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Updated 8 Feb 2010

Danielle Duffey is an American expat living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, her 5- and 3-year-old sons, and two cats. Her husband inspired the move after being posted to Australia for a two-year work contract. 

About Danielle

Q: Where are you originally from?
A: New Jersey & Massachusetts, USA

Q: Where are you living now?
A:  Middle Park, Victoria (Melbourne)  

Q: How long you have you lived here?
A: 18 months.

Q: Did you move with a spouse/ children?
A: Yes, husband and two kids. 

Q: Why did you move; what do you do?
A: My husband got an opportunity within his company to move here for two years.

About Melbourne

Q: What do you enjoy most about living in Melbourne, how’s the quality of life as an American in Australia?
A: Melbourne is very family friendly, easy to get around and there is so much to do.

Q: Any negatives? What do you miss most about home?
A: I never lived in a city before so I do miss having a big backyard.

Q: Is the city safe?
A: Yes, Melbourne is extremely safe compared to the US!   

Q: How do you rate the standard of accommodation in Melbourne?
A: It was a bit difficult finding a property, the rental market is very saturated and places are rented pretty quickly. The realtors set up 15-minute “inspection” times and you end up viewing properties with several other people. It is frustrating dealing with this process, but there are a lot of places available and things come on the market weekly.

Q: What’s the cost of living in Melbourne compared to home? What is cheap or expensive in particular?
A: It is a bit more expensive but I think the salary is higher so that compensates a bit.

Q: What are the locals like; do you mix mainly with other expats?
A: I have met a lot of nice Aussies that have become friends, but mostly my friends are other expats that I happened to meet on my own. I only have one other American friend and the rest are from all over the world.

Q: Was it easy meeting people and making friends?
A: Yes, for me it was. I made the effort to meet people, and I think having kids helped.

Family and children in Melbourne

Q: Did your children settle in easily?
A: Yes they did, they love living at the beach and having so many fun playgrounds around.

Q: What are the schools in Melbourne like, any particular suggestions?
A: My oldest just started prep (kindergarten) this week so I am not completely familiar with the schools. So far they seem fine!

Q: How would you rate the healthcare in Melbourne?
A: They have Medicare here, but only for permanent residents and citizens. The doctors seem good and it is not nearly as expensive as it is in the US.

And finally…

Q: Is there any other advice you like to offer new expat arrivals?
A: I would tell someone if they were not sure about what area to live, they should drive around a bit, or just rent someplace for six months to see if they like it. There are several rental properties that offer six-month leases, so it would give someone the time to get a feel for the areas.

► Interviewed January 2010