Tag Archives: long distance relationship

It’s Been A Year

One year ago today, we submitted our application for my Swedish residence permit, a little earlier than expected, and so began this emotional journey.  Thinking back now, I’m glad we didn’t delay the process any further because here we are, 12 months later, still waiting and worrying and hoping.  But the decision has to be close now, any day.  We’re now in the estimated decision time frame, which is so exciting and terrifying.  Although most rejected applications hear back in a much shorter time frame,  you still can’t help wondering, “what if…?” And as much as we really want that decision so we can start making solid plans and book our flights before they get even more expensive than they already are, I’m also glad we haven’t received it sooner.

Once we have a decision, I am allowed six months to move over.  Of course, one can apply for an extension on that, but it would probably look better if you moved over as soon as reasonably possible. And as we’re still hoping for a July moving date after Johan finishes his course in June, this is still 4 out of those 6 months into the future.  In fact, I even mentioned this in our application, so the fact we haven’t received a decision yet isn’t worrying me as such, but it has started to get more nerve wracking and stressful these past couple of weeks, knowing that we will soon have that answer.  Another Brisbaner received their decision just this week, and they applied just after us and received their interview invitation at the embassy a day after us.  So it’s all very exciting!

Meanwhile on top of stressing about the decision, packing, the cat, where we’ll be living, where we’ll get jobs, when we’ll get jobs… I’m also stressing about how much I’m trying to get done before the move, and preferably,  before the decision.  Because I feel as soon as we get a decision, everything else will be blown from my mind and I’ll be in moving-prep mode.  But that also includes finishing half-started projects for our Etsy store, getting rid of as much stock as we can, deciding what I can and can’t live without and practising as much Swedish as I can, because it turns out SFI (Swedish for Immigrants) can sometimes take up to several months to get into.  There is so much to keep me busy and yet there are still days I just feel miserable with stress and longing.

Johan on the other hand is heading to Stockholm today to spend four weeks with his Mum while he attends practise work.  Next time he heads to Stockholm it’ll be to get on  a plane to see me.  We’ve never been so close to a visit without a known date. 😦 But hopefully soon, that will change.

International Move: The Expectations 5 Months in Advance

So, we’re into March and the desire to pack has only increased since my last expectations post, where the estimate weight of all the items I’d weighed up until that point was 51.55kg.  It hasn’t helped I’ve been helping my brother and his family move house, nor has it helped travelling into Central station everyday where there is always tourists wheeling suitcases with them.  I’ve now had a chance to weigh some more of my belongings, and despite that estimate increasing quite a bit to 154.94kg, I am refusing to be disheartened, because it’s really not as bad as it sounds!

At the moment, we are looking at flying with Singapore Airlines, who offer 30kg checked luggage, any amount of bags, and 7kg hand luggage which excludes the weight of a small handbag, laptop or camera bag.  So that’s 74kg between us, plus a few extra kilos that we should be able to squeeze into unweighted bags.  We lose about 8.5kg straight away between the weight of empty suitcases and backpacks.  That still leaves us 66kg.

I’ve weighed almost everything I can think of, except for my jewellery (which let’s be honest I don’t wear a lot of!); moving paperwork; souvenir papers and brochures from Sweden; a few smaller HP collectibles; and my craft supplies (most of which will be replaced).  Oh, and a bunch of childhood toys and items, which I’m not including right now.  So definitely no more than 10kg there, and the only priority there is my paperwork.  The important thing is, I’ve now weighed all of my clothes (including coat hangers, underwear, socks, shirts,  pants, jumpers, coats, shoes) which is about 25.65kg.  This estimate will be less, however, when I take out some things I won’t be bringing with me (including the coat hangers), and decide on the heaviest clothing items to wear on the plane.  So that right there are my priority items for shipping, plus 1-2kg to toiletries and other necessities.  Johan won’t be coming here empty handed either, so let’s give him 10kg to work with.  He’s a guy, and it’s summer for him, so he probably won’t even need that 😛 That’s 46kg for priority items and bags, with still 28kg spare in our baggage allowance.  This leaves space for all the other fun things I want to bring… the biggest of that being my HP collection.

So I’ve gone through my list  to see what I’d most like to fill the rest of that 28kg with and I’ve come up with Priority List No. 2, mostly full of sentimental items, coming in about 23kg, which still gives me 5kg to play with, and I musn’t forget to leave room for the Aussie goodies – namely Vegemite.

After reading some reviews, I am still thoroughly looking into Australian courier company, Pack and Send.  For example, I can ship a 40x40x30cm, 10kg box for $161.80 which I think is pretty all right, or say a 70x60x40cm, 30kg box for $370.23 – and arrives within 5 business days.  Cheaper and quicker than Australia Post by far, and excess baggage at airport.

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Or, so I thought.  Only this morning l I discovered that to send a 20kg parcel express with Australia Post to Sweden, including tracking and coverage worked out comparatively about the same as the Pack and Send prices, but with a 20kg limit instead of 30kg.  Don’t ask me how on earth this works.  $211 to send a 20kg parcel with all the extras, but $50 to send a 1.5kg parcel without tracking or cover, makes ZERO sense.  So now I’m sort of stuck between the two, because despite their every day regular mail absurd prices, I have been lucky in my dealings with Australia Post.  I have never had any mail go missing or get damaged, and I’ve only ever had 2 complaints from my Etsy customers about 2 delayed packages – both of which were during Christmas peak.  But I know a lot of people have had nightmares with them, only to be expected now and then, like anything.  So now I don’t know who to give my money to.

The point is, whichever company I go with, this will allow me to have my other items that I’d still really like with me to make me happy for a small price.  I wouldn’t want to ship more than 20-40kg excess.  And this saves me the worry, hassle, extra expense and long wait period for a shared container shipment.  Which leaves the rest of my moving check list (60kg) – all of which are non-urgent items, and stuff I’d like to have with me, but most of which I won”t want for years down the track when we’re well and truly settled (think – kids).  These are things that can easily be brought back with us on future holidays to Australia.

The last thing I’m looking at shipping is one of our cats.  She is 12 years old and we’ve had her since she was a kitten.  I’m not sure if it’s the wisest move, and my Mum is still perfectly able to look after her, but she’s still a youngster at heart, and it’s one thing to leave her for six weeks on holiday, it’s another to leave her for good.  Our two cats hate each other.  Always have and always will, as such they’ve sort of clinged one to Mum and one to me, and it’s a nightmare trying to find accommodation for both of them when we go on holidays.  If we were both to have one cat, this task would be easier.  That said,  trying to ship her to Sweden is not easy.

A lot of airlines will allow pet travel in the cabin at your feet, which saves money, but not into or out of Australia.  She would have to go in the cargo, and it’s cheapest to send her within 5 days of our travel.  From what I can tell, pet travel companies charge anywhere between $1500- $3500, but that’s from reading what few reviews I can find online and I am yet to get an actual quote as we don’t have travel dates yet.  There’s also the option of doing all the paperwork ourselves and avoiding the pet travel company altogether, probably saving a lot of money by only paying the excess baggage/cargo fees of about $1000, which doesn’t include the vet fees, but with that also comes added stress to ensure we get all of the paperwork correct.  So that’s one of the most important shipping options I’ve also had to consider!

The move is coming up fast (at least – we hope it is, if when we receive a decision it ends up fitting with our plans!) and I’m beginning to feel much more confident about how I’m going to move all of my stuff and how much I’ll be able to bring with me immediately, but there’s still the matter of space and volume, and I can’t know that until I can start packing.  Already I’m looking at getting a cheap, large wheeled duffel bag simply for transporting clothes and soft items (and it’s true, rolling clothes really does take up so much less space – but how much can I make it squish?!), but we’ll see how it goes when the time comes!  As always, tips and experiences are welcome, or maybe this has helped you!

The Wait Process

So, it’s been a while.  Honestly, there hasn’t been much to report.  It’s a waiting game, and it looks something like this every day:

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[Reads in rows, left to right]
But really.  There’s not much to tell.  Christmas was pretty lonely, but Skänninge missed out on having a white wonderland again, so I’m hoping this will be the year (third try lucky!).  Mum and I spent most of December and January reminiscing about where we were a year ago and watching through the 8 hours of footage I edited onto 2 dvds.  I’ve started a new job, Johan’s preparing to finish school in June, and we’re both hoping for a decision any day between now and May.  Just this week someone received their decision and they applied shortly after us, which is exciting!  Of course, there’s also the possibility that the decision doesn’t fall into the 13-14 month estimated time frame, either, but we’re living the hope that it will!

I’m starting to get frantic trying to organise some sightseeing for Johan when he comes to visit Australia for the first time (yes, he will see kangaroos and koalas :P), all the while looking up flights we can’t book yet and comparing prices we don’t have specific dates for.  And the desire to pack has become so strong I’m surprised the suitcase isn’t sitting open on my bed right now.

As our decision draws close, we’re going to keep you updated on the whole moving process because it’s going to be a crazy ride and one thing that has helped us is hearing the advice and experiences from others!  We hope to provide some to you, too.  Until then!

International Move: The Expectations 12 Months in Advance

I know, I know.  I’m thinking too far ahead.

But, for the longest time, I’ve been excited to start packing up my belongings, ready to make the move to Sweden.  I was ready to start packing in mid-2015!  But Johan said no, it’s too early 😛 I guess he had a point.  So in the end, I started photographing the things that I didn’t want to take with me, the things that I would try and sell second hand on places like Gumtree.  It would be a very slow process, and I refused to back down on my prices because I was in no rush to sell things – I had about 2 years to wait, after all, and I was willing to wait for the right buyers.

In the meantime, I also began writing down a list of things in Excel that I would want to bring with me – things that would be Urgent to take with me on the plane; Shipped that I wouldn’t mind waiting for, but wouldn’t want to be without for overly long; & Non-Urgent for things that could wait until family & friends could bring them over for me, or things that could wait for visits back to Australia.  It was a nice thought, but basically everything on that list ended up as Shipped.  Not exactly the prioritization I had in mind.  Instead, I began measuring and weighing the items I thought to be the largest/heaviest/bulkiest and added these to my list.

My next visit to Sweden for Christmas 2015 would result in me leaving the vast majority of my winter gear with Johan, to save trekking it all back to Queensland where none of it was needed.  I left him 2 winter jackets, my snow pants, 2 pairs of long pants, a thick fleece jumper, thermals, heavy gloves, socks, scarves and beanies.  You can imagine how much space I had in my suitcase coming home without all that stuff, and I probably cleared at least 10kg off my moving list, a year and a half before the move.  I was quite happy with that, because even if things didn’t work out, they weren’t items I’d need at home.  I also left him a few select items – a few books I wanted to share with him, and some small soft toys (what can I say?  I always will be a kid at heart) which I’d also used as space-fillers and soft packaging.  My suitcase would barely close on arrival, because I made use of every little inch – and even though I’d bought a luggage scale off eBay for a few bucks, I did worry that I’d be over the limit.  In the end I think I was about 26/30kg for my suitcase, and had another 7kg to fill in my hand luggage.  It’s something I’d recommend if you’re seriously thinking of moving to your loved one, leave stuff with them on an earlier visit that you can live without if things go south, but will save you valuable space later on!  I’m usually quite a light traveler, but this is the kind of time to pack as much as you can, down to the last kilo.

Moving on, I applied for a residence permit, and still we’re about a year out from a possible move.  I say possible, assuming that our application is accepted, because if not, we might run into some trouble!  Might I also add that it’s the biggest pain in the butt to not know when we’ll receive an answer about that application – because at the moment we’re looking anywhere between May-Sept next year and can’t make any proper plans until then!  But still, I want to know HOW I’m going to move my stuff.  You’ll find a lot of international moving companies offering free quotes online if you fill out how much you have to move – 1 bedroom, no. of boxes, etc.  And this was what really frustrated me – how am I supposed to know how many boxes all my stuff will take up?  I also wasn’t planning on moving any furniture, which I was sure the “1-bedroom” option would entail.  I wasn’t even taking my PC.  There were also companies that would come to your house and give you a free quote, but that seemed a bit extreme for something so far in the future.

So I went back to my list in Excel.  I had always thought that because I wasn’t bringing any furniture, airfreight might be a suitable option.  Yes, it tends to be more expensive because it’s priced on weight and not volume, but we’re talking about items in a bedroom (and a half) that’s just 3x3m,  I’m not big on clothes, or shoes, so I don’t have a lot there to move, either.  It’s mostly books, dvds, things of sentimental value (and I’ve got to admit, I’m a hoarder), and of course my Harry Potter collection.  It honestly didn’t feel like a lot, but I knew to expect to be surprised, that it would more than likely add up.  Still, I lived under the impression that, for me, airfreight would work out cheaper, not to mention it tends to be more reliable, and would get to me much sooner!

The items that I had weighed in my moving list came out at 51.55kg. This was no where near a complete weighing – I hadn’t weighed everything on the list, and it didn’t include clothes… but it did include my treasured HP books, and honestly, how much more was really needed?  I could always rebuy all my art materials.  Throw in an estimate on clothes and things… But still, I was right.  I did NOT have a lot of stuff to move.  The plan was always that Johan would come out to visit me in Australia before I made the move, and he would come in our winter, the equivalent of a Swedish summer, so he would not have a lot to bring over here.  Not the winter gear I had to bring!  Which would also mean we had 2 suitcases to fly back with us, and 2 lots of hand luggage.  If we were to go with the bigger airlines again, that would mean 74kg between us.  Not bad considering my current estimate was sitting at just 50kg.

Of course, the next thing would be the bulk.  Not everything I had would fit its way into our two suitcases.  I had 2 large frames I had to decide whether to bring or roll up the posters and rebuy frames.  I had a 3rd, very heavy custom made shadow-box frame .  And I had my large but lightweight Hogwarts trunk.  Take those out of the equation, gives more room for the clothes to be rolled up in the suitcases!  And surely, surely I might only need 1 or 2 airfreight boxes which would no doubt have to be cheaper than a shared shipping container.  Just had to be.  But still I could find no where to price up unless I had the size of the box and the weight, and that was something I couldn’t do because I wanted it packed properly and wasn’t sure if they’d require separate boxes or not.  The other thing was my books – they’d easily take up a suitcase in themselves and I’m not sure that would be wise, but posting with Australia Post was never going to be an option, considering it’s about $40 to send a 1kg parcel uninsured to Sweden – though certainly postage would be a great option for other countries where postage is cheaper!  So I tried to put in rough box estimates, but still there was no where that could just give me a straight price estimate without having to get into contact with someone for a personalised quote.  I just wanted to know how much airfreight was!  $100?  $200?  $300?

So I went to the airline itself, and I went back to the Emirates website, simply because we’ve flown with them twice and I don’t know who we’ll be flying with this time, but I imagine they’re likely on the higher price scale so good for estimating. $108 per extra kg over.  Oookay.  Not so good.  Let’s pretend I’m looking at 10-20kgs extra.  For that price, I’d be better off buying another return ticket home and just filling that suitcase with the remainder!  Or shouting someone a trip and saying “on the condition you bring all my stuff!” All in all, not a bad idea, especially considering most of the items I wouldn’t mind waiting on, and I was hoping to return for a short visit to Australia just 8 months later.  Still, when I say I wouldn’t mind waiting, I’m very sentimental and as with anyone I’m sure sooner-rather-than-later would be the preferred option.  And surely the moving companies would know the ins and outs and give better deals.  It kills to think of the weighty stuff you can buy overseas with free postage… But did I need a moving company if I only had 20kg extra?  Fragile items, yes, but…

And STILL I wanted to pack – I wanted to see exactly how much I could squeeze into two suitcases.  Weight-wise I sounded very well off, but volume wise?  What if it was all too bulky and I couldn’t fit the amount of things I wanted to?  But it was too early, I kept telling myself.  Too early.  Then there was this note on the Emirates website: “You can check in as many pieces of baggage as you need, as long as the total weight is less than the maximum baggage allowance of your class.” Meaning, if we could fill a suitcase to the brim and still have it be a few kilos under the limit, we could take additional boxes for the bulkier items.  Could be perfect.

Then I looked up couriers.  Multiple websites, ranging $200-$450 for 20kg.  That’s sounding better.  A small fraction to pay for  my bulky, fragile items, that are no where near worth that in value, but sentiments.  It eased my worries a little.  I was sure, that whatever happened, I wouldn’t need to pay any moving company anything.  I might pack for a month trying to work out the best way to make the most use of two suitcases and hand luggage, but I had no furniture or appliances, and surely, it would be quite the affordable international move, minus, you know, the airline tickets.

Guess we’ll wait and see when the time comes… but hopefully this might help a few of you planning a move – when you’re on your own with nothing but your dreams and guesswork to occupy you for a move that’s too far in the future.  Do start deciding what you’ll bring and what you can start selling now.  Do buy a luggage scale to start weighing individual items and suitcases.  Do nurture those dreams.  And if you have any tips, comment below!

The Interview

(Kind of sounds like the title of an impressive Thriller, doesn’t it?  …I just checked. There’s at least four movies with that title.)

So, how did it go?  Hur gick det?  After staying up all night stressing, going over my notes three times, asking Johan random questions about himself, leaving myself just five hours sleep, and waking up after four, did I walk into the interview, introducing myself in perfectly pronounced Swedish?  Um, no.  It was more like… “Hi. Please take a seat.”

First thing I noticed, there was no glass barrier separating me and the interviewer.  I didn’t think there would be, but apparently in happens in the movies, and I’d read about people interviewed in the US and Thailand that had a barrier, so I felt instantly more relieved comfortable.  I wasn’t a prisoner.  We were just going to have a nice little chat.

The Consulate’s name is Helena, and she was a lovely lady who was very easy to talk to.  Above her desk is a plaque: SVERIGES KONSULAT. This is real, I thought, this is happening. First things first, I paid an interview fee of $50 (which varies depending on your type of application) and she took photocopies of my passport and the official letter I had to say I wasn’t married. I was asked to bring both of these over the phone, and in fact, they were the only documents I was asked to bring. That didn’t stop me printing off all the evidence Johan had uploaded to our application last week – our chat logs, photos, letters, etc, but I asked and she said it wasn’t needed, because he was asked for them at his end, not me, and obviously it’s all already been uploaded, but I thought it better to bring it all just in case.

So straight into the questions then.  She sits at a computer typing up all of my responses and admitted straight up that she wasn’t a fast typist, which was a little painful to watch for someone that does 100wpm, watching her two-finger type, but she printed off the questions for me which allowed me to scan them and think about my answers while I waited.

I had been googling for sample questions, and found people had been asked about which schools they and their partner attended and subjects studied; their partner’s favourite colour; both family’s occupations; how they’d cope with the climate change; why they loved their partner; even their parents type of car.  I spent a week trying to consider how to put into words exactly why I loved Johan so much, and I wasn’t asked!  In fact, the only one of those questions asked was about both our schools.  I was glad I quizzed Johan on his schools as he’s been to half a dozen over his time, but I had no hope of remembering them all and I wrote them down which the Consulate accepted, agreeing that it was ridiculous they asked for this and that she had a hard time remembering the schools her partner went to!

Apart from this, all the questions were pretty straight forward and very basic.  Like, simplified versions of the ones that were asked in the initial application, simply to check that all the answers match up, I guess.  Why do you want to move to Sweden?  To be with my partner.  Names of all family members, and whether they’ve met with the applicant/partner . Not the occupations I had prepared to explain.  What are your plans for the future and a family?  Have you got work lined up in Sweden?  Again, she was very understanding that it’s almost impossible to look for work and say “I might be there next month! Or I might be there in 8!” and that we didn’t know where we would live depending on where Johan found work. How did you begin communicating?  How often do you keep in contact?  How did you meet him?  What interests do you share with him?  All those types of original questions that were on your application the first time, but the much shortened version as she had to type it all up.

In the end, I was with her for almost an hour exactly, although it felt like longer.  Would’ve been shorter if I was typing! 😛 She printed off my responses, I checked over them to make sure it was all correct, signed, and was free to go.  I tried to enquire about how long it would take, but her guess was as good as ours, and we’re not to expecting anything more for several more months still.  So we can relax.  Sort of.  Because that interview did not refine my confidence in our application.  I had so much more I wanted to say, for instance about my Swedish learning,  and I barely mentioned all we had got up to on our second holiday, just that I had been to Sweden twice, took my Mum along and saw his family and went to his place in Haparanda.  There was so much I left out, but then again, the questions didn’t really ask for it, and I felt it maybe best to stick straight to the point as much as I wanted to overload her with information, but I feared her fingers wouldn’t hold up to the keyboard!  She was alone in the office and already had four phone calls including one as I was walking out the door, so yes.  I felt disappointed in that I could’ve said so much more, but I will just have to trust that all of that extra information is in both mine and Johan’s written responses to the application questions, and in the uploaded evidence.

And now we wait some more…

Application Update!

So, you may recall that in March, we submitted an application for my Swedish residence permit, not expecting to hear a decision for 14-17 months?  No, don’t panic!  We haven’t got a decision this early.  But on Monday a week ago, I received an invitation to contact a Swedish embassy within 14 days to make an appointment.  At the same time, Johan also received an email asking to send in photos and further evidence of our relationship.  So you can relax, no one’s moving just yet.  But panic mode set in for us!  Admittedly, Johan was a lot more cool about it, but I was not expecting this for several more months.

Two phone calls later, one to the Swedish Embassy in Canberra and one to the Swedish Consulate in Brisbane, I had an appointment set.  And the date for that appointment has come around very fast.  When, you might ask?  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow, Thursday the 4th of August, I am going to speak to an official and tell them all about my relationship with Johan, and why I want upheave my life to move to him.  Full of nerves and freaking out just a little when I consider this interview is going to contribute to our future dreams and goals.  It took several frantic days of trying to gather Skype call logs and Facebook Messenger screenshots, letters, flight tickets and photos spanning the course of our relationship over 3.5 years.  We may have only met twice, but we still struggled to get the photos narrowed down to the 3-5 they asked for!  All in all though, I think the evidence we’ve gathered is solid, and our love is strong, and hopefully that will show in this interview and it will all go well!  Wish me luck, and expect another update soon!

The Application Process Has Begun!

So today was a crazy day! Kylie was freaking out and not able to push a button, and I tried to calm her down and yeah. But then again, applying for a residence permit to move and live with someone is a pretty big deal, and pressing that finish application button… well, there’s pretty much no going back after that. But it’s not all done yet. I’m now in the process of writing my response application so to speak. We both have to provide basically answers to the same questions about each other, and I guess they compare those answers or something, but yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing today, and because of the Migration Agency’s crappy system for managing these applications, I already lost all my progress once. But I’m getting there. Soon we will be living together and I’m so excited! Well at least if this application goes through. But I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t, so I’m not that worried.