As we slowly make our way around the world (only one continent unvisited!), we’re paying attention to the places we might want to stay longer and possibly use as a long-term base. We’ll still travel, but at some point I’m sure we’re going to want a place that feels a bit more like “home” where we can both make friends and be part of a local community. We absolutely loved Australia, and we’re enjoying New Zealand so far. But I have to wonder if I could live in Australia or NZ.
Our visit to Australia really surprised me. We actually only went there initially because (1) we were fairly close, (2) we needed to go there to cross the 6th continent off our list, and (3) Tigger really wanted to go. Despite hearing wonderful things, I just didn’t think I’d care all that much for it. I prefer undeveloped to developing countries. Australia seemed to be just one more European metropolis without the charm of say, my favorite city in the world Paris.
I ended up really liking it, though! We only had a few days in Sydney before our housesit in Ballarat, a small town about 1-1/2 hours outside of Melbourne. Sydney was nice but not impressive. The best part for me was visiting with some friends. For Tigger, their incredibly fast Internet was a huge feather in Australia’s cap.
When we arrived in the small village of Buninyong for our housesit, I was a bit concerned. It was very rural. I like rural, but I also wanted to be able to explore and see new things. However, we quickly fell into the rhythm of small town life, and we fell in love with our village and the town. We had such a great time there, and both places had such a great vibe to them.
We did manage to visit Melbourne, and I instantly fell in love with the city. It has such a great energy to it, has a gorgeous beach area, and a wonderful public transportation system. It’s just such a freaking cool city.
Once I got past the initial culture shock, it was even easier to enjoy the area. But the longer we stayed, one thing kept coming up for me.
Australia is way too . . . vanilla for me.
There’s plenty of museums, shows, theatre, etc. If you’re in bigger cities, there is a lot of ethnic food available. But I felt like I was surrounded by . . . I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but far too many white people.
I grew up in a melting pot, a place full of color, different languages, and ethnicities. As we’ve traveled, we’ve primarily remained immersed in similar situations. Even in France, there was a healthy amount of diversity. Not so much in Australia.
New Zealand has a slightly different culture, especially with its large Maori population. But it still feels very, well, “white bread.” I greatly miss hearing all the languages around me I don’t understand, seeing all the different colors of skin, the down-to-earth lifestyle of developing countries. I miss my hawker food places. I miss the challenge of trying to figure something out because I don’t understand the language. While it can be nice communicating with the locals, I miss both of us, a local and me, laughing as we try to figure out how to communicate. I even miss the chaos of motorbikes whizzing around.
Most of the people I’ve met in both countries have been extremely friendly. But it still feels. . . sterile.
New Zealand reminds me of home in the Pacific Northwest, but I don’t think I could live here long term. Australia would be a bigger draw to me. I’d love to visit and stay longer in both places, but could I live in Australia or New Zealand long term?
They’re both special, wonderful places, but I don’t think I could call either country “home.”