A u s t r a l i a - tell me about the day to day grudge

(51 Posts)
Qlder Mon 29-Jul-13 15:15:37

After having a lovely DS (now 10 months old), DP and I are at a massive crossroad.

UK or Australia?

I'm actually from Australia but have lived in the UK/London for the last 10 years. I love it here and would be happy to stay... except for the housing and schooling situation (i.e. the fact that a school place is not guaranteed and that you might be forced to go to a less-desired school simply through sheer bad luck). I feel we owe a good start to our DS, so we need to start considering things now.

DP is English and quite fancies removing himself to the other side of the world. He doesn't actually know what it's like, aside from a couple of 3-week holidays which involved a lot of travel/excitement/fun. He's never really discovered the day-to-day grudge and he will not believe me when I say that going to the beach every day before or after work is simply not reality grin.

Obviously a lot will have changed in the last ten years, so I'm not sure on a few things (cos I think my mum might exaggerate). Please tell me/him your experiences of Australia - socially, economically, etc.

What is good and what is bad?

Where is society going wrong? Please do look beyond the old tried and trusted racism comments.

Is it more innocent than the UK? I considered the 10-year-ago version to be much more innocent than the 10-year-ago UK, but not so sure now.

How about kids/teenagers? Are they any good or is it all going to the dogs?

How much does it cost to live in real terms? Do you feel rich/poor? Can you afford to buy a house? Is shopping expensive? Can you afford to eat meat, etc? I realise that Sydney and Melbourne are insane these days, but plan to avoid them as I think that moving there would be akin to moving to a mini London, only with all the problems and very few of the rewards.

What do you do for weekends/holidays? Again DP is incredulous when I tell him that public parks, aside from beach/seaside, are basically deserted.

Thanks for reading. Any advice would be appreciated.

Terrorvision Mon 29-Jul-13 15:24:46

I spent 10 years in the UK and came home three years ago. Big mistake. The cost of living is so horrific that we work all hours god sends to keep on top of bills and live deep in suburbia. I desperately the culture and consideration of the UK. Bogans are in the absolute ascendency in Australia.

School seems more accessible here, but I think I would prefer the easy access to British Museum and other cultural treasures and travel.

I wish we had had a get out plan, but practically abd financially we can't leave. We should have for a more realistic idea of life here rather than going on my 10 year old memories.

Others will come along and disagree but that is my two cents worth. It's good that you are seriously researching this, as it is possible to make a big error with the best intentions.

lljkk Mon 29-Jul-13 15:39:44

I have the same quandries about UK-California. Good luck!

WhataSook Mon 29-Jul-13 17:44:54

Watching this with interest!

We are planning to move back to Aus in the next 2 years but I am secretly worried about what Terror mentions. We are quite settled in London, life is good and easy but DD is due to start school 2015 and I am worried about schools and if I'm honest, bringing her up in London. It's something DH and I agreed on, we didn't want to raise a family here.

We are trying to save as much as we can however to have good start when we go back.

I remember my first stint in London (a long time ago now) but it was bloody eye wateringly expensive back then and salaries were low. I actually think we were lucky to return to London during the recession, once we got jobs everything was fairly cheap. Hoping the cost of living does drop in Aus but I think it will need a recession there for that to happen

chloeb2002 Mon 29-Jul-13 21:35:25

Ok.
We live in Brisbane. We both work, dh is the main income earner.. Earns a lot! I am a poor nurse and my wage is just a bonus amount I guess.
Fuel is still cheaper than the uk ... Just! Diesel is now cheaper than petrol.
Groceries have gone up. Like anywhere you can shop smartly. We use fruit barns, butchers, alids and cost co is due to open. I spend about $1600 a month on groceries for a family of 4 kids and us. Yes I shop carefully. One expat made the suggestion to me recently that you need to shop like you live here... Not on holiday! I agree. I buy in bulk. Would I normally shop at m and s in the uk no. I think our family has better quality food here as we don't buy hormone filled meat, as we did from tescos! Costs more , yes... Better .. Yes.,seasonal veggies and fruit yes.

Really I think the cost of living is higher. For us so is the quality. Our parks are busy on a weekend! We frequently head down to the parks on bribie for a BBQ and play. Often we have to queue for a spot to cook! Same in the local towns too!
I love the choice of affordable private schools, I love that my kids are getting a Christian up bringing ( even tho we are certainly not a godly family) they have great morales poorly lacking in the uk young of today where we felt there is just an amorale culture.
We have bought a big house on average less than an hour to Brisbane. Property is affordable depending where you want to be. Real estate . Com
Sound economy. There are jobs here. That's a good thing.

Sports are cheaper than the uk. All my kids swim. 2 lessons a week plus eldest one in squads. Stuff like tennis lessons are not just for the elite!

Yes you need to earn a good salary to make the switch but if we lived in the uk we would also both work. We couldn't live on acreage close to a major city, the kids would be at state school,. So win win for us

chloeb2002 Mon 29-Jul-13 21:44:29

Oh.. Forgot. Weekends. We bought annual theme park passes. They were $300 for the whole family for 13 months. So we head to seaworld, wet and wild or movie world every couple of weeks! We have bought a tent and will upgrade to a camper trailer and intend going glamping! No we don't do overseas holidays as we are renovating our house! But that's choice we made.
Weekends are often spent going to parks with friends to play n BBQ. We have a pool at home and if play area too! So often have people over here.
Like anywhere you get nice people and not so nice people.
I am not bothered about clothes. I like nice stuff for my kids, but I like target and pumpkin patch. I happily wear stuff from target myself. I am not fussed about buying from next etc. I did in the uk.

newbiefrugalgal Mon 29-Jul-13 22:43:41

I'm making the move back to oz soon. School and family are my drawcards.
Living in London is expensive -I'm not going to be too shocked.

Qlder Wed 31-Jul-13 15:17:35

Thanks so much for the replies.

Oh no Terror, that’s the exact thing I dread. It’s funny how I had to build myself up to make the big move over here and now ten years later I’m afraid of what might be back there. Argh. Obviously it’s much easier when you’re footloose and fancy free (was I ever that?). It’s not as if I have absolutely no idea what it’s going to be like, but still... the DREAD!

I’d really love to take DS to do the cool stuff (e.g. dress as a knight and visit castles, go visit different countries and see people speaking different languages, etc). To be honest, if we want to get a semi-decent school, we’re really staring down the barrel of London suburbia (zone 8 anyone) and a massive massive mortgage. I’ve given this argument to DP, but he just ponders whether it’s better to work all the hours away in the grey drizzle or the warm sunshine? I must admit that I can’t argue him on that point. Also, the daily commute is starting to wear me down, and will be a total hassle once I go back to work and have responsibilities to DS. Bleurgh! DP is a London lad and he turned out all right, but that was a long time ago and much has changed for the worse.

To be honest, I am worried about the “absolute ascendency of bogans” wink, but I seriously look about at the local “yoof” here in London and I shudder. I bet everyone who has ever been to the UK will know what I mean when I say they have a look about them, and I actually agree with chloeb’s comment about morals. I keep thinking I have to find something better for my PFB.

As Whatasook says, life is relatively easy in the UK. We’re not living the high life but we can afford to have the heating turned on, which is pretty much all that a poor shivering Aussie really wants. But... growing up in London?!? London is an amazingly multicultural place but we live in an area of zone 3 where it is almost mono-cultural anyway, and DS would be in a very miniscule minority when he goes to school, which I don’t think this is the slightest bit fair to him.

I know what you mean chloeb about the park BBQs, but really that’s all there is. Our local suburban park will be used in the afternoons by parents walking their kids home and that’s about it. Weekends are desolate unless occasionally someone is having a big gathering or something. It’s nothing like Green Park, St James Park, etc. Even just the many different squares dotted around town... as soon as there’s a ray of sunshine the mood lifts and everyone is out with their shirts off and kicking footballs. I love that you can meet some really random people at the park. You also reminded me... seasonal veggies... yucky tomatoes half the time. I’d really miss my massively-carbon-footprinting veggies. Haha.

You’re fortunate to have the choice of private schooling. That’s not something we’d be able to entertain. But I seriously don’t have a fear about Aussie state schools, probably because I did all right. Not sure that secondary schools are quite the same now though.

The dilemma!! It actually hurts my brain.

Newcupboards Wed 31-Jul-13 23:24:13

Arf at suggestions that the young people of Britain have worse morals than Aussie youth hmm

chloeb2002 Thu 01-Aug-13 01:13:55

We found that the private school fees are very affordable.espdcially catholic schools! I'd say its not a lavish expense here ;0) our fees are 4k$ a year. Lutheran school. We move shortly for high school and the fees are less at the new school off primary and about 5k$ for high.

I guess how you view " young people" is very subjective. In my experience areas in aus that have a high proportion of British migrants have inherited the gang culture I found horrible in the uk. We are lucky to live in the country but close enough to the Cbd for convenience. Our kids are certainly " sheltered" but that's by choice.

Newcupboards Thu 01-Aug-13 01:33:12

Well, I'm sheltered too because I've not come across gang culture in the UK. Not saying it doesn't exist but it's the exception rather than the norm.

Tortoiseonthehalfshell Thu 01-Aug-13 01:47:13

Where are you from in Australia, Qlder? I live in Adelaide, in the Hills, and I can tell you that

a) the well located parks are usually packed if there's any sunshine at all;
b) DH and I live fairly thoughtfully - not super frugal, but certainly carefully, with a couple of v cheap holidays to Melbourne or Sydney per year - and it costs us, with two pre-school-age girls, about $5-6K a month to live decently without a mortgage but including all the other home-owner expenses (rates etc). That feels like a lot, but that's everything - girls' ballet class, running two cars with a 45 minute commute to work, insurances, etc. The biggest line item we have is childcare - my girls go three days a week each, and that costs me $1,000 a month AFTER all the subsidies and things. That's a standard cost - in Syd/Melb it'd probably be quite a lot higher. We eat well but sensibly, I bulk buy and cook from scratch and use local butchers and things, I buy clothes on sale, etc.
c) the cultural stuff is a desert. One art gallery, the museum is dire, no children's museums or things like that at all. Sydney/Melbourne is better, but not a patch on London.;
d) our local state school is fantastic, the child care centres are high quality, we are looking at private for secondary but I did fine in a good State school;
e) this is probably just where I live, not representative of Australia as a whole, but I don't lock my doors at night. Sometimes I don't lock them during the day. I also rarely lock my car if I'm only leaving it in a car park for half an hour or so. Very VERY low crime area.

Longdistance Thu 01-Aug-13 02:07:09

We live in Perth. I spend about $1,800 on shopping per month (I still have one in nappies), and this is shopping frugally. I shop in markets for fruit, meat and veg as its cheaper than the supermarkets.
Fuel is cheaper by a country mile. So, fuel here is about 1.47$ last time I looked. I'm sure its more than that in the Uk. 1.60 as a guess?
We've been here nearly 2 yrs, and my dh hadn't even had a whiff of a pay rise. That's makes me really angry as his last company was the same.
Yes, parks are manic for bbq's, and some places you nerd to reserve seating areas.
Rents are bloody ridiculous too. Both properties we've had to bid on and offer more just to get the property. We went for one, and someone offered $100 more per weekon it.
ImI'm desperate to get back to the Uk, and family is my pull, as well as work. My line of work doesn't pay well here, and I'm fed up with being a sahm now, pretty much as dh wanted to move here. Long story.
Anyway, yes, it is expensive to live here.

ifink Thu 01-Aug-13 04:31:58

We left zone 2 to come to Brisbane (cos of DH's work) - we loved our london neighbourhood, our tiny terraced house etc so didn't come here thinking we were going to live the dream IYSWIM, it was purely a work move. I say this because I think people's experiences, at least initially, are influenced by their expectations in moving country - I've met loads of disappointed Brits thinking they were going to get every day sunshine, no cold housing etc to find it does rain, winter nights can be very cold etc
We moved to an area of similar distance from the CBD of bne so DH could still bike/walk to work. Rents are high although I don't think they have increased much over the 2 years we have been here now. Food as lots of people have said is definitely more expensive (also wine!) but I don't find utilities more. Clothing, electricals and toys etc can be found cheaply in kmart etc but are IMO of poorer quality than say tesco. The main differences and vast improvements in our standard of living are:
1) state school - we literally stressed and sweated for over a year as to whether we would get DD into our local london primary. No such ridiculous church attendance/closest child criteria here - live in the clearly marked catchment and you're in - I love it
2) schooling is excellent - I have been nothing but impressed by the state schooling so far. Secondary is more difficult state wise if we stay but there are some affordable private options which do not exist in London at all
3) driving - sounds ridiculous but driving our car during the week was a no no in London - too hard to get around, money for meters and meant I wouldn't be able to get a parking space near our house when I got home!
3)parks/playgrounds - our local one in London was tiny, grotty and overcrowded. Getting to any others meant car journeys etc. Here I can go to about 5 large ones within 10 mins drive of home - lots of coffee shops nearby, some with water features for summer - its just so easy
4) kids stuff - this morning I took my DS to a music class - $150 per term (11 weeks), DD has swimming after school $16 per lesson - all these things are so easy to find/book/attend etc - there is such a huge amount of programmes, sports etc that kids can do anything really. In london my friend had to queue up at 4am to waitlist for council swim lessons, I couldn't get DD into little kickers as all booked up, the local surestart stuff closed the year we left

as I said, I loved living in London - we had great friends, family an hour away but for our kids we are definitely in a better place.

I pretty much agree with ChloeB on everything! We're in Perth though, moved from London.

I'll add surf lessons to ifink's list - 8 lessons of two hours each for $160. This includes board and wetsuit hire.

We are probably better off financially here than we were in the UK, but even without that, I wouldn't change back. Life just feels so much easier here, despite the normal ups and downs. Much as I would love to deny it, I'm just happier when it's light and sunny. Sounds so shallow. My biggest worry was actually skin cancer before we moved here, but I'm so encouraged be the Slip, Slop, Slap culture, and the way the kids are cared for everywhere, even at surf life saving, it's less of a concern now. Also, we go for annual skin checks.

You already know that nowhere will tick all the boxes. But then no decision is irreversible either... Good luck with the decision making.

Mosman Sat 03-Aug-13 10:09:16

I think we are significantly worse off in Perth than in the uk but I'm stuck here for the next five years so making the best of it, UFO g the exchange rate to clear my mortgage and hoping god the best. First sign of recession here I'll be pulling the plug though.
I work in recruitment and have made 2 placements last year to give you an idea as to the job situation in 2008 straight after the gfc I did 26.

WhataSook Mon 05-Aug-13 12:10:50

Mosman can I ask why you say 5 years? I'm only asking because we have now been in the UK for nearly 5 years and I think it gets harder to move the longer you stay somewhere... You kind of get into routine etc. And this is from someone who HATED living here when we first got here, London was appalling to me and yet we bought a bloody house here! grin

Mosman Mon 05-Aug-13 14:52:09

I'm kind of stick between a rock and a hard place in that I want a divorce and to return to the UK but if I do my kids will grow up without their dad, so in five years time they can make up their own minds and he could cope as a single parent. Plus hopefully I will have paid the mortgage off so can live with my eldest child who will follow me no matter what without that worry.
I was completely conned into coming to Australia and will never forgive him for it.

CounselorTroi Mon 05-Aug-13 23:40:22

Mosman, that is really sad. It must be dreadful to feel conned into such a massive move.

imip Mon 05-Aug-13 23:54:35

Watching with interest... I'm an australian living in london for almost 11 years. It will be hard to leave, but I cannot see myself getting old in London. I have 4dds and we plan to move back when the oldest is in year 5.

We just spent a couple of weeks camping in France. To drive that far in Australia, we barely would have made it to the edges of Victoria from melbourne!

We have considered all the issues here. Yes, racism in Australia is an issue that does worry us. Good secondary education is a plus. Cost of living obviously crippling, however, after Our trip to France I think the issue is more that England's cost of living So LOW, rather than Australia's being so high.

Yes, the longer you stay here, the harder it is to leave....

timidviper Mon 05-Aug-13 23:56:45

Some close relatives have just spent some time in Sydney and said it was the most horrendously expensive place you can imagine. Even to go out for a coffee was a major hit to their budget. They enjoyed it but would never consider living there as the high costs made it a bit of a grind.

They also commented that, while they had expected to find people from all over in Sydney, they were surprised by the number of eastern europeans and did hear some negative comments and concerns from australians about this. They were in central Sydney and did say that it is probably not representative of Australia in just the same way as London is not representative of the UK.

WhataSook Tue 06-Aug-13 10:27:00

timidviper that's what I hear also but my friends and family are all saying once you're earning the Aussie dollar it's not so bad? I've lived in Sydney and I think it's a bit like London, NY as in just naturally more expensive if you don't know where the 'cheap' shops are!

Imip I think the cost of living is very low here too at the moment. I worry it will get more expensive and we will be stuck here but at the moment it's a fairly comfortable existence.

Mosman I'm sorry to hear that also. I followed your original threads and thought it was actually you who wanted to make the move to Aus and decided on WA as Sydney was too expensive. Five years to stick it out with someone you don't love in a place you don't like is very hard.

chloeb2002 Tue 06-Aug-13 11:32:58

Interestingly. Dh and I had a very similar discussion about the cost if living. He travels a lot with work. Nz, blighty, different parts of aus. My mum is in france and extended family in Germany. Uk is by far the cheapest especially for junk food, crisps pop etc. cheap chicken and meat in the uk too, but I'd argue that the quality is less than average. I would also be fearful that eu pressure to provide better quality meat and animal production methods will push prices up. The biggest difference between aus and France/ Germany is the price of deli meats. Massively cheaper in Europe! hmm
Otherwise against the rest if Europe cost of living is about on a par.
Swings and round abouts I still think with the uk. Fuel, cheaper. Insurances, cheaper, food more expensive on the whole. Wine cheaper, private school fees. Interest rate higher. Sports cheaper, healthcare more expensive.
Like any move its not for everyone. We came very open minded and dh in particular came with the ... It's for 4 years... Outlook.. (6 years ago before pr and now citizenship!) wink as I said before it depends what you want. I feel sad for those who don't like it and feel so unhappy here. We love it, our kids associate as being Aussies.

Mosman Tue 06-Aug-13 11:42:01

I just wanted DH - dickhead - to be employed and a stable family life for the kids no matter where it was I guess.
To find out I have none of that and am on the other side of the world, renting and could be kicked out the country with 90 days notice is all a bit much but still I'll stay to give the kids five years with their dad if they choose to come back with me and to be old enough to be ok with him if they don't.

Qlder Tue 06-Aug-13 22:19:34

Again, more interesting views expressed. Thanks everyone who took the time to reply.

Tortoise, my very cunningly coded nickname tells where I’m from. I am [was] a banana bender. grin You make the Adelaide Hills sound nice. Much nicer than the stereotype of Adelaide itself. Haha.

The numbers quoted by Tortoise and Longdistance really do sound big but it actually is way too hard to compare currencies and affordability in different countries (couldn’t do it when I moved here and certainly can’t apply it the other direction either).

You know ifink, people truly do not believe me when I say that winter is much more bearable here in the UK purely due to heating and warmer clothes. They just don’t get it. Your points about schools really resonate with me. This issue is basically the biggest pull for me right now even though DS is only just coming up to toddlerhood.

Littlemiss, I think that’s exactly how my DP thinks in regards to sunshine and being happy. Funny, but he’s loving the current heatwave while I’m all rather bleurgh about it.

Mosman, your situation sucks. Very good of you to stick it out for the DC.

Imip, that was my thought too... I sit on the bus watching the old folk dressed up in their lovely nice clothes, looking so refined with their skirts/tights/jackets/pants/suits/hats, shuffling along with their walking stick, doubled up in arthritic pain and bracing against the cold while carrying a big load of shopping and I just think “no way can I do that”.

Chloeb, were your DC born there, or just been there for a good chunk of the lives? Will they want to return do you think? Not that it really matters now you’ve got citizenship.

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