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So you want to go to Canggu?

In the last year and a half I spent about 5 months off and on living in Canggu, Bali. It’s now the unofficial #1 digital nomad destination in the world and a few people have asked me for tips so I thought it would be worthwhile to put together my own little guide to living short term in Canggu.

I’ve never been a backpacker in the traditional sense. Whenever I go away for a chunk of time I tend to find one place I really like and settle down there till it’s time to go home (and then I usually go back a few times). Example:

  • Ios, Greece: A tiny party island in the Cyclades, near Santorini. I went for a week, stayed for a month and returned the next summer for four months. This was when internet was dial up and you had to pay $/minute(!). I worked as a waitress at a breakfast restaurant on the mountainside overlooking the ocean and made 20 euro/day, my room was 6 euro/day and that was all I needed.
  • Jaco, Costa Rica: A touristy beach town, an hour and a half from San Jose. I went for a week, came back for a month, stayed for three months, came back for another three months and then some more. I was already working as a freelance web designer in Canada and just continued working full-time in Jaco. 9-5 (give or take), Mon-Fri on my laptop, outdoors at beachside cafes, sweating like crazy and stopping when the mosquitos started to come out.
  • Canggu, Bali: A touristy beach town (they seem to be my fave), close to the well-known Seminyak and Kuta areas. I visited for three days during a girls trip, came back for three weeks, then later a month, then later three months. I tried not to do the full-time thing like I did in Costa Rica, but did do a few small freelance projects while there (a little $ goes a long way in Indonesia).

I still love all three places and basically left a piece of my heart in each one. It’s crazy to see how fast they’ve grown though. In the last few years Canggu has really exploded – so much development and SO MANY digital nomads. Even if I’ve only been away for a month, Canggu is different every time I go back. This guide is very specific to my experience and my little pocket of life on the island of the gods. There is so much to do and see in Bali that I just can’t cover here, so for now…

Canggu

There are definitely some misconceptions about Canggu. It’s not jungles and waterfalls and endless rice fields (although there are a few beauts left!). And on the main streets it’s crowded and loud and dusty. The beaches are not white sand and they come with their fair share of garbage (although there are lovely groups coming together to clean it). The sea is not turquoise tropic – you can go to the Gilis for that. But it IS beautiful in all its messy glory. There is peace amongst the chaos. And once you start to understand its rhythms you’ll find so much joy bubbling up from the surface and understand why it’s becoming (if it’s not already) the most popular place to live in Bali.

The beauty of Canggu

Why did I go?

The first time I went for an extended period, I had a yoga retreat in Keramas to go to and decided to come early (three weeks early) and give myself the first proper break I’d had in a few years. After that I went back each time with different projects in mind, like finishing my portfolio, starting up Tnfld, and doing two different yoga teacher trainings at The Practice.

Living in Australia, Bali is a quick five hour plane ride away. You can get a return flight for under $400 AUD if you’re lucky. My favourite reasons to go: Surfing, yoga, food, people and the Hindu-Balinese culture.

The thing is…Bali is cheap. Like so cheap it makes Costa Rica seem like a high flyer trip in comparison. The low cost of living, combined with a ridiculous high quality of life is why so many people end up coming and staying. The beauty of this dynamic is that if you’re trying to get an online business off the ground, study long distance, write that book, etc. it buys you time. It gives you space. All of which give you the biggest luxury of all: creative freedom.

 

Recommendations

(Culture / Work / Sleep / Eat / Play / Getting around / Money / Visa)

Culture

Beach ceremonies at the temple

My friend, who had never been to Bali, recently went and texted me from the airport –  “Alex…I love Bali already…it smells AMAZING!”. It’s true. The island of the gods is full of dreamy incense, beautiful flowers and 3x (or more) daily offerings to the deities. There’s always music in the air, ceremonies to be performed, special holidays shutting down the streets. The ‘ishvara pranidhana’ (yoga term for ‘devotion to god’) is everywhere. The thickest thread tying together the cultural fabric.

Day out with the Five Pillar Foundation – a must do!

The Balinese are some of the most kind, friendly, funny, and easy going people. Family is everything and you see that everywhere. The support system is so strong. The Hindu Balinese religion is one based on karmic beliefs, which makes it the most special community I’ve ever seen.

I highly recommend doing a day trip with the Five Pillar Foundation. I can’t recommend it enough and I’m NOT regularly a day-trip, tour type of person. It’s amazing and will start you off on the right foot in terms of beginning to understand the roots of where you’re living. Check out my “Learn/Bali” highlights on insta of my day with them (not sponsored!).

It’s really easy in a Westernised place like Canggu to skim over the Balinese culture, but if you want the full Bali experience, do yourself a favour and open up. There’s legit magic in the air there – let it in!

 

Work

Good little worker bee (at Alter Ego cafe)

Don’t go to Bali expecting to find paid work. To legally work you need a KITAS permit. The government is very strict about this (especially in more populated places like Canggu) and has been known to look at social media, etc. so always be careful. Even if you’re teaching a one-off yoga class and want to advertise it online, it’s something to be mindful of.

I went with money saved and a few freelance clients and that was all I needed to get by. I’ve met people doing everything from everywhere:

  • Marketers/developers/designers…and one lawyer (shout out Bibi xx) working full-time remotely for companies abroad (https://remotive.io/)
  • Startups: lots of drop & ship, apps, fashion (baby wraps, bikinis, etc.)
  • Online English teachers for Chinese students
  • Freelance writers
  • Yoga teachers working exchange for room and meals
  • Bitcoin adventurers
  • Online health coaches, yoga teachers, fitness gurus, life coaches, etc.
  • And a lot of expats opening their own businesses in Canggu (restaurants, salons, fitness studios, luxe villas, etc.). 

Co-working: There are a ton of co-working spaces now in Canggu, but I only have experience with the original: Dojo. It’s expensive, but it can’t be beat for an introduction to Canggu. Such a great, welcoming staff, awesome community, events, talks, Friday drinks (Beach & beers). So many inspiring people – you’re always learning something new. The Facebook group is one of the best resources and ex-Dojoers are still active (including me) from all over the world.

I usually get a smaller package of hours and spend most of my time working from laptop friendly cafes.

 

Sleep

My #1 office

Guesthouse or villa? If you’re staying for a little while this is definitely something you’ll need to consider.

For me location is most important. To make sure I would go surfing early mornings, get to yoga on time, be able to walk home safely if I went out at night…I needed to be close to the beach and pretty much on Batu Bolong (the main street).

Check the map when you’re looking for a place, Canggu is actually quite large, long and wide. If you’re not riding a scooter you want to make sure you’re near the places you want to be. I’d also recommend booking a place for a few nights and then seeing how you feel about it once you’re there. It’s way easier to walk around and find a place you like (not to mention negotiate a better long-term deal) if you’re there in person.

It’s hard to find a villa that matched my location needs (they’re usually a lot further out), so I chose guesthouse. I loved my big room, my balcony overlooking a field, within earshot of my yoga studio (and all the “oms”).

If I was staying longer than a few months I would look into a villa, but for me (and for most of my friends) guesthouses were the way to go.

Price: I paid $22/night and stayed at D’Canggu (you can pay a lot more or a lot less, there’s something for everyone in Canggu).

Guesthouse: booking.com, airbnb, all the usuals, Villas: Facebook groups are the way to go. Try Canggu Community, Canggu Community Housing, etc.

 

Eat

The summer salad at Cafe Vida, topped with Barramundi. It’s one of the tastiest things I’ve ever eaten.

Eating is a huge part of my day when I’m in Bali. I tend to pick spots I can stay at for a while and get some work done, so they end up doubling as an office for me. If you aren’t living in a villa you really won’t have much, if any opportunity to cook. It’s usually cheaper to eat out anyways. It’s really interesting to see how much extra time you have when you take grocery shopping, food prep and cooking out of your day.

The food in Canggu is just…wow. Like you will dream about it for the rest of your life. It’s like living in a real life Instagram foodie account and finding out there are no filters. There is nothing sweeter than sitting on the porch at The Shady Shack for a whole morning, getting your work/study/relaxing done and enjoying every minute of it.

You can get Balinese, Australian, American, Vietnamese, Mexican, Japanese, Greek or search by vegan, paleo, refined sugar free, gluten free, avocado based (seriously) – whatever your preference.

You can eat for as little as $3/meal at a local warung or go as big as you want at one of the more ‘fine dining’ restaurants. It’s all up to you and your budget.

As for drinking…I don’t really drink when I’m in Bali. The odd cider here or there, but I’m not there for the Bintangs and spirits are almost the same price they’d be in Australia. Sparse drinking helps keep my spending in check the most. It also helps me stay on track with everything else I love to do…like waking up early to surf, go to yoga, etc.

And not seriously, but also actually very seriously: coconuts. I drink at least one a day (avg. $3/coconut). Nothing better than getting a coconut, sitting on the beach, watching the sunset and listening to some live reggae.

Tory comes to visit. We drink coconuts.

My absolute fave places to eat in Canggu: (honestly even though a new restaurant pops up every week, these have all stood the test of time so far)

For doing (a lot) of work:

For some variety:

Food: I spent $15-30/day on avg. Check out my “Eat/Bali” highlights on my insta.

Cafe Vida strikes again. Fish tacos – art on a plate.

 

Play

Surfing

Living my best life

Yes, I live in Australia. Yes, I live a few minutes from the beach. But seriously, the surf in Canggu is my favourite. If you seem to be an eternal beginner like me, this is the place to be. On good days (and there are a lot of them) the waves are big enough to get on, but soft enough to not hurt, they break far back from the shore, and the water’s deep and gentle…it’s the most forgiving surf playground I’ve ever been to. It’s usually pretty easy to paddle out. Standing up is…dare I say…kind of easy. You get to focus on practicing your turns, your speed, etc. Just like everything else in Bali…the waves give you time and space. Also the social aspect is phenomenal, people are friendly and open, you can sit on your board and chat between waves. It’s something really special. Go early, it gets way too crowded later in the day and watch out for beginner-beginners, their boards are heavy, big and all over the place!

I’ve thought about buying a board while there before or bringing one from Aus, but in the end I always chose to rent ($5/day). Here are my reasons why:

  1. It’s cheaper. If it gets damaged, you pay a nominal fee and that’s it. You don’t have to spend the big $ to fix it or replace your own and there’s no downtime waiting for it to be fixed or finding a new one.
  2. You can change it up. Big waves = smaller board, small waves = bigger board…the waves are your canvas to paint with whatever brush you feel like.
  3. It’s social. You always meet other people renting, the surf hut locals, etc. Always a laugh.
Yoga

My happy place. Ginger tea, bean bag chair, & the garden. Cue sounds of birds chirping and the pond flowing.

You can’t come to Bali and not do some yoga.

The Practice: And if you’re going to do some yoga…you can’t go past The Practice. It’s the heart and soul of “my” Canggu. Grab a ginger tea, cozy up on a bean bag facing the garden, look out for Jamu prowling through the grass and bliss out. And then maybe get to a class or two…

This is probably my most luxe purchase. It’s more expensive than a month at a Sydney studio, but it’s 1000x worth it. This is the real deal. Get to one of Octavio’s class if you can and let me know your thoughts!

Serenity: I sometimes get a 10 pack of classes, my favourite thing to do is check out the different treehouse feeling yoga shalas and have tempe curry in their cafe. All their teachers are Balinese too, which can be a nice change of pace.

Getting around

To scooter or not to scooter?

So…I don’t know ANYONE who rode a scooter and didn’t get into an accident. It definitely freaks me out. A friend’s brother was in a life-changing accident and over a year later he’s still recovering. I’ve seen more than a handful of crashes and injuries happen right in front of me. People don’t wear helmets, they don’t wear proper shoes, and they drive drunk (a lot).

That being said. It’s hard NOT to have a scooter and really experience Canggu. I was limited with where I could live and what I would do because of it, but I didn’t have a proper driver’s license at the time and I didn’t have insurance to cover any scooter injuries (***your insurance DOES NOT cover scooter accidents unless you have a scooter license back home – check into this!***). So even though I’ve seen so much firsthand I will probably drive a scooter the next time I go back (but get my license first, like my friend Ruth is doing atm).

So my advice for scooter riding is:

  1. Just wear the helmet. And make sure it fits.
  2. Wear your Supergas/Converse/runners. Don’t wear flip flops. The first thing people do in an accident is put their feet down…and it’s not pretty. I had to pull a scooter off a girl who had fallen over while driving slowly down the street in the late afternoon. The kickstand had gone straight through her foot and dollar store flip flop. It was awful 🙁 Shoes people, shoes!
  3. Don’t drive at night. Or at least please don’t drive drunk. You may think “I would never”, but that’s what they all say…before they do it! Things feel different when you’re in the moment.

Pretty much anything goes with scooter driving, for better or worse…

Money

Atms are everywhere, but be smart about which ones you use – there’s a lot of skimming going on. Just stick to the highly visible, high traffic ones…I’ve never had a problem.

If you have to exchange money, get a recommendation – I’ve heard so many stories about people getting conned.

They accept card almost everywhere – the positives of living in a highly developed piece of Bali.

Sid comes to visit. We sunset.

 

Visa

This is super basic advice, based on a Canadian passport experience. As always, do your research, they don’t mess around with this stuff, so get yourself in order before you go!:

  1. Make sure you have more than six months left on your passport otherwise they will turn you around at the airport.
  2. You have two easy options (there are more long term choices available, like a social visa, but I haven’t pursued them). The first one is an automatic you get 30-days as a tourist to enjoy. If you overstay your 30 days you have to pay by the day (I think it’s about $30/day atm). The second option is to do a visa extension which gives you 60 days, but you need to make sure you buy the ‘visa on arrival’ that allows you to extend it with a visa agent past the initial 30 days. I think all-in-all the whole thing cost around $100, but I could be wrong (did not keep track). Doing a visa run is really common and pretty much essential if you want to stay longer. There are cheap flights to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, etc. some people just do a quick run around and don’t even leave the airport, but I was lucky enough to have a good friend in Singapore, so I tried to make the most of my visa run when I was there for three months.

Sunsets. Worth every visa run.

My basic daily budget in AUD (not skimping, living THE LIFE):

Accomodation: $22/night (I made a long-term deal. You can do a lot cheaper than this, but I loved where I stayed – so much that I stayed there twice!)

Food: $15-30/day (At first I thought…wow, is that actually a lot? Then I realised I don’t buy groceries. In Sydney my weekly groceries, combined with going out for food with friends adds up – a lot! In Canggu I eat exactly how I want to, my dream day on a plate basically. It’s the greatest luxury.)

Surfing: $5/day

Yoga: TBD / You can buy class passes or unlimited per month

Co-working: TBD / Hour-based packages

Sim card: $20 every so often (they have great data packages, I always buy one as soon as I land and then top up at the convenience store. I think in three months I had to top up twice.)

My basic daily schedule:

Surf, fruit stand brekkie, yoga, brekkie/lunch & work for a few hours. Then nap or beach or popsicle or massage or all of those things together if I’m lucky. More work. Maybe some yin yoga. Sunset on the beach with friends and then dinner. Maybe some dancing. Bed. Repeat as much as needed.

 

Questions to ask before you go

  1. How long will you stay? (visas)
  2. Will you scooter? (insurance)
  3. Guest house or villa? (lifestyle)
  4. What do you want to focus on? Surfing? Yoga? Crossfit? Jujitsu? Work?

Best apps

Go Jek: it does everything for you. It’s your Uber, your Deliveroo, your grocery shopper, your Dial a bottle, you name it.

Gu Guide: Best advice on everything in Canggu from an Aussie girl who fell in love with an Indo boy and is raising their beautiful baby in the Gu. Her insta stories are my favourite.

What have I gotten from my times in Canggu, Bali?

I’ve made some of my best friends in Canggu. Real kindred spirits. People I can’t believe I haven’t known my whole life.

I’ve found so much inspiration, as well as confirmation that success is yours to build and hold. It seems like anything is possible in Canggu and I think that’s because you get a great spattering of entrepreneurs from all over the globe, it’s hard not to pursue your dreams with that kind of influence around you.

The first time I went on my own, I was coming off of a real hard period in my life. My health was haywire, I didn’t really know which way was up. But I went surfing every day. I got massages every day (did I forgot to mention the cheap massages…?!?!). I did yoga. I met amazing people. And legit, for the most part, all my physical ailments went away. There’s something to be said about getting out of your regular physical space. Sometimes all you need is a big hit of perspective and the soothing magic balm of Bali to believe.

This is the longest thing I’ve written for Tnfld by far and I feel like I haven’t even touched the surface. If you’re thinking of going to Bali, just do yourself a favour and buy the ticket. Be open to everything and get amongst it…you won’t regret it!


Tnfld Podcast | Ep05: Helen, from big dreams and horses to the man with the golden glints

Or listen via iTunes 

Hometown / Sutherland Shire, Sydney, Australia
Currently resides / Braidwood, New South Wales, Australia
Job / Owner and Instructor at The Saddle Camp

A little bit about…

Helen is an incredible woman with a lifelong love for horses that she’s turned into a successful business, The Saddle Camp. Despite growing up in the biggest city in Australia, she knew from a young age that she wanted to own a horse riding farm and did everything she could to follow her heart and see that dream through. She’s an entrepreneur, a mother, a wife, an environmentalist, a teacher and a million other things wrapped into one. Helen’s story is one of epic romance, following your inner voice, pursuing your passions and creating the life you want to live. And she was kind enough to let us camp out on her land while we were getting ready to launch Tnfld, so she’ll forever be a part of our story too.  

Helen’s advice for living life Tnfld
  • Just start small. If you go all in, not everything works out right at the get go. It’s good if you start in small doses and you can work it out as you go.
  • Don’t doubt where you are because you’re where you’re meant to be right now.  
  • Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you feel alive because the world needs more people who feel alive. (one of her fav quotes from Howard Thurman)
Our favourite quotes
  • “Staying in Sydney was never an option. I know myself, I’ve known myself for a very long time. And I have been in that situation. And it’s like being a robot, even though I knew I was working towards something. It was keeping your head down and your bottom up, keep ploughing through because you hope there’s something better on the other side. It just wasn’t on the cards for me and I understand it’s like that for a lot of other people too.”
  • “They (horses) are so wise and they put up with so much. The fact that you can have such a big animal focused on you and happy to follow – I point my finger and they’re like ‘happy, no problem’. It’s just amazing to have that kind of connection with such a beautiful animal. I love their calmness and their wisdom and their focus.”
  • “The whole town (Braidwood) is just the greatest community I could imagine; you can be as sociable or as reclusive as you like, whenever you like, nobody’s offended. Everyone walks their own track; they’ve all got their own passions. Everybody’s very accepting and will step in to help you at the drop of a hat, but you don’t have to speak to them for several months.”
  • “Just looking around. Sometimes you just glimpse up and go…Oh. My. Goodness this is amazing, this is just so beautiful. I’m so lucky. I’m very, very lucky.”

 

Helen was lovely enough to send us some written answers to our questions, so come back for more after you take a listen to the podcast!

What do you do for work?

I teach horse riding at Saddlecamp. I run fun horse riding camps for girls through the holidays and weekends, and teach horse riding after school and to tiny tots in school hours.

What was your life like before Saddlecamp?

I was working full time in North Sydney in the travel industry and studying Travel & Tourism Business Management 3 nights a week at TAFE, near Central Station. I’d go to the gym or play touch football the other 2 nights, go clubbing after TAFE on Friday nights, and dance til dawn. And on Sundays I’d work at Darkes Forest Riding Ranch taking out trail rides. I’d been dreaming of owning my own horse riding farm since I was 9. I was 21 when I gave up my full time job to start my business with party ponies, carriage rides and riding lessons. That was 21 years ago.

How would you describe your life now and what’s the difference between your current life and your old life?

Now I work from home. My office is straight outside my bedroom door and looks out through the Tack Room Glass Doors to the horses and paddocks and bush outside. I’ve got 6 amazing horses that I work with each day, a beautiful property with loads of relaxed wildlife, really lovely guests that stay and amazing girls that I get to teach riding to. And I have 3 wonderful little sons and a great husband. Before I took the leap of starting my own business I was frustrated but very focussed. I knew where I wanted to be, but had to wait until all my pieces were in the right place before I could “jump off that cliff”.

What does your average day look like?

I start at 6 with breakfast at the computer checking emails and typing up the running sheet for the day and aim to finish up my work by 9.30 and in bed for 10 pm. 7 days a week.

It’s just been the last 12 months that it’s been so nasty. Because of the drought, the cost of feed went up, and my local riders were affected too and bookings fell. By August I had to let the last of my Managers go to keep within my prime costs – so I’ve been teaching riding and caring for the horses, running the office with bookings and book-keeping, cleaning and making beds in the Clubhouse and Tiny Houses Accommodation, and cooking and serving in the Café.

I’ve got checklists for all 3 roles and through the school term, I give myself an hour at each role before switching to the next one. On a good day I can get 3 x 3 hour cycles in before I start teaching riding after school – then I cook dinner and grind through the kids’ homework, and clean up.

Its easier in the holidays and on weekends because I have other young girls working that can take over the regular tasks like feeding & caring for the horses, and my sons don’t have homework. I teach from 8.30 to 4, then the students put the horses away while I cook dinner, bake for the Cafe and clean. Then I take them out for a swim at the river or on a spotlighting tour in the ute. Feed them hot chocolates and popcorn, and put a movie on for them and fall in bed.

It’s not sustainable – but I couldn’t think how else to get through the crisis. I sent a letter to the Business Enterprise Centre in December to ask if they could see a better solution, and a rep spent 2 days going through everything here – my procedures, financials, and testing results, my business plan and said if I could just hold it together until 29 January when everyone goes back to school, I could take 2 weeks off to recover, and going forward cut out 2 days of after-school riding, and get a tutor to help with the boys homework. I’ve had 5 days off teaching riding now, and I’ve nearly caught up on my paperwork. But I’m feeling much better, and think this is a great plan for the next 12 months. My riders have been very understanding, and my sons love the tutor.

What are the small things you do on a day-to-day basis to bring you into the present and bring joy?

I look around. It’s much easier now that everything’s green after the rain and things are growing. I downloaded the Inature app this week, because I’m seeing grasses I’ve never seen before, and I’m so thrilled that there’s growth again in the paddocks. I spend a quiet moment with a horse. They ground me, and I always feel so blessed that they’re happy to spend time with me too. They’re looking so much happier now too that there’s grass! When they’re not with me their heads are down grazing, and it’s a happy herd. That fills me with joy. And I hug my family a lot too. I tell them how great they are, and thank them for their help.

Who do you surround yourself with? Who do you have in your inner circle?

My inner circle is very small right now! Rob, my husband, is generally all I need to download everything onto and set me back on track. But I’ve got a really fantastic community and amazing neighbours who are all very passionate about their own “callings”, and always ready to lend a hand or offer advice – or just to talk about their own exciting projects so I can escape my own head for a bit. But whenever I’m doing my manual jobs I listen to a podcast. I think of them as friends in my inner circle too.

How would you describe the vibe in your life?

I’m always thinking about the vibe in my life! I love being positive and enthusiastic, but I’m a bit sensitive and little things can bring me down. So I avoid the news, sad movies and books. And if I’m having trouble getting out of my head I’ve got plenty of podcasts to bring me back up again. Tnfld is now 1 of them.

Do you have any health hacks? 

Luckily my work is pretty healthy. I’m outside a lot – running, walking, jumping and swimming at the river with the riders. And we have easy access to lots of great organic produce from our neighbours and our own garden, and bush tucker when we’re out on trail. It’s great to see a lot of the children really into healthy food choices too – the school system has done an amazing job these last few years. We always have our water bottles close by too. The last few months I’ve eaten way too much sugar to keep me going, but now that things are quietening down I can be much more thoughtful about what I eat.

How have you grown the most in the last few years?

I learnt how to make a profit! I thought it would happen organically, but all our profit would go straight into infrastructure for the business. A few years ago, I realized I’d forgotten about our GST quarterly payment and spent it on an undercover tie up area for the horses. My husband had found roof trusses at his dad’s and said he could make it that week. So I was a bit rushed and not thinking clearly. I’d just turned 40 and when I realized my mistake I wondered for the first time if my dream was just stupid and I should get a real job and stop risking my family’s home.

Instead of asking God for help, I started asking Siri. I asked her if it was time to let the dream go, and she came up with lots of great inspiring stories, one about a lady having to eat caterpillars to survive but it was totally worth it because she got through to making her dream a reality. I thought my life wasn’t that bad yet, so I started asking questions about how to make more profit, and she found me a book called “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz. I live by his system now, and have 14 bank accounts, and every week I make my 5% Profit Payment into a savings account. We’re using it to build our house, and should be in by this time next year.

What are your biggest challenges right now? 

Climate change. I’m using Alan Savoury’s Holistic Management to manage the paddocks. I’m trying to give them as much resilience as I can from these weather swings. Each paddock is getting a 90 day recovery period. I’m trying to keep mulch over the bare patches. And I’m playing around with “cocktail paddocks”, throwing out different varieties of seeds just hoping that something will grow with whatever change of weather we get.

I’m trying to keep the wildlife safe, with troughs that the wallabies and possums can safely drink from. Rob and I went for a walk on New Year’s Eve and found the dam’s edge littered with hundreds of dead froglets. They still had tails so it means their lungs hadn’t developed enough for them to get out of the water. Further up the hill, there were loads of dead worms on the bare soil and above that it looked like someone had tipped chemicals in big patches across the grass. It was salt that had washed out of the hill in a big flush of rain and killed all the grass, frogs and worms. The only thing I can do is get as much vegetation growing on the bare ground before it happens again.

I’m keeping the horses slightly overfed so they can cope with the crazy hot days and swings to cold snaps. These last school holidays we had a few problems with heat stroke – 1 girl collapsed and we rushed her to hospital, and others were vomiting. So I’m making everyone put electrolyte tablets in their drink bottles, and telling everyone the danger signs to look out for so we can keep each other safe. And really forcing everyone to keep eating so there’s something in their tummies. On those really hot days we changed our program so we started with the horses at 6 am, put them away in the hottest part of the day, and rode again at 6 at night.

All the girls staying, and their parents, know our bush fire plan. And now that we’ve gone through a few blackouts we’ve got the generator set up so we can keep the fridges going. I had 13 people to feed in a blackout that went for 18 hours. I think we rocked getting through that one! The girls said it was their best camp ever… I’ve noticed when everything’s going wrong, our riders seem to enjoy it much more. Everyone gets involved in planning to get through the crisis, and being part of the solution.

What have you learnt about yourself in the past few years and have you surprised yourself in any way?

I’ve learnt that the better my questions the more helpful answers I get. And everyone’s happy to give answers.

How have you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone? 

I’m scared of the dark and of being alone, and when I moved onto my property 15 years ago I was alone and had no electricity or running water – for about 14 months. I took in a stray dog to keep me company, and I had my horses outside. And I spent a LOT of time socializing – with friends in town, working and joining committees. At the time I was also giving Ghost Story Tours around Braidwood in my horse drawn Carriage on Saturday nights. I was fine while I had my passengers with me, but putting away the carriage and horse and getting back home at night would terrify me.

It only started because I was giving rides around town like restaurant transfers and historic tours, and a really nice man said “Helen, its summer now, but what are you going to do in Winter when no-one wants to be out in the cold”, and I said I’d tell ghost stories. And he said “Really? Because this is what happened to me…” And all these people told me the most amazing experiences they’d had in the different houses and landmarks around town. I guess the end result is I met so many amazing people that still make time for me today, I’ve got some great stories to tell, and I made it through to where I really want to be.

What are your core values?

Live and let live… Do my best to care for my horses, my family and my riders. Horses come first but everyone here knows that.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

To start a Girls Only Sleepover Horse Riding Camp where everything is pink, fluff and sparkles. I thank that man every day.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone else?

Howard Thurman’s “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” And start small!

What’s the motto you currently live by?

Luck favours the mind that is prepared.

What part of your life are you focusing on now?

At the moment, just getting my head together. Things have changed – I think this drought might be our new normal. If I can’t afford a permanent staff, how can I still live my dream without losing my mind. I’m pretty sure there’s a way, but this year’s focus is on working it out. There’s a lot of maths and research to do.

When do you feel most free?

Cantering bareback through paddocks on my favourite horse. But I often feel free when I look around me. I don’t need to stop – just look around and say a quiet thank you.

What’s next in your adventure?

I’m dying to sit down and make QR Codes for our bush walks. I’ve got fantastic videos of an Aboriginal Elder walking around Saddle Camp talking about the Bush Food growing here, and the different types of vegetation and how it was used by his ancestors, and the stories that go with them. I’ve also got some ghost stories about the area, and the white settlement history. And with our grant for “Corridors for Biodiversity and Carbon Farming” I’ve got some great information about the wildlife and their habitat and scats and tracks to look out for from the ecologists who visit. I’d love to have the kids ride horses or walk along with their phones and scan the code and see Noel telling them about what they’re looking at. And I’d really love to serve more Australian Native food in our Café.

Inspired by Helen? Check out The Saddle Camp on social…

Insta | @saddle_camp

Facebook | @saddlecamp

Helen’s Favourites

Podcasts

Books


Tnfld Podcast | Ep04: Josh, from ambitious dropout to dream maker

Hometown / Auckland, New Zealand
Currently resides / Bronte Beach, Sydney, Australia 
Job / Full Stack Web Developer

A little bit about…

Josh is truly living a 2019 life. He’s found a way to have both work and play in the best way that suits him and his needs. A lot of that came with knowing himself and what would and wouldn’t work for him. A lot of people think “Oh, I want to be a digital nomad” without actually thinking about what that could mean (financial instability, bad wifi, the temptations of being in paradise, but not being able to enjoy it). As a full-stack developer he could have easily gone that route, but he knew being a full-time digital nomad wasn’t right for him. He wanted there to be a separation between work and travel so that he could fully enjoy his travel time and BE THERE 100%. But short trips weren’t going to cut it. So when he got back from Bali after a month he had a proposition for his boss…

Josh’s advice for living life Tnfld
  • Ask for what you want, especially at work, whether that’s more vacation time, flexible hours, a work from home option, etc. “It’s 2019 I feel like we should be able to ask for what we want and not always feel like we work for our jobs, but that our jobs can work for us too. And we can kind of create this life – why do negotiation always have to be about money?”
  • Do different things to break out of your comfort zone: “Every time I’ve made these drastic life changes it’s been kind of scary, but when I look back later I always think – wow that’s the best thing I ever did.”

  • March to the beat of your own drum. If you can’t hear that beat, do the things you need to do to grow your inner voice and your confidence in that voice. Over time you can teach yourself to be more confident with your decisions, with change, and ultimately with yourself.

Our favourite quotes

“For me the dream life would be a 50/50 mix of both travel and work. Take three months off for travel then come back and have a [9-5 work] lifestyle and nourish that other side of my brain [for the next six months]. The dream is to do both. So I asked for it. No one’s ever asked and no one thinks to, because negotiation is such an ancient thing. No one really asks for what they want and I thought…what do I really want?”

“For the first time in my life I came back to work from the holidays and I didn’t have the post-holiday blues. I was ready to work. [I thought] “Man my life is sick, I’m ready to work”…it was my choice to be there. That was the difference.”

“People say to you “Oh, I wish I could do that” and I think, “Why can’t you?” I’m not special. I’ve had nothing given to me, not a cent from anyone ever….but I’ve always just gone for it and slowly over time I’ve taught myself to be more and more confident with those decisions and making those changes.”

Josh’s Motto

In 20 years’ time you’ll always regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.

Inspired by Josh? Check out his travels on Insta…

thekiwinomad_ (he’s also an amazing photographer)

Josh’s Favourites

Some of the books that influenced him the most when he was first starting out…


Chasing purpose pt1: Why I decided to go to law school

As a first generation Canadian kid in Toronto, I grew up with my parents, the education system and society instilling in me the idea that being a ‘professional’ was the ultimate goal. I always had an underlying belief that if I didn’t become a doctor, a lawyer or an accountant I wouldn’t truly be successful or respected. This was hardwired into my brain from a young age and I don’t think I was alone in that, considering how many of my grade school friends are now doctors.

When I was applying for uni, I decided that science (and therefore medicine) was not for me and waved goodbye to my future as a doctor, prompting my mother to ask me why I had given up my dream of being a plastic reconstructive surgeon (based on one presentation I did in careers class in Grade 10). I actually just wanted to study English; I loved writing and languages, but it seemed too risky to get a general arts degree and I panicked at the last minute, opting for business to keep my options open.

Unsurprisingly, I hated business and was questioning all of my life choices within the first month of uni. But I stuck with it because I didn’t want to be a quitter and I still had that fear at the back of my mind that an arts degree wouldn’t be enough. I was pretty miserable throughout uni because I hated most of my business classes and couldn’t see what the end goal really was. But I made it through to graduation by packing in my love of languages where I could – I used all my electives for English, French and Spanish classes and managed to get work and study experience in french-speaking places. 

I felt very lost all through uni. Ever since I’d given up on the doctor front, my parents had been pushing the accountant and/or lawyer route. And it wasn’t just my parents. I remember having a conversation in the last year of uni with one of my closest friends from high school (and another classic overachiever). He had gotten early acceptance into med school and was already in his first year. I was telling him how lost I was and he told me I couldn’t waste my potential – if I wasn’t going to do medicine then I should at least be a lawyer. It seemed like everyone else knew what they wanted to do; like they were on a sure stead path and I was just floating around. 

My undergrad graduation in Canada – all smiles (and internal panic).

When I finished uni, my only goal was to get a job; any job that would get me started so I could eventually work my way up the corporate ladder and be successful. My main motivation was to escape the disappointment of my parents and the embarrassment of being unemployed for too long out of uni. I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do and applied for anything and everything. As soon as I moved back home, my mom started not so subtly trying to convince me that I was meant to be a lawyer and offered to pay for an LSAT prep course. I figured why not keep my options open? I hadn’t even started one career and was already looking into another. So while I was applying for jobs, I was also heading to an LSAT course a couple times a week. I actually enjoyed it; it basically felt like doing puzzles/brainteasers and it also helped that I had a cute tutor and a girl from my soccer team just so happened to be in the same class too.

A few months after graduation, after dozens of applications and several interviews, I landed myself a job working as a marketing assistant at an office supply company where I was the youngest employees by a good 10 years. It was a lovely company with great people, but I looked around and couldn’t imagine doing it for more than a year. There were people who had worked there 10, 20, even 40 years (in the factory) which seemed unfathomable to me. By the time I started that job, I’d finished the LSAT course and was cramming in studying before the exam on my commute to and from work. The LSAT seemed like an escape route from the endless suburban office life I saw as my future.

I was 22 and living at home with my parents, trying to fit into the corporate world Monday to Friday and heading out with my friends every weekend, testing out what ‘adult life’ felt like. Whenever I met new people, one of the first questions anyone would ask was ‘What do you do?’ and to be honest I was a bit embarrassed to answer. I didn’t feel like what I was doing was impressive enough or showed how ‘smart’ I was. I felt like people were judging me based on my profession, assigning a certain value to me and placing me in a specific box once they confirmed what I did. It made me feel really uncomfortable and I always wanted to qualify my answer with more context about who I REALLY WAS. But I didn’t actually know how to do that. Did my job really define who I was as a person? Was I a marketeer? It didn’t feel right, but what kind of person did I want to be and what kind of job did I need to have to be that?

Law school started looking more and more appealing, but I hadn’t really considered the reality of it. Was I ready to quit my marketing career after less than a year, start studying all over again, and go into significant debt? The only lawyers I knew were my friends’ parents and the lovely couple that I babysat for, and the one thing they all had in common was that I barely saw any of them because all they did was work. But being a lawyer seemed exciting! I’d be using my brain more, helping people, working on fascinating cases, making a difference, etc. I was talking myself into it because I didn’t like the life I was in and I couldn’t see another alternative. I remember Alex asking me if it was really what I wanted to do; I think she was scared to push it but she knew I was making the decision more out of fear than desire. But I steamrolled ahead.

Escaping office life and getting a taste of freedom in Santorini.

I set myself a deadline to tell my boss when I came back from a family vacation to Greece. That vacation sealed the deal for me. It was an epic adventure and made me feel alive again, something I hadn’t felt since my last stint abroad. I knew law school was not going to be a Greek vacation, but it would be something NEW. Honestly, I was so sad coming back from that holiday that when people at work asked me how it was I almost started crying because I couldn’t believe I was back in an office. I know that sounds very melodramatic and privileged, but it just made me realise how unhappy I was with my life. I felt like I was wasting away, 20 going on 40, resigned to office life and a mortgage already. Did people work so hard all year just for one week of vacation? What motivated them? I just didn’t get it. 

It almost felt like I was living in the Truman Show and I had been fed this narrative by everyone around me that all you had to do was be a good kid, get good grades, go to a good uni and get a job and then you’d live happily ever after. I’d been building up to that version of success my entire life without really questioning it because it was just the accepted path for everyone I knew. But when I got to the end of that road, I just felt empty and confused. Law school felt like a do-over, my chance to pick the right career that would lead to fulfilment, or at the very least delay the inevitable. Adulthood was not the promised land that I’d worked so hard to get to.

When I finally told my boss I was going to law school, I burst into tears. I felt guilty, like I had hidden some deep dark secret but I also felt a huge sense of relief. It was like I had hit the emergency escape button on ‘real life’, I didn’t care how much debt I would be going into (everyone does it right?) or properly consider the fact that I didn’t know any happy lawyers. At the time I could only see two options – work or school. School was my comfort zone and I was ready to head back into its warm embrace.

Stay tuned for pt2 and the realities of law school, coming soon! 

Written by Tory


Tnfld Podcast | Ep03: Abi, from fast-paced Londoner to Bondi buddha

Hometown / Swindon, United Kingdom
Currently resides / Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia 
Job / User Experience Designer

A little bit about…

Abi grew up in a small town in England and spent most of her twenties working her way up the corporate ladder in London. She loved big city life, had a great group of friends and a flourishing career, but found herself being drawn to a more conscious way of living. 

One day, not too long after starting a new job, she had an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia while sitting at her desk. She realised she had been filling her life with more and more unique hobbies to fight her boredom and needed a real break from corporate life. 

She (bravely) asked her new boss for a 3-month sabbatical and took off to travel the world. As expected, she wasn’t quite the same when she returned from her travels and was inspired to embark on a new adventure across the pond.

Abi’s Motto

“I’m always trying to question things. The more conscious you become in your life the more questions arise out of things you do in the day to day.”

Abi’s advice for living life Tnfld
  • Be extremely protective of your work life balance and try to find ways to bring your passions and interests into your job.
  • Try having no plans and taking a few hours for yourself every weekend to do your own thing and give yourself space for spontaneity.
  • Be conscious of your body and the health of your mind and invest in them.
  • Stop and check in. Notice the little things. It’s insane how much more awesome life is when you do.
Our favourite quote

It’s been a real exercise in consciously trying to craft a life that I really actively want to be a part of rather than just drifting.

I know the importance of doing something every day that’s good for mind, body, soul. There’s a longevity in contentment if I do that.”

Inspired by Abi? Give her a follow on Insta…

abi.w_


Tnfld Podcast | Ep02: Ben, from corporate to creative

Hometown / Northern Beaches, Sydney, Australia
Currently resides / Berlin, Germany
Job / Freelance strategy and design consultant, co-founder of The Cultive

A little bit about…

Ben is the kind of guy you can throw into any challenge and he will not only adapt, but find a way to thrive. He’s a natural leader and has an inherent ability to infuse a sense of calm and ease into even the most stressful of situations.

Earlier this year he and his partner Caitlin left their corporate lives in Sydney and embarked on a three month adventure through the European summer. They’re now settled in Berlin and thriving.

Ben’s Motto

“Your energy is contagious. The energy that you give off, whether that’s happy, sad, irritated – whatever you’re projecting really affects everyone around you and that’s what you end up getting back.”

Ben’s advice for living life Tnfld
  • Take advantage of your environment. Instead of bracing against an upcoming cold winter, reframe it in your mind – build your winter nest, find a way to relish the time indoors and use the space you’ve carved out to get creative.
  • Do things straight away – even chores. Just do it when it should be done. Do it as soon as you can and then you’re on your way to the next thing.
  • If there’s something you want to achieve, focus all your upcoming decisions towards making that goal, even if they’re tiny little actions. Every bit will help you realise the big picture.
Our favourite quote

“I always think that happiness is a hard concept to talk about…I think about it in terms of satisfaction or fulfilment.

Being here [Berlin] is a totally different experience. It gives us not necessarily more happiness, but more opportunity for satisfaction in terms of fulfilment, because of the flexibility that we’ve managed to build in. So yeah, there’s more choice everyday…where we can wake up and say ‘are we going to work on this…are we going to work on that? Or maybe today we won’t work at all….have a new experience…go out to the national park.”

Inspired by Ben? Give him a follow on Insta…

@thebentweedie  |  @thecultive

Ben’s Favourites
Books
Podcasts
People

Tnfld Podcast | Ep01: Ruth, from city to surf

Or listen to on iTunes:

Open podcast in iTunes

Hometown /Auckland, New Zealand
Currently resides / SE Asia (most recently Siargao, the Philippines)
Job / Online health coach/seasonal physio

A little bit about…

Tory once described Ruth as “Someone who would have been the heroine of my favourite YA novel back in the day“. Ruth’s got a bit of a twinkle in her eye and a very strong sense of self. She’s warm, friendly, open…and happy, making her a breath of fresh air to everyone she meets. Ruth’s not the type to let life pass her by; she’s a straight-shooting go getter on a mission to live her best life whatever that may be (she’s still figuring it out like most of us).

Ruth left her hometown of Auckland a few years ago and has gone from working as a physio in London to travelling South East Asia, learning how to surf and building an online health coaching business. She’s determined to leave behind the 9-5 life for a simpler existence and is enjoying the journey (physically and spiritually) of finding her place in this world.

Ruth’s Motto

“Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Don’t not do something because you’re worried about what might happen. People say “Oh I wish I could do that, I want to do that” and I’m like…”Why can’t you?” And it’s always just fear – most of the time – that stops them from doing it.”

How Ruth lives life Tnfld
  • Makes sure she’s always by the ocean, so she’s able to swim everyday.
  • Surrounds herself with people who have similar values, who are on a similar mission, and who inspire her.
  • Values and prioritises connection with others – always putting family and friends first.
  • Works hard not to get caught up in chasing the Western idea of success.
Our favourite quote

“People with the simplest lives are often the happiest. And that’s why I question whether I’d go back to Western society where everyone is still struggling with life, even though they’ve got so much.”

Inspired by Ruth? Give her a follow on Insta…

@ruth_fletcher

Ruth’s favourites 

BOOKS

PODCASTS


How sunshine and salt water changed my life

I never realised how much the weather and nature affected me until I moved to Australia – land of sunshine and 10,000 beaches. I always tell people that I feel like my base level of happiness is so much higher in Australia and I think that at least 80% of that is because of the amazing weather and the fact that I can be outside by the ocean every single day of the year. I’ve always been happier when the weather is nicer, but I thought that most people were in the same boat and it was just something you had to deal with. I’d joke about having SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but never really paid serious attention to how my surroundings were actually affecting me.

Growing up in Toronto, my family lived in a an area that was modelled after an English village so our neighbourhood had lots of huge trees and grassy lawns. It felt a bit like living in a park and i’d spend countless afternoons roaming around with my sister and our neighbours. When I moved away from home for uni, I lived in a smallish suburban town in Canada and my world consisted of maybe a 1km concrete radius around campus. The only places I really went were home, uni, gym, bar; building to building. It was winter at least 5 out of 8 months of the school year and even when the weather was nice, I barely remember there being any trees or grass on campus. Every November like clockwork as the days got shorter, greyer and colder, I’d find myself slipping into a dark place mentally. I think back then I wrote it off as early 20s angst – being unsure of my studies, what I should do with my life etc. But when I think about my environment and lifestyle at the time it all kind of makes sense.

After City2Surf – 14k run from the city to Bondi (and by far the furthest I’ve ever run in my life)

I don’t think I consciously realised that I was missing that connection with nature but I did start going for runs. I can’t remember how or exactly when I decided to start running. I’d always liked track and field i.e. short distance sprints, but I’d never been any sort of distance runner – I was the kid in middle school who would join the cross country team for approximately 2 weeks every year and then quit. I thought my newfound will to run was motivated by a desire to keep fit but I think it was probably more my body screaming for some fresh air and what little nature I could find.

My first running route was just a simple rectangle around campus, but since then I’ve sought out a running route in every single place I’ve lived. When I was working as an au pair after my first year of uni,  I went for nightly runs with the family dog through the winding roads past vineyards in the south of France and then through the city streets in Liege. During my internship in Quebec City I ran around the uni campus at Laval where I was staying. As an ERASMUS student in Paris I’d run by the Canal St. Martin, or walk across the city to explore new parks. During law school in Windsor I’d run along the Canadian side of the Detroit river at least a few times a week. Some of these runs were even in the middle of winter (rugged up in gloves, hat and my warmest hoodie)!

During my last summer at law school I lived in Costa Rica for 3 months teaching English, learning Spanish and doing some translation work for a law firm. My life in Costa was lived at least 75% outside; I basically lived on the beach and it awakened something inside me. When I landed back in Toronto and drove through the suburbs with my dad, I knew I would never be able to look at city life the same way. My first few days back I felt so antsy and realised how much of my life in Canada I lived inside and essentially immobile.

I’d never realised how important the outdoors were to me until that point, but I still had a year of law school to finish and after that 10 months of articling to officially become a lawyer. I slowly acclimatised back to my Canadian life (with lots of struggles) but I was never quite the same. After living (more like surviving) through a winter that was consistently -20 and left me feeling desperately claustrophobic, I finally made the decision to join Alex in the land down under. Lots more to that story but that’s for another time.

Sunrise sesh before work in Bondi

Basically, once I moved to Australia, it became so obvious how much weather and nature impact me. Mainly because it’s SO BEAUTIFUL here 90% of the time that when it’s not, I immediately notice the difference in my mood. The sky in Australia is the bluest blue you’ve ever seen. The ocean literally sparkles and is so clear you feel like you could drink the water. Flowers and plants bloom with abandon everywhere. I can go outside all year round comfortably, touch my feet to the the earth, the sand, the ocean. It sounds so simple and it is, but it makes such a big difference in my quality of life to be able to be in nature every day.

I still work in the CBD and live a ‘city’ life for the most part Monday to Friday. But living in Bondi means every weekend feels like a vacation and in the summer I can get in beach time before and after work. I have so many moments by myself outside where I’m just genuinely happy to be alive and I feel like that was something that was really rare for me before.

All I know is that any time I dive into the ocean or touch my bare feet to the grass, I can’t help but smile and feel like a kid again.

Written by Tory


Yoga 101: How to be confident in any class

Did you know that there are 16 magic cues (8 pairs of cues) that will ensure you’re doing every yoga pose correctly?

I definitely didn’t, until my first day of yoga teacher training. Our teacher got us to all stand up and took us and our bodies through each one. The 16 cues are divided up into 8 pairs, with the idea that each pair contains complementary cues that need to be done together to create stability in the body.

Take a moment, stand up and try it for yourself with the aim of holding all 16 cues together at the same time.

Tadasana cues (in pairs)
  1. Ground all four corners of your feet into the earth
  2. Pull up through the inner arches of your feet
  3. Draw the shins towards each other
  4. Broaden the back of your knees (push your knees back)
  5. Roll your inner thighs back (or up, pending the pose)
  6. Pull up through the pelvic floor (as if your perineum area was being pulled upwards)
  7. Cinch in your waist
  8. Lengthen your side bodies (from your hips to your armpits)
  9. Inner & outer shoulders back
  10. Roll the bottom of your shoulder blades down
  11. Tuck your front ribs in
  12. Broaden through the collarbone (as if they were moving back and out simultaneously)
  13. Take the edges of your neck back and up
  14. Reach through the crown of your head
  15. Energise your fingertips
  16. Smile

It’s not easy, is it? When you’re standing up straight and holding these cues you can feel the effort. These are called Tadasana cues. When you’re in a yoga class and the teacher gives you alignment advice for each pose, they’re not just making it up and pulling them out of thin air (well they shouldn’t be at least), they’re drawing from these cues.

They generally apply to every pose and if you memorise them you will always have something to draw on whether no matter how you’re feeling about the class, teacher, etc. And you will end up working hard as they make even the simplest of poses (like standing) intricate balances of effort.

Learning these cues changed my whole physical practice. Not using them is the equivalent of going to a gym and squatting weights without proper form, vs squatting with proper form. Be in the know, keep your body safe and remember that it’s all about connecting within…not how high your leg kicks or how arched your back is. Find that sweet spot between strength and ease. And never forget to meditate!

Written by Alex


Moving to Australia pt3: How I stayed

So I visited Australia, I fell in love with Australia, and then I moved to Australia. But the tricky part was…how would I stay?

Home and away (but actually the beach the TV show is filmed on)

Making the decision to move to another country is a giant step. Buying the ticket, telling your family and friends, packing up your belongings…they’re all big stepping stones to the life you want. Then there’s finding a job, residence, and community in your new home, and add on all the psychological stuff and it’s pretty full on. But the most important part, in my opinion, is figuring out your visa situation. Not just for the immediate future, but for long term.

The thing is – and I’ve seen it time and time again here – even if you think you’re just coming for a fun year, you really never know how you’ll feel by the end of it. And if you realise you can’t bear the thought of leaving, life will be infinitely easier if you’ve at least plotted out a slight idea of how you can stay.

There have been so many changes to the system in the past year that some of this does not apply, but I figure there’s still some value in my journey to Permanent Residency.

How I became a Permanent Resident in my favourite country on earth:

Holiday working visa, 417 (HWV):

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/417-

This visa entitled me to one year of travel and work around Australia. I was allowed to work anywhere I wanted  so long as it didn’t exceed six months in any one place. This is available for Canadians and a host of other nationalities up until the day you turn 31. The price at the moment is $450.

HWV 1 year extension:

That time I worked on a cucumber and strawberry farm…

If one year isn’t enough time to explore the country there’s a way to add an additional year to your HWV, for many countries there’s the option of doing your regional work (aka farm work…although it doesn’t actually have to be farm related). This involves spending 88 days working in regional Australia. I worked on a small cucumber and strawberry farm in Woolgoolga. I dreaded it, but in the end it ended up being one of the most interesting and Australian experiences of my life.

Temporary work (skilled), 457 (aka Sponsorship!):

*This visa no longer exists as of this year…but my advice about planning definitely still applies*

Sponsored, happy and celebrating Xmas in July

During the second year of my WHV I spent six months working at a well known media company with the aim of getting sponsored by them. They offered me sponsorship and the next phase of my Aussie journey began.

At the time I started (2014), to get sponsored you needed to have a relevant degree to the job you were being nominated for, meet the min. amount of experience required, and a host of other things. I have friends now who have worked really hard to be offered sponsorship only to find out they don’t meet the minimum requirements and would have been better off getting a more relevant education to enable them to stay. I also have friends who weren’t fussed about their timeline so didn’t check out their options early…they ended up missing out on the 457 path to permanent residency, even though they are sponsored now and are very uncertain about their future in two years.

So much has changed in the last year regarding this visa, that I advise you to do your research and do it well!

Permanent Residency, 186:

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/186-

With the now defunct 457 visa, once you worked at your place of sponsorship for two years you were eligible to apply for Permanent Residency. I was lucky that at the time the waitlist was only 6-7 months. The whole process was costly (I think I spent around $8k), but more than worth it. On Feb 13th, 2016 I got an email from immigration saying my PR had gone through. I didn’t even know how much it meant to me until I burst into tears at my desk like a crazy person. Haha. Luckily it was 5:30 and time to go home. I detoured to the Opera House with some friends to celebrate in style and ferry home with the beauty of Sydney stretched out before me. I am a proud Permanent Resident and so happy to call Australia home.

Citizenship:

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/citi/pathways-processes/application-options/migrant-with-permanent-residence

Once you’ve had your Permanent Residency for one year and lived in the country for at least four years, you’re allowed to apply for your Citizenship (cost: $285). Having done my Permanent Residency application myself I had everything I needed pretty much to do the Citizenship application too. It was quite straightforward and I’ll keep you updated on my status. So far it says wait times are 12 to 16 months and I’m on month six at the moment. 100% worth the wait.

So again, I can’t reiterate how important it is to do the dry work: check out what options are available to you before you even really need to look. The information is all out there and it could save you heaps of time, money and heartache in the future. If you have the chance to live in your happy place, grab it and go forth!

*UPDATE* One year and four days after applying I had my Citizenship interview and test. I just got my letter of approval and am waiting on my ceremony date. It’s not official until you pledge yourself to Australia at the ceremony. So excited and so proud to be an almost Australian citizen.

Moving to Australia

Written by Alex


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