From Australia to Nashville TN

#1
Hi y'all, 2 months in from arriving here permanently with my wife (now 6 months pregnant) and 3 year old from Australia and we've found I guess we have found it to be a tough transition so far.
I was bought a house here prior to us arriving (having seen done so in May on our activation trip) so do have a place to call home, our shipping container arrives next week from Australia after it's 2 month voyage across the globe.
We sold our house in Australia which gives us a nest egg in case things go wrong here. We also took 12 months leave from our roles in Australia as a fall back and are fortunate to both of had substantial long service and annual leave owing. Had to leave our Rotweiller in Australia as the $7000 to bring her was too much and her 9 year age was probably getting a little risky too.
For the first week of being here we stayed in a hotel whilst we bought beds etc to stay in our house. We had a rental car until we found one to buy, probably rushed in to what we bought on account of our 3 year old being hard to live with! It was tough to transition with her also going through the changes and not understanding what was happening.

Work
I have had no success in finding work so far despite having applied for over 80 jobs, no interviews to date, gets to be a little demoralising. I have 20 years experience in my professional field however no college degree. This seems to be a big issue with the applications (I work in finance). We had allowed 12 months so still have plenty of time but it is frustrating! My wife will not be looking for work for at least another year.

Child care.
It's been interesting to compare from back home. We have looked at many daycares and finally settled on one which she starts at next week. $190 a week full time, which compared to $110 a day in Australia is great. Not 100% convinced on the center and will look at another couple this week even though she is starting there. The great schools have 12 month waiting lists (or longer), sools that have vacancies have very poor reviews. My tip on this would be to start looking before you go. Once you have a date, start researching straight away. We left it till we arrived. Big mistake.

Healthcare.
Given I do not have work at present, we are paying $1000 a month with a $7300 deductable. Ludicrous, however given the baby will be born in February, the only other choice was to go back home. The system is hard to understand however we do have a broker that is assisting us. We need to choose a new marketplace policy by 15th December so another meeting coming up this week with the broker.

Have been thinking of starting a blog to diarise the transition and experiences. For all of the similarities between Australia and the US, there are a lot of differences which even after coming here for 15 years I did not realise until actually living here.
 

Britsimon

Super Moderator
#2
Thanks for posting some notes. It's important for people to come here with their eyes wide open - and info like this helps to get people thinking. I'd like to offer some tips.

Buying a house immediately. My wife is a realtor, and I would nearly always recommend people buy as soon as they can. However, unless you are really sure you are going to be able to start work and so on around that area, I would recommend new immigrants rent for a few months or a year, even if they can afford to buy a house mortgage free. Basically that is to make job search easier. Being prepared to relocate to where the jobs are is really helpful to get a job (in professional work).

Next is choice of area to try to settle in. Nashville is a low income place. Unemployment levels are good, but poverty levels are higher than the national average. Basically, that means there are jobs there, but they are low paying jobs. Unless you have a really good reason to be there (like family, or a specific employer/industry), I would not recommend that type of choice. Low income means lower cost of living for sure - but you want plenty of good paying work opportunities, and you chose the an area lacking that. I'm sure you had your reasons, but it wouldn't have been my plan.

Jobs.
It's tough to get your first job in the professional field. It's easier to get a new job once someone has taken a risk on you. Since a VERY high percentage of people get degrees here (even if only in basket weaving), not having a degree means you don't even get considered for many jobs. So - you will probably have to take a backward step careerwise, and then work you butt off to get promoted. Once you do that, you are more likely to trade that work experience upwards. Try and get with some recruiters so they understand your track record. Online job search systems will almost always exclude you for lacking a degree. So - make direct contact with companies. Try networking through professional groups (like if you are an accountant, hang out with accountants). Use Linked in to make some acquaintances, especially at companies you want to target. Many growing companies offer referral fees to employees when they recommend someone who gets hired. So - don't be shy.

Healthcare.
Make sure you are getting the full subsidy as a low/no income person. You need to get a good provider/policy for the birth. The best policies will cost a bit more, but end up with low or almost no bill for the birth. A broker should be able to help you choose.
 
#3
Thanks for the response Britsimon.
We decided on Nashville as we have been coming here for the past 15 years, having been investing in the property market here over that time. We also have a support network here. I actually had an option to relocate to LA and continue to work for my current employer (an international bank) however we decided that we were moving to the US to live in Nashville, not LA. This has always felt like home to us.
The bridge is not burnt so I can always reach out to them again should thing crash and burn here, just a pain in having to move again!

I've had my resume re-written by professional here to tailor it to the US market, Linkedin is a good tip which I have been using, Indeed seems to be where the majority of roles are advertised. Networking is also key which will become easier once my 3 year old starts daycare!

My understanding and advice from the broker is that we are not eligible for subsidized healthcare (Called TenCare in TN) as we are non-citizens and have not been here for 5 years.

Given the long lead time in applying for the lottery to actually moving here, I think it's also important to make sure it is something you are 100% certain on doing. I've read a lot lately about expats getting depressed or going through different stages after the initial move. I can relate. When you are asked a hundred times where are you from, aren't the spiders big there, and why are you here, it gets a little much when you are feeling down!
Have to stay positive!
 
#5
Thanks for this, this is very interesting. Duly noted about the schools.

I've lived overseas a couple of times before and i always rent for 6 months to get a feel of the place. Then buy if needed. I don't like being tied down so soon.

I shudder to think what health insurance will cost for a family of 4 (39,36, 11,7).
 
#6
Hi Bob, insurance was probably my number one worry prior to coming here.
We could of taken a $2600 p/m policy with a $2000 deductable (excess) but opted for the lower monthly cost. Crazy thing is, year ends soon and we need to choose a new plan!
Not knowing how much things are going to cost until you receive a bill in the mail from your insurer seems crazy to me, there is strong debate about universal healthcare pros and cons and given the current political divide I cannot see it being resolved anytime soon.

Britsimon, not sure there is any subsidy if you have $0 income, isn't it all tax based? Having said that, I'm still being paid from Australia so that will create another layer of confusion,
 

SusieQQQ

Well-Known Member
#7
^just to clarify/confirm that by “schools”, you mean daycare?
Public schools are available from transitional kindergarten/kindergarten up and don’t have waiting lists, or cost anything. (Not sure this distinction is clear to others reading this.)

I’m sorry it’s been difficult, that’s one thing I think many immigrants can empathize with. Hopefully it will get better with more familiarity with your surroundings. Agree with what Simon said about the job, you need to get around the auto-filters and make contact with humans.

And a small suggestion - trust us we know how annoying “what made you move here” gets after a while - but it may also lead to networking opportunities- engage people!

By the way, your medical insurance costs should come down massively when you get a job, with the combination of employer subsidies and the rates the employers negotiate. I think our cost came down from something like close to $2k to about $500 a month, for a slightly better plan.
 
#8
Hi Susie, I meant daycares. She turned 3 on the 4th of November so misses out on Pre-K by a couple of months.

Great point about turning the questions into opportunity! That's just the suggestion I needed :)
 

EmilyW

Well-Known Member
#9
When people ask me why I moved here, I tell them adventure. If nothing else, it starts the conversation about being brave, being able to take risks, being resilience, being good under pressure: all of which are skills people look for.

Happy to help if I can. I live and work in Charlotte and might be able to search out some contacts? DM me.
 
#11
When people ask me why I moved here, I tell them adventure. If nothing else, it starts the conversation about being brave, being able to take risks, being resilience, being good under pressure: all of which are skills people look for.

Happy to help if I can. I live and work in Charlotte and might be able to search out some contacts? DM me.
How is Charlotte? Does it feel safe around there?

I've been looking at Houston, Austin, North Carolina area, and Oregon. Houston seems very cheap....suspiciously so.
 

SusieQQQ

Well-Known Member
#12
How is Charlotte? Does it feel safe around there?

I've been looking at Houston, Austin, North Carolina area, and Oregon. Houston seems very cheap....suspiciously so.
A lot of people complain about the weather in Houston.

The city-data forums tend to be a good place to find about what cities are like to live in, jobs, schools, etc.
 

EmilyW

Well-Known Member
#13
Charlotte is a great town. Big enough to have the amenities and infrastructure, but small enough still that it's not crazy expensive or crowded. There are bad parts you don't go near (especially after dark), but that's the same for any city (I wouldn't travel to Dandenong any time of day when I lived in Melbourne). Lots of job opportunities (two Fortune 40s headquartered here in Bank of America and Lowe's), good schools, nice climate. I've been here nearly three years and like it alot. Not sure if it's the forever place, but it's perfect for right now.
 
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