I write to you from the warm sunny climate of Melbourne. It’s certainly an improvement upon the dreary, wet, covid infested shores of the UK. Even being here is an achievement.
First, we had to obtain an exemption for me to travel. That could only be obtained if you counted as a family member of an Aussie citizen or permanent resident. Luckily, Ms Wealthster is (a) Aussie and (b) has some training in migration law so knew what we needed to prove that I was a defacto partner of her. I also had to apply for an e-visitor visa before applying for the exemption to travel.
Third, we had to do a PCR test 72 hours before we departed the UK. I was wary of this as I didn’t want to do it too early. I timed it to be 72 hours before the departure of the connecting flight to Australia which was from Doha (rather than London). I used Nuffield health and they provided a quick turnaround but there are many other suppliers. However, with the Covid cases rising this put pressure on us getting the result in time to fly. Luckily, it came back within 24 hours, and we were good to go. It may be worth paying for the 1-2 hour turn around to reduce stress levels with that.
Fourth, we had to have proof of our vaccinations. We found that you could request an NHS printed letter by post. This has proven useful as everywhere asks for vaccine status which is impossible to do digitally with a foreign vaccine into the Service Victoria app. This letter has an official look to it which I think a print out would be lacking. Some places said they aren’t allowed to accept a paper copy without ID so bring your passport out with you.
Lastly, and most challengingly, we had to not get Covid. This was a high order in London where it felt that most people, I knew had it. We did a mini lockdown before the flight for about 10 days and got my booster jab. We avoided public transport and used Zip cars to get around, including to LHR airport. I carried a cleaning cloth with Dettol to the car and cleaned it before driving. I probably looked quite strange to any passers-by.
It all paid off and Australia very kindly dropped the quarantine requirements shortly before we departed. We had to get a PCR test 24 hours after arrival and wait until a negative result. In Victoria, that can be done using the public system for free. Beware though as no booking system exists for this service, so you have to queue up. We waited about 2.5 hours. After that we had to get another test 5-7 days after arrival which also took 2.5 hours.
We had a lovely Christmas. Got to see the Ashes at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. However, since yesterday, we have been in quarantine again as someone on the plane had Covid. We are awaiting our Covid test result. Having done a lateral flow, I’m confident we will be negative. However, that is why I’m writing this as we are stuck at home!
It has made me consider how ludicrous all this extra admin and process is just to do something that I previously could just board a flight and arrive. The more galling thing is the UK is demanding I do a PCR test upon return from a country with far less COVID than the UK has.
Anyway, I digress.
I’ll make this post a monthly update and then will aim to do an annual review shortly after.
I do feel like the jet lag this time round was debilitating. I don’t remember feeling as rough last time I came. I’m getting older and my aging frame is less fit that it was three years prior.
One of the last things we did before going into our Covid lockdown prior to leaving London was going to the Hawksmoor, which is a steak restaurant, with two friends. It had been in the diary for months and it was also one of the restaurants that qualified for my AMEX Platinum card offer of £200 statement credit. I boldly paid £199 of the £250 bill and hoped and prayed that the credit would be forth coming. It was. Things like that make having the AMEX Platinum worth having.
Sadly, we didn’t get to use the Priority pass at LHR as it took so long to check into our flight that we didn’t have time to go in. Never mind. I think this is a deliberate ploy by Qatar Airways to entice you to upgrade to business class. Their economy isn’t too bad but to be honest spending 22 hours of a flight will wear anyone out.
Statement of points is now a cool 53,575 points.
Having just done my spending update it is surprisingly good. Our self-imposed lockdown saved some money and staying at Ms Wealthster’s parents place has saved a packet. Her parents won’t allow me to pay for anything… I am trying though!
I was lucky to receive a staff retention bonus of £3,500 this December. After tax it ended up being about £2000 extra in my pay check. This was simply because I hadn’t left the company after it was bought out by a bigger company last year. Easy money. I’m hoping to get a further bonus early next year.
I track my spending using Emma which means I can do this break down in less than 5 mins.
FI Fund has proceeded to grow to £255k this month. It had been higher, but the markets have been all over the shop this month. They have been so up and down that I thought I’d gone backwards this month. I’m happy that I’m back above £250k. It feels like a real achievement.
Net worth breached £450,000 for the first time. Next stop £500,000!
Stay tuned for the annual update.