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Dublin: 11 °C Sunday 17 February, 2019
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How I Spend My Money: An expat in Melbourne on €62,400 not excited about coming home soon when her visa expires

She says it’s tough being away from home but the quality of life in Australia is worth it.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a series on TheJournal.ie that runs on Wednesdays and Sundays and looks at what people in Ireland really do with their cash.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of how much they earn, how much they save, if anything, and what they spend their money on over the course of one week. Want to take part? Details on how to do it are at the bottom of the piece.

Each money diary is submitted by readers just like you. When reading and commenting, bear in mind that their situation will not be relatable for everyone, it is simply an account of a week in their shoes.

On Sunday, a travel agent on €20,000 living in Cork wrote about her first week back in work after the holidays. Today, a woman who moved to Australia with her partner discusses the benefits of living abroad and her apprehension about coming home.

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Occupation: Commercial property valuer
Age: 29
Location: Melbourne
Salary: €62,400 
Monthly pay (net): €3,489

Monthly expenses
Rent: €603
Household bills: €45
Transport: €110 goes towards a myki travel card (Melbourne’s version of the Leap Card). We don’t have a car as everything is so accessible by either tram or train.
Phone bill: €31.20
Health insurance: €31.50
Groceries: €50
Fitness: Pilates (€55)
Subscriptions: €7.50
Savings: €1,250. Generally I add in whatever I have left at the end of the month before payday

I’ve lived in Melbourne with my partner since 2017. We left to go travelling, see Australia and experience working and living abroad. My partner was travelling three hours a day for work in Ireland while I was completely burnt out – we needed a break. We saved enough, the timing was right and with no responsibilities at home we set off.

We relocated initially on a working holiday visa, but my partner got lucky with a job and he was sponsored for a two-year visa. We travelled first for eight weeks and then settled in Melbourne for his job. His company paid for me to go de facto, which meant I could also work under the same visa as him with no restrictions.

I often get asked by locals why I chose Australia. I shrug it off and say, “I’m not the first nor the last Irish person to give Aus a go”. Every day I overhear that familiar Irish accent around the city. It has been a rite of passage for so many Irish and a lot have been here 10 years, which correlates with the crash back home. Most I encounter have little desire to return.

My salary is split. My annual pay is €56,600, while €5,800 goes towards superannuation, which is effectively my pension. On leaving Australia I can claim this back, but it will be taxed at 35%.

Over here, we both work less and earn more than we would at home – my partner earns considerably more. We save a decent amount every month and continue to have a good lifestyle. It’s a no brainer really. 

***

Monday

6:45am – My alarm goes off and I continue snoozing until about 7:15am. It’s my first day back after two weeks off over Christmas and I’m struggling. I have my breakfast, which every morning is porridge and blueberries bought at the weekend.

8:00am –I head for the train and need to top up my travel card. I buy a weekly ticket for €27.50 (the train costs €2.75 each way). So my weekend trips are essentially free.

10:00am  After all the chats and catch-ups I go for coffee with a colleague. They have a half-price deal (€1.15) with an app, happy days!

12:30pm – Lunch is leftovers from last night.

1:00pm – I go to pilates most Mondays. I buy a bundle of five classes for €68.50.

3:30pm – Tea time. Work provides tea bags, coffee and the likes – and fruit throughout the week too. I scramble through the fruit bowls for a decent looking apple. This stash has to do us until Wednesday and is nearly all gone. Everyone must be on the ‘new year, new me’ health buzz.

5:30pm – I catch the train to head home.

6:30pm – Pilates.

7:30pm – Home and eat a veg curry dinner prepared by my partner. I read, watch TV and then head to bed.

Today’s total: €97.15

Tuesday

6:45am – Same drill. I press snooze a couple of times, shower, have my usual breakfast and I’m on the train at 8:00am.

12:30pm – Lunch is leftovers from last night.

3:00pm – Starting to struggle. There’s no fruit or snacks left in work. I grab a coffee (€2.50) and a packet of fruit pastilles (€1.50).

5:30pm – Run for the train.

6:00pm – Training.

8:00pm – Home and my partner is out, which means I have to cook. Pasta and some pesto from the cupboard is as far as my culinary skills go.

8:30pm – Read, TV and then bed.

Today’s total: €4

Wednesday

6:45am – Same routine and on the train at 8:00am.

10:00am – Meet a friend for coffee to catch up. She paid last time so now it’s my turn (€5).

12:30pm – I forgot to make double helpings last night so I have to buy a falafel salad for lunch (€10).

4:00pm – Tea and an apple courtesy of work.

5:30pm – Home time and I head for the train.

6:30pm – My partner and I go for a cycle and end up in the supermarket picking up milk, eggs and other supplies. He pays and makes veg burritos when we get home.

Today’s total: €15

Thursday

6:45am – No change here to my daily routine. I’m on the train for 8:00am.

12:30pm – My lunch is leftovers from last night.

3:00pm – The Australian Open starts next week. I buy myself and my partner two ground passes, which are €30 each. I love watching sport, it’s a great day out (€60).

5:00pm – Home time and straight out the door to training.

7:30pm – Home from training and my partner is out for dinner. My culinary skills strike again and it’s eggs on toast for dinner.

Today’s total: €60

Friday

7:30am – Cheeky lie-in and I get the train at 8:20am.

10:30am – Feeling the effects of being back to work a week after Christmas and need a coffee – large is a must. I do get a discount for using my Keep Cup (€2).

12:30pm – Lunchtime. I’m not organised again and buy a basic salad (€5.50).

3:30pm – I have a green tea provided by work.

5:00pm – Finish up work and head to the shops for a browse.

6:00pm – Meet my partner in the city before heading to a gig. We go for some Vietnamese food first – he pays.

7:00pm – Searching Twitter, we figure out the band aren’t due on stage until 9:30pm. We head for some drinks after dinner, a round each (€12.50).

9:30pm – One more drink at the venue – my partner pays.

11:30pm – We grab a tram home and I used my pre-paid travel card.

Today’s total: €20

Saturday

9:30am – We head to buy the weekly veg shop in the local market – we eat a predominantly vegetarian diet. My partner tends to plan what we’re going to eat for dinner every evening so that we only buy exactly what we need and nothing goes to waste. It’s my turn to buy this week (€20).

10:00am – I make a pit stop to grab my dry cleaning (€10.50).

11:00am – I’m going to a baby shower this afternoon. I have a book for the baby, but I buy a small gift as well for the mum to be (€15.50).

12:30pm – Head to meet a friend and she drives us to the baby shower.

4:30pm – Afterwards, I meet my partner and we pick up some food from the supermarket that we couldn’t get at the market earlier – he pays. We head home to watch Bodyguard on Netflix.

11:00pm – Bed.

Today’s total: €46

Sunday

8:30am – I have a game and my partner comes along to watch. We get an Uber there (€7.50).

1:00pm – We go for brunch afterwards (€32.50).

2:30pm – Home and relax for the afternoon on the balcony in the sun.

6:30pm – It’s still hot, so dinner is light: sweet potato, ginger, coconut and lemongrass soup.

7:00pm – I finish my book, ‘Becoming’ by Michelle Obama, on my Kindle. I highly recommend it. I buy the Oprah book ‘What I Know for Sure’ after hearing a recommendation about it on the Good Glow podcast during the week (€8).

10:30pm – Bed.

Today’s total: €48

Weekly subtotal: €291.25

What I’ve learned:

  • Looking back over the week, I’ve spent quite a lot but not beyond my means. It’s not a standard week and being back in work after Christmas/laziness meant my organisation slipped up. I’ve probably spent too much on coffees and eating out.
  • The cost of the pilates classes might raise an eyebrow, but I really enjoy it and after years of sitting at a desk and playing sport my body needs it. It’s an hour to switch off, it really helps me relax. I also sometimes find if I don’t book myself in for exercise or make myself accountable I won’t do it.
  • I definitely have a ‘holiday’ mentality even though I’m living here and working too. Everything still seems so new – there’s places to visit and foods to try. Even after completing this article, I realise how much variety there is here. My lifestyle and my standard of life is far greater than it was living in Dublin.
  • There is a downside to all this – and maybe reasoning for my impulsive spending. All good things must come to an end. Our visa expires this year and we will have to head back to Dublin. We’ve discussed sponsorship and trying to stay, but it’s a lengthy and expensive process. We would need to be 100% committed to staying. It’s tough being away from home, you miss so much and feel both physically and emotionally so distant. I’m not excited about the prospect of moving home, but excited to be closer to friends and family.
  • The plan when we get home is to find jobs and set ourselves back up again. We will look into buying in maybe 12-18 months. I have a feeling this timeframe will be dictated more by the market and less by our willingness and ability to buy!
  • I must also reflect on the fact that I clearly can’t cook and I’m lucky to have found someone who can.

Are you a spender, a saver or a splurger? We’re looking for readers who will keep a money diary for a week. If you’re interested send a mail to money@thejournal.ie. 

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