Aussie mumsnetters - how expensive is it?

(130 Posts)
feeltheforce Tue 09-Apr-13 20:34:29

We have our visas and are planning to move later this year/early next year but people keep telling us - don't!

Several people we know who have visited family have said it is eye watering and their relations are struggling to make ends meet.

I am now having serious second thoughts as the salaries in my husband's profession seem lower. I'd really like some honest advice from the ground smile

Thank you.

chloeb2002 Wed 10-Apr-13 00:09:36

Hi we alive in Brisbane. It does depend where you choose to live .. just like anywhere in the world. Sydney peaks the charts and others are in between. It depends what your quality of life needs are.. I will argue as will my dh (who has frequent trips to Uk) that its swings and roundabouts. I was told by fairly new expats it takes 5 years to get used to a new way of life. They were right. We initially had an income of 100k only one of us working. In most families both adults do work. Now we have a much bigger income but have also increased our outgoings a lot! now have 4 kids not 1.. bought a house, private school, renovation of the house.. new cars.. for us day to day stuff is as cheap as i make it. I buy in season from the fruit barn. We don't go out often but mostly as we have young kids! we have an au pair for childcare as its cheaper and more flexible than day care.
Highly produced stuff is expensive. Chocolate, crisps, etc.
fuel is cheaper than uk
electric and water are expensive ( we have solar and tank rain water will soon sink a bore)
Life is different here.. come enjoy it.. adapt give it 5 years.

Mutley77 Wed 10-Apr-13 07:33:47

It is v expensive. We combined the move with me giving up work as I am now nearly 30 weeks pg (moved 6 weeks ago). However DH got a big payrise to move and if we convert he earns the same as our joint income in the UK. However we are really finding we have had to tighten our belts (1 car instead of 2, can't afford a cleaner, much less eating out and general frivolous spending). I do think if (when) I work it will even out a bit.

If it is just about money I wouldn't come - especially if you are preparing to bring money with you. We made the call to leave our house and other assets intact in the UK and live on the income we have here - obviously if we stay long term we will have to review that decision. We knew it was going to be expensive and DH is Australian himself - was desperate to give family life here a go so it was a bit of a wider decision for us.

We live in Perth and I thought it was fairly accepted this is the most expensive city - even above Sydney - due to the mining boom. DH is from Melbourne and his relatives say it is def a lot more expensive than Melbourne and some of his colleagues were re-located here from Sydney (also say it is more expensive here).

Tortoiseontheeggshell Wed 10-Apr-13 07:45:52

Where are you trying to move to, OP? It's like any country - some bits are much cheaper than others.

I suspect that it is more expensive for a certain standard of living, but it's a better place to be poor. The posts I read on MN about struggling to find enough money for food, heating, etc., are eye opening to me. I don't know anyone over here (I'm in Adelaide) who really struggles like that.

But food is more expensive, although less likely to contain horse meat and in most places, the income: housing cost ratio is much worse than the UK.

On the other hand, we have a much more stable economy than the UK, we still have our AAA+ rating, and our standard of living is excellent.

Here are some actual stats:

Australia is third most expensive country to live after Norway and Switzerland but has the second highest standard of living in the world, also after Norway.

Mosman Wed 10-Apr-13 13:15:09

I've said many times we are struggling financially, will you have PR because that makes a massive difference.
WA and Perth seem to be more expensive than everywhere else and the extra 10-15 grand in wages makes no difference.

feeltheforce Wed 10-Apr-13 14:31:07

Hi, we have visas for Melbourne. DH will almost certainly have to work in CBD. In the UK he earns v well here and I don't work currently as LO are young still. We have a v nice house and a big garden, kids go to independent school. Life is Ok.

We wouldn't sell up initially because of the exchange rate. When I look at real estate agents in Melbourne it looks like we can afford a little three bed bungalow with a patio - not quite the house and pool I imagined sad As I say DH earns a lot more here than he would get in Melbourne based on the recruiters he has been speaking to. So I can't see us being able to afford private schools either and again people keep saying the state schools aren't great.

So I just don't know we are doing the right thing confused. I am trying to understand if day to day living is so much more and if so how ordinary Australians afford it.

feeltheforce Wed 10-Apr-13 14:33:07

tortoise how is the standard of living excellent when it so costly? Do you mean the general ambience and things to do?

Mutley77 Wed 10-Apr-13 14:58:33

The trouble with Australian cities (and knowing Melbourne well I know it is definitely the case) - is that to live a "nice lifestyle" in a suburb where you have easy access to amenities is very expensive. There are less options in terms of places to live - in the UK you can live in any number of towns/villages. In Australia if you work in a city (one of five realistically - Adelaide, Melb, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane or Canberra) you have a limited choice of where is nice to live near to the centre of that city.

How do Australians do it day to day? They don't - many "normal" Australians live in suburbs far out of the city (massive urban sprawl) which IMO don't offer a great lifestyle - although to Australians it is perfectly nice as it is what they are used to, just as they probably wouldn't value our lifestyle in the UK. And if you want to live in a nice suburb with the amenities that would be available to you in many places in England the money you would buy a good property for in England will only buy you a small property with a tiny garden. You could live further out and buy a "palace" with a pool (often no garden again) but there would be nothing easily accessible and the commute for your DH would be long - dep on whether there is a train line out to the suburb. What areas are you looking at?

Also the Australians who live here day to day have been living and saving in this economy therefore not trying to buy a house with their vastly reduced in value British pounds.

Mosman Wed 10-Apr-13 15:12:24

For me it's a case of making hay whilst the sunshines I'm paying the mortgage down in the UK and riding out the recession but am I taking on the $750,000 mortgage is need here to buy a comparable house in Manchester, no chance.
If your DH has a good secure role in the UK I would think twice about Melbourne it's hard to get around with a pushchair, parking is a nightmare, there's plenty to do but not much of its free. You are 2 hours drive from a decent beach.
The education however is seen as being of a higher quality in Victoria but compared to the rest that's nothing to shout about.
The Australians I've met are friendly but not friends, you find yourself gravitating to the other outcasts new immigrants english or Chinese or Brazilian in my case.

RunningBear78 Wed 10-Apr-13 15:19:19

Hi,
We are British and moved back from Melbourne a couple of years ago after four years out there. Things changed a lot whilst we were out there, but basically we found utilities to be expensive (gas, electricity, water, phones, broadband), cars are expensive to buy but cheap to run, housing used to be cheap, but is now stupidly expensive within 10-15km of the city centre. Local food in season is cheap, imported and processed food (including chocolate!) is expensive, but eating out, and coffee, is generally cheaper. Public transport is quite cheap too. Very few of my friends still living there can afford to buy houses, many are moving out to small country towns.

Melbourne is a funny place to live, mixture of amazing and awful. The footprint is about the same size as London, so it can easily take an hour's drive from the city centre to the edges, even on the freeway. Which can be a shock if you've lived in a smaller town in the UK. Oh, and no roaming on footpaths in the countryside - stick to footpaths in the National/State parks only!

The best places to live are down by the beach, so you are about 10-15km from the CBD, with public transport access and good bike paths (cycling is fast becoming the easiest way to travel around the inner city). You can be 30 minutes from town but then have the open space of the water front close by. But, don't expect a big house, pool and garden. To get that you'll need to be out in the 'burbs, which means LONG commutes from the CBD and being surrounded by neverending housing. The far north and east of the city towards the National Parks are quite nice to live in, but again, long train commutes into the CBD.

There are some good State schools, but many middle class parents choose the Catholic schools which are lower fees than the private schools but better quality than State schools, only downside being the Catholocism! But as a rule, don't expect a high level of literacy from childeren in Aussie schools!? (Expects to offend someone, but I found it to be true!)

On the plus side, there are gorgeous 50m open air/indoor swimming pools all over the city so if you like a swim it is a great place to be. Coffee is also generally good, and cafe breakfasts are looooovely!

And remember, Melbourne gets VVVVVV cold (and dry) in the winter. 4 degrees there feels like below zero here. Also, they aren't into double glazing and central heating is unknown, so your house will be cold. Your backyard pool will be appreciated when you get weeks in the 40's though. Oh and the sea around Victoria is cold. All year round. Very similar to the south coast of the UK.

Sorry, didn't mean to write an essay, but always love to remember my time out there! Enjoy smile

Sibella1 Wed 10-Apr-13 15:21:17

We moved to Melbourne nearly two years ago after living in the UK for nearly five years (we are South African). We live in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne and yes it's very different from the UK in that you generally have to drive everywhere. That said the train ride to the city is about 40mins which isn't too bad and on weekends we like to drive in and it takes about 30 mins, parking is affordable over weekends (for example $6 per day at Crown) and the city is much easier to drive in than London.
We are renting a large 4 bed plus study house with good sized garden for the same price we paid for a luxury 2 bed apartment in Guildford - so it obviously depends on where you live in the UK and then again in Melbourne. Melbourne is much bigger than I anticipated. Check out Coles and Woolworths for online shopping prices and google myschool for Naplan results of schools to give you an idea of good schools in various areas. Good Luck!

echt Wed 10-Apr-13 18:36:01

Catholic schools are not automatically better than state schools.
Every house I've lived in in Melbourne has been properly heated.
There are plenty of decent beaches unless you need surf, in which case a drive is needed.
The sea is not cold all year round.

Tortoiseontheeggshell Thu 11-Apr-13 01:25:46

Feeltheforce: the link has a lot of detail, but it's basically the UN Human Development Report, which measures a lot of indices including a comparatively high level of education and literacy, low crime, equality for women and minorities, good access to health care, longevity of life, good quality food, housing, etc.

SavoyCabbage Thu 11-Apr-13 03:53:09

Like anywhere else though it depends on areas. On 'Wanted down Under' in Melbourne the houses are in terrible areas or three hours from the outskirts.

I think it's expensive. You get nothing for free here. Ambulances, school swimming. Museums. $40 for a bottle of antihistamine. Our 'voluntary' school 'fees' have just tripled. Our school dress is $50 and the polo shirt is $45. In a state school.

My dh works in the CBD. He gets the train in which takes 40 minutes. We do not like in a good area. It's not posh and our rent is $560 a week. We could live in a palace for that at home.

We are half an hour from the most spectacular beach I have ever seen though.

Mutley77 Thu 11-Apr-13 07:19:21

savoycabbage - you are so spot on with "wanted down under" - DH and I have watched it literally screaming at the TV going Where TF is that?? !! Then our UK friends will say wow did you see "wanted down under" last night, those houses are amazing, why don't you move back there! - Takes us ages to explain it.

Now we are in Perth which is similar but not quite as restrictive so we are spending quite a lot to live 10 mins drive from the beach and 15 mins from the city. As we are only here short term it is doable but not sure how or where we would afford to buy a place big enough for us & 3 kids and sustain it long term.

chloeb2002 Thu 11-Apr-13 13:57:12

I guess a lot of it is what you want and where you want it. In Brisbane we are yes 45 mins from Cbd and in an area that's an improving demographic. But there's no way e could live on acreage under an hour from say Leeds in a 6 bed house.. For us it's worth it. Private school here is much cheaper than uk.

feeltheforce Thu 11-Apr-13 13:59:35

I wanted to ask about health. DH will be on a good salary (I hope). DS1 has some health issues that mean we have to see specilialists every so often. I was a bit concerned as I don't really understand their healthcare.

Also, people in Melbourne, has it lived up to expectations?

Sibella1 Thu 11-Apr-13 14:49:11

Look for the first few months I wasn't so sure if it was worth it. But the weather is 100x better than the UK, it is autumn now and we have beautiful 25 degree days, we are heading to the Mornington Peninsula this weekend to make the most of it. Winter is much better than the UK - around 15 degrees and not as gloomy as the UK although it does rain a lot.

There are loads to do in and around Melbourne (and lots for free - always something on at Fed Square, the Botanical Gardens and all the Park Victoria sites are free) and it's much easier to get around - I've never really been stuck in a traffic jam while it happened lots of times in the UK. The beaches are amazing and you can be on an great beach (natural beach - not a building in site!) in an hour and we are quite far out.

Our house is very spacious and we are surrounded by bush / farmland - we see horses, cows and llamas every day on our way to school, also Cockatoos, galahs and other parrots flying around - beautiful. But then we are also 10, 15, 20 mins away from large shopping centers and like I said 30 mins from the city. I do miss the community feeling of living in a town like Guildford for instance.

Regarding healthcare it's a bit of a mixed bag but looking at the state of the NHS at the moment it does make sense the way Australia does it - they pay some and you pay some. When you get here you apply for Medicare which is a bit like NHS except you pay upfront and then claim the money back from Medicare where you normally get half back, except if the GP you see bulk bills which means you don't pay anything. But those GP's aren't usually the best places to go too but good for emergencies.

Most people do have private health insurance as well (ours is around $240 per month for a family of five) and this is good for dentistry for example (expensive and not covered by Medicare) and if you want a private hospital. This will also reduce your waiting time for surgery.

I'm not exactly sure how specialists work but Medicare might also cover a bit - here is a link which explains it quite well:
http://www.privatehealth.gov.au/healthinsurance/whatiscovered/medicare.htm

But you need to be careful and shop around! For example my daughter needed x-rays and the place the physio recommended would have charged me quite a bit, luckily I saw and ad in the newspaper for bulk billing x-rays which didn't cost me a cent! Also when we arrived we didn't have private health insurance and I was pregnant. I did not pay anything for my clinic visits or for my c/section at a public hospital and it was a great experience. Only two ladies to a room and excellent service from the nursing staff. Some people say that the state public hospitals are better as they are training hospital so have the best staff and facilities. But it is definitely a tricky system to understand and I am still getting the hang of it.
Also medication is charged but with everything if you struggle or pay a lot for medication you will receive government assistance.

Sorry for the long ramble - at first I thought it was very expensive as things are really cheap in the UK at the moment. And some things are like eating out, annual car registration fees (around $600 per car) and good quality clothes and shoes. But the fruit & veggies are cheap and beautifully fresh as it's all local (they are big on buying local) and op shopping and internet shopping for clothes are a biggie (I buy online from M&S and Next). Lots of sales on as well all the time.
Private schools are much more affordable than the UK - one of my kids just started at an excellent Christian private school and the fees are around $400 a month which is quite affordable. The attached high school charges around $900 a month. My other daughter is in Year 6 at a public school which is also very good and all the schools around here get good results. Also my daughter who is quite bright and did well in the UK in an 'outstanding' school is a bit more average here so I would definitely not say that the kids here are behind the UK. Look at the betterschools website as well for info on top schools - it all depends on choosing the best school for your child.
Each person has their own perspective on things. I feel like I'm still settling in and it's taking time, but we have more than what we did in the UK. More stuff, more things to do, more space. Good luck with your decision!

echt Thu 11-Apr-13 23:14:48

feeltheforce, Melbourne has worked out very well for us, but to be fair, our circumstances were quite privileged, and settling in was easy, apart from the homesickness.

Sibella's post is very good, especially about the healthcare - saved me some typing.smile

Savoycabbage is spot on about the horrific cost of school uniforms.

Local and seasonal shopping for fresh produce is commonplace, as soon as a fruit/veg is out of season, we don't buy it as we only buy Australian produce. You soon get used to it, and it's wonderful when the stone fruit season is on and suddenly the most heavenly cherries, nectarines and peaches are everywhere.

Weather, especially now, in autumn, lovely, and the winter not fearsome as described, though you will hear Australians complain about dark, cold Melbourne winters. This is just before they exit for the sun at the Top End during the September/October spring school break.

There's a ton of stuff going on in arts, theatre and music; the idea of Australia being some cultural desert is laughable. I'm not able to say much about how things are those with younger DCs as my DD is nearly 18, but can see how much revolves around sports, football, AFL, cricket, basketball, netball, surf life saving all generate intense activity and plainly make for social bonding.

chloeb2002 Fri 12-Apr-13 08:42:30

I love the healthcare options here .. Coming from within both the public and private sectors as a nurse and the mother of a child with health problems and sn. Great choices .. Services and resources.

feeltheforce Fri 12-Apr-13 14:33:06

echt my kids are not v sporty (in fact eldest has some minor mobility problems so will never be a surfer). Do you think that is a hindrance in such a sporty nation?

Mutley77 Fri 12-Apr-13 14:52:51

feeltheforce - I have mixed feelings about Australia but tbh one thing I will say is that there is a really positive sense of encouragement to the children through education and activities. There is a much better focus on what they can do and developing them as people IYSWIM - kind of more positive in attitude I think. Very difficult to really put my finger on but definitely I think not being sporty wouldn't be a problem - they would probably be encouraged in developing an element of sport that they could do but in a positive way. And other activities are encouraged. Choice of school is probably important though - DD's school isn't great on music which is a shame as it is something she really likes/is good at. In England I took it for granted that music is fairly integral even at primary.

I figure we will pay for e/c activities as necessary and assume that opportunities will be better in high school. That's if we stay which isn't a definite outcome!

chloeb2002 Fri 12-Apr-13 20:42:39

Ds has amongst other issues cerebral palsy. So... Sport isn't his top thing! However all kids seem to find something. I agree choice of school is very very important. ..

echt Fri 12-Apr-13 23:00:45

feeltheforce I mentioned sport because it was suggested to us as a way of getting to know other families, seeing as we moved here when DD was 10. We neither of us are sporty in the joining in sense, preferring activities we can do alone, but surf life saving was good until DD didn't want to go anymore at about 13. I'm sure there are things for the non-sporty type.

Secondary schools are very hot on debating, chess, drama, environment and music. The whole joining in, getting involved is promoted far more than I saw in schools I taught in in the UK.

The school's the thing, so look around. A sad aspect of government schooling is the increased funding of music in less well-off areas, by reducing it at other government schools, none of whom can be described as any less than underfunded.

Don't get me started about the funding inequities in Oz schooling. angry sad.

Mosman Sat 13-Apr-13 09:23:02

Our kids school PTA raised $1,000,000 and it's not all that. I fear for the others in less affluent areas tbh

feeltheforce Sun 14-Apr-13 18:28:40

wow mosman - we struggle to raise £500 LOL

SavoyCabbage Mon 15-Apr-13 05:33:57

That's what ours makes too. $60,000 from the fete and $20 something from the school play. Then there's all the smaller stuff. When there's an election they make thousands from a BBQ from the voters using the school as a polling station!

Sunshineandwaves Mon 15-Apr-13 05:56:27

It is expensive. The only thing that is cheaper here is fuel. One of the things that is hitting my family at the moment are medical expenses. We have private health insurance costing $250 per week. This does not cover GP's fees or Consultant fees. Our private health has a $1000 per year gap fee for surgery. My son has ear problems and it is costing us an absolute fortune, one visit to the GP costs $70, the ENT costs $150. We get 50% back on Medicare. We could see a public ENT but the waiting list is a year. Each prescription for my son costs $30, we do not get anything back on Medicare.

My son is now reaching school age, I'm horrified at the inequity in school funding here too.

In all honesty I would hesitate to recommend anyone to move here unless they were very sure they would be earning a very decent income.

Sunshineandwaves Mon 15-Apr-13 06:01:17

Sorry - error in my post, our private health is $250 per month.

Longdistance Mon 15-Apr-13 06:27:13

I've never been so poor in my life since coming to Perth.
My life was better in the Uk.
Unfortunately, its a massive problem between me and my h, as he loves it here.
I'm currently in hospital with a broken leg that needs surgery, its a public hospital, and the service is no different to the NHS.

feeltheforce Mon 15-Apr-13 14:17:39

sunshine could you explain about the GPs? I am always back and forward to our local doctor with my two kids - one thing or another. Do you have to pay every time? Why doesn't private health cover seeing a consultant? Very confused

I still don't understand how ordinary Aussies afford this lifestyle. They must be broke!

Mutley77 Mon 15-Apr-13 15:30:01

I haven't been to the GP yet but I am pretty sure that the one we have identified does "bulk billing" for children, which means that it is fully covered by Medicare (NHS equivalent) and you don't have to pay out of pocket up front.

It sounds like sunshine is using a GP which bills you for the GP and the full cost isn't covered by Medicare so you pay $70 to the GP and then can claim back some of it (not sure how much - am waiting to find out when I go!) from Medicare but you are a) out of pocket before claiming back and b) out of pocket fully in terms of the difference between what Medicare will pay and what the GP charges. This is the system generally used for adults.

To be fair, however, I am pregnant and everything has been fully covered on medicare for that - no out of pocket costs at all. Exactly the same as the NHS but arguably better care in some instances - for eg all rooms in the hospital I'm going to are max of 2 beds and for a C-Section I will pretty much definitely get a single room (all free).

Ambulances you definitely have to have insurance for as they are not free to anyone - it was first on my list of things to do when arriving here and I will sort the other health insurance out later.

I think "ordinary Aussies" live further out of cities than Brits are prepared to and therefore have much cheaper housing costs. They also do not eat out/drink out etc in the way that Brits do - there is far more of a culture of socialising within people's homes in suburban Australia. I think it is also really important to remember that Australians who were born and grew up here are not trying to manage the costs of emigrating and converting from an unfavourable currency - costs which put many people on the back foot to start with. They have also bought their homes at an easier economic time, and before having their families. I think it is quite hard to try and establish yourself financially somewhere with 2 or 3 kids in tow which is the position many families are in when they emigrate to Australia, renting is more expensive than paying a mortgage on a property in which you have equity for example (if you are comparing like for like).

Saltedcaramellavacake Mon 15-Apr-13 16:13:26

Feeltheforce, Mutley has summed it up. Medicare doesn't cover everything (unless you go to a GP who bulk bills). Private health insurance usually has a gap, too, and may have a minimum you have to spend before it kicks in (we used to have to pay the first $250 per person in the family and then got 80% of any bills back, with a maximum out of pocket amount for the year of $2000 (so if we used the doctor often, we would not pay anything more than $2000 per year, plus the cost of the insurance).
Australian people do find it hard (I grew up there and my old friends still live there) but it is much easier if you have grown up there, bought your first flat/starter home there, sell it in a rising market, buy up, have family support for childcare etc etc (obviously not every Australian has this, but some do). Immigration/establishment costs are high when you move - I always felt 10 years behind my English friends when i moved to London as we were starting from scratch at 28-30, having brought over money from Australia when $1 (Australian) bought you 36p (that was in 2001!).

Saltedcaramellavacake Mon 15-Apr-13 16:17:13

Oh, the other thing is that if you earn over a certain amount you pay an extra Medicare levy as part of your tax if you don't have private health cover, so Medicare is not "free" in the way the NHS is.

Mosman Mon 15-Apr-13 16:34:06

You can only imagine what I'm facing as a single mum with 4 kids, I cannot see how it's feasible tbh especially given DH's pathetic salary. I am considering returning to the UK where at least with the dollar to the pound exchange rate I would actually be able to live.

feeltheforce Mon 15-Apr-13 20:11:57

I've gone form really grin about moving to Melbourne to really confused and shock and maybe a little bit sad.

I'm normally up for anything but this Aussie vs UK financial situation is worrying me especially as we are pretty well off currently. I can see us running out of savings as we try to live a similar life and not sure it is a responsible thing to do with two LOs.

WhataSook Tue 16-Apr-13 08:10:44

Hi Feeltheforce - I actually started another thread about moving home to Aus as we are planning to do this next year and your thread has been really good reading.

If I were in your situation however, I wouldn't do it. If I was set up and had family/support network I'd stay. Even though we are planning on making the move, I think things are going to get worse in Aus before they get better - but we will have family to help us out (somewhere to stay initially, babysitters etc). It makes no sense for us to be here as both sets of GP are missing out (my DH is Irish) and I want DD to know how it feels to have an extended family, at the moment she only really knows DH and myself.

Good luck with your decision

chloeb2002 Wed 17-Apr-13 04:19:40

feeltheforce.. I think ultimately it depends why you want to move. It does make me chuckle that so many mums on here are city people. We were in rural north yorkshire, so for us 45 mins to a major capital city is amazing!
love it! funnily enough, the area on northside Brisbane nicknamed little Brain is also 45 mins from cbd, so surely alot of brits think this is ok?

saffronwblue Wed 17-Apr-13 12:18:22

Just sat through a presentation on corporate pay and mobility today in which we were told that Australia is 22% more expensive to live in than London but salaries for the same role are about 30 % higher in Australia.
Just distiling 40 powerpoint slides there!

chloeb2002 Wed 17-Apr-13 22:30:41

It is swings and round abouts.. you don't live here to be richer or poorer but because of the richness it brings to your life and that of your kids! If its the stuff you want to gain.

Mosman Thu 18-Apr-13 09:51:08

And house prices are 100% higher I bet

feeltheforce Thu 18-Apr-13 13:04:30

I know we are not moving to make money. There is no way my DH will get his v good UK salary in Oz. He gets excellent bonuses, healthcare and great share options etc here. Every job he has discussed with headhunters in Australia has none of these things. So we know we won't be richer but I really don't want to be loads poorer. There's no point in having all those fab places to visit and experience if you can afford any of it because we are spending it on rent and doctors!! We have no family there and know no one. But everyone was so excited about experiencing that part of the world.

feeltheforce Thu 18-Apr-13 13:05:35

cant afford it!

chloeb2002 Thu 18-Apr-13 20:56:06

Rent is more expensive depending where you choose to live. around here rent varies from $250 a week yo $800. private health is optional. Even on 457 you get reciprocal health, so worst case take out dental only .

Mosman Fri 19-Apr-13 00:50:08

I know money isn't everything but my god when your used to filling your basket at sainsburys and throwing some treats in too it's a bloody shock to the system when you just can't do that.
I'm dating somebody with a 10% card for Coles and its one of his most attractive qualities, joking sort of

Arfishy Fri 19-Apr-13 04:55:05

I think if you want to live in the same way as you do in the UK it will be difficult. Things I very quickly learned when I got here were not to buy books with the same abandon, to pay careful attention to which food was in season and to avoid the sort of supermarket shopping you would do at home - eg French wine & ready meals - to change my habits and adapt to my new country.

What sort of lifestyle are you hoping for? You can certainly get a nice big house with a pool for around $300 per week if you're happy to commute for 90 mins to get into the Sydney CBD. Or you can pay $2400 per week for a house with a pool 10 minutes from the CBD.

I have reduced my supermarket spending enormously since coming here - I shop seasonally and buy very little packaged food (I was a sucker for M&S). I save a fortune buy buying stuff in the UK and shipping using a lot of the free shipping the UK companies are offering now - the end of season sales in the UK sell stuff just right for the upcoming season in Australia. I buy my books online (book depository) and have adapted to doing things differently here.

When I wonder about returning to the UK I think about how my DD (now 10, she's been here since 2) would cope with the difference and I think she'd really struggle. Here we live a few minutes from the beach, she goes sailing twice each week, loves watching the cockatoos, lizards, rainbow lorikeets etc and gets to travel to amazing pacific islands or along the ocean road. While things are expensive - I think I have done the right thing by giving her a chance to grow up here and am grateful that I have the opportunity to do so.

chloeb2002 Fri 19-Apr-13 09:35:31

that's just it Arfishy.. if you come to any new country and want expect the same things.. you will be disappointed. Id suspect that in the uk sailing would be more expensive than aus. we have just arrived home from tri squad training that cost me a whole $5. bargain. Rent just depends where you are.

Mosman Fri 19-Apr-13 09:48:46

I don't think food and healthcare are unreasonable luxuries though

feeltheforce Fri 19-Apr-13 19:30:05

I guess I'm with mosman. OZ is so interesting and different.

But we aren't emigrating so will have to come back to the UK at some point. What I'm balancing is the ability to put money in the bank in the UK (and so fund uni etc for LOs later) plus living in a nice big house with land against a great experience which by the sound of it will mean living month to month, in a small house and cutting out extras just to get by.

Also my kids are in a good independent school and getting a good education. That would probably have to go so we are making decisions that may affect their educational futures (especially DS1 who is very bright and could get a scholarship next year).

Plus DH would have to come back to the UK and look for work from a position of a lower salary.

So I'm trying to wrestle with what Australia has to offer against all the negative economic/educational factors. I'm really really really torn.

saffronwblue Fri 19-Apr-13 23:16:13

You probably don't want to give any more detail but salaries are usually higher in Aust. Are you sure your DH would be earning less?

Mosman Sat 20-Apr-13 00:45:08

Education is one of my biggest issues with Australia, I've brought it up many times, there's a lot of really poor teachers who don't get interviewed for the job it's a case if mrs x will work in these areas and is available, school x has a requirement they put the two together.
I know I sound like a right misery but I wish we'd never come here having to make the best and look for the positives but you sound perfectly fine where you are, come for a holiday !

echt Sat 20-Apr-13 06:15:03

mosman there is no Australian education system. Your issue is with WA. All states and territories have their own validation systems.

<Although I have heard dire things about WA, TBH>

Do not be put off by this OP. In my state school, the staff are so shit-hot we keep getting poached by the private system. grin angry sad

WhataSook Sat 20-Apr-13 09:10:06

Mosman sorry if i've got it wrong, but I followed your earlier posts about moving to Aus and I thought you had already lived there? You do sound really unhappy, is there a possibility for you to move home?

Mosman Sat 20-Apr-13 10:20:47

I'd lived in Melbourne previously and yes I'd agree from what I've heard it is better in Melbourne particularly.
With regards to moving I'd rather go to Melbourne or Sydney than the UK but keep hearing the job situation isn't great over east

Mosman Sat 20-Apr-13 10:21:25

I've heard the education is better in Melbourne I should say

sleepywombat Sun 21-Apr-13 06:07:06

Mosman, that's how teachers are recruited here in Qld too. My dh has been teaching many years & had never had an interview for anything (not even university) - lucky thing! As a teacher myself, I don't like the system of just placing you wherever, I'd much rather choose where I apply based on atmosphere/ethos/school type etc, but I guess in theory it means most schools get a fair mix of good/poor teachers.

They are talking about giving schools more power re hiring & firing atm, so things could change in the future.

What I'm disliking atm is the fact that the primary schools here won't let me have a look around without me paying $150 per school! How on earth am I meant to choose a school for my dc?

ClaudiaSchiffer Sun 21-Apr-13 06:24:01

Sleepy - $150 really? Aren't there school tours? Even the swankiest schools here in SA let you have a mooch about before you cough up $150 to register your pfbs.

OP how long would you aim to be here? You say you're not emigrating so, what, a year? More? And how much would you say a good salary for your DH is? More than $150K? I reckon you'd need at least that in Melb (prob more like $200K to make it worthwhile - ie have enough left over from day to day expenses to travel around Oz/SE Asia/NZ etc.

HermioneHatesHoovering Sun 21-Apr-13 06:28:51

booko.com.au. Use this before you buy any books. It gives you the cheapest price worldwide. I recently bought a LOTR set which was not available here (NZ), it was shipped (free) from Ireland and arrived in about 1 week.

CadleCrap Sun 21-Apr-13 06:34:17

I've been in Oz a year now - we started in the SE suburbs of Melbourne and to be honest it was incredibly similar to where we had left in the UK and wasn't worth the move.

So we moved, we are now a 3 hr dive from Melbourne and LOVE it. We have taken up kayaking and sailing and now have an enviable "lifestyle".

In reality you have to pay for education - DS (prep) cost us $350, plus you have to buy all their books etc.

Public transport is very cheap.

Yes it is expensive but as soon as you start to earn in $ you stop converting things into pounds.

feeltheforce Sun 21-Apr-13 14:55:03

cadle was SE Melbourne really like UK.

I was watching my kids this morning bounce around on the trampoline in the sun with horses in the field behind and thinking 'what are we doing?'

We had three years in mind as a time to stay in Australia. He has been for two job interviews in Oz and was offered both but only if he was available within a month. So he was unable to accept. His notice is much longer and so it looks like he'd have to resign here and maybe fund ourselves over and look for work. It is a big gamble given our comfortable circumstances here.

We wanted to move to Australia to
1) give our LOs a great opportunity to experience an outdoor lifestyle etc 2) see a different part of the world
but if Melbourne is like the UK what is the point? We'll have to exchange the country for the city, a big house for a small one, private schools for state, friends for homesickness....and yet.....I still have this pull to go.

Posters have said DH would probably earn more in Melbourne but I'll be honest - DH is on a six figure salary here with all the add ons Ive mentioned. For the same sort of role (and even the next level up) headhunters tell him he'll get about $210,000 which at current exchange rates is less than he is on here. If the exchange rates change in Britain's favour of course it'll be worse. sad

I keep hoping I'll be reassured although thanks so much for your honest opinions - they are really really valuable.

Mosman Mon 22-Apr-13 01:27:51

Go when the kids have left home, you've paid off your mortgage and the risks are lower. The DCs will want their own Aussie adventure when they are on a gap year.

sleepywombat Mon 22-Apr-13 04:52:02

ClaudiaSchiffer the swankiest (ha, ha - not really, there's no such thing up here, but private i.e. not catholic & not affordable & not great standards anyway) do free tours. Its the state & Catholic ones that charge. I asked one admin lady why I couldn't have a look around & she said could I imagine if they let everybody do that they'd have 50 parents coming (er, and?)!

feeltheforce, I think you could lead a pretty enviable lifestyle on that sort of money, but like others say, maybe a bit further out of Melbourne. I think life is expensive here, but my dh's salary is a quarter of what yours would earn. I am a sahm atm & our life is great (on a budget). I'm just greedy & would like a bigger house & garden & for that we'd probably have to move to the UK. Would your dh be able to get a job anywhere other than Melbourne? Prices are probably cheaper elsewhere and N Qld is certainly NOTHING like the UK, for example!

SavoyCabbage Mon 22-Apr-13 05:49:57

I'm dreading (more than usual) going for a smear on Friday. I've got to have a double appointment with a doctor and then you have to pay the lab costs too!

My dd goes to see an OT which is $120 a session (45 minutes a week) and we get $18 back from Medibank.

My other dd has a peanut allergy so she has an appointment a year for that and then $78 for two epipens and $36 for the claraytin. None of which is ever used fortunately.

AussieDollar Mon 22-Apr-13 06:28:42

Just based on your last post I would say don't do it. Your cost of living will increase, so if your income is going to decrease you will be comparatively pinching the pennies.

I've namechanged because I'm going to list our actual outgoings, I wish someone had done this for me when we were thinking about moving. This doesn't include meals out or random coffees. We've got 3 kids, one school age, and live in the Eastern Subs of Sydney. Rent is less on the north shore fwiw. We don't own a car so we hire one a few days each month.

Rent: $1,030 per WEEK. 3 bed house with yard.
GoGet car hire: $200 per month
Food: $250 per week
Electric: $500-$1000 per quarter ($1000 was a winter bill)
Water: $80 per quarter
Foxtel: $105 per month (DH watches a lot of sport)
Phone line: $15 per month
Internet: $55 per month
Health Insurance: $240 per month (ambulance and hospital only, no dental!)
Contents Insurance: $75 per month
Daycare: $80 per day
Train: $150 per month
Mobile phone: $30 a month
School fees (state school): $4500 per year per child
Additional school fees: $150 per term
Activities (eg swimming): $200 per term per child
Return flight to UK for 1 adult and 2 children: $6000 (in school holidays)

My pap smear cost me $85 ($35 for the GP after medicare rebate and $50 lab costs). We've been lucky so far that we haven't had many medical expenses.

thelittlestkiwi Mon 22-Apr-13 07:15:10

OP- could your OH arrange a sabbatical from work so you could go for a year and then return to the same salary?

We came to NZ for a year and are still here almost 5 years later. I think you need 3 years to get the most out of living overseas when you move with kids. But, in your situation it might give you some sort of safety net.

feeltheforce Mon 22-Apr-13 19:59:58

Thanks again everyone. aussiedollar that is so, so helpful. Can I ask why you pay $4500 on a state school - is that normal? Rent seems on a par with Melbourne prices I have seen.

kiwi - I wish he could get a sabbatical but at work they are very very reluctant for him to go. He has recently opened discussions (he was hoping for voluntary redundancy) and their response was to put a bigger bonus for him in place that is conditional on him staying for the next 12 months.

Our visa (which is just for Victoria) runs out before then so we have to go in 2013/early 2014 or that's it - no Australia. Work are trying to financially blackmail him as he is needed.

savoy OMG! This is what worries me. My eldest has a number of medical issues and under the NHS is always seeing one professional or another. How would we afford it all?

thelittlestkiwi Mon 22-Apr-13 22:02:36

OP- it's shame. Has he asked about a shorter time? I think it cost us 10k to move so you could spend that on a three month round the world trip instead which would be pretty awesome.

saffronwblue Mon 22-Apr-13 23:44:59

here

Article in today's Age about the cost of living in Australia

chloeb2002 Tue 23-Apr-13 02:12:27

I pay $4000 a year with no extras for private school. State school here in qld is pretty much free. May be books and trips.. say $500 a year tops?

On a medical front... it really really depends what is wrong with your dc. My ds has cerebral palsy and asd and other complications among that. So far we have paid maybe $500 in his life ( he is 5). Everything he needs is covered by medicare. He can have ot and pt and salt at the hospital while it was deemed essential. Now he is seen privately, some of this comes off his enhanced primary care plan (5 sessions a year). The gets $12000 over 3 years for allied health and supplies as part of the asd funding, he gets a healthcare card for subsidized prescriptions and he gets some stuff under our private health fund.

All essential treatment is free for uk residents under reciprocal health care ( its on medicare look it up ;0) )

We have private health but only as we use it for extras, dh had a hernia op and it gives us choices should we need to use it. The age loading meant we had to take it out within 6 months of pr, which we did.

SydneyExpenses Tue 23-Apr-13 02:56:24

I'll help out too with a list of actual outgoings here in Sydney (Eastern Suburbs - the area is significant in terms of ease of access to the CBD and therefore higher housing costs). I'm here on a 457 visa.

Rent: $1,150 per week
Car payment: $1350 per month (yes, ridiculous, due to mad visa sponsor issues, will be getting rid and leasing soon, much less $$)
Food: $200 per week (for 2 adults, one child - we buy seasonally and cook from scratch, includes packed lunches for everybody)
Electricity: $130 per month
Gas: $70 per month
Water: $80 per quarter
Foxtel: $150 per month (two boxes platinum)
Combined Phone line & Internet: $69 per month
Health Insurance: $250 per month (Bupa top cover, me and DD, DP is another $240 per month). Health cover is a visa requirement for 457 holders.
Insurance - $400 per month (covers car, cats etc)
Nanny: $270 per week for 10 hours + fuel costs
Petrol: $300
Car tolls: $200
Mobile phone: $120 per month (for me, DP around $80)
School fees: $24,000 per year
Additional school fees: $6,000 per year
Activities (eg music lessons outside school): $100 per week (2 instruments), sport $400 per term
Weeky holiday camp in school hols: $400
Gym membership: $38 fortnightly
Cleaners: $70 weekly
UK Storage: $200 per month

Important stuff - bottle of Oyster Bay is $18. Meals out can be very cheap - $10 per head for a good meal in a pub, churrasco near us is $39 per head for all you can eat plus around $50 average for a bottle of wine. Good Italian around $140 for three, including a starter and wine.

CassieTheCockatoo Tue 23-Apr-13 03:01:47

Why is there a variance in paying for State schools in some places and not others? Does anyone know?

chloeb2002 Tue 23-Apr-13 03:50:39

oh.. i have an au pair not a nanny... $120 a week...
sydney expenses... we were initially on a 457.. after a big discussion with immigration about health care insurance etc.. it is your responsibility to ensure you have healthcare.. so.. as a uk citizen.. we had to ensure we maintained reciprocal status. We had no private cover until we became pr. W now have mid range nib cover for $149 for the family a month.

I'm in perth, and have been for seven years now. I'm 21 and DP is 24.

I can't say as I see why you'd want to live close to the city. It's grimy and crowded, and there's no garden. There really are plenty of amenities and such in the suburbs, as well as lovely big parks and yards.

Last September we bought a 3x1 in the south eastern corridor, admittedly not a flash area but it cost $235 000 for the house and shed, which sits on 930sqm. I've lost touch a little (lot, as I came here at 14) with house prices in the UK but in Perth right now that's decent. We pay $230/ week mortgage, we were paying 300/ week rent for a piddly house in the ghetto.

I will admit, the education here is in...an...interesting state. Doctors are expensive- I drive nearly 80 minutes and pay $85 for my doctor but DP informs me I'm batshit. He goes down to the walk in clinic.

I suppose I never really had many issues acclimatising to Australia as my mum is a country girl and it was more like visiting a place you'd heard so much about that you could drive yourself to the city from the airport.

Your dcs won't run into issues with sport. Sure, Australia loves its sports, but it doesn't expect everybody to follow them obsessively.

One thing your dcs will probably have trouble with is how far ahead they are in some areas and scarily behind in others. I was streets ahead in English but my maths was so, so far behind I had after school tutoring for a whole year to bring me up to speed.

Sorry this is a little disjointed, there's a toddler swarming my leg and a different toddler in the linen cupboard.

I should quickly mention, I think, that I don't work, and DP earns about $60 k.
We spend $150/week on food (1 toddler, 2cats, 2 adults)
60/wk petrol
Electric $150/ quarter (with solar array)
Water $80/ quarter
$39 my phone, $29 DP's phone / month

We don't have health insurance, as at this junction Medicare is doing us fine.

cassie I believe (although I could be wrong) its because in Perth at least, the 'voluntary fees' can be pretty much whatever the school sets and they can be more or less 'voluntary.' They can't exclude or withhold anything from the dc, but they can make life irritating for you if you don't pay them (if your school is a 'less voluntary' school).
That's just what I've gathered talking to mums with older children around here- DD is a bit far off school ATM for me to have thought it out in depth.

Mosman Tue 23-Apr-13 05:14:13

I cannot believe how little some of you are spending on food shock
I went shopping yesterday for food, milk, bread, 3 chicken breasts, grapes, a few satsuma's, a bag of lollies for the little one - $1.99 - on offer, some gravy mix i think that was $1.50, $79.00 and that will last two days tops, in fact I had to go out and get bread this morning, another $10

Mosman Tue 23-Apr-13 05:16:00

My worry about moving out of the city is purely the education in WA, I completely agree about the maths being far superior to the UK, they do seem to focus on the right things here, no airy fairy media studies crap, my concern is it's so hit and miss even in the affluent areas I'm concerned if you move out to places where maybe the parents are less demanding it could be worse.

PeppaPigsMum Tue 23-Apr-13 05:39:48

We have been in Sydney for nearly 7 years (spent 6 months in Melbourne before that). The rundown of prices others have done match mine pretty well. Our family income is certainly less than $200k and we're doing fine - certainly not penny pinching. Rent is a big chunk of our wages though - we pay $700/wk for an old 3-bed weatherboard - and we are going to find it very difficult to afford to buy a house (where we live a 3-bed, 1 bath place in need of renovation will set you back $900k), but that's the price we pay for living 5 mins from the beach. If you aren't looking to stay long-term though I guess house prices aren't going to be an issue for you.

I have 2 dcs at public school and am happy with it so far. The oldest has some minor learning difficulties, and that has been a bit expensive to try to sort out - the specialist fees are not covered by Medicare - but health care has otherwise been OK. I'm lucky that we haven't had to visit the doctor too much. We go to a walk-in bulk-billing clinic, so don't pay anything for a doctors visit, and you don't pay for immediate emergency treatment at hospitals, but do have to pay for things like prescriptions, which could add up (I paid $48 for a double course of antibiotics for one dc last week. My friend also found she had to pay $200 for the permanent cast on her dc's arm when he broke it, which I was surprised at, but it's standard apparently). There is a scheme where the amount you pay for medicines is capped, and once you reach that you don't pay for prescriptions any more, but I think that's only for permanent residents or citizens - you wouldn't be able to claim this if you were on a 457 visa or another temporary visa.

The $4500 for public school is for children on a temporary visa, and I believe it only applies to NSW schools, so you'd be OK in Victoria. A friend of mine had to pay this upfront at the start of the school year before her kids could attend. I don't pay this now we are citizens, but we are asked for a 'voluntary' contribution each term to cover things like pottery, music lessons etc, and that probably adds up to around $1000/yr in total for 2 dcs.

I love it here, but dh and I actively looked to move over because we had spent a year travelling round here and felt a pull to return. I guess we didn't really think about the pros and cons as we were both sure we wanted to make the move. It must be more difficult when you don't have that certainty. Anyone visiting from the UK will find it excessively expensive because of the exchange rates at the moment. I found once we were earning in dollars we didn't think that way, and as someone mentioned earlier you just buy things differently. I'd say if you do come over then adapt as quickly as you can and don't compare everything - its different and there are trade-offs (the weather being one). Good luck with the decision.

AussieDollar Tue 23-Apr-13 05:40:49

feel we're on a 457 visa so we have to pay for state school in NSW. It also means that we don't get help with childcare costs. Our permanent residency is currently being processed, when we have PR state school will be free (apart from the $150 a term the school asks for) and we'll get the child care refund.

Not owning a car is a nightmare, it's had a huge impact on what we can do/see. We sold our car for £6k in the UK, to get the same car here would cost around $30k! On the 457 visa we can't lease a car because the repayments have to be structured over the visa term and would be crippling. Again, when we have PR we will hopefully get a car.

I'm still confused by medicare. In order to get our 457 visa we needed to show that we had medical insurance. The policy we have is for 457 visa holders but doesn't seem to offer anything over and above reciprocal medicare (apart from ambulance rides, but you can get ambulance only cover). I think DH would have to pay a medicare levy if we didn't have the insurance though. confused

YY to oyster bay being $18 <sob>. Although since we've discovered Dan Murphy's we spend a lot less on booze. wine

PeppaPigsMum Tue 23-Apr-13 05:44:06

bulk online shopping for wine is the way to go here :-) I was amazed when I first came over that Australian wine cost more here than it did in Tesco back home...

AussieDollar Tue 23-Apr-13 05:45:28

massive cross post with peppapigsmum. I agree converting to GBP will send you mad. The first time I went into a supermarket here I came out empty handed and declared we couldn't afford to eat!

PeppaPigsMum Tue 23-Apr-13 05:53:17

It took me a couple of years to stop converting $ to GPB, but it wasn't so bad when I first came over as the exchange rate was much more weighted towards the pound. I can imagine that it's a shock to the system if you do the same thing now!

Mosman, where are you shopping? I did a top up shop at coles of fish, bread, milk, ham (not naice ham but strange toddler won't eat the good stuff) and cat food and it came out to $35, the most expensive being the cat food at $10 for a 2 kilo sack and $10 for the fish. I do fruit and veg at the markets.

Having been through the WA education system from years 8-12 (boarded in Perth from 8-10, moved back in with mum when she came over) and speaking to others of my age, it seems that in high school at least it doesn't matter if it's in an affluent area or not.

I live in Kelmscott/Armadale (a much maligned, low socioeconomic area of Perth, and not entirely without reason) and the closest SHS is Kelmscott. It's a very, very good school. Not "academic" as such but supportive and pastoral.

You might even find that smaller schools will find it easier to accomodate different needs- I can ask my DM if it would be of use, as she's well placed in the state school system to answer that kind of question.

chloeb2002 Tue 23-Apr-13 07:21:42

We showed nothing to get our 457. We were told as we have uk citizenship it's not required to have more. As the policy states... You are responsible for costs of healthcare. However you meet those is your problem. That was the feedback from immi.
We are a family of 4 kids and two parents and an au pair. I do an online shop for about 400$ a month. Then shop at the butchers for meat $100 a month.. Aldi, fruit barn, anywhere advertising specials and bulk... Bring on cost co! Will be another $300 a month. Food is more expensive here. But better quality. No mass farmed hormone driven meat for example. Fresh fruit n veg in season buying..
We now have solar for electrical so get money back on power. Will have paid for itself in 4 years.
grin
Dd had a cast on her arm, public hospital, free ? As an ed nurse I have never seen anyone in q health be charged for a cast.. Private hospital maybe? Very odd...

PeppaPigsMum Tue 23-Apr-13 07:50:36

Maybe the cost of a cast is another NSW thing? It was a private place that did it -they would only put a temporary cast on at the public hospital, and said she had to go to this other place for the permanent cast. No other costs concerned with the treatment. Like I said, I was surprised, but seems to be the norm here (loads of kids with casts on their arms or legs at the moment it seems!).

Saying that, I had my second dc here in Australia and it didn't cost a thing, even though I was on a 457 visa at the time - it was all covered by the reciprocal care agreement with Medicare. Also had a minor op which involved an overnight stay - again no charges from the public hospital (just a few months on the waiting list). I still don't understand how the healthcare works properly to be honest. I am going for a smear test next week, and don't think there are any associated costs at all, whereas someone else said she had to pay lab charges (sorry, can't remember names).

It can be confusing, but as I am fortunate enough not to have had to access healthcare a great deal it hasn't been an issue. Not sure how it would be for someone with a chronic condition.

SavoyCabbage Tue 23-Apr-13 09:14:39

Schools set their own 'fees', or at least they do in Victoria where I am. Ours are about $1000 a year and then we have to pay for swimming, camp, supplies and all trips so probably about another $1000, maybe a bit more.

Our school has no reading books, but we have three slides and are currently raising $38,000 for some new.....playground equipment. We got a $4 million building improvement grant which was used to build a music room last year.

I'm a supply teacher in Melbourne and the schools vary massively. Some have NOTHING. The one I was at today had three dc who couldn't speak any English at all and no teaching assistant or anything to help them. They didn't have a clue what was going on. Some schools look amazing with great big libraries etc. Then you realise that they are so big that each class only has access to the library for 15 minutes a week.

saffronwblue Tue 23-Apr-13 09:48:05

It is worth understanding that school education is mainly the province of each state. While we are moving towards a national curriculum, at the moment each state sets eg entry ages for school and the actual curriculum for year 12. So what is true for one state may not be true for another.

My son is in Year 9 at a state school here in Melbourne and I paid about $800 for his year, which included a donation. Books, laptop and camp are all paid in addition to that. My daughter ( long story) goes to an anglican grammar ( private) and her fees are $15,000 per year in Year 6!

CadleCrap Tue 23-Apr-13 10:31:44

Op - we were in a huge growth area so lots of building going on and while it was very pleasant, it wasn't special enough for us to have made the move. We were a good 30 mins plus from an okay beach and over an hour to the nearest surf beach. Not quite the lifestyle we had in mind.

And Melbourne itself - what is it famous for? Nothing. So again while perfectly oaky it didn't have the wow factor like Sydney.

We have a 176 visa so are perm. residents and as such we have medicare which I have found pretty good. We also don't have to pay for schooling except from the "voluntary"non-voluntary fees.

Where we are now, it is FABULOUS although a bit country but we are perfectly fine with that. As land is cheaper we are in the process of having a house built!!

WhataSook Tue 23-Apr-13 11:26:46

CadleCrap - how very dare you insult my Melbourne!

It's famous for it's great coffee, the MCG, the Australia Open, the Grand Prix, it's trams...the list goes on. What does Sydney have, only a bridge and a big old Opera House... grin

echt Tue 23-Apr-13 12:14:13

CadleCrap, why should Melbourne, or anywhere else, be famous for anything to be worth living in?

Coffee? Not for me.

MCG? Sport. Meh.

Grand Prix. I wish it fuck right off. Yet all those things are undeniable draws.

The trams are lovely, as are the long, shallow bayside beaches; so democratic, so available, and the back beaches are another world. Theatre, art, music are all tremendous. The cafes, lanes, shops and restaurants are great.

feeltheforce Tue 23-Apr-13 13:48:54

saffron that was an excellent (if depressing) link. MY LOs will be sad to hear no more big macs LOL.

feeltheforce Tue 23-Apr-13 14:03:03

I can't thank you all enough for keeping posting and all the info on schools and cost of living wine. All your info is so helpful as I try to get my head round it.

My eldest has some physical probs which require Physio, Orthotics and Occupational Therapy. He gets free insoles here every three months. He also has to go to a special dentist every 6 months which here is provided free. Hence my interest in health care.

Q: why do people use doctors and not walk in clinics if the latter are free?

I really need to dig out the visa type we have. It is one where DH's profession is needed in Victoria and lasts 5 years (then you can renew). We have to stay in VIC for two years I think then can move around Australia.

PeppaPigsMum Tue 23-Apr-13 14:26:58

At our walk in clinic you just have to take the next doctor available. If you book an appointment you have to pay I think. If you want a family doctor, as such, then you will almost certainly pay for your visits.

My daughter has had to have OT - we paid $60 for a 30 minute session and didn't get much back from our private health fund or Medicare. In my experience, dental care is expensive. We didn't visit the dentist at all when we were on a temp visa. Now we have health insurance which covers the basics. I'm sorry I can't help with information for costs of more long running health issues - hopefully someone else can.

PS I loved Melbourne - such an easy city to live in - and found it hard to move to Sydney after 6 months.

Saltedcaramellavacake Tue 23-Apr-13 15:37:50

At the walk in clinic you just get the next cab off the rank, so to speak, with no continuity of care. It's okay for an adult with a one off type illness (flu, tummy bug or similar) but not much good for kids with chronic issues (asthma needing ongoing management etc). You can also wait a long time depending on the number of people who have "walked in" ahead of you. Not much fun with kids. Even in this type of setting, though, OT, physio, orthotics etc won't be free - just the GP visit.

Bleh, walk ins. You get the doctor assigned to you- so if you go in for a Pap smear, you can't say 'I want a lady doctor' you get Doctor Two. Also the waits, holy crap. DP went to get a med cert for a nasty flu, took him four hours of waiting. Leave the building, lose your place.
I'd much rather drive the stupid distance and pay the shock fee for my lovely dr who I trust and have seen for years. I don't see her above six monthly anyway.

I suspect some physio would be medicareable but it can be pretty random and arbitrary. Orthotics aren't covered, wouldn't have a clue about OT. With issues like those I'd be getting private health.

If you're a spec wearer, get the damn things online. Your jaw will hit the floor and bore down to the water table at the cost.

I suppose you know this already, but water is precious here, please don't waste it <annoying preachy face>
Not that it stops my council watering the road in mid winter, no, no it doesn't.

Erebus Tue 23-Apr-13 19:58:30

Small point about education: I lived on Queensland's Sunshine Coast for 7 years (was in Oz 15 years all up), and had 2 DC there. Every, and I mean every private school was run by a church. Assuming it was true what others told us, which was 'don't touch the State secondaries unless you have to!!'... my options were:

2 x Christian Fundamentalist schools that taught Creationism as fact...
1 x Catholic school with all the attendant stuff
2 x Lutheran schools (biiig in an area with a rural hinterland- lots of ex-German farmers in Oz! Esp around Adelaide )- OK, but select carefully: one had 'toned down' a bit to attract 'Church of Christ' DC (and upped its fees), the other was practically German speaking! Our close neighbours, both Lutheran teachers, taught in both and told us as much.
1 x Methodist/Presbyterian school (fundraising raffles banned...) sport, Sport, SPORT!
1 x Anglican (Australian C of E) which is always the most expensive option but probably our choice though another neighbour (and good friend) was given a job there as a Y2 teacher following a single phone interview! Even she was a bit hmm at the laxity of selection technique!

...and I wouldn't necessarily have wanted a religious based ed for the DC! On our 'Close' there were 14 school aged DC. I think 2 families there had DC at the same school. Not exactly promoting of community spirit!

As an aside, DH (an Australian) worked for the govt's Primary Industries in a research lab doing plant research and biology. They had quite a few school groups etc visiting, thus the noticeboards had educational posters on them. One of my DH's fellow biologists put in a formal complaint demanding the poster of Darwin be removed because it promoted Evolution over Creationism..... thankfully, he didn't succeed, but... shock

We are now in Hampshire, have been for 10 years and I have to say, we both feel our DC's life opportunities are better and more varied here in the UK than they would have been in Oz. They are at a local, well-performing comp. We like walking across hill and dale; real ale; cultural difference; a wider variety of friends, many who challenge us and our beliefs on a regular basis (I see this as a good thing); short distances and varied weather! Yes, even that! In QLD, with pre-schoolers, you have to keep out of the sun between 10am and 4pm every day as the sun hammers young skins. Then it's dark by 6pm at the latest! And, unless you 'live it' you actually don't realise how boring the same weather, day in, day out, can be!

Yes, we had a back-yard pool but the DCs aren't water babies and I'm still not entirely sure the hours and $$ I spend maintaining it equalled the 'pleasure' we got out of it! Seriously.

If I had to, I would return to Oz, but I wouldn't be knocking anyone down in the rush.

Mutley77 Wed 24-Apr-13 00:38:09

feeltheforce sorry havent been on this thread for a few days. However in response to one of your earlier posts I just wanted to say that I also worry about future security and we therefore have kept our house in england (rented) and continue paying into our investments in england with some of the profit from the rent. I am reassured that we can go back to england and be pretty much where we were. We have been really careful in early stages here so that we have not had to bring lots of money from england (i think we have managed to do it on about £6-8k, most of which was a deposit on a car) with us. Dh's comapany paid the relocation costs which i assume you will also get if your dh is highly desirable in his field.

In that respect i feel that anything we do earn can be enjoyed as we have our future being looked after in england. And fwiw if your children are in state education i would think you can have a pretty nice life on 200k. We are at the point where i can see we will be pretty comfortable financially and my dh earning less than that.

WhataSook Wed 24-Apr-13 08:31:50

I think that is really good advise Mutley in keeping your house ect. It's a big move to go to the otherside of the world without any friends or family when you have children. Pre DC I moved so many times my CV is a bit embarrassing, but since DD I am a lot more cautious.

For me we are going 'home' (DH is not from the UK either) so there is no point us keeping our house here, we wont be back (or not back to London until the DC are out of schooling). If we had settled in DH's country though and I liked it as much as I have the UK then I probably would keep the house too as there might be a reason to return later.

I have the pull of family and friends in Australia and I am overwhelmed a bit about the whole move so I can only imagine how those that have no ties and DC feel about such a big move.

idlevice Wed 24-Apr-13 11:43:01

I have similar views to Erebus. In our 5.5yrs in Sydney none of us ever went to the dentist or opticians because of the expense, & I also got into the state of not wanting to go to the GP unless it was dire because of the potential cost of not only the appt but also the prescriptions.

We didn't get private cover mainly because when we asked DP's Aussie co-workers (in a professional government organisation) none of them had it so we thought we'd be ok without. My experience of public health was grim for maternity & waiting lists but good for A&E.

WhataSook Wed 24-Apr-13 13:05:56

well the flip to that idle is how freaking grim I have found using the NHS - when I don't get to choose which doctor I can go to yet have to pay for the one I'm given. I had finally found a good doctor and we moved...back at square one with hating to go.

I am in London so maybe it's different here, but I would NEVER have another child here. And this isn't slagging British as my midwives were British, Asian, Australian and Irish and they were all shite (apart from the Irish one who was lovely but cocked up badly...)

The NHS is not free, so taking out health insurance in Australia seems a no-brainer to me.

CadleCrap Wed 24-Apr-13 14:32:10

WhataSook and echt I only asked what Melbourne was famous for and to the "average UKer" it is probably Neighbours but even that is old hat. Ii am only conveying MY experience as a Newbie to Oz

I like Melbourne but the OP is unlikely to be able to afford the inner city suburbs where you are able to get a tram home.

twilight3 Wed 24-Apr-13 14:32:27

hear hear whatasook... I did in fact go abroad to have my second baby as I couldn't afford private here (as I was paying thousands and thousands a year for "free healthcare" without opting out option) and I was too scared to have a baby on the NHS again...

And, yes, never got to choose my doctor, plus I only go to see them when things get really bad, as people are generally bullied out of using the system.

(not relevant to Oz, but since you mentioned it I couldn't help second it).

CadleCrap Wed 24-Apr-13 14:42:30

Posted too soon - I still think in terms of "if people come to visit what will they think"

In The SE growth corridor you can buy a plot for $150k and build a basic 3 bed house for $150k - I mean basic, carpets are extra.

But at that price you have 1m of garden all around your house and because of eaves your house may actually be touching next door -.

But at least the commute by metro into the city is only $11 a day return. $3.30 on a weekend

IMO the best thing about Melbourne is the flames on the south? bank

feeltheforce Wed 24-Apr-13 18:48:46

To Melbourne posters - can you recommend any areas for me to zone in on with my estate agent/rental cost arm chair search. We are from the country and currently have an acre of land (like I'm going to have 5 m of land in Oz shock) so really we are not urbanites. That said we are not suburbanites either so not sure if better to go way out of the city to the country or just rent a house with patio near the beach. As I said DH will 99.9% certainly be in CBD so it has to be commutable.

I am also going to look into schools from over here first. What are the good independent ones?

Plus wondering how much it is to bring a car - did anyone do that?

echt Wed 24-Apr-13 22:38:05

If you go away out of the city to Frankston South, Mount Eliza and Mount Martha, you'll get the big house and garden and close to the sea, but not cheaply and a with a massive travel. There are private schools there, but I don't know much about them. Vair nice areas.

Nearer to the city is Bayside which I know more about. Lots of private schools, all of which have good reps; St. Leonard's, Haileybury, Brighton Grammar. State primary schools are good, though you'll find the, ahem, change of pace a bit of a shock - quite laid back.
Good access to CBD by rail and by car down the lovely Beach Road. It IS suburbia, but very pleasantly so. It is not cheap. We found renting in the higher end of the market brought better houses and less competition for them. Gardens are not large; there's a tendency to knock down older properties and build monster houses which fill the block. Having said that, shop around. With renting, find out which rooms are heated (it will be ducted). Some have unheated rooms, though high end is not usually a problem.

Lots of little bijou shops and restaurants/cafes. Excellent library service. Bins always collected on time!

Is the car very special, because it's very expensive to do this.

saffronwblue Wed 24-Apr-13 22:49:00

The most elite independent schools are the Anglican/Uniting ones. Melbourne Grammar, Scotch College, Wesley, St Michaels. Have a look at their glossy websites. Can be very hard to get into but have occasional surprise places come up.

If you wanted to be out of Melbourne have a quick look at the Macedon Ranges area in the north west. Places like Kyneton, Gisborne, Riddells Creek are all less than an hour from Melbourne by train and you could have a bit of land and see kangaroos in the morning etc. Then you could be looking at Braemar Collage or Macedon Grammar.

Here is a nice house for rent www.domain.com.au/Property/For-Rent/House/VIC/Mount-Macedon/?adid=8241651

Mutley77 Thu 25-Apr-13 15:08:26

I would say Eltham or maybe Hurstbridge would be good suburbs to look at. Eltham is very leafy and towards the edge of the city - Hurstbridge is pretty "country" and you probably could get a pretty large plot. They have a fast train link to CBD from those areas too.

However you are far from the beach if you go that side.

feeltheforce Thu 25-Apr-13 16:49:07

Thanks I'm going to spend the weekend having a look at these suggestions. Someone told me not to live north of Melbourne but Macedon looks nice.

I am interested that you can't always get into independent schools - does that include primary?

echt we thought of bring one of the cars (an Audi Q5) because we heard it was extortionate to buy in Oz. But I haven't looked into the cost of bringing it biscuit - am I in for a shock?

echt Thu 25-Apr-13 19:18:19

Get on to the pomsinoz forum for lengthy and informative threads about this. I believe if you import a car on a working visa, you have to take it with you when you leave. It's in the thousands.

A fair number of folk bring special cars because, apart from the cost of buying them in Oz, they hold their value. Oh, and they don't rust.grin

Mosman Fri 26-Apr-13 02:43:02

People put children's names down for schools at birth

What Mosman says is true- my parents put my name down at 4 for private boarding.

saffronwblue Fri 26-Apr-13 02:57:59

I put DS down for Penleigh and Essendon Grammar when he was three, for a year 7 entry. He was not offered a place as "we had left it so late."

On the other hand, DD got a place at Lowther Hall Girls Anglican Grammar for year 4 a few months after we first enquired.

The suburbs in Melbourne's north can be very dreary (except for Essendon and the fabled Moonee Ponds which are nice and quite expensive). The Macedon area is outside Melbourne and is a mix of rural and small towns with good access to the city. Miles away from beaches but bushland, wineries and horse country.
I agree with Eltham - it is also very lovely. Most well-heeled expats head to Brighton but there is much more to Melbourne imo.

thylarctosplummetus Fri 26-Apr-13 03:51:11

Actual expenses we have in Brisbane (2 DCs, one in daycare, one in state school prep).

Rent: $440 per week. 3 bed house in nice area, 25 minutes from CBD.
Car: $480 per month - Mazda 6 estate bought new on finance. Rego (car tax) includes 3rd party insurance, and costs $660 a year.
Food: $150 per week - don't do all your shopping in Coles/Woolworths, use the local shops instead - much cheaper and better quality.
Electric: $350 per quarter - no pool, use air-con a bit, but not much.
Water: $25 per quarter
Foxtel: $85 per month
Phone line: $15 per month
Internet: $35 per month
Health Insurance: No health insurance - had no problems with Medicare for myself (hip problems needed MRI and consultant) and DS (annual trips to see a paed). As private medical cover is a rebate system rather than insurance, I see it as a total waste of money. Having said that, ambulance cover is free in Qld.
Contents Insurance: $300 a year
Daycare: $90 per day (once we've become permanent residents, this will be rebated at 50%)
Train: $150 per month
Petrol: $140 per month
Mobile phone: $15 a month
School fees (state school): $180
Before/After school and vacation care: $22 a day (price includes two after school activities per week which change each term, including dance, martial arts, soccer etc)
Additional school fees: $0 per year
Activities (swimming/gymnastics): $150 per term per child (not through school)
Return flight to UK for 1 adult and 2 children: We go on holiday in Oz instead.

Now, obviously we don't have the lifestyle that many of the posters above have, but we hardly live in abject poverty. We have annual passes to the Gold Coast theme parks ($99 per person) that we use about once a month, the museums and art galleries in Brisbane are free (and very good). We also regularly go to the beach (free) and the local parks are excellent. Both me and DH work, and our combined income is ~$160k before taxes.

The local state school is rated more highly than any Catholic or private school within 5km, and we had no problems enrolling with 6 months notice. DS (who has some problems) has settled in brilliantly, and we've had really positive feedback and results. A full set of uniform for the year set us back about $180.

Also, if you're earning Australian dollars, don't try and convert everything to GBP. The AUD/GBP exchange rate isn't the same as the salary or cost of living comparison. Generally the salary/COL rate is 2.2AUD:1GBP. Also savings rates are much higher over in Oz.

If you want to come over to experience Australia, then I would suggest you don't stay within the British ex-pat cocoon. Australia is a wonderful, amazing place with its own share of ups, downs, ins and outs. I love it here, and I would never move back to the UK unless we were deported.

twilight3 Fri 26-Apr-13 08:48:13

thylarctosplummetus when I move over I'll find you and you'll be my best friend, we think so alike. If you don't want to, I'll force you grin

twilight3 Fri 26-Apr-13 08:49:09

also would you mind telling me the name of the school, since you're so happy with it? Thanks

thylarctosplummetus Fri 26-Apr-13 10:01:35

Patricks Road State School.

www.patrroadss.eq.edu.au/

thylarctosplummetus Fri 26-Apr-13 10:14:43

And always happy to make new friends as long as they don't harp on about how hot it is in the summer, how they couldn't live without their air con and pool, but they don't think they can afford to send little Johnny to Stuckup Grammar School, because the Australian electricity process are so extortionate. smile

Drop me a line when you get here, and I'll take you out on the town grin

twilight3 Fri 26-Apr-13 10:51:52

LOL!
It'll be a couple of years, but you're on my list, I love you already flowers

twilight3 Fri 26-Apr-13 11:26:10

tylar is there a way I can pm you please?

twilight3 Fri 26-Apr-13 11:26:37

thylar I mean

twilight3 Fri 26-Apr-13 11:27:29

I found it, sorry

chloeb2002 Fri 26-Apr-13 22:01:18

Ferny grove .. Lovely area.. Amazing Indian at arana hills... Sitar express I think.. I could also have written your post... However we live near caboolture and our choice of private schools is.. Interesting... And state schools require full body armour! And we have private health.. I guess bring a nurse and seeing the mess qld health is in atm that's part of it. Basic health cover is all, to avoid some tax too! And age loading when I am crumbly and need attention. grin I too will be refusing to leave Aus.. Brisbane even unless its in a box!

AussieDollar Sat 27-Apr-13 02:35:55

Return flight to UK for 1 adult and 2 children: We go on holiday in Oz instead. This actually wasn't for a holiday, a family member in the UK had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. We're holidaying in Oz this year.

feeltheforce Sun 28-Apr-13 20:26:01

Have now added 'stress about schooling' to 'stress about healthcare' and 'stress about finding a house with a pool that we can afford more than one week in' (oh and stress about DH finding a job).

Australia is not quite the laid back experience I was expecting biscuit.

Seriously should I be looking for a school now given we are coming in Jan/Feb next year? and don't any of these private schools allow for expats?

chloeb2002 Wed 01-May-13 02:50:10

I think it depends where you are going. It will be hard to get a school sorted without a job and an address so you know where you are living! Ideally come for start of new school year which is about 28th January. Lots of state schools in a small area, or private schools in some areas!

chloeb2002 Wed 01-May-13 02:50:48

Oh and i have no idea about any school private or public that doesnt accept expats.

SavoyCabbage Wed 01-May-13 03:04:42
SavoyCabbage Wed 01-May-13 03:10:34

Worst link ever!

That was supposed to be google maps. Get the little orange man to walk along some of the streets. I just picked a couple of random ones

Drayton Crescent
Smedley Road
Rainbow Valley

feeltheforce Wed 01-May-13 13:07:06

Thanks savoy. Do lots of people commute into the CBD. I got the impression that people all lived in central suburbs.

Anyone know anything about the Dandenongs (Belgrave etc)? That looked nice on a map.

SavoyCabbage Wed 01-May-13 13:20:08

Yes definitely commutable, if that's a word. Straight on to the Eastlink. Or drive to a train station.

feeltheforce Wed 01-May-13 14:38:51

Just been looking at it on google earth!

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