Career

Why You Should Move Interstate In Your 20s

Since the heyday of Germaine Greer, it’s been a time-honoured tradition for young, aspirational Australians to move to foggy London (or, more recently, fog-inducing Berlin) for a few years. But while an overseas stint is enshrined as a rite of passage for the Aussie twenty-something, relocating interstate isn’t given as much attention.

At the start of this year, I moved from Sydney to Melbourne for work. I’d spent next to no time in my new city of residence upon arrival, but the move is one I’m overwhelmingly happy I made. Here’s why.

Greater employment opportunities

Unless your passion lies in working for your local council in your hometown, there’ll be some ace employment opportunities beyond your city of birth. This proved to be a key factor for Maddy Semit, 23, who moved to Melbourne from Brisbane five months ago for her first full-time gig.

Semit was keen to work for a large, global company, but knew that her choices in Brisbane were limited. “To chase my career, [I knew] I’d be looking to move,” she explains. When a first-rate opportunity presented itself in Melbourne (“a city I’ve always had the biggest crush on”) she grabbed it.

A whole new (social) world

Without a long-standing social network in a new city, you’re forced to make new friends. This represents a great opportunity to clarify what sort of person you like spending time with — and, by extension, what sort of person you are.

“I’ve found it extremely liberating on the social front,” says Semit. “Everyone just takes you at face value as the human you are now…it’s an absolutely clean slate”.

As an interstater, finding common ground with locals is still pretty darn easy. Although your cultural references won’t be exactly the same (Livinia Nixon retains a media profile in Melbourne that I’m astounded by as a non-native) they’ll likely overlap significantly.

With distance, you’ll also view existing friendships in a new light. While contact with some friends will inevitably become less frequent, in other cases bonds will only strengthen. Reflecting on her closest friendships, Maddy says that the time now spent together is made “so much more meaningful and special” because of its relative scarcity. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.

For those who’ve moved up or down the East coast, the (usually) consistent time zone and relative proximity are also big pluses in maintaining contact. As Semit explain, “you’re only ever two hours away from your old city and your old friends.”

Re-evaluating assumptions

As well as whittling down your worldly possessions to a move-friendly pile of stuff, a relocation interstate will prompt you to overhaul your routine. Without a set of go-to bars or weekly rituals, you’ll be able to use your leisure time exactly as you want to, and seek out stimuli that, well, stimulate you.

Since moving to Melbourne, says, Semit, “free time has become so sacred, because there’s so many incredible things to do…it’s a next level of culture, art, cafe, food, passion, creative people [and] happiness here that I hadn’t gelled into back home.”

Down time can also change your relationship with yourself. As Semit explains, “you can just take yourself out to a brunch spot or a gallery…you suddenly realise your own company can be some of the best there is.”

Gaining a new perspective on your hometown

Getting to know somewhere new will clarify what you enjoy (and don’t) about a city. You’ll find yourself yearning for some aspects of your hometown (Sydney Harbour, for me), and in disbelief that you ever put up with others.

Reflecting on her trips back to Brisbane post-move, Semit says she has a sense of nostalgia. “You look around,” she says, “and think of all the memories you’ve had there that you can never have again. You’ll always have a deep, profound love for it.”

Depending on whether you’re moving to or from a major city, your perspective on financial value may also change. For Semit, although Melbourne is slightly more expensive than Brisbane, “you’re gaining so much extra from every dollar you spend” due to the quality of goods and experiences on offer. As a Sydney native, I continue to be astounded by the bang for buck external to city of my birth — whether we’re talking rent or radishes.

Trial run for overseas

Even Germaine Greer moved from Melbourne to Sydney before she took on Cambridge and wrote The Female Eunuch. If you’re interested in an overseas move but aren’t sure how you’d handle it, some time interstate could be the perfect dry run: all the freedom and independence, most of the novelty, but almost none of the logistical concerns (visa applications, currency conversion, language barriers).

If all goes well, some time in another state will prep you perfectly for a cross-continental leap. Says Semit, “falling so in love with a city and it becoming so familiar, and doing it all by yourself suddenly makes the world seem like such a smaller place”.

Reflecting on how the Melbourne move has changed her mind-frame, Semit says “I would’ve been quite scared or hesitant to move straight overseas, but even after five months in Melbourne I just feel twice or thrice as confident to take on another city.” Ms Greer, no doubt, would approve.


John is a Melbourne-based marketing professional and freelance writer. He’s a lapsed Twitter user and his Instagram aesthetic needs refining, so his social handles aren’t really worth sharing.