Not all rainbows and butterflies: on the struggles of moving to a new city and finding my feet in Brisbane

I was very naive to think moving interstate to a brand new city would be all rainbows and butterflies. I mean, I knew it would be challenging but I didn’t think it would be “I want to catch the next plane home” type of challenging.

After all, I was the free-spirited traveller who could find a home anywhere. Moving to the other side of Australia where I knew barely anyone would be a breeze!

Not quite. In fact, the struggle to settle in is the reason why it’s been a while since I’ve published anything on here. I was starting to slip into a bit of a depression and the only thing that kept me going was the fact that I had such a wonderful job and the fact that even if I went back to Perth, what on earth would I do?

I had my first little meltdown only on my second day in Brisbane when I discovered how much I had to do just to get my car which I had shipped over from Perth, registered in Queensland. I just sat in the car crying, wanting to go home. Kind of seems silly looking back, because it wasn’t too big of a deal getting the car registered in the end.

Incredible views of Brisbane CBD from the top of Mt Coot Tha
Incredible views of Brisbane CBD from the top of Mt Coot Tha.

Things didn’t turn out so well with my housing situation either. I should have noticed the big red flag waving in my face when on my first night, my housemate said I had to use her squeegee to clean the water off the glass after every single shower. Every. Single. Shower.

Let’s just say things got progressively worse. The next weird request was to hold the flush button on the toilet for a set period of time. But things finally came to a head when she accused me of not being hygenic even though it felt like I would spend my entire day just wiping the kitchen bench and washing my hands. Within 3 weeks I had moved out.

It’s been almost 2 months since I arrived in Brisbane and over a month since that awful situation ended and I am happy to say that things are a lot better now. After short stay with my dad and stepmum, I ended up finding another place to live in the western suburb of Toowong. I’m living with a 24 year old postgrad student and we get along really well. We’re also both in a similar situation – a lot of his friends have left Brissy – so we’re both on a mission to make some new friends.

I’m only a 10 minute walk to the main shopping strip and train station and there is a ferry terminal only a 15 minute walk away. The city centre is only 10 minutes away by train and it only takes me 15 minutes to drive to work. It’s seriously a fantastic spot and I am definitely plan to stick around in this area for as long as possible.

Australia vs Pakistan test match, Gabba, Brisbane
Watching the Australia vs Pakistan test match at the Gabba – it’s a hard life but someone has to do it!

My new job is absolutely fantastic. I am having a blast getting back into software development and actually writing code. I’ve been working on a few exciting projects for Cricket Australia and the NRL. We even got free tickets to watch the Australia vs Pakistan test match before Christmas (it’s a hard life but someone has to do it). It’s also great working with some very friendly and supportive colleagues, although it does take some getting used to working in a company of 7 people as opposed to a company of 4000 people.

And even more amazing? I start work at 8:15 am, have a minimum 30 minute lunch break and I’m out the door by  5:00 pm, if not a bit earlier. I feel like living a more balanced life is actually achievable now.

Southbank, Brisbane, Queensland
Lovely afternoon strolling along Southbank, Brisbane.

I know though that there will still be challenges, namely meeting new people. It’s a slow work in progress and I have started to sign up to meet up groups and actually find the courage to attend meetups. I tried the kickboxing classes at the local martial arts centre and while everyone was really nice, I didn’t find the classes overly suitable for a newbie like me. However, I’ve found a boxing gym only a 15 minute drive aweay so I think I shall have to give that a go.

If I’m really desperate I’m considering just hanging out solo at the local pub and handing out my business card.

I’m also making the most of living in a new city and actually getting out there and exploring. This however is easier said than done in the middle of a hot, humid, sticky summer. If I have one gripe about Brisbane, it’s that the summer here is absolutely yuck. Before I went to the hairdresser on the weekend, I had given up on straightening my hair. I’ve almost given up on wearing makeup because it just drips off my face. As soon as I get out of the shower I start sweating again. You just can’t win here.

Anyway, as I was saying, I’m making the most of living in a new city and exploring. So far I’ve explored Southbank and the main city area, in particular all the art galleries, state library and museum. I’ve been up to the top of Mt Coot Tha and admired all the views of Brisbane, all the way out to the coast. I’ve also managed to make it down to Southport, which is at the northern end of the Gold Coast and even up to Caloundra which is at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast.

Each morning before work, I’m out of the door by 6:00 am for a good long walk. There are a crap load of hills in Toowong so my calves are certainly getting a good workout! In the process of having this daily routine, I’ve discovered so many cafes, restaurants, shops, beauty salons and all sorts of interesting places to check out. I certainly feel like a tourist in my own city and I’m hoping to keep that feeling for quite some time!

While it certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park settling into a new city, I am getting there and I know in the end I will look back fondly on this time in my life and be proud of how far I’ve come and of the big risk I took to move here.

Brisbane is a great city and I hope to post more about it. It’s certainly a lot faster than Perth – there’s obviously a lot more shops and places to eat and the drivers are quite aggressive especially on the freeways. There’s a lot of parks and great walking trails and I’m looking forward to doing a fair bit of hiking here.

There’s a quote I’ve mentioned before in this post and I will mention again just to keep me and anyone else in the same situation going:

“Let your faith be greater than your fears.”

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