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Old Feb 19th 2016, 8:54 pm   #1
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Default An update on our Aus journey via Canada

Hi everyone,

I thought I'd post here to update on what happened with our journey to and from Australia. The short story is that I was born in Australia but lived in London and married a Brit. We moved back to Aus, had two kids, then decided, almost on a whim, to move to Toronto, Canada! Yes, we're crazy. And now we've decided Australia is our home and it's time to go back for good.

Here's the looooooong version:

So I've never felt very Aussie, despite growing up there. I hate the heat, the bogans, Barnsie and Farnsie. I'm not really a beach person. The Australian bush looks dry and tired and washed out. It's summer at Christmas and winter barely gets down to single digits. The houses are all single level and super ugly, grass is usually dry and/or dead, and the Aussie accent can be so ugly! These are the impressions of an Aussie born to European parents (Brit dad, German mum) growing up in Canberra.

In my 20s I finally left Aus and headed to London to work. Six months turned into a few years and although I had the time of my life and felt connected to the place, I always planned to go 'home' to Aus. Met my husband there (he's originally from Manchester) and he'd been to Aus half a dozen times and was actually planning to move there when we met, so it was a no-brainer; we moved to Sydney in 2010. That was not my first choice, always hated Sydney, but hubby had been there and loved it and didn't like Melbourne, my first choice.

Lived in Sydney until inevitably hubby came round to the idea that Melbourne was more us. Moved there beginning of 2014 and loved it, no complaints about Melbourne. But there was still something missing, something not yet considered. We still hated Australia. We loved Melbourne, but we hated that it was in Aus. Summers seem to go forever and can be so stinking hot, you burn to a crisp within minutes of leaving the house. Culturally there was some kind of 'backward' feeling for us, like Aus was the ass-end of the world. We felt isolated, especially when we thought about London and how so much is happening there, it's 'where it's at'. Hubby used to live in the US and Canada years ago and had something of an obsession with Nth America. He hinted at perhaps trying our luck living over there somewhere. I vetoed the US, and it's impossible to go there anyway, so Canada was the next consideration. We had a little bit of money behind us, enough to soon put a deposit on a house actually, and I'd been thinking for a while of doing my Masters. We soon realised that if we were serious about living overseas again, it would have to be via me on a student visa as neither of us would fit the bill for skilled migration. So I looked into what MA programs were available and was pleasantly surprised to find a number of suitable programs. I started to get excited! Especially as I may also be eligible for some scholarships to help with the cost. I did four applications, even though we hadn't decided completely whether we were really going to do this move, especially knowing it may well be temporary. Here's what I posted first on this forum about moving where I'd never been before.

By this point, we'd gotten married and had a son and I was pregnant with our second child. She was born in August 2014 and it wasn't long before our conversations started to move towards our next steps, going to Canada. University would begin in Sept 2015 so we worked back from there with dates and aimed to depart sometime in mid July. We had to be sure I was accepted and submit our visa applications (hubby would be eligible for an open work permit on the back of my student visa). In hindsight, we should have had the whole application ready to submit as soon as we got the acceptance from the university but we didn't so it was a little touch and go. Lo and behold I was accepted to the best of the four programs I applied for at the University of Toronto! I'd applied to two others in Ontario and another in Calgary, but fate was clear that Toronto it was. This was the moment that sparked the beginning of Murphy's Law for us. Everything that could go wrong, did, and we questioned over and over whether this crazy venture was the right thing to do. We were effectively sacrificing all our money, almost enough for a good deposit on a house, our lovely new car, hubby's permanent job, a lovely life in the wonderful city of Melbourne, to live in a city I'd never been to before, for me to study full time. Our kids would be at school and daycare, and I felt quite uneasy about the latter as I'd never put my eldest in care and my little one would be just over a year old by the time she'd go. It was so expensive to ship our stuff so we came to the painful conclusion we'd need to sell/offload all our furniture and electricals (because of the voltage difference), plus significantly reduce the rest. I threw out so much stuff that meant a lot to me. It felt good to offload stuff, lighter, but there was also a sense that this may not be the right move and we're being crazy giving so much goodness away.

It was a race to the finish, selling all our lovely stuff at stupid discount prices, giving things away. God it sucked! We ended up pushing back the departure date to the end of July (had to pay a fair bit extra to change flights!) as our visas hadn't come through. They did the following week and we could probably have just stuck to that original date. Oh well. Right up to the end we were stopping, looking at each other and saying, 'should we really be doing this?' It probably wasn't the 'right' choice. But we did it. We got on a plane bound for Toronto, after having rented a big empty house about 40km outside of Toronto. The flight itself was fine, but bloody hell, I've never been so stressed out in my life! We were stymied at every turn, problems with our tickets and boarding and everything, just insane! It was a signal that this wasn't a good idea, but we ignored it.

The house wasn't quite as good as it looked, and there were a lot of things about it that needed sorting out when we arrived. We slept on borrowed mattresses in the living room for the first week as we had absolutely nothing. We spent a huge amount of money eating out because we were waiting for our shipment of cooking stuff and it took longer because we didn't know we had to fill out some form. Endless issues. Our new landlords spoke no English whatsoever and it's been hell trying to communicate and sort out stuff to do with the house. We had problems getting our SINs, and therefore problems getting our bank accounts and even mobile phones, crazy!

Toronto (Ontario, Canada) is not a particularly amazing place. The city itself is a bit 'meh', as far as I'm concerned. It's not particularly pretty or nice and there's a fair bit of grittiness which doesn't really appeal to me. Canadians generally are insanely lovely, kind people who will help at every turn. They are also quite conservative and they like rules. Speaking of which, there are a lot of outdated, arbitrary, unnecessary rules here, just 'the way things are done', which are so frustrating and stupid. Everything from banks to utilities, schools to shops, there's a lot to laugh over and many an eye has been rolled in response to the latest ridiculous bureaucratic process we are subjected to. This difference in attitude has highlighted just how Aussie I am in my attitudes. There's no 'she'll be right, mate' here. There's this sense that life is hard work here. There's some underlying fear that someone or something will screw you over. Disclaimer: my experience and opinion, sorry if it sounds judgmental, not meaning to put anyone or anything down.

We've seen a lot of amazing countryside since coming here. The houses generally are more beautiful (although shoddy workmanship abounds), and the fall was just stunning, the rainbows of leaves amazing. The winter was really what we were looking forward to, and as the summer is so humid, that snow couldn't come fast enough. Unfortunately, this winter has been unusually mild. We'd look at the weather report, get all excited over predicted snowfalls, only to be disappointed time and again when it didn't eventuate. As I write, there is snow on the ground after a reasonable fall about a week ago but it's about to melt as we're due for 9 degrees tomorrow.

Our kids have settled in well enough, with our 4.5 year old son starting Junior Kindergarten at the local public school. They have some odd policies and I'm not down with some of the learning activities but overall he loves school and has gotten used to going on the bus and being there full time, five days a week which I thought would be too much, so that's been a pleasant surprise. Our daughter, who is now coming up to 18 months is at a home daycare about 7 minutes walk away and absolutely loves it, settled in quickly, and goes full time. My husband, who is in IT, struggled to find work and discovered fairly soon that salaries here are not at the level they are in Australia, yet cost of living is more or less comparable. There are some significant differences in costs of food, utilities, rent, running a car, but overall if you add it all up it more or less events out, yet my husband is earning about $20k less a year than he was in Aus and his job is an absolute nightmare, he hates it with a passion and is constantly feeling like they're plotting to get rid of him when he can't do anything to rectify it. The work ethic is shocking, with people doing overtime and not expecting to be paid, suggestions that he shouldn't take a lunch break, having to work in uncomfortable, inhospitable office conditions, and basically being victimised. This is unfortunate, and I'm sure, not the norm, but it doesn't help with us aiming to stay in Toronto.

University has been great, although the commute is about 90 minutes, depending on public transport, which is, frankly, hugely inadequate for a city the size of Toronto. I love my program and I'm glad to be doing it. I just hope it's worth it.

So, after much painful deliberation, we've decided to return to Aus. Melbourne, goes without saying, is the place for us. With all its crazy heat, non-existent winters, and obnoxious bogans, we know we belong in Melbourne now. We have no money, no jobs, no house or car there, nothing but a little bit of family and some friends. But our hearts are there. It's like we've got something out of our system now, and we can finally settle and be at peace with where we belong. Our kids and we are all dual British/Aus citizens, so we have the freedom to go back to Europe at any time, but I will be happy to see the back of Canada. The seasons are fabulous, the scenery is amazing, but Australia is home. Now to find a way to get there...

That's the end of our epic tale. Hope you made it. It's been cathartic for me to write this out.
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Old Feb 24th 2016, 12:46 am   #2
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Default Re: An update on our Aus journey via Canada

Good luck with everything! At least you won't be saying "what if?".

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Old Mar 12th 2016, 8:28 pm   #3
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Default Re: An update on our Aus journey via Canada

Good luck with your return, I did a melb update recently, a place I am quite fond of. I lived in Toronto for a brief 3 months, then Vancouver , climate in Canada has certainly become much milder. We have a small rancher in BC we use for a few months a year as NA base . I too struggle with Melbournes heat and we lived in Qld for a decade! But a fun city. Now trying to buy a house in York UK too, our Europe base. Our kids are teens twenties now, UNI in melb, so have the freedom to live globally. Business still in Qld, have to pay for all the airfares. I suppose one day will have to pick one place to settle, but quite honestly I have no idea where that will be. Depends a lot where the kids end up. Emigrating certainly leaves the nice tidy family in one place thing in tatters.

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Old Mar 18th 2016, 1:00 am   #4
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Default Re: An update on our Aus journey via Canada

Good luck with your return. I'm a Canadian living in Melbourne and have been in Australia for over 6 years, the past 14 months in Melbourne. We've settled in quite well here and right now I can't imagine living anywhere else in Australia. I do think about going back to Canada at some point, but not anytime in the near future given the current economic climate. Job wise, we're better off here. Besides, it's a great city to be living in, despite the odd hot day (and we used to live in Perth, but find the 35 to 40C days scorching here).
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Old Mar 19th 2016, 4:48 am   #5
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Default Re: An update on our Aus journey via Canada

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Originally Posted by Japonica View Post
Good luck with your return. I'm a Canadian living in Melbourne and have been in Australia for over 6 years, the past 14 months in Melbourne. We've settled in quite well here and right now I can't imagine living anywhere else in Australia. I do think about going back to Canada at some point, but not anytime in the near future given the current economic climate. Job wise, we're better off here. Besides, it's a great city to be living in, despite the odd hot day (and we used to live in Perth, but find the 35 to 40C days scorching here).
All my Canadian friends are saying how tough it is there right now

Their oil industry has basically ended
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Old Mar 24th 2016, 5:39 am   #6
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Originally Posted by Amazulu View Post
All my Canadian friends are saying how tough it is there right now

Their oil industry has basically ended
It is. My friends are sending me the news links every week about business closures, job losses (announcements like "10 000 jobs gone this month"), home foreclosures, suicides, sell offs of all the expensive vehicles and "extras," food bank demand. It's just a mess over there right now. That's why we're going to ride it out over here. Even though WA is also not great right now (and my husband used to long distance commute there for work from our base in Vic), the situation here is a lot more stable than in Canada.
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Old Mar 30th 2016, 5:49 am   #7
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Default Re: An update on our Aus journey via Canada

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It is. My friends are sending me the news links every week about business closures, job losses (announcements like "10 000 jobs gone this month"), home foreclosures, suicides, sell offs of all the expensive vehicles and "extras," food bank demand. It's just a mess over there right now. That's why we're going to ride it out over here. Even though WA is also not great right now (and my husband used to long distance commute there for work from our base in Vic), the situation here is a lot more stable than in Canada.
Yes, it's tough here but not as tough as it is in Alberta. Our big iron miners are still making money (some over 100%) and ramping up production and the LNG players are just starting up and still signing take-off contracts. The most efficient Canadian oil sands producer needs $60/bbl to break even but most need over $90/BBL. At current prices, they're toast. Same for US shale (when their hedging has gone)
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Old Mar 31st 2016, 11:46 pm   #8
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Yes, it's tough here but not as tough as it is in Alberta. Our big iron miners are still making money (some over 100%) and ramping up production and the LNG players are just starting up and still signing take-off contracts. The most efficient Canadian oil sands producer needs $60/bbl to break even but most need over $90/BBL. At current prices, they're toast. Same for US shale (when their hedging has gone)
Yeah, it's not great, although this morning my feed was full of news re: the "rally"...

Whoa! Suddenly Canada’s economy is looking not so shabby. Here’s what the economists say | Financial Post

Early days yet though folks...I don't think I'd be bringing out the champagne yet.

A few of hubby's coworkers from here in Vic have gone up to Darwin. Some massive projects gearing up there apparently.
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Old May 4th 2016, 10:10 am   #9
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Hi everyone,

I thought I'd post here to update ....
Great post and read, cheers.

Although all hasn't been great, at least it has gained you the knowledge of where home is.

All the best in the future
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Old Aug 16th 2016, 4:12 am   #10
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Default Re: An update on our Aus journey via Canada

I've only just joined this forum, but was very moved to read Perpetual's original post. I share the issues Perpetual has with Australia. I've spent time working in London and had a blast. I married a Canadian who was wedded to Melbourne, but has agreed we can move to Canada to try it after we retire in a couple of years. That planning is starting in earnest...
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Old Aug 27th 2016, 12:14 pm   #11
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Default Re: An update on our Aus journey via Canada

Hi everyone, I am new here.. Could someone guide me about your forum???? I want to visit here again.. I think You have interesting forum and I thought I will definitely liked that.. If you guide me about that I will be visit here again.. I will be waiting for your reply.. Thanks
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