In six weeks today, I will be leaving Vancouver (again) and heading off on my epic eleven week journey home. I will be visiting the UK, Europe and Asia before arriving back on Magnetic Island in time for Christmas. In early 2018, I will then leave the nest again and probably fly south to Melbourne, to begin over…again. It will be my fifth move and a repeat of one of the four cities I’ve called home in my 20s.
So the question is, why am I returning to Australia? Why am I leaving Vancouver again, even though I have a year left on my working holiday visa? Didn’t I write about my heart belonging to Vancouver last year? Here’s the answer.
SEEING VANCOUVER THROUGH ROSE-COLOURED GLASSES
About four months after I returned to Vancouver on my second working holiday, I kind of had a bit of an epiphany. As I said to my friends at the time, it was like I had been looking at Vancouver through rose-coloured glasses. But all of a sudden the glass was shattered and I was realising the city’s flaws.
Don’t get me wrong, Vancouver will always feel like a second home to me. But it isn’t my forever home, which I realise now. I really struggled this year with the weather. I mean, seven months of consistent rain and some snow thrown in for good measure? It’s enough to make anyone go crazy!
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a serious thing and it was getting to me. As someone who grew up in a place where winter basically doesn’t exist (I didn’t even own one pair of boots growing up), my body couldn’t handle it. I know that if I return to Melbourne, the weather isn’t all sunshine and rainbows there either. But it definitely isn’t as cold as Vancouver!
The second thing about Vancouver, and North America in general, is the wages. I don’t know how anyone who isn’t a professional saves money here. Fortunately, I found a cheap place to rent in a good neighbourhood and I don’t have a lot of bills to pay. But to put it in perspective, I was earning half the money for doing the same job as in Australia (working at a sports stadium). I was also getting tips, but this amount fluctuates from day to day, and still didn’t come close to my Australian wage.
I am never going to be someone who wants to sit in an office from 9 to 5 (sorry, Dad!). Now that I’ve been working as a freelancer in the field I love, I am going to do all I can to continue on this path once my contract is finished. This means I may still do a casual job in Melbourne to meet people and get myself out of the house, like I’m doing in Vancouver. But I will be earning a LOT more money at said casual job.
MOVE TO AUSTRALIA… AGAIN
Being an expat is hard, guys. There is an ease that comes to living in your home country that I just miss. I miss being a three-hour flight from my family and their tropical paradise. I miss Kmart (for reals) and I even miss Melbourne’s vibe. In saying that, my mind was tossing up between Brisbane (cheaper) and Melbourne (cooler), but right now I think Melbourne may win.
I am not saying no to never being an expat again. Who knows what the future holds! But I am saying yes to settling for a little bit. To finding a home and decorating and not worrying about how all of my stuff will fit into two suitcases.
I don’t regret returning to Vancouver for this year on a working holiday. In hindsight, I think I needed to return to realise that I do love this city, and I will return as much as possible as a visitor, but it isn’t home. I also don’t regret returning because I got to work with some cool people, and I got to visit Hawaii and then LA with friends I’m definitely closer to now than before.
I never would have had these experiences if I didn’t come back, so I definitely don’t regret this move. After my first time abroad, I wrote that my working holiday changed me, and the same can be said again. I truly believe everything happens for a reason, and I was meant to return. To make lifelong friendships and to find the travel writing job of my dreams.
But I am ready to be back in Australia. I know Australia has its flaws as well, but it’s home. That’s all there is to it.
If you’re an expat, I’d love to hear your thoughts. How did you know the place you’re living was home? Have you also done a backflip like myself?