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Old Feb 2nd 2017, 1:40 am   #1
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Default First year thoughts of a sun baked country

G'day one and all!

Felt it was about time to give a little back to this community...I have taken so much information from this forum that it's only decent to give a little back. Albeit of a highly individual and anecdotal nature.

Bit of background first. My wife and I, along with our two little monsters hail from Rochester in Kent. I worked in finance (boooo hisssss!!!!!) in the Big Smoke for about 8 years prior to the move and my wife was a primary school teacher. Our monsters were 1 & 3 when we made the move and all in all we had a comfortable (financially) if increasingly stressful and sedentary life. But there was always this itch (stop sniggering at the back)…

Many a moon ago my wife and I had done the whole backpacking thing around Oz and NZ, thoroughly loved our time in both. As the years went by we kept coming back to the same conversation…wouldn’t it be fantastic to live in another country? What a life experience that would be for any kids we might have? Not just an extensive holiday but to actually live. This idea gradually snowballed until our first little monster arrived, however after a year it came back with a vengeance. Ideas and thoughts and musings then became a plan of attack, a decision had been made somewhere along the line in both of our minds and we cracked on with realising it. There’s nothing quite like having a child to focus your thoughts on what’s important and what you really want out of life, especially for your family.

Given my wife’s experience and qualifications as a primary school teacher she qualified for the 189 Early Childhood (Pre-Primary School) skilled migrant visa. Just to iterate at this point we would never have made the move without a PR visa, personally I feel it is far too reckless uprooting a young family to move half way wound the world with no jobs and no long term security visa wise. No hiccups or troubles with the visa process and our visas were granted about 6 months after EOI. We decided on Queensland and Brisbane in particular as my brother and his family are/were an hour south of the CBD. And late in October 2015 all four of us landed bleary eyed and ragged at Brisbane.

Our year and a bit so far….first, the struggles.

Family and friends. My wife is very close to her immediate family and misses them and her friends dearly. Yes, WhatsApp and Skype and the like make staying in touch easier but nothing can replace that regular face-to-face, physically being in the same company as these people experience. Luckily our moving seemed to have triggered something in her family…with one of her brother’s now in the US, the other flitting between Central Europe and South America teaching English and her younger sister looking to come out to Australia in 2018. Seems we started some kind of chain reaction there…

And as for her parents/our little monsters grandparents…pretty sure we see more of them now than we did before. They are on a Golden Gap year and have spent about 6 months here in Aussie (in several stints) staying with us and looking after the little monsters.

But still it’s been difficult for her, especially the first 6 months and with her friends back in the UK…which made locating near to family here a no-brainer. Not sure how we would have fared otherwise in all honesty.

The distance. Asinine comment number one. But you really cannot comprehend how significant the distance and being out of sync time-wise can be. Weddings, births, christenings, deaths…these key moments in the lives of friends and family suddenly become difficult or nigh on impossible to be a part of. Already next year we are having to prioritise which weddings we can attend and god forbid if someone gets ill or dies…as cold as this sounds you can be faced with the stark reality that you cannot afford to be at someone’s funeral or see your friend walk down the aisle. Of all the things to mull over ahead of the move I cannot stress that for me (Clive) this is by far and away the most important.

The weather. Asinine comment number two. Shush now…I can hear you all now “muppet, who moves to Australia and doesn’t think about the heat?!?”…it’s not a case of not thinking about it but, as with the distance issue, until you’re living with it on a daily basis you cannot even begin to appreciate how big an impact it will have on you. Sure we worked on farms up in the Tablelands back in the day, backbreaking grunt work under that big yellow furnace…that was tough for sure. But still, this is different.

How about getting two under 5’s ready for kindy & school, while suited up for work and joining the normal morning school-run rush…every damn day? Or simply wanting to walk to the local farmers market for milk and bread? Or being at the beach knowing that no amount of SPF50 or rashies can adequately shield you from that sun when it’s turned up to 11? Again, really really think it over.

Work. Feel slightly disingenuous putting this under struggles as we both found work relatively quickly in fact. But do be prepared if coming over with qualifications/certificates in a certain field to have to retrain/recertification…my wife had some issues with this before should could secure her job. She’s currently doing a part time equivalency-conversion-bridging-thingamajig…I would say however not to take it as personal affront, this isn’t the Australia bureaucracy saying “you ain’t good enough matey for us, screw your experience. What’s the UK to us down here anyways?!?”…well it might be a little, but I do genuinely think it’s the Australian bureaucracy saying “hey there fella, we have you by the balls don’t we? Stump up some cash and she’ll be apples”. Look at it as a stealth tax on immigrants!!!

Also, I can see from the job applications coming up on Seek/Indeed/Linked In and the chat amongst my colleagues that it’s a brutal market out there and is looking like getting worse too. My advice here would be the same as it is in the UK. Perseverance is the key. Bombard applications, recruiters, any contacts you can make (neighbours, people working at the shops you go to)…keep at it and remember keep your chin up. It will happen. I must’ve sent out about a 100 applications to here, there and everywhere (barring finance, done with that industry now hopefully). Three weeks later after badgering a recruiter incessantly I got a call back, then an interview and boom started the next Monday. Persevere!

And seriously, for us that’s it on the struggles. Now for the joys.

The weather. Wait! What? But you said! The heat man! Sure, but for what…two-ish months of the year? And the rest is truly glorious. We are a very outdoorsy family…our weekends now are planned on the assumption of perfect weather with about a 5% chance of getting rained/stormed out…the UK, even in jolly old Kent, was the opposite. No more monochromatic grey vista’s, that drizzle that seems to permeate into your very soul, the chill that freezes your bones to the marrow…gone. And personally I’m fine with that. Have never had the big requirement for chilly/cold weather. It’s nice in principle, curling up on the sofa in front of a roaring fire, cup of tea…but what about when you actually have to go out and live in that for months on end? Thanks but no thanks. Plus in the dead of winter, when you get up early and late in the evening it is actually genuinely cold…partly weather, partly due to crappily built houses where the very concept of insulation is a taboo.

Lifestyle. Another contentious one here. Yes we could in theory have and do all of what we do here back in the UK. Move to the regions, out of the south east…change career…etc etc…part of me thinks that you need the big move to kick your backside in gear. You’ve made the move, now make the most of it. But I do sincerely believe that it is easier to live the type of lifestyle we have and desire here. It just feels more accessible to us in Australia than it ever did in the UK. Call it what you will…blinkers, delusion, confirmation bias…but that’s our impression so far. And given our location we can be so many places within an hour and half….islands, practically deserted beaches, mountains, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Springbrook, South Bank, bush walks, waterfalls, forests…it's all there in about the same time it used to take us to get to Windsor Castle along the M-bloody-25!

Finances. This has surprised me. Even with Brexit (I called it a long before the votes came in, just ask the Mrs...as I don't shut up about it apparently) and FX rates etc, we both expected it to be very financially challenging. After all, practically all our savings went into the move itself plus getting established once here with the cost of living and goods being high. Not stating a fact here, but in general I do feel there is a prevailing sense that Australia is more expensive when compared to the UK (I’ll come back to that in a minute). But we are far better off here financially than back in the UK.

Our jobs in the UK were well paid, mine more so, but our disposable income has significantly improved. My wife is on a better wage here but not enough to make up the difference in the drop in my wage. We are able to afford the lifestyle we want (we’re not big spenders by nature, but not hermits either) and aggressively save for a deposit. My only explanation is that the cost of living our type of lifestyle is significantly cheaper in this part of Australia than it was in the UK.

Cost of living…ahhh that old chestnut. I got this tip from my brother and I would highly recommend it. Once in Australia and earning Aussie dollars…do yourself a favour and just stop it with the AUD to GBP constant conversion. You are effectively comparing apples with oranges even when literally comparing apples with apples. Costs are different but so are your wages, and that’s just one of the many facets that need to be factored in but aren’t in a simple currency conversion. If you have to do anything do what I do…make a finances spreadsheet (always a good idea in my book) and say “right, what proportion of my weekly wage goes on rent…food…childcare…commuting costs…utilities”…”how many hours do I have to work to cover my coffee expenditure for the week?”…”What percentage of my wage do I have save to afford a family trip away for the week?”…and for us Australia comes out way ahead, once everything is totted up and seems a somewhat grounded basis of comparison.

Work. Again, double counting here as it’s been good and bad (as things are oft to be!!!). This is mainly my wife’s experience here. But going from a Primary School teacher to the lead educator at a kindy has entailed a bump in wages, fewer hours, greater flexibility with working hours, better working environment (F**K you Ofsted) and greater opportunities for development and career progression. And the Aussie’s at her kindy are moaning about pay and conditions…just it goes to show, everyone does it (has a moan) and it’s not really indicative of much other than being human!

For me it’s also been good but not as good…contracting at the moment, which is the seems to be the prevailing way of doing things…got a 12 month contract, which will get reviewed, extended (hardly ever not unless you do something that would’ve probably got you fired anyways) and after a few rounds of this tends to go perm. Office work is office work, but it’s certainly more chilled out and less frenetic when compared to London. But working in finance in London is a difficult beast to compare back to. I enjoy what I do and love my work/life balance as in I actually have one now. 40 min commute door to door? I’m laughing mate, and that busway into the city is perhaps the best thing I’ve ever seen after nearly a decade on the Southeastern train network!!! Not a difficult improvement really when a three-legged rocking horse would be more efficient at getting me in to Cannon Street back in the UK.

And that’s about it for our first year. It’s been hard, harder than we thought it would be and could be. We’ve struggled and fought and argued and be under no illusions that it will place a great strain on your relationships home and abroad. But get through that initial settling period, find your feet, actually try to live the type of life you wanted when picturing Australia and see how it goes before making any snap decisions about heading back home. Give it a fair go…you are in Australia after all!!!

Made it through to the end of my missive? Well done! Please do take the above in the context within which it is written. These are our thoughts and experiences. Coming from the South East of England to Brisbane and having our interests and hobbies etc has resulted in the above. It won’t be the same for everyone, how on Earth could you expect it to be? But please do use the above information, combine it with the other updates and especially the posts from those people returning back to the UK…I oddly found that to be one of my most frequented sources on here. Not so much to dissuade us from coming but to get the ‘warts and all’ aspect from those who have been through the journey. Just take the customary pinch of salt with you before reading anything on here!
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Old Feb 4th 2017, 7:18 pm   #2
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

What a great read. Thanks for the update Sten2206. It's great to read a balanced view point and you are completely correct about experiences not being the same for everyone. It boggles me why so many on various similar forums try to convince upcoming expats that they'll have an awful, or great, time just as they did.

I hope the fun continues and would love to read another update as and when.
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Old Feb 20th 2017, 12:46 am   #3
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

This has been a great read! Thanks!
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Old Feb 21st 2017, 11:35 am   #4
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

Great post and very interesting as we're planning on making the move in 2018 when our children will be a similar age - nearly 3 and 1.

Brisbane is appealing more and more, the impression I get is that it offers more of a work/life balance than Sydney and perhaps Melbourne too. What do you think?

Our challenge is that we'll be coming on a 457, and doing so with our eyes wide open as to the lack of benefits and lack of security/guaranteed PR that come with it for a family of 4. However, we've done the 457 thing before and are as keen to make the move as ever.
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Old Feb 24th 2017, 2:58 am   #5
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

Great post, glad you're enjoying it.

We love Brisbane and have seen it change loads in the 12 years we've been here.

I will say that you do get used to the heat, our first summer was the worst!!
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Old Feb 24th 2017, 7:22 am   #6
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

Great post, made enjoyable reading. Regarding comparing prices, I remember many years ago an economist telling me that the only way to compare prices was to take something - he used a Mars bar, but I think they now use a 500ml bottle of coca cola as you can get it anywhere - and determine how long you have to work in whatever country you are in in order to pay for it.
Here in the Philippines for example a litre of petrol is about the equivalent of £0.75 a litre. Seems cheap yes? Aha! On UK minimum wage of £7.00/hr (approx) and a UK cost of £1.20 a litre, you would work about 11minutes, here on minimum wage of £5.80 per DAY you need to work 1.5 HOURS to buy one litre, so it's massively more expensive relatively. Completely opposite, a 500ml bottle of Coca cola in ASDA UK is £1.25, here it's about 30 pence. Swings and roundabouts.
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Old Feb 24th 2017, 7:26 am   #7
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

Must finish before hitting enter! So your Coke takes again about 10 mins in UK but about 45 minutes here. Right, can hit enter now!
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Old Mar 1st 2017, 3:52 am   #8
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

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Originally Posted by davoaj View Post
Great post and very interesting as we're planning on making the move in 2018 when our children will be a similar age - nearly 3 and 1.

Brisbane is appealing more and more, the impression I get is that it offers more of a work/life balance than Sydney and perhaps Melbourne too. What do you think?

Our challenge is that we'll be coming on a 457, and doing so with our eyes wide open as to the lack of benefits and lack of security/guaranteed PR that come with it for a family of 4. However, we've done the 457 thing before and are as keen to make the move as ever.
It's a tricky one to gauge the whole work/life balance...I'm not entirely sure the location has much to do with it to be honest, in our case it's about the jobs. Mine affords me the luxury of being home by 5.30 each and every day...something I could only dream of in our previous life.

What I will say is that Australia is geared up for out door living and if that's what you guys are in to then I believe you will find it easier to obtain a better work life balance here...be that in Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney.
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Old Apr 1st 2017, 8:23 pm   #9
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

Thanks for this post, it's been really interesting as we are just starting the process of getting a 189 visa and hope to be in Brisbane this time next year with our children, currently aged 1 and 3. We haven't even been to Australia and have no family there so it's either a brave or stupid thing to do but having dreamt about it for nearly 10 years I feel we can't move on with our lives until we've sampled OZ and got it out of our system. The plan is to try it out for a year, hopefully land jobs and decide it's what we want so stay put and sell up in UK. If it doesn't work out we can come back and move on with our lives with no regrets.

Can I ask where in Brisbane are you? We are trying to find a family friendly suburb within an hour of Brisbane, not too far from the beach to rent. Your location sounds ideal. Also, do you mind sharing how you went about setting yourself up? We are considering keeping our house in UK for a year as a security blanket until we decide on our long term future. This means not shipping anything and starting from scratch when we get there. However, the thought of starting entirely from scratch is daunting and surely going to cost the earth but it's not like we can live without beds, washing machine,TVs, saucepans etc for 3 months whilst it's being shipped? So I'm struggling to get my head around it and keen to read as many setting up experiences as possible so would love to hear yours.

Even if you don't reply, thanks for your post and hope to read another update in future.
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Old Apr 4th 2017, 10:54 pm   #10
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Thanks for this post, it's been really interesting as we are just starting the process of getting a 189 visa and hope to be in Brisbane this time next year with our children, currently aged 1 and 3. We haven't even been to Australia and have no family there so it's either a brave or stupid thing to do but having dreamt about it for nearly 10 years I feel we can't move on with our lives until we've sampled OZ and got it out of our system. The plan is to try it out for a year, hopefully land jobs and decide it's what we want so stay put and sell up in UK. If it doesn't work out we can come back and move on with our lives with no regrets.

Can I ask where in Brisbane are you? We are trying to find a family friendly suburb within an hour of Brisbane, not too far from the beach to rent. Your location sounds ideal. Also, do you mind sharing how you went about setting yourself up? We are considering keeping our house in UK for a year as a security blanket until we decide on our long term future. This means not shipping anything and starting from scratch when we get there. However, the thought of starting entirely from scratch is daunting and surely going to cost the earth but it's not like we can live without beds, washing machine,TVs, saucepans etc for 3 months whilst it's being shipped? So I'm struggling to get my head around it and keen to read as many setting up experiences as possible so would love to hear yours.

Even if you don't reply, thanks for your post and hope to read another update in future.
We're currently based in one of the southern suburbs, Rochedale South...bit of a funny one as technically we're in Logan but still very close to the city, I think we're on the boundary between Logan and Brisbane councils. Logan gets a bad rep, and quite rightly in places, but it covers a huge area and more suburbs than I can remember.

Most of the suburbs are not too bad really, we came from a fairly 'colourful' part of Kent (big up to the Medway Towns!) so no real expectations or experience living in upmarket areas...to be honest I can see us living in any one of a dozen suburbs and that's just on the Southside...probably easier to list the one's we wouldn't look to move to and they tend to come up quite regularly like Woodridge, Logan Central, Deception Bay on the northside etc. I have no doubt that each and every suburb has its good and bad parts, but some do seem to have more bad than good.

As for our set up, we were fortunate to have family out here so lived with them for the first few months. Was invaluable to our settling in and finding our bearings, also meant we didn't have to jump at the first rental we saw.

When it came to shipping we brought everything we could cram into the container and in fairness we've used pretty much all of it...barring big coats and thick trousers - what were we thinking?!? Personally I would say bring it all with you, it's nice to have familiar things around you when everything else is so different...especially as you've never been to Australia before. You can always Gumtree it if you don't end up using everything you bring over.

Commit to the new life in Australia, give it a fair go...and if it doesn't work out then that's just how that one goes. We've always been of the opinion that the failure would have been in not trying at all. Even if we were to go back now we would always look back on this time for what it is...a truly amazing adventure for our little family.
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Old Apr 5th 2017, 7:02 pm   #11
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

Such good advice,thank you for taking the time to reply. I agree that failure will be living with the regret of not trying and like you said, we'd always have that life experience if it didn't work out. Glad it's all working out for you. Fingers crossed we get a visa and get there in 2018.
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Old Apr 22nd 2017, 9:24 am   #12
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

Hi Clive, thanks for taking the time to write a great post. I am in the position of moving out (hopefully Sept), to the Brisbane area, (having discounted Melb), on a PR visa so your post was a good read for me. One day I wake up thinking 'no I cant do this' and the next - 'come on take a chance!' Sometimes I change my mind on an hourly basis! Trouble for me is I am in the later stages of my life, haven't had a structured career path, (although have worked in lowish paid accounting roles most of my life) and will come out with no job lined up. Plan is for me to come out ahead of the wife and kids, find work if I can and they can follow. I am booking a return ticket in case I fail to find work and have no plan B if that happens and I have to return to the UK jobless!!! Anyway, thank you for what to me reads like a very sensible and balanced review of your new life and some good advice.
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Old Aug 3rd 2017, 4:54 am   #13
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

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Originally Posted by Sten2206 View Post
G'day one and all!

Felt it was about time to give a little back to this community...I have taken so much information from this forum that it's only decent to give a little back. Albeit of a highly individual and anecdotal nature.

Bit of background first. My wife and I, along with our two little monsters hail from Rochester in Kent. I worked in finance (boooo hisssss!!!!!) in the Big Smoke for about 8 years prior to the move and my wife was a primary school teacher. Our monsters were 1 & 3 when we made the move and all in all we had a comfortable (financially) if increasingly stressful and sedentary life. But there was always this itch (stop sniggering at the back)…

Many a moon ago my wife and I had done the whole backpacking thing around Oz and NZ, thoroughly loved our time in both. As the years went by we kept coming back to the same conversation…wouldn’t it be fantastic to live in another country? What a life experience that would be for any kids we might have? Not just an extensive holiday but to actually live. This idea gradually snowballed until our first little monster arrived, however after a year it came back with a vengeance. Ideas and thoughts and musings then became a plan of attack, a decision had been made somewhere along the line in both of our minds and we cracked on with realising it. There’s nothing quite like having a child to focus your thoughts on what’s important and what you really want out of life, especially for your family.

Given my wife’s experience and qualifications as a primary school teacher she qualified for the 189 Early Childhood (Pre-Primary School) skilled migrant visa. Just to iterate at this point we would never have made the move without a PR visa, personally I feel it is far too reckless uprooting a young family to move half way wound the world with no jobs and no long term security visa wise. No hiccups or troubles with the visa process and our visas were granted about 6 months after EOI. We decided on Queensland and Brisbane in particular as my brother and his family are/were an hour south of the CBD. And late in October 2015 all four of us landed bleary eyed and ragged at Brisbane.

Our year and a bit so far….first, the struggles.

Family and friends. My wife is very close to her immediate family and misses them and her friends dearly. Yes, WhatsApp and Skype and the like make staying in touch easier but nothing can replace that regular face-to-face, physically being in the same company as these people experience. Luckily our moving seemed to have triggered something in her family…with one of her brother’s now in the US, the other flitting between Central Europe and South America teaching English and her younger sister looking to come out to Australia in 2018. Seems we started some kind of chain reaction there…

And as for her parents/our little monsters grandparents…pretty sure we see more of them now than we did before. They are on a Golden Gap year and have spent about 6 months here in Aussie (in several stints) staying with us and looking after the little monsters.

But still it’s been difficult for her, especially the first 6 months and with her friends back in the UK…which made locating near to family here a no-brainer. Not sure how we would have fared otherwise in all honesty.

The distance. Asinine comment number one. But you really cannot comprehend how significant the distance and being out of sync time-wise can be. Weddings, births, christenings, deaths…these key moments in the lives of friends and family suddenly become difficult or nigh on impossible to be a part of. Already next year we are having to prioritise which weddings we can attend and god forbid if someone gets ill or dies…as cold as this sounds you can be faced with the stark reality that you cannot afford to be at someone’s funeral or see your friend walk down the aisle. Of all the things to mull over ahead of the move I cannot stress that for me (Clive) this is by far and away the most important.

The weather. Asinine comment number two. Shush now…I can hear you all now “muppet, who moves to Australia and doesn’t think about the heat?!?”…it’s not a case of not thinking about it but, as with the distance issue, until you’re living with it on a daily basis you cannot even begin to appreciate how big an impact it will have on you. Sure we worked on farms up in the Tablelands back in the day, backbreaking grunt work under that big yellow furnace…that was tough for sure. But still, this is different.

How about getting two under 5’s ready for kindy & school, while suited up for work and joining the normal morning school-run rush…every damn day? Or simply wanting to walk to the local farmers market for milk and bread? Or being at the beach knowing that no amount of SPF50 or rashies can adequately shield you from that sun when it’s turned up to 11? Again, really really think it over.

Work. Feel slightly disingenuous putting this under struggles as we both found work relatively quickly in fact. But do be prepared if coming over with qualifications/certificates in a certain field to have to retrain/recertification…my wife had some issues with this before should could secure her job. She’s currently doing a part time equivalency-conversion-bridging-thingamajig…I would say however not to take it as personal affront, this isn’t the Australia bureaucracy saying “you ain’t good enough matey for us, screw your experience. What’s the UK to us down here anyways?!?”…well it might be a little, but I do genuinely think it’s the Australian bureaucracy saying “hey there fella, we have you by the balls don’t we? Stump up some cash and she’ll be apples”. Look at it as a stealth tax on immigrants!!!

Also, I can see from the job applications coming up on Seek/Indeed/Linked In and the chat amongst my colleagues that it’s a brutal market out there and is looking like getting worse too. My advice here would be the same as it is in the UK. Perseverance is the key. Bombard applications, recruiters, any contacts you can make (neighbours, people working at the shops you go to)…keep at it and remember keep your chin up. It will happen. I must’ve sent out about a 100 applications to here, there and everywhere (barring finance, done with that industry now hopefully). Three weeks later after badgering a recruiter incessantly I got a call back, then an interview and boom started the next Monday. Persevere!

And seriously, for us that’s it on the struggles. Now for the joys.

The weather. Wait! What? But you said! The heat man! Sure, but for what…two-ish months of the year? And the rest is truly glorious. We are a very outdoorsy family…our weekends now are planned on the assumption of perfect weather with about a 5% chance of getting rained/stormed out…the UK, even in jolly old Kent, was the opposite. No more monochromatic grey vista’s, that drizzle that seems to permeate into your very soul, the chill that freezes your bones to the marrow…gone. And personally I’m fine with that. Have never had the big requirement for chilly/cold weather. It’s nice in principle, curling up on the sofa in front of a roaring fire, cup of tea…but what about when you actually have to go out and live in that for months on end? Thanks but no thanks. Plus in the dead of winter, when you get up early and late in the evening it is actually genuinely cold…partly weather, partly due to crappily built houses where the very concept of insulation is a taboo.

Lifestyle. Another contentious one here. Yes we could in theory have and do all of what we do here back in the UK. Move to the regions, out of the south east…change career…etc etc…part of me thinks that you need the big move to kick your backside in gear. You’ve made the move, now make the most of it. But I do sincerely believe that it is easier to live the type of lifestyle we have and desire here. It just feels more accessible to us in Australia than it ever did in the UK. Call it what you will…blinkers, delusion, confirmation bias…but that’s our impression so far. And given our location we can be so many places within an hour and half….islands, practically deserted beaches, mountains, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Springbrook, South Bank, bush walks, waterfalls, forests…it's all there in about the same time it used to take us to get to Windsor Castle along the M-bloody-25!

Finances. This has surprised me. Even with Brexit (I called it a long before the votes came in, just ask the Mrs...as I don't shut up about it apparently) and FX rates etc, we both expected it to be very financially challenging. After all, practically all our savings went into the move itself plus getting established once here with the cost of living and goods being high. Not stating a fact here, but in general I do feel there is a prevailing sense that Australia is more expensive when compared to the UK (I’ll come back to that in a minute). But we are far better off here financially than back in the UK.

Our jobs in the UK were well paid, mine more so, but our disposable income has significantly improved. My wife is on a better wage here but not enough to make up the difference in the drop in my wage. We are able to afford the lifestyle we want (we’re not big spenders by nature, but not hermits either) and aggressively save for a deposit. My only explanation is that the cost of living our type of lifestyle is significantly cheaper in this part of Australia than it was in the UK.

Cost of living…ahhh that old chestnut. I got this tip from my brother and I would highly recommend it. Once in Australia and earning Aussie dollars…do yourself a favour and just stop it with the AUD to GBP constant conversion. You are effectively comparing apples with oranges even when literally comparing apples with apples. Costs are different but so are your wages, and that’s just one of the many facets that need to be factored in but aren’t in a simple currency conversion. If you have to do anything do what I do…make a finances spreadsheet (always a good idea in my book) and say “right, what proportion of my weekly wage goes on rent…food…childcare…commuting costs…utilities”…”how many hours do I have to work to cover my coffee expenditure for the week?”…”What percentage of my wage do I have save to afford a family trip away for the week?”…and for us Australia comes out way ahead, once everything is totted up and seems a somewhat grounded basis of comparison.

Work. Again, double counting here as it’s been good and bad (as things are oft to be!!!). This is mainly my wife’s experience here. But going from a Primary School teacher to the lead educator at a kindy has entailed a bump in wages, fewer hours, greater flexibility with working hours, better working environment (F**K you Ofsted) and greater opportunities for development and career progression. And the Aussie’s at her kindy are moaning about pay and conditions…just it goes to show, everyone does it (has a moan) and it’s not really indicative of much other than being human!

For me it’s also been good but not as good…contracting at the moment, which is the seems to be the prevailing way of doing things…got a 12 month contract, which will get reviewed, extended (hardly ever not unless you do something that would’ve probably got you fired anyways) and after a few rounds of this tends to go perm. Office work is office work, but it’s certainly more chilled out and less frenetic when compared to London. But working in finance in London is a difficult beast to compare back to. I enjoy what I do and love my work/life balance as in I actually have one now. 40 min commute door to door? I’m laughing mate, and that busway into the city is perhaps the best thing I’ve ever seen after nearly a decade on the Southeastern train network!!! Not a difficult improvement really when a three-legged rocking horse would be more efficient at getting me in to Cannon Street back in the UK.

And that’s about it for our first year. It’s been hard, harder than we thought it would be and could be. We’ve struggled and fought and argued and be under no illusions that it will place a great strain on your relationships home and abroad. But get through that initial settling period, find your feet, actually try to live the type of life you wanted when picturing Australia and see how it goes before making any snap decisions about heading back home. Give it a fair go…you are in Australia after all!!!

Made it through to the end of my missive? Well done! Please do take the above in the context within which it is written. These are our thoughts and experiences. Coming from the South East of England to Brisbane and having our interests and hobbies etc has resulted in the above. It won’t be the same for everyone, how on Earth could you expect it to be? But please do use the above information, combine it with the other updates and especially the posts from those people returning back to the UK…I oddly found that to be one of my most frequented sources on here. Not so much to dissuade us from coming but to get the ‘warts and all’ aspect from those who have been through the journey. Just take the customary pinch of salt with you before reading anything on here!
Awesome read, very positive and educational.
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Old Sep 16th 2017, 8:06 am   #14
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

Oh this all sounds so familiar to me, coming from Kent (Whitstable) to Brissie. The job/finance/general view of things too
Still here after 8 years with no intention of returning.
Hope you are as happy as me!

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Old Sep 20th 2017, 1:44 pm   #15
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Default Re: First year thoughts of a sun baked country

Interesting read. What kind of work did you end up taking? Definitely correct on not comparing prices when you move. The 500 ml Coke is a good one, The Economist magazine uses (at least it used to) a Big Mac PPP index but the concept is the same.
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