Search icon


21st Feb 2024

‘Being away from family and friends is the biggest heartache’ – The reality of moving to Australia

Kat O'Connor

Denise Curtin made the big move to Australia but is the grass always greener on the other side?

Moving to Australia has become more and more common as Ireland’s housing crisis worsens. Thousands are leaving the Emerald Isle behind to start over in a country that appears to have fewer issues than our homeland. We’re turning our backs on the place we call home because it’s near impossible to make it feel like one with housing prices continuing to rise and the thought of owning your own home feels more like a dream than a reality.

For Denise Curtin, moving to Australia was something she was always attracted to because “you only live to regret the things you don’t try”.

Denise decided to move to Australia after the pandemic. Denise and her boyfriend were long-distance for years and finally decided to make the big move abroad, but it all happened quite quickly for them. Within six months, they were packing up their belongings and swapping Ireland’s grey skies for sunny days in Oz.

Denise shared, “Within six months we decided to go, and it was great that it happened like that for us. It didn’t give us much time to think or dwell on goodbyes.”

Moving from Ireland to Sydney was the right move for the couple as it felt familiar “because half of Ireland is here”

Like many before her, and thousands after her, Denise felt pressured to move because of the cost of living, as well as the eye-watering rent she was paying. Moving to Australia felt “inevitable” for her.

Denise said everything doesn’t magically fall into place once you move over, but you need to go easy on yourself. You need to accept that you’re not going to find a job or apartment instantly and it’s something that will gradually happen over time.

“Settling in takes time. Finding an apartment takes a lot of viewings, finding a job – often a similar timeframe. The most important thing is that you do get there. It all falls into place. The Irish community over here is incredible and really helpful in those early stages, so there’s nothing to fear.”

The Irish community in Australia is incredible and really helpful

You may be moving to another country, but that doesn’t stop the awkward encounters with people you knew from school or that one guy you dated in the first year of college.

“You will run into people you haven’t seen since primary school in your local supermarket – especially if you live in the Eastern Suburbs in Sydney where all the Irish seem to congregate. It’s hilarious and equally comforting – except for when it’s my hair wash day and I’m trying to dip in and out unscathed.”

The Irish community is rife in Australia, but being so far from home makes that big move so much harder.

As incredible as her Australian adventure has been so far, Denise admitted that being so far away from her loved ones has made it so much harder.

“Being so far away from family and friends in Ireland is the biggest heartache. I think it’s one of those unfortunate things that gets harder with time, you just become more accustomed to dealing with it.

“You’ll fall in love with the sunrises, the people you meet, and the way of life”

“You find yourself watching those you love growing older via FaceTime, both babies and parents and it’s a different type of struggle.

She continued, “The passing of time when you’re so far away. It definitely spurs on guilt, and I think that’s something that hits some people harder than others. For me, it comes in waves, but like I said you find ways to deal with it, despite it not getting any easier.”

Homesickness may weigh you down, but being able to live like a normal adult and not being restricted by crippling rent and rising costs have made life “pretty incredible”. Denise explained what makes life in Australia so much easier than life in Ireland.

“Life in Australia is pretty incredible. People describe it as ‘Peter Pan syndrome’ because it feels like time stops still and you never grow up. You do feel like you’re living for the moment and that is a tonic.

“I think that’s why so many Irish people are attracted to Australia because they get to just simply enjoy themselves and there’s no pressure on ‘what’s next’ traditionally speaking,” she said.

Moving to Australia is something that takes a lot of gumption, but as Denise perfectly put it, “You’ll only live to regret the things you don’t try”.

“Ireland will always be there, and if you don’t like Australia, you can always return home. I think sometimes people feel pressure on themselves to love it and stay for years, but only you can decide that for yourself. One thing I do know is that you’ll probably fall in love with the sunrises, the people you meet, and the way of life, it’s pretty addictive.”