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An Interview with Badge

Badge interviews himself as he approaches the 2nd Anniversary of his move to Australia.

"Badge, you're almost up to the 2 year mark? Are you happy in Australia?"

You bet I am!

"What about your wife?"

Yes. We've just had a baby daughter so am getting to grips with that. She is beautiful.

"Just tell us a bit about yourself. What did you do, and how did you get to Australia?"

I was in the Army for 5 years, have worked now in IT as a consultant about 8 years, a few years of that overseas in Western Europe. I suppose by trade, I am an analyst (got a degree in Law) but have also been a parachutist, climber, physical training instructor, trainer, leader, and briefer so whatever! Bit of a mix so I don't see IT as the be all and end all. It's a means to an end.
I spent a year in Australia on my own before I met my wife and apart from consulting, worked towards my PPL, jackerooed on stations in NSW and QLD, got my truck HR license, drilled in the WA goldfields, played a bit of rugby, did the touristy thing, hired planes with mates and flew around. I also spent 4 months in a house with my family (in Perth), without benefit of car, beach, friends or pub, baby sitting and looking after a small family so got to see first hand the normal things that Aussie families deal with. Then I met my wife.

My wife is a ballet dancer by trade, working for one of the biggest mobs in Paris. She found the Aussie thing a bit tough at times, we might have talked about it 3 or 4 times, but now we are not renting she has really come to like it.

"Where do you live?"

We live 50mins from the CBD (outside rush hour) and I class it as semi-rural. Seeing that Australia is massive I sometime wonder if we really are even semi- rural, but then you look at the lifestyle and it is not urban or suburban so I don't give myself a hard time about it. We live in a village community – one of the few I have found in Australia which you could call a village without heading to a regional centre. We bought a small house on 1 acre in a lane about 3 kilometers from the township. We got lucky, most houses are on 2-5 acre blocks, but we got in the povo section and paid 1/4 acre money for it. It has 3 beds, 2 small bathrooms, a pool and a coonara in the kitchen. Pretty unremarkable otherwise.

The village has a CFA, a baker, butcher, hardware store, milk bar, supermarket, fab takeaway which does *everything*(!) and a hair dresser; you could actually shop for just about all your needs without ever leaving really, and there are loads of community centre things, and a feeling of civic pride. There is a pub with a roaring fire overlooking a vineyard, a golf course on the way down, and the ubiquitous nature reserves and sports ovals. I am a volunteer firefighter in the CFA and love it!

"Tell us about your friends and lifestyle"

We have more Aussie friends but probably only because we don't seem to get to Expat meets anymore! What we love is the sheer variety of people in Melbourne. What we love is the mixture. We can be in the inner East, say Carlton, in 40 minutes with mates from work who are all educated, metrosexual, city dwellers, I can say that, because they call me the 'bush boy' lol. We have found a fair bit of culture in Melbourne, I didn't come to Australia for culture, but have been pleasantly surprised at what we have found. It is here if you look for it. My wife taught part-time but has given it all up for family, but will continue training to keep fit. She has contacts and people she knows from studios in the city who share her interests. Everyone around here loves the semi-rural setting and the lifestyle opportunity, it is idyllic up here, no hoons, or you can hear is the bellbirds – and the sound of chainsaws or mowers(!). People we live with are meteorologists, hobby farmers, tradies, orchardists, teachers, medics you name it. We find we hardly ever travel and I often wonder why – we have hardly left Melly what with the new home, but one of the guys at work pointed out that it is so relaxing here we don't need to leave to de-stress. Friends are going to take us to the High country this summer to show us all their haunts. We have been adopted by quite a few families who have all popped over to look at the baby, they sew, teach me more mechanics, cook, advise, my wife has loads of women who are like older sisters to her, and a few can speak more than one language as my wife is bilingual. Our parents are here, and they can't believe the support network we have.

People in the CFA are great, only this morning I had a bloke fix my bulbar in his hobby farm workshop, and help me fit it to my ute. Others give us manure; all we need now is Felicity Kendall and her offsider turn up and it would be straight out of the 'Good Life'!

"Do you work?"

It took me 6 weeks to get a job and I've been full time ever since. Wages in my sector are 50-80 bucks an hour contract, 70/80-100k perm. I leave home at 6.30 and am at my desk by 7.30. I leave at 4 and get home by 5.15. I could even take the train and read if I fancy it. To this extent, I am no different from a Home Counties commuter but I would not contemplate getting in a car in the SE and I have more of a lifestyle; quite possibly even a Surrey stockbroker would find it hard to achieve this or die trying!

I find the conditions exactly the same as the UK, there have been no bureaucratic nightmares, red tape, bullies at morning tea (morning tea is on Thursdays), goss, pommy bashing or hassles thank. I put this down to IT being global, IT is IT, not 'Aussie'. My current company also provide health and really cultivates health and fitness; everyone it seems is a one time athlete; others come in every morning in lycra! I work exactly the same hours as the Uk, and the only time I do overtime is when I have been inefficient and have not got the job done in my own time. So far I have virtually been banned from overtime; it is frowned on as they want us fresh. My wife is under no pressure to return to work which is good as we want to raise this young family for a while. In the UK we would have worried about the cost of housing which would have eliminated in one fell swoop some of the things that are cheaper out there, we certainly wouldn't have had the same lifestyle mix.

"Do you have any tips?"

Get the lifestyle/job/location mix right. Failure to do this will almost certainly leave you in disillusionment; we see it time and time again, don't we? The top problem, forgetting family, is that after you take away the sun and beaches; the lack of culture, character, or travel opportunities.

Take into account family. We are different, have both lived on different continents to our parents for 15 years, so don't feel overwhelmed to not being able to run to Mum when she burns a cake or me to Dad when I can't find a spanner. We find it cheaper to subsidise the cost of the flight for them here, and they benefit from a holiday too.
Be pragmatic, keep things in perspective.

"What about Long term plans?"

Well we could certainly take a year or two off in California, or Europe, much later down the line. We have family in the US, and we are bringing up the kids bilingual. We could probably even post quite a bit of money home but the beauty is that we know we can always come back to our own little piece of the world. For me, there would always be a draw back to here. When my wife returns to work, some of her salary will be used for overseas trips every few years. I plan to stay in IT as it allows us to do the things we want to do, for the time being.

{mosbanner right}When the kids are at secondary school, I plan to retrain and work locally; with 2 salaries and a tiny mortgage we will be a lot better off than we would be in the UK; comfortable is the goal, not rich. Financially we are now 10 years ahead of where we were; its funny many migrants go backwards in moving to Australia, low wages, but we are in the minority, we are better off here as I have increased my salary in real terms but have slashed the big inelastic factor; our housing cost, which lets face it, you can't really get away from.

The kids will have travel on 3 continents, close to family and friends, and job prospects on 2, maybe 3, through family contacts. Should they decide they love Australia, they can always earn money overseas and return. We plan to spend the school years up to 15 or so camping and exploring Australia. One family we know have even taken their kids out of school and do 2 months in the Kimberleys or something. All we need is petrol, 'tucker', (as they call it) – diesel, a 4×4 and trailer tent and we will be away.

"Last words?"

It is the simple things in life that make you happy, and makes quality of life.