Taking the road trip of a life time
I had no real intention of living abroad, it was the simple fact I was getting to the cut off age for the working visa for the UK that got me going.
My sister invited me to stay with her in Singapore and then Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, before I headed to the UK, so the opportunity to experience another lifestyle took my fancy and I accepted.
I enjoyed a few months in Asia backpacking and passing the Padi dive course that seemed to be the must-do experience.
Eventually I headed over to England. Past travellers had warned me to avoid London for work owing to costs of living and lifestyle, so I spent most of my time in Edinburgh (Leith of Walk). I worked six weeks on and six off there, and in Newbury Berkshire I worked at the Brewery Distribution centre where I got generous staff discounts.
I did notice I was out of the ordinary by being the proud owner of a car, which allowed me the freedom to travel and live off the beaten track. I wasn't well off by any degree, but had a circle of friends that gave me the advantage of local knowledge and my mechanical skills saved me heaps.
Whilst in Edinburgh I was able to book flights on the many low cost airlines six to 18 weeks in advance, which at one stage got me eight flights around Europe for £100 (NZ$200) total.
Living abroad for the six-week period was cheaper than living in Scotland too, so I made the most of my time as far east as Krakow, Poland, and as far south as Morocco. I avoided Paris for the simple fact I wanted to experience France with a future partner.
After two years I did not want to continue in the UK, so I returned to New Zealand only to find the itch had bitten me.
Arriving in Sydney in February 2007, my intention was to travel Australia for seven years - one year in each state or territory.
Buying a near-new Holden panel van with deposit and stamp duty of $1200 on credit card was much cheaper than rentals for any extended period of time, and instantly made me find employment and haven't been without since.
Having a multi combination heavy vehicle licence I found changing licences in NSW allowed me to avoid paying $1000 in Queensland or WA for driving lessons to convert my New Zealand/UK equivalent.
So I travelled across the length of Australia from Toowoomba, Brisbane, to Perth and the Nullarbor in a Roadtrain (bucket list objective accomplished) seeing the countryside whilst being paid for it.
I got lost in Melbourne and drove under poorly signed low level bridges in Frankston (local knowledge is a gem). I drove country hill roads in South Australia watching beautiful sunrises at dawn overlooking vineyards and orchards and only having to work three days a week to live comfortably.
My quest to write a book about my travels hasn't diminished, but the seven years travelling will have to take a back burner now I'm married to the woman of my dreams, who happens to be an Aussie.
The costs of living have escalated in the past few years in Australia. I don't intend to invest my savings in property here with different states having varied tax laws, regarding land tax (not council rates), water rates, stamp duty to mention a few.
I have learnt to expect failure and be surprised if pro-active action is taken due to the duplication and public office apathy that is so embedded in this corrupt and overly-governed country.
I can only speak for a few as Australia is such a large and diverse country, however, I wouldn't suggest moving here with a young family expecting a better lifestyle in the bigger cities.
With the way the economy is contracting with overly-protected union involvement, it's much harder to find work.
I contradict myself I know, but it took me 15 years to get to the stage I'm at now. I succeeded at travelling thanks to a practical ability, allowing me to lend a hand at almost anything, securing employment almost anywhere with no problems. But I'd be lost in the city centre where living costs are high and preferred skill set in poor demand.
My suggestion to other would-be travellers would be to ask themselves when planning: "Where do you want to be in the long term, and what road do you intend to take to get there?"
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