The first time I visited Melbourne was six years ago in the winter of 2011. It was my first time on a plane, my first time leaving my home state of Western Australia and it was the first time I realised that I didn't want to live there my whole life. I had the very last day of that trip all to myself since my friends had left early and despite feeling nervous just to leave my hotel room, it ended up being the best day of my entire holiday. I had never visited another city before, but I felt an immediate connection to Melbourne; I knew it was my favourite capital city in all of Australia and it was during that trip that I decided I would live here someday.
It was something I casually talked about with family and friends for a while, but never did I think I'd be brave enough to go ahead and actually do it. In 2013, however, I became increasingly restless in Perth and was itching for a change. That year, I ended up living in Sydney for three months completing a social media internship, and while it was an exciting time in my life living in a city I had never been to before, Melbourne was always on the back of my mind. I came home from Sydney to save up money and exactly one year later, in November of 2014, I found myself crying at the airport leaving my family and my best friend behind to start a life across the other side of the country, in the city that had been my dream for the past three and a half years.
Settling into Melbourne wasn't easy and I often found myself thinking, 'What the hell have I done?'. Not only had I moved out of home for the first time, but I had moved out of home to a completely new city far from everyone I know, so to say it took its toll both emotionally and financially is an understatement. If you've ever had to rely on Centrelink (that's government benefits for you foreigners), you'll know exactly how I feel when I say it's a living hell having to deal with them. My savings depleted month after month with rent and it took me long, long time to stop asking myself whether it was all worth it (spoiler alert: it was).
I was lucky enough to meet my awesome housemate, Giselle, through Jess (I started following her on Twitter when I saw we had mutual friends) and then through her, I was introduced to a wonderful group of people who I'd go to trivia every week with across the road from our apartment building. A couple of months after I moved in, Giselle adopted a rambunctious little kitten named Garfunkel who I fell absolutely in love with and who made being away from home a lot easier. I missed Perth and every time I visited, it was the strangest feeling being excited to go back because home had never felt that way before. Being away, I developed a newfound appreciation for Perth, I guess. Perth is the most isolated city in the world and although it's never felt like a country town or anything, you don't realise how much you're missing until you've lived somewhere else. We didn't get our first Topshop store until 2014, nor Krispy Kreme and 7-Eleven. H&M opened up in 2015, maybe? A lot of bands don't include Perth on their Australian tours because it's too far and too expensive to travel to. When I was researching what it's like to move from Perth to Melbourne, someone on an online forum said she had a Japanese tourist come up to her in Perth and ask if there had been a bomb threat because the city was completely deserted after 6pm.
Melbourne life slowly became easier once I got off Centrelink; I felt a lot more freedom and felt like I could enjoy the city more without having this burden on me. Being a homebody and an introvert, I don't open up to people very easily, but as time went on, I became closer to the trivia gang (especially to the girls; Breast Friends as our Facebook chat group is affectionately known) and as I began working more shifts, I eventually started to make friends all on my own too. They were friends who welcomed me here with open arms, friends who were there for me when my grandpa passed away, friends who were there to celebrate Christmas and New Year's with and friends who all felt like family when I was far away from my own. The friends I've made and the people I've met in Melbourne aren't like anyone I've ever known in Perth. I feel like people in Melbourne come from all different walks of life (perhaps because most people in Melbourne are originally from somewhere else! There are three of us from Western Australia in our trivia group alone!) compared to people back home and living here has made me see the world with a more open mind. Melbourne has its own unique personality and so do the people living here; there's so much diversity, culture and creativity, and even though I've always been aware of feminism and other social issues, I've learnt so much more about them here and I just kind of feel like I've burst out of this tiny Perth bubble.
I feel so lucky to have been able to make friends with such great people, but moving to Melbourne all on my own also gave me an incredible sense of independence. I love wandering around this beautiful city all on my own (it gets pretty gloomy here, but there's nothing more beautiful than Melbourne when the sun is shining) and as the music scene is incredible here, I started going to gigs by myself. Just last year during MIFF (Melbourne International Film Festival), going to the movies on my own became something I enjoyed, and I've attended a couple of beauty events I got invited to through my blog by myself too. I never would've even considered doing these things on my own had I stayed in Perth and it's an empowering feeling knowing you are completely and 100% content in your own company. It's given me the confidence to travel overseas on my own one day and if I ever want to pack up my bags and move again, I know that I can.
I always dreamt that Melbourne would be forever, but once I had arrived, I knew at the back of my mind that I would eventually return home someday. I guess it's one of those things that you don't find out until you give it a go, but I'm glad I'll never have to wonder, 'What if?'. The decision to move back home hasn't been an easy one to make, but ultimately, it's the best one to make right now. With rent, utility bills, food and other expenses, it's almost impossible for me to save money here, and seeing my family only twice a year is really, really hard. As the end of my Perth trips inched closer, I'd begin to feel quite anxious and when it was time to say goodbye at the airport, I'd always end up bursting into tears. I did eventually learn to hold my tears back, but boarding the plane back to Melbourne was never ever easy. Once I was back, I was completely fine, but we're a pretty close-knit family and I know that if I want to work on my savings again, moving back home to my parents' is the only way I can move forward for the future. The next goal to achieve is saving up for a deposit to buy my own apartment! Hopefully it shouldn't be too hard considering I don't buy as much these days. Thank you, rent, for teaching me that!
I had initially planned to move back home after Christmas last year, but the more I talked about leaving, the more Melbourne began to feel like home. Despite being away from family and longtime friends, I'd made quite a nice little life for myself here in Melbourne and it absolutely breaks my heart to leave. In fact, leaving Melbourne is going to be so much harder than it was moving here. As strange as it may sound, the familiarity of Perth scares me more than the unknown of Melbourne ever did, and it's also part of the reason why I decided to resign from my job as opposed to asking for a transfer. I did a transfer with the company I'm with from Perth to Melbourne when I first moved here, but the thought of doing the transfer vice versa makes me feel just so... bored, I guess. I can't think of another word to describe it. I've been at the same workplace for so long now and I feel like it's time for a new chapter. If I'm going to move back home - somewhere I know so well - I need some sort of big change. I need to get uncomfortable, take a risk and try something new. Basically, I can't go back home living the exact same life that I did before I left. Growth and change can only take place outside of our comfort zones, and even though I want to save for an apartment, it just can't happen staying in my current job.
So, yes, all of the big life changes are happening. I'm mostly terrified and I've spent a lot of time in tears at the thought of leaving Melbourne, but I can only hope that this discomfort and uncertainty will lead to something better. Although I came here to find my "dream job" (if such a thing even exists) and it didn't end up happening, I've gained so much more from the past two and half years of living here and it has without a doubt been the best experience of my life. I used to wonder whether this was all so stupid of me, had I wasted my money and should I have just come here for a holiday every year instead, but I realised that living in a city is a completely different experience from travelling. Living in Melbourne was something I had to do because whenever I'd I ask myself if I could imagine living in the same place my whole life, the answer was always no. Sometimes I'd wish I lived in a country like England where cities are mere train rides apart from each other because the distance and the time difference got really tough (I didn't mind staying up until 2am to FaceTime my family, but the red eye flights would totally mess up my body clock), but in a way, it also brought me closer to my family and friends too. I let them know I love them more often, we'd all make more time for each other whenever I was back home and it was always so nice to have them come visit Melbourne too.
There's a reason why Melbourne gets voted the most liveable city year after year, why everyone who lives here and travels here loves this city and Victoria in general as a state has so much to offer too. I'm going to miss my little Brunswick apartment, our house snacks comprising of potato gems, sweet and salty popcorn and Nando's chips, watching The OC and White Chicks with my housemate (while eating said house snacks), when she'd randomly play Natalie Imbruglia's, Torn in the house, watching Suddenly 30 twice in a row because neither of us could be bothered turning off the DVD player, cuddles with Funk and screaming every time he went "full body outside" the balcony, trivia every Tuesday nights with our team name always something chode related (the best one was during Friends trivia when our team name was Miss Chodeodler Bong), having Jess come to stay with us from Sydney, my Vietnamese work bff taking me out to eat all the delicious Vietnamese food, being at the grand opening of Melbourne's first Sephora store, the shopping, eating all the dumplings on Little Bourke Street, my regular tram route and the amazing public transport system, going my whole time living here not being fined for not touching on my Myki, the clean tap water (you have to filter it in WA!), having my local supermarket literally downstairs from where I live, picking up a bouquet of fresh flowers from my local grocer on my way home from the post office that's only a two minute walk away, sighing in relief when the weird post office guy didn't serve me, having full on conversations with my housemate through text even when we were both at home, going to gigs and all the other cool film and art stuff in Melbourne, the trivia gang making fun of my Kikki K matchsticks that said 'Live Laugh Love' on the box (but not really because this is going to haunt me back to Perth and also to my grave), getting excited by customers who say they're from Perth (people love saying where they're travelling from!), ending up in a foam pit in a club when I said I wasn't going to go out clubbing with my workmates, Daylight Savings (people in WA are actually so backwards, they voted no against it), and surprisingly, I think I'm even going to miss the real winters! As much as I hate the cold, I really love the fashion and it bums me out that you don't even really need to wear a coat in Perth. All in all, I'm just really going to fucking miss everything about this beautiful city and the beautiful people in it.
I haven't ruled out returning to Melbourne in the future. I mean, it's a lot of hassle packing up your entire life and moving interstate, but it's not impossible. With Perth, I'll either remember why I wanted to come back or why I left in the place. Maybe in the future, I'll want to move someplace different all together; nothing is ever guaranteed in life. Right now, I'm just taking things as they come and I'm glad I have the freedom to be able to do that. One of the main things that scares me about moving back home is that it's a city where you either come to settle down with a family or come to retire. I feel quite indifferent towards marriage and kids, so I'm definitely more suited to the Melbourne lifestyle, but in a way, I kind of like that Perth feels scary. Getting uncomfortable is a good thing, plus when my friends tell me how excited they are that I'm coming back or to hear my mum say that the family is waiting for me, my heart just melts. I have such amazing people in my life on both sides of the country now.
At the moment, my entire life is packed up into boxes and they're currently making the drive across the country back to Perth. I have to live out of a suitcase for the next 2-3 weeks while I wait for it all to arrive, but I've pre-shot some blog photos that should last me until then. One set of photos includes a room tour of my Melbourne bedroom and I just know looking back at those photos is going to make me feel so emotional! The new tenants have moved into the apartment we were previously in and right now, I'm staying at my housemate's (former now, which is so sad!) new place where she lives by herself with Funk (living the dream!) until tomorrow night when I fly back home and become a Perthling again. Whether I come back or not, a part of me will always be a Melburnian though.
Thank you, Melbourne.