Moving to Australia was a dream come true for ex Londoners Rachel and Semir Mustovic who run an education software company based in Victoria’s regional city of Geelong.
‘When we got married Rachel made it clear she didn’t want to live in the UK for too long,’ said Semir who was born in the former Yugoslavia but lived and worked in London as Business Manager for several years.
‘Rachel had spent six years in Africa including two years teaching in Tanzania. In the long-term we couldn’t see ourselves having a family or the lifestyle we wanted in the UK because we are both very outdoor people.’
Rachel lived in Melbourne for a few years as a child and returned on a working holiday prior to starting her teaching degree. Semir had also visited Australia before meeting Rachel and fell in love with the outdoor life.
‘One day we asked each other to name the one place we dreamed of living,’ recalled Semir, ‘I said it would have to be Australia, and Rachel wanted to know if I was joking because that’s exactly where she dreamed of living too.’
The couple first looked into migrating under Australia’s skills-based points system in 2003 but just missed out. ‘One of the issues we faced was that Semir’s educational records were destroyed during the Yugoslav war in the 1990s,’ said Rachel.
Not long after, Rachel’s dad saw an advertisement about the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme and the couple decided to re-apply focusing on Rachel’s skills as a teacher. ‘I looked it up on the website and the information was all there,’ said Rachel. ‘The points were lower and it was a fast track way of applying. The only stipulation was you had to live in a regional area for two years.’
During the application process Rachel’s UK boss – the founder of a highly successful education software company called 2Simple Software – suggested they set up an arm of the business in Australia.
‘So we asked if we could revise our application and move to Victoria because it would be a good place to start a business,’ said Semir. ‘We also phoned up friends in Melbourne and asked them to nominate three regional cities in Victoria where we could live, and the first choice was Geelong.’
Within four days of applying the couple had a preliminary ‘yes’, pending paperwork, and police and medical checks. But plans were delayed slightly when Rachel fell pregnant with their daughter, Ella, in early 2005.
‘We didn’t know anything about Geelong at first but we looked it up online and decided it wasn’t far from Melbourne so we could always move there after a couple of years,’ said Rachel
The Mustovics arrived in Victoria in October 2005 and settled in Newtown, a suburb of Geelong, a month later.
‘It’s so easy living here. Everything is so close, and within 15 minutes you can be at the most amazing beach or the most beautiful national park,’ said Semir. ‘We both do lots of sports. Rachel sails catamarans and I play volleyball. I used to play for the Yugoslav National Team so I when I came here I decided to take it up again. I play for Geelong in the State League.’
‘The facilities are fantastic,’ Rachel agreed. ‘We’ve got Kardinia Park over the road, I sail with the nearby Torquay Sailing Club and the Great Ocean Road is on our doorstep. All of our friends are shocked at how much we do. The lifestyle Geelong offers us is incredible.’
‘We kept saying to ourselves, I can’t believe how helpful everyone is,’ said Rachel. ‘It was pretty breezy in terms of setting up our business. We went to a small business centre here in Geelong and they were so helpful, giving us advice about taxation, bank accounts, and providing a list of accountants in the area – even checking if we had ambulance cover.’
In their initial business plan the couple hoped to get 2Simple Software – which produces a range of educational programs for 3-12 year-olds – into about 300 or 400 schools across Australia within 12 months. ‘But we’ve actually managed to get into more than 1000 schools,’ said Rachel. ‘It’s been a lot of hard work but the timing was right too.’
After working from home for a year they opened an office in Geelong in early 2007, employed a full-time administrator, and engaged a sales person in New South Wales.
Rachel said they had also made friends easily. ‘Our next door neighbours are a similar working couple with two young boys. They sometimes look after Ella if I have to attend a conference, and there’s a hole in the fence so the kids can come over whenever they like.’
‘The big difference we find culturally is the openness and willingness to accept new people in Australia, and to make an effort to get to know you.’
Although Semir and Rachel both miss family and friends, they believe technology helps. ‘Our parents see Ella on the webcam and we chat all the time,’ said Rachel.
‘The other thing we’ve appreciated is the way the Victorian Government has continued to stay in touch to see how we’re settling in. It’s not like they’ve dumped us here and forgotten about us. I’ve been impressed by that.’
‘In terms of lifestyle, we’re so happy here,’ said Semir, ‘At first we thought we’d move to Melbourne once we got our permanent residency but now we can’t imagine ever leaving Geelong.’