Each week I interview a Belgian who left Belgium and has built a new life elsewhere. This week I introduce you to Dries. He moved to Australia because of a job offer.
1. Hi Dries, could you quickly introduce yourself? Please tell us a bit about who you are, where you are from, where you moved to and when you moved there.
I’m Dries Swerts, born in Hasselt in 1977. I’ve lived in Hamont (northern Limburg) most of my life and moved to Antwerp when I was 25, where I still have a house that I now rent out.
Through my job I got the opportunity to move to Brisbane beginning of 2012 and in September 2012 I was relocated to Melbourne. I still live there now.
2. Why did you move to Melbourne?
Moving to Australia was a dream, mostly based on a sense of adventure and idealizing a good living standard in combination with nice weather.
I got a job offer for Brisbane but was needed more in Melbourne, so it was kind of a coincidence that I ended up here. I didn’t have a first choice when it came to Australian cities before I moved here, but now I definitely do.
3. What were your expectations of life in Melbourne and did those square with reality?
My expectations for the “most liveable city in the world” were very high, but all were met. Melbourne is amazing. I love Melbourne! It’s a beautiful city, easy to get around in, where life happens outside in lovely weather. There are still real seasons, you can find amazing surf beaches after an hour’s drive, you can go snowboarding after driving a couple of hours, the city has the best coffee in the world, great nightlife, amazing career opportunities, …
4. What’s the biggest difference between living in Melbourne and living in Belgium?
There are a lot of differences, but of course also similarities. The biggest difference is that you spend much more time outside, which is of course largely because of the better weather. I think the impact of that nice weather on the quality of life here is huge.
5. What’s the biggest cultural difference or difference in mentality?
People are friendlier and more tolerant here. There’s more room, everyone has more personal space and that’s probably why we don’t annoy each other so much :-) A friendly talk with strangers in the store, by the red light, at the park, … is something that happens every day here.
In Belgium, something like that feels unwanted. The “relax, no worries” mentality here is a big difference with the cautious mentality in Belgium.
6. What do you like best about living in Melbourne?
There’s always something to do, you never have enough time to do it all, it never bores. Melbourne is beautiful, full of character, coziness, and adventure
7. What do you like least about living in Melbourne?
It’s far from other fun places in the world.
8. What do you miss most about Belgium?
Family and friends, dark bars, beers at reasonable prices served in the right glass, cold Christmases, watching cycling at normal hours, field cross, …
9. What do you miss least about Belgium?
The Flemish narrow-mindedness, traffic jams, the bad weather, …
10. Are you planning to stay in Melbourne? Or do you think you’ll migrate again someday?
There’s a possibility of moving to Sidney for a while, or going on an adventure in the Asia Pacific (Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur), but as things are looking now, I’ll be in Melbourne for a little longer.
11. Do you have any tips for other Belgians who are thinking about moving to Melbourne?
1.000 tips and wise council for anyone wanting to move to Melbourne, but the most important tip is to just start the adventure and see what Melbourne has to offer.
Are you a Belgian who moved abroad, or do you know someone who is? I’m always looking for new Belgian Expats to talk to. Check out the X-pat Files for more information on who exactly I’m looking for and drop me a line!