This month we catch up with the founder of Beer Buddy – a group that aims to help connect expat men in Australia so they can slip into their new lives and get some new mates along the way!
Name: Josh Fordham
Current Location: Castle Hill, Sydney
Originally from: Chingford, London
Why did you decide to move to Australia?
After meeting my now wife two weeks after arriving on a Working Holiday Visa back in 2012, we agreed that Australia offered a better way of life (especially for the two kids we now have. We certainly didn’t waste any time!)
When did you make the move and how long did it take you to get set-up with a home and job?
We made the move in August 2015. I was quite lucky in the fact that the company I worked for in the UK were opening an office in Sydney, so the timing was perfect! We’re still renting, with the house prices as they are at the moment, I have no idea when we’ll be in a position to buy.
How was it obtaining your visa? Did you use a migration agent? What type of visa did you apply for?
It’s always a long process, whichever way you go about it. With Laura (my wife) being Australian, I went for the Partner (309) Visa. We looked into using an agent, but it adds such a large amount of money to an already expensive process. I did it all online myself and it was fairly straight forward! Mainly the 9 month wait that’s frustrating.
What’s the best thing you’ve found about living in Australia so far?
I’d say it has to be the weather! Gets a bit too hot sometimes, but beats the rain!
What’s the hardest thing you’ve found about living in Australia?
I think leaving your family is pretty hard, especially taking my parents only grandchild away from them (and adding another to the collection in August), but the most difficult thing is finding new friends. When you’re settled down, have families, work etc., it’s pretty hard to find a new mate or two – even someone to have to odd beer with.
What drove you to set up Beer Buddy?
I started Beer Buddy a few months after arriving in Sydney. One evening, my wife told me that her and my daughter were going to her friend’s house for dinner, and suggested that I go out for a beer or something. Great idea!! Oh, hang on, I literally have no friends. How does a twenty something bloke who’s settled down find new mates? Go up to a group of guys in a pub and introduce yourself? Not easy. So I looked online, found tonnes and tonnes of women only groups; mother groups, book clubs etc. – but I couldn’t find anything for men. So, I started a group. Slowly but surely, guys requested to join – it turned out that there are tonnes of guys all over Australia who share the same problem!! We now have around 1,300 guys on the group, which I run along with my mates Mike Rogers, Corey Scown and Andrew Schroder.
Is it just Brits that attend or do you get other expats from different countries?
No, the group consists of all sorts of nationalities! We had a guy posting from India the other day. Many of the blokes live in and around the Hills District in Western Sydney, as that’s where it was started, but we have members from all over.
Tell us a little more about the events?
We try to host laid-back events on a quarterly basis – each have been hosted at Hillside Hotel in Castle Hill. The first event saw us raise $5k which was split between Beyond Blue and Westmead Children’s Hospital. Our second event saw us raise another $5k for a youth prevention suicide based in Doonside called Eagles RAPS. For the third event, we’re having a break from all the organising (we all work full time) and are just going to enjoy a few beers, giving people an opportunity to meet friends. We also do some ad-hoc events; recently House of Pocket (they own a chain of bars, including Stitch Bar in the CBD) made a new beer and named it Beer Buddy Brew – unfortunately with my ugly mug on the front of it.
Do you hope to stay in Australia permanently or is your move just for a while?
That’s the plan! We occasionally miss UK, but always come back to the quality of life being a lot better here. No plans to leave just yet!
What’s the one thing you miss about home?
As much as I love the weather here, and despise the rain, I do occasionally miss feeling really cold. I love a crisp, cold day. Soon wears off when I see the beach, though.
If you had to give anyone who is moving to Australia a bit of advice what would it be?
Save! Save some money, then when you get to your target, save some more. Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to make new friends. Look online, get into some groups, message random people. Other than that, enjoy it!
Find your new potential Beer Buddy’s at www.facebook.com/beerbuddyAU
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