Moving From Switzerland to Australia

Moving From Switzerland to Australia

19/10/2004 by Irma Zimmermann

After visiting Australia and discovering it’s varied lifestyle and cultural perks, Irma and her husband Oliver packed up their life in Switzerland and migrated Down Under. This is their story…

Why did we decide to immigrate? There were many reasons, the main ones being a less restricting environment for our family, sound job prospects for both partners, better climate, and friendly people. Australia, in a nutshell, offered us an ideal mix of lifestyle, climate, and job satisfaction.

Reasons to Move to Australia

We first visited Australia as tourists 12 years ago, travelling through the outback in an old Ford Falcon for eight months. As a geologist (Oliver), I visited various mining companies and universities on the way and also assessed the possibility of living in Australia. As a Graphic Designer (Irma), Australia offered me plenty of room for creativity.

The experience of travelling through those vast expanses was surprisingly invigorating – and as the journey proceeded, the red continent began to get under our skin and by the time we left we were well and truly hooked. Australia was the stuff of dreams and we wanted to come back.

On our return to Switzerland, we became a family and I made a career change from Geology into Information Technology (IT) Network Engineering and our goal was still to apply to migrate Down Under.

After much gathering of paperwork and filling of forms, we received our skilled migrant’s visas. After even more soul-searching and deliberation, and two visits to Australia to assess options, we made the decision to move to Melbourne.

Our last visit was solely to have interviews and set up potential jobs, but the three month resignation period for my IT job (Oliver) in Switzerland proved to be a hurdle. It was hard to leave Switzerland and the comfort zone of family and a job, but we were confident that we had made the right choice, and that finding jobs in our respective professions would not be difficult.

Now, eight months down the line, we are beginning to realise that the reality of the market in Melbourne does not match what we expected.

The Australian Job Market

While in Switzerland we followed the availability of jobs via the standard employment websites such as,, etc, and were constantly astonished at the pages and pages of jobs advertised. Our experience has been that it is very hard to find the tangible information that you need about the real job market in Australia. On our arrival our job search involved:

-regularly reviewing newspapers
-registering with recruitment agencies
-registering with employment websites
-speaking to anyone and everyone about our situation
-“knocking on doors” and cold canvassing companies in Melbourne
-extensive modification and constant review of our resumes.
Our experience is that the web based jobs should be viewed with some caution – newspaper advertised positions are generally more reliable, but both will draw large amounts of applicants.

Generally, we have found that networking and “cold canvassing” brings more results.

Newcomers Network has been a mine of information to us too and I can only recommend it further. When surfing the internet career sites or, to a lesser extent, reading the paper, one is lead to believe that there are more than enough roles, even though this is clearly not the case.

Perhaps these observations apply only to the IT and Graphic Design industries, but I suspect that other industries are also affected. As newcomers, we are having great difficulty getting “a foot in the door” and defining how the market functions here – this sentiment has been confirmed by other newcomers we have met.

Upon arrival, migrants are very much left to their own devices, unless they have been transferred by parent companies. So, on the job front at least, we are constantly having to review our situation and think of new strategies.

We would be more than happy to offer our advice to newcomers or provide personalised graphics or IT services (business cards, brochures, websites, networking/computer advice, training and technical writing).

On all other fronts, we have found Melbourne and its people to be very open and friendly. We feel well connected to the lifestyle, diversity and culture in Melbourne.

Our two daughters have settled in very well in their new and different world. We see this as encouraging, because children seem to be very sensitive barometers to what is happening around them.

The future, as they say, is not like it used to be – but we remain positive and committed to “making it work.” Everything about living in Melbourne “feels” right – the missing piece of the puzzle is naturally being able to contribute to the economy.

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