About Me

Expat Aussie in Ljubjana, Slovenia 2009

I am an expat Aussie wearing many hats: a trailing spouse, mother of two, multi-tasker and chief-settler-in of our expat family, and now, others. I gave up my consultancy work in Australia to move here. Like many trailing spouses, this has meant facing a change in my career options again, this time at the age of 50.

Although we have travelled widely, this is our first expat experience; and it’s been a hell of a ride already. Who needs a rollercoaster ride when you can relocate to another country?

Six years on we are still going strong. Despite a dreadful first few years and lots of hard-earned knowledge, we have survived and even flourished. This expat Aussie made it! While finding work was hard, luckily I was able to move into the relocation industry.

Now, I provide destination consultancy services to other expat families, on a one-to-one private basis. Read more about my business Expat Assist NJ and its services.

My Expat Aussie Blog

The aim of this blog is to share our adventures as we live our lives in the good ‘ol USA and try and navigate the difficulties of everyday life in a strange land. Sometimes ranting, sometimes preachy, my blog will try and entertain you while delivering relocation advice, stories about life in NJ and cups of empathy to those who are also taking on the big challenge of ‘Life Abroad’. Even so, there are new things still for me to learn about life here. So I have plenty more blogging to do before I run out of topics. If there is something you would like to know more about, feel free to contact me via our form.

The blog posts are intended to appear regularly. Please understand that. while consistency is my desire, I can make no promise about achieving the ideal. Blog topics fall into one these broad categories: moving to New Jersey; everyday NJ life; travel tales; ; fun things to do in NJ; and expat life in the USA.


24 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Hi,
    We are a Sydney family about to do what you have done ie. move to USA. We also researched and found Montclair seemed a good choice. Btw what school did your kids go? I will have a kindergartener. Do you recommend the apartment you stayed? How hard is it to rent there? Looks a bit of a shortage. We’d be keen to buy but realise about credit history… are you guys at that stage?
    Believe me you aren’t missing much in Sydney. Ok the summer was warmer but the cost of living is thru the roof,and top 3 most expensive cities to live in.

    • Hi Cathy,
      Thanks for the comment. So glad you found my blog!
      First off Montclair is a great town. Certainly not sorry we went here. However, rentals are a bit scarce in both houses and apartments, and Montclair is expensive to rent in! If you are looking now, there are probably the least number normally available as it is the off season, due to winter. Come spring and summer, and there will be more but still they go fast.

      Our first apartment was organized as temporary accomodation by my husband’s company, so we didn’t do any looking around for this-they just said ‘here it is’. It’s very nice actually, has pool in middle, gym, internet cafe downstairs and pretty nice people. You may find it expensive though compared w other apartments. I will talk to you offline about schools here but nearly all of them are very good. Can’t go too wrong no matter which you pick. Depends on what your child is like as to picking between them.

      I’ll email you seperately about the rest. A bit too much to fit in the comment box probably.

    • Feel free to contact me for help acclimating.
      I’ve been a world traveler and am native to nj. North central and south.
      Donna at donnascoffeehouse@ gmail.com

  2. Hi there again,

    South Jersey is less expensive to live in and there some areas with very good school systems if anyone is interested I would love to help out. We lived in Center City Philadelphia while our children were younger, recently moved to New Jersey because their school systems are much more superior. Unless you live in certain suburbs of Pennsylvania. They too have Blue Ribbon schools. We chose a beach town because all three boys in the household like to surf. No brainer.
    Anyway, I have a lot of resources if anyone might be moving to southern New Jersey, My husband is also a Co founder of a successful Charter school in Philadelphia. So we have a lot of knowledge after doing all the research for the school.

    Sorry for the interjection. Just want to help.

    Off again to look for syrup and cordial. Your blog keeps popping up and distracting me. Ha, ha…

    • Thanks for the info! I might pick your brain if that’s OK sometime down the track, as I am trying to write about as many things as possible to help any Aussies or Brits who are coming here to work out what’s what. We found it very hard initially which inspired me to start this. Just wondering if you are a fulltime mum like me or if you managed to get work here? If that’s too personal a question (forgive me), feel free to ignore it! Thanks again for dropping by and hope you come back for another chat:)

      • Hi there,
        Sorry for taking so long in getting back to you. Summer’s in a beach resort can get quite crazy.

        Absolutely you can contact me any time to pick my brain. I would be happy to help out.

        I have lived here in America for some time now. Before kids I worked full time in various hospitals in Philadelphia, then after my second, I stayed home for about 2 years then went back to work part time.. By trade I am a Retinal photographer in teaching hospitals… Small towns don’t have teaching hospitals so I took a different route since moving out of the city.. Forever evolving. Now I work part time cooking in a cafe here at the beach and I have a small business with my jewellery in Cape May, Nj. just a bit down the Parkway from Ocean City..

        Feel free to reach out. Just inbox me. I promise I will reply sooner…

        Have a great day.


      • I could have sworn that I returned your comment but it doesn’t seem to be here now.

        I just wanted to say that you can pick my brain anytime. Just send an email.

        Have a great day



  3. Hi

    Great blog, thank you!

    I currently live in Perth (Western Australia), but was born and raised in Jersey (Channel Islands) after which your state takes its name.

    As corny as this may sound, my boyhood dream has been to live in the USA (New England region, or there about) but after a 3-months exploratory trip to MA and FL in 1990/91 I met my ex-wife and got sidetracked to Australia for 20 Years. Over Christmas and New Year I visited New Jersey and basically my boyhood dream was re-awakened, which I intend to fulfil this time.

    I have worked in the Environment, Health and Safety field for the past 15 years and have been advised by a NJ immigration attorney that me best chance would be for an employer to sponsor me (How many times have I heard people who want to move to Australia say that).

    To this end, is there any recruitment agencies that you can recommend that work with people like me who want to move to the USA.

    My preferred location is Morristown, but I am open to living and working anywhere in NJ.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    Ta ta

    PS. Keep up the helpful blog.

    • Hi Mark. Thanks for the very nice comments:) Good for you that you are following your dream! Morristown is a very nice area but as you probably realize, there are lots of nice areas in New Jersey to live in when you relocate. I do not know of any agencies personally as we came here as sponsored expats like many on L1 and L2 visas, through my husband’s company. I think your immigration lawyer sounds like he knows what he is talking about re: sponsorship. I will email you seperately with some other suggestions.Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment:)

  4. Hi. We are repatriating to NJ after a three year stay in Bangkok (and before that we lived in various places around the US – Boston, SF, Atlanta). We are looking seriously at Montclair. Sounds like you have been very happy there — wondering about the social aspects of the town. Are there good opportunities to meet other families? Did you find that there are lots of new people moving to town? Thanks. Our kids are ages 8 and 4. Even though the US is our home country, the move still feels daunting – we joke that it was actually easier to move to Bangkok. Thank you!

    • My apologies for taking so long to answer. Just before Christmas I was down with a bug I caught from my daughter, so missed a few things over the last month.

      Montclair is a great town. There are a few people who move in and out, including expats. Having children does make it easier. Going to school functions, sport things, being a class mum, all help this. Most people from Montclair are pretty friendly and there are a large number of families, so meeting people shouldn’t be hard. Please send me an email or ask more questions if you need. I can provide much more info if it helps.

  5. Hi,
    I am SO glad I found this blog! My hubby and I, together with our 3 children ages 13, 10, and 8, are considering a move to Montclair in April. We have been overwhelmed because apart from looking for a place, we have to consider the schools – elementary, middle, and High. I guess my first question would be what side of town would you recommend. I want to be close to work (an academic at MSU) and close to my children’s schools. We are looking to spend about 2000, for a nice apartment atleast 2bed, 2bath.

    I am looking for a neighborhood with a community feel, close to my fav shops such as Whole Foods market. Also looking for amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, skating rinks, and rollerblading paths for the kids. What are the places to absolutely avoid in Montclair due to crime or just sloppy neighborhoods? I know these are many questions but would absolutely love to hear from a resident, ant information would be greatly appreciated, feel free to email me. Thanks.

    • Hi Nyangi. I think I will email you separately as there are a lot of comments I can add which will take up a lot of space here. Thanks for dropping by to read the blog!

      • Hi Anne-Marie

        Thanks so much for your blog, it’s a great place to start when considering a move! I am Australian but I live in Toronto and have all the same questions as Nyangi more than did 2 years ago. If you happen to have the response you have her that you could send me that would be fantastic! Thanks again, Simone

  6. Dear Expat Aussie in NJ,

    My name is Joyce and I work for ExpatFinder.com.
    ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas. We provide a myriad of services for expatriates and we have over 2,000 articles to help and support the people moving around the world and we are now creating an interview section to help the expats with real life experiences!
    We quite enjoy your blog about living in New Jersey, it is very interesting and informative. Would it be possible to interview you to further share some of your tips and feature some of your first hand experience as an Expat and your interview will be published on our Expat Interview section as a guide for our expat readers. The questions are mainly about the day to day lifestyle of an expat. If it would be possible, could you also send some photographs that we can use?
    Of course, if you accept, we can add a link to your blog or some of your website.
    The questions are enclosed, feel free to respond freely. You can return the doc with your answers if you accept this invitation.
    Thanks in advance and do let me know if you prefer other means to conduct this interview and we would be happy to accommodate your terms.

    Best regards,

  7. Hello, I’m really glad to have come across this website- thanks! We’ve lived in the States before for 2 years in San Fran and then Seattle. That was over 10 years ago before kids. Now we’ve got two kids (primary school) and my husband has some opportunities back in the States this time either mid west or North East coast. We’re a multi-racial family so respecting diversity is important to us hence choosing NJ also for the proximity to NYC. Just wanted to ask what your thoughts are on towns like Cranford, Summitt and Westfield? We are ideally looking to be close to Newark airport as interstate travel will be required for work. We currently live in Sydney so am use to expensive real estate, lots of traffic and lots of people- a change from this would be good! Interested to hear your thoughts, thanks.

    • Cranford, Summit and Westfield are all very good towns, although they are not hugely diverse. Out of the three, Summit is probably the most diverse with an Asian population (6-7%) and a Hispanic population (13-14%), with African Americans making up only 4% or so. That said, the public schools in these towns are great. Westfield also has a very good range of restaurants, and all 3 towns have a very nice upmarket downtown area (town center). The Summit commute is quite reasonable, with Midtown Direct line going to Penn Station in about 45 mins or so. I am told by others that the rail line that serves Westfield is not very efficient but according to the NJ Transit schedule, the ride should be very similar to Summit but perhaps a bit longer. Please email me if you have any more direct questions, I would be happy to help:)

  8. Hello,
    I am very happy I discovered your blog, I’ve already found a lot of good tips. Then, I’d like to have some advice for some concerns I have.
    My husband and myself, are going to move to New Jersey this 20th July. We are a young Belgian couple and wanted to discover some other horizons and I really wanted to learn English. We started by moving to London because that was close from our home country, we have been living here for these last 10 months. In January, my husband went to NYC for his job and enjoyed his time. The dream was growing and we decided to try to live an other adventure. And, there we are.

    My husband is transferred by his company so he has a job but, that’s different for me.
    I got my Psychology degree in Belgium in September 2014. As soon as I got it, we came to London. I started by taking some English class because I was unable to understand and speak neither. But because of the price I couldn’t follow these classes for ages, then I stopped. I wanted to find I job but we had to travel several times between Belgium and London to get married, so I couldn’t. I’m aware I need to work to keep improving my English. However, this is not my only purpose, I also want to get a job to meet people. So this is my first aim when I’ll arrive.

    Would you have any advice to find a job in New Jersey. Of course, as you probably understood I’m not bilingual, I can’t work as a Psychologist. I’m really motivated to work whatever the area. I just want to get involve in the society and improve my English to be able in the future to start my Psychologist career.
    I really would appreciate your advice, feel free to email me.


  9. Lisa Amores says:

    I love your blog! We are relocating from Florida because of my husband’s job. We have 3 small children. I homeschool my 6 year old and was looking for a very safe place (we currently live in a gated community). So safety, homeschool community and close access to stores such as Target, Whole Foods and Trader Joes would also be nice:) I keep coming back to Montclair with my current research. Although I have to say, we started with Edgewater. I was wondering what your thoughts were in comparing Edgewater with Montclair and having small children.
    Thanks so much,

    • Hi Lisa,
      I can certainly comment on both towns as I live in Montclair and visit Edgewater frequently with my work as a destination services consultant. My answer will be quite detailed, so I will send you an email instead of taking up a page or so here.

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