The Move from Wellington to Melbourne: Uprooting and Replanting, Part 1

Tree specialists know that uprooting and replanting a tree can put great stress on it, endangering its viability. We like to think of ourselves as more resilient than that, but the stresses are there when we face moving from one country to another.

In Dallas, we had a lot more work to make the move to Wellington, but a long time to do it. You can read about the process of leaving our home in Dallas (Long and Winding Road) and what we had to do in our new place in Wellington, NZ (Joy of Startup). As we shifted to Australia, we had a lot less to deal with, but just a few weeks to make it happen.

The move to Melbourne has demonstrated how much we had learned about the process, but also how much we needed still to learn. There are few big obstacles, like visas and a place to live, but each country (and city) is unique, so you do have to get knowledgeable and take some time to sort out the little things.

Uprooting

View from our deck...Wellington Harbor

View from our deck…Wellington Harbor

Friendships are one of the toughest things about moving. Our move out of Dallas was years in the making, so we and our friends could count the days until it happened, and we figured out how to stay in touch – as we have.

As we prepared to leave Wellington, however, we felt deeply about leaving behind the friends we had made during our short stay. Our neighbors, our ebullient friend in Kelburn, the tour bus driver, the university student, fellow church-goers…they had accepted us as part of their lives, as we had been so pleased to welcome them into ours. With so little time to prepare for the separation, the goodbyes turned out to be much tougher to make than we expected, even though we know we are likely to see them again here in Melbourne or back in New Zealand.

Otherwise, what we had to do to leave – mainly, packing, cleanup and utilities – was much easier than in Dallas.

Packing

Six months ago, we were jettisoning possessions and choosing only what we needed with us. This time, we knew that everything we owned already fit into the bags we had – with some exceptions. For our canoe trip down the Whanganui River, we acquired two inexpensive sleeping bags. To keep track of the effects of eating out, we had purchased a scale. A few small additional items came from the States. But we could leave all these behind if we had to since they weren’t expensive. Besides, we had acquired a couple of small duffels given us on our Abel Tasman adventure. It turned out that extra bags on Qantas only cost $35 each so we packed those small duffels up with the extras and took them as well – 11 bags in all, or 202 kilograms according to Qantas. Yes, we look really overloaded pushing three trolleys through the airport, but – as we readily tell anyone in earshot – these are all our worldly possessions.

Cleanup

We were renters in Dallas before we left, so were prepared to clean up our rental. We always leave things in good shape, but there’s the added incentive of ensuring we’re refunded our entire deposit. “I want to hire you to clean the rest of our properties,” commented the head of the Dallas rental agency as we left. Though our townhouse in Wellington was actually larger, we only used 2 of the 3 floors, and a cleaning crew we found through the rental agency efficiently handled much of the rest. We got our entire bond (deposit) back within a few weeks.

Utilities

Once again, we had to close down our utilities accounts, but with few hitches. In a scientific poll of the two of us, Vodafone had easily won as most difficult to start up, but turned out to be the easiest to close down. They even switched our mobiles to a prepaid account with no funding and no hassles. On the other hand, Contact Energy, our favorite utility ever, started out on form. We just had to read our own meter within a few days of leaving and give them the numbers, on our honor. However, they insisted on sending a refund of NZD 9.39 (about $7.50) in a check all the way to Melbourne instead of just crediting our credit card. It cost a few dollars to mail here and would have cost us about $16 just to deposit. Not hard to do the math on that one. Finally, after a number of messages back and forth, someone at Contact wisely decided to cancel the check and put the credit back to the card.

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In the final week of our stay, we not only said goodbye to our friends, but to our favorite haunts as well: The Matterhorn (see ya, Tim, our omnipresent caretaker from California), JJ Murphys, Lighthouse Cinema, the Botanic Gardens, Southern Cross restaurant and pub (bye, Rawly, our all time favorite bartender), the waterfront, Foxglove on the waterfront (asta la siesta, rattan lounges), and the Kelburn Pub. Yes, we’ll miss you all, though already in Melbourne we’ve met up with Terry at the Father’s Office Speakeasy who may soothe the loss. He’s been revealing all the nice spots in town to check out.

Forested hilltops and valley towns in Wellington

Forested hilltops and valley towns in Wellington

The day of departure, we had an easy-going morning, with just a few cleaning and closing down tasks to do, including a farewell to our wonderful neighbors. We expected the headache of schlepping our 11 bags to and from the shuttle bus, but checking in had only one slight hitch, an extra bag to pay for. (On further review, Qantas agreed to refund that extra cost due to the complexity of rule changes over the last year. One win for the fee-stricken flyer.) We rose over the forested hills encircling Wellington, so familiar to us now, uprooted and crossing the Tasman Sea.

In the next post, you can read about replanting ourselves in Melbourne.

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