everything I want to do.
I never dreamed it would be like this. When we lived in Melbourne, then Forster, we struggled to make friends but here everyone’s friendly and makes you feel welcome.
There’s hardly any traffic and it’s so peaceful where we live, just 10 minutes from Belconnen Town Centre. We can even hear cows mooing from our backyard!
We love how pet friendly the city is. Minna, a German Shepherd cross bull mastiff, is part of our family and goes everywhere with us.
How easy was it for you to find work?
I found work straightaway at a well reputed salon. Initially I worked just two days a week but this was soon extended to full time work. I love my job and am steadily building up a clientele - we’ve only been in Canberra seven months.
I’m ambitious and enjoy entering competitions – I have just sent in entries for one where I did complete makeovers on two of my clients. I love creating the whole look, not only the hair but the make-up and styling too.
You’ve been selected to be one of the hairstylists at this year’s Fashfest. Are you excited?
Yes! I was hoping that I would get in, this is such a fun event and an opportunity to be creative. I’ll be doing hair styling on models before and after each look. It’s going to be a busy time backstage and the pressure will be on to get the models ready for show time.
Any comments for other newcomers to Canberra?
I feel so lucky to live in Canberra. If you have a passion then go out and get what you want. You can achieve anything if you really want it.
Published June 2014
My family and I migrated from the Philippines to Canberra just last July, 2013. It was a difficult decision to leave Manila which has been our home since birth but we knew that God has a purpose for our family here.
We’ve visited Canberra twice as tourists in the past and really enjoyed this beautiful city. It has been our city of choice since we expressed our desire to migrate to Australia. We have been blessed to be granted a state sponsorship by the ACT and now that we are here, we are even more fortunate to have settled quite well in such a short time.
We stayed in a small apartment in Forde and within just three weeks, three of our four daughters had the privilege to be employed by three of the most respected businesses in Canberra. My eldest daughter works as a makeup artist for a popular makeup brand. My second daughter is a culinary chef at one of the newest restaurants in the City and my third daughter is a pastry chef at a large grocery chain.
Our youngest daughter is in year eleven and has easily adjusted to the welcoming multicultural communities in the school. She is currently being trained in the multimedia arts and has persistently excelled in her subjects in Gungahlin College.
Just last December, we were blessed with a new home we bought under the land rent scheme which is a privilege enjoyed only by Canberrans. We were able to purchase a hilltop block at Bonner with a magnificent view of a nature reserve and surrounded by open parks, ponds, playgrounds and picnic areas
Canberra is absolutely breathtaking. Every morning our backyard is home to cockatoos, parrots, doves, ducks and other unique variety of birds. We do get some kangaroo visits during the day and foxes and rabbits running around our house at night. Life here is just like being beautifully one with nature.
My wife is a full time homemaker who enjoys attending to her greenhouse filled with all sorts of herbs, spices, vegetables and other ornamental greens. Her flower garden was absolutely stunning last spring. We also planted apricots, apples, lemons, oranges, limes, cherry and peach trees which we hope will bear fruits in the next few years.
I, on the other hand have registered an ABN and currently running my own freelance interior design business while finishing an online two year diploma course at North Coast TAFE. I have done several projects in Gungahlin, Franklin, Bonner, O’Malley and I’m working on a new and exciting design commission in Kingston.
After just seven months we were given the benefit of settling comfortably in Canberra in our new home. Everyone in the family, except for our youngest, all have their full Australian drivers licenses and are all independently driving to and from work every day.
After travelling to many parts of the world, I can honestly and unequivocally say that there is probably no better place to settle a family than here in Canberra. This is where God brought us and we know that this is where our destiny and future will unfold.
I just want to thank the city of Canberra for opening its doors to migrants like us and giving us the opportunity to live, work and settle in this magnificent city. There is a world of beautiful opportunities in this part of Australia and we just want to let everyone know - we LOVE Canberra!