Our physical journey to Melbourne started with a taxi arriving at 4am to take us and our 7 cases to Manchester airport. It was cold. It was dark. It was raining. Three reasons alone to head to the Southern hemisphere!
We experienced high levels of stress as we tried to pack everything left in the house into our cases and keep it below the 80kg baggage allowance allotted to us. We finally had to concede that this was impossible and resigned ourselves to paying for excess baggage. However, stress levels continued to rise as we couldn’t confirm from either British Airways with whom we were flying the first leg of the journey with or Qantas who were taking us the rest of the way, how much this would cost and both operate completely different ways of charging. Unfortunately this put us in a bit of a dilemma because we had no idea whether to try and ditch even more stuff which would make it cheaper if Qantas rates were in operation as they charge per kilo or just go with it and stick all the excess into one extra bag weighing up to 23kg for a fixed price which would be the way BA works. I made several phonecalls to the two companies and neither could give me a definite answer. It was a very frustrating experience.
So at check in, we discovered that we’d done the wrong thing by packing everything we could and hoping it would be the BA rates as we would be charged £40 per kg and we were about 18kg overweight! But much to our relief the lady checking us in told us that she wouldn't weigh our hand luggage (even though there are published restrictions on the website) and we could take an extra piece each which meant that all 98kg of our luggage made it to Melbourne at no extra charge. Phew!
Our flights were uneventful and not as bad as we’d anticipated. Food on Qantas was better than anything we’ve had on a longhaul flight that I can remember but it still is airline food so although good, still isn’t something I’d want to eat regularly. Service was cheerful and helpful and the babies on board were all well behaved! I guess the two Valium I took helped take the edge off 21 hours in a metal tube with wings.
We landed in Melbourne at 9pm and clearing customs and collecting baggage went smoothly. Customs is really like “Nothing to Declare” on tv and there are sniffer dogs on patrol. We got sniffed twice by two different dogs and the second one left its gloop on one of our bags as a welcome gift!
We arrived at our temporary apartment which is best described as functional. It’s close to the PwC office and has a view of the Ernst and Young office so two reminders of institutions close to Steve’s heart! It has everything we need for the next couple of weeks but we look forward to moving into a real home.
This morning we met Susan, our relocation consultant. I see her as someone who is being paid to be our friend! She took us round 8 properties all in different areas. It was good to get our bearings, look round some of the neighbourhoods and get an idea of the rental market. Properties go quickly and are subject to an application process. I’d read previously that it’s a competitive market for tenants and can be an arduous process. The onus is on the tenants to prove their worth to rental agencies and owners and I have read that some people have a really difficult time securing the home they want. Some ex pats talk about submitting all sorts of documentation such as a written statement of circumstance which is like a CV and promotes why you would be the best tenant, proof of previous mortgage payments, references from all and sundry, proof of funds, advance rent in cash; it just sounded like a nightmare and rejection all too common an occurrence.
Luckily Susan advised that we were in a better position given Steve’s job and the fact we were being looked after by a relocation company so, all things going well, it shouldn’t be as tough an experience as it is for other people. Let’s hope so and I’ll keep you posted how it goes. Anyway back to the properties, we were supposed to see 11 properties but we were notified that one had already been let in spite of it being available the day before (that’s how competitive the market is), another we missed the viewing time as it was only available on an open viewing basis for 30 minutes and the third we decided not to bother with as it was the last one on the list and we’d seen too many and had had enough by then! So we actually inspected 8 properties, all very different and we decided to apply for 3 of them. We had a frantic hour of completing application forms and faxing identification documents to 3 different rental agencies before close of business so that we would be first in line before any further viewings and subsequent applications that would take place tomorrow.
The 3 properties are all very different; one is a period property in a residential area known as South Yarra which looks like a cool neighbourhood with boutiques, restaurants and bars, another is a fully furnished place just over the river from South Yarra and the third one is a stone’s throw from Steve’s office (which I guess can be a great or a really bad thing depending on what kind of day he has had) which is part furnished and one of those modern type apartments in Melbourne’s tallest building known as the Eureka tower. So now it’s a waiting game as we see if we’re successful in any of our applications. Tonight’s task is to weigh up each property and prioritise them in case we are offered all 3 and if so the rental agencies will want us to sign up there and then so we need to know in advance which is our preferred. I think this will be best done over a nice dinner by the river over a bottle of wine!