A Year in SE Queensland
We moved to Australia a year ago and the Gold Coast suits us because we loved living close to the sea when we lived in Bournemouth, and we are now less than 5 minutes drive from beautiful beaches here. We thought after 2 years of reading posts on British Expats, which we have found as an invaluable mine of information, and the first anniversary of our arrival at BNE, that we would like to share our ‘roller coaster’ of experiences over the last 12 months.
After over 2 years of reading posts on British Expats which we have found as an invaluable mine of information, (especially before our move), and the first anniversary of our arrival at BNE we would like to share our ‘roller coaster’ of experiences over the last 12 months.
My wife & I had owned a large newsagency in Bournemouth for 18 years and although we had a relatively comfortable life we felt that the area was not getting any better, so in October 2003 we took the decision to apply for a business owner visa. We had not been to Australia before, but decided to apply first, then make a validation trip to see if we liked it ‘Down Under’. The visa was granted on 1st July 2004 and we made our validation trip in August 2004. We were very impressed and on our return, immediately put our business and home on the market. It took 10 months for the sales to go through and a couple more months to tie up ‘loose ends’.
We finally arrived at Brisbane on 4th October last year and checked into a motel close to the airport, (Aerolodge, Kingsford Smith Drive). The next day we found an apartment in Newstead, (Manhattan on Newstead), which had been recommended on this site – We can add to those recommendations, the apartments are clean, well positioned and have all the facilities needed. John the manager, his wife Pauline, and Bev who works in the office, are very helpful.
We enrolled our kids in schools and they both started 10 days after we arrived. They both coped very well with their new schools and were welcomed by all the pupils and accepted immediately.
We started to look at different businesses around Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast and quickly developed a routine of dropping the kids at school, driving round different suburbs, looking at businesses, and seeing if the schools and housing were what we were looking for. In late November we were introduced to the owners of a business on the Sunshine Coast, saw the shop, liked the area and decided to make an offer. We were pleased when the vendors accepted our offer and ‘ went to contract ‘for the purchase of the business. After signing the contract there is a period of ‘Due Diligence’ during which all invoices, tax returns, and BAS statements of the vendor have to be made available to the purchasers accountant to verify the profits are as claimed – the period is usually 2 – 3 weeks. When we met our accountant we were shocked to hear that the figures did not add up and the claimed profit had been grossly overstated. With this information we made the decision to pull out of the sale. My advice to anybody looking to buy an existing business would be to insist on a 3 week period of Due Diligence written into any contract and hire a good accountant!
This episode left us wondering if we had done the right thing in selling a thriving and profitable business in a nice part of Bournemouth and relocating to the other side of the world. We started reminiscing about the good times, friends and family and seriously thought about cutting our losses and returning to UK. However, after Easter we made the decision to have one last look for a business in an area we had not really considered – the Gold Coast. From the first time we drove there we realised that this was the place for us – the beaches are stunning, the infrastructure (roads, amenities etc) are excellent, and your money goes a lot further when looking at house prices, (compared with Brisbane). Through an agent we were introduced to the owner of a Newsagency in early May and after some investigations into suitable schools and property in the area made an offer which was accepted. After a successful Due Diligence, lease negotiations, endless form filling and interviews with publishers of newspapers, a 4 day Golden Casket course, buying a house, and getting our 15 year old girl and 11 year old boy into new schools, we finally took over Carrara Village News on 14th August.
We now feel settled, with a good work/life balance – we have most weekends off which was unheard of in our old lives. The Gold Coast suits us as we loved living close to the sea in Bournemouth and we are now less than 5 minutes drive from beautiful beaches.
I have often used this site for information and advice in the last 3 years and have especially liked reading updates from people once they’ve settled in Australia. My advice to people planning a move would be don’t expect it to be like the UK, it’s not. It is more bureaucratic, higher taxed, and in our experience the cost of living is at best the same as UK. Given all this we feel that we have made the right move and love our life on the Gold Coast.British Expats Member "Carbery"