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Is the grass really greener in Australia?

(44 Posts)
pestooneverything Mon 09-Apr-12 06:49:46

I spent some time in Australia travelling in 2003 and fell in love with the country.

I always vowed to go back and live there - of course 'life' happened and I never did.

I can't shake the 'wondering' of what life in Oz would be like and think about moving there frequently. I would love to get to Perth but I think my profession would mean Sydney/Melbourne would be more likely.

My DH has never been but has said he would go if I wanted to and I know he would like it. I think before moving we would take a long holiday there anyway so he could see what it was like. (I know hols is different to work but it would be a taster).

My DS is 2. DH and I both work part time (7 days a week between us) so we wouldn't go till DS is in school as i imagine it would be very hard to get senior part time roles and we cherish our time with DS. We would like other children but it's not happening so far sad

Our quality of life is good in that we all enjoy good health, we're comfortable financially and have close ties with my parents and our friends. We are a very outdoorsy family and this BH weekend has really bought home to me how prohibitive the UK weather is to this! We get out everyday but getting out in the rain isn't much fun, no matter how much of a positive spin you try and put on it!

DH and I are both only children. We are close to my parents but not his. We have friends but I wouldn't stay in UK for them.

I suppose I am writing this because in my head I have visions of life in Oz being sunny, relaxed, friendly, weekends at the beach, making lots of new friends easily etc etc and I want to know the downsides....

I think if i didn't try it it would be a BIG regret of mine.

Did anyone go and come home?
Or have you found it not to be the Ozzie dream you hoped for?
Or should I be making plans to head there when DS is close to school age?
(My route in would be to get a job and get sponsored..... I have spoken to recruiters about this and believe it to be possible...)

Thanks so much for any thoughts you have!!

echt Mon 09-Apr-12 07:21:13

Don't come here for the weather. It IS better than in the UK, but not a good enough reason, even if you're the outdoorsy type.

I have not found it easy to make friends here, and lots of expats say the same; Australians are friendly but not easy to make friends with. This is not a criticism, just an observation.
Having said all that, so much of life in the Melbourne suburbs revolves around sports/clubs for children, that is often the way to make friends, and having young children can be an entree into these circles.
The beach life is real enough, but then you need to live near it to take full advantage.
Melbourne is a wonderful city, lots going on, so I'd recommend it, but it really matters where you live, some places are way nicer, and more expensive, than others.
Australia is pretty much as I expected it to be, but then I'm a realist. I enjoy living here, and wouldn't go back to live in the UK. This is not because the UK is hole, but because I spent the first 50 years of my life there, and now want to experience something new.

exoticfruits Mon 09-Apr-12 07:29:09

Everything-except petrol-is much more expensive.

migrant Mon 09-Apr-12 07:39:17

Hello! We've been in Perth for the last 20 years and are currently holidaying in England. For us the move was very positive and we would not consider returning. Oz is a wonderful place to live and our day to day lifestyle is much, much better. Food is more expensive but wages are dramatically higher. Please feel free to pm me.
That said, we do enjoy a holiday here and you do need to go with your eyes open.

exoticfruits Mon 09-Apr-12 07:53:16

I thought that wages would have to be higher -otherwise how could you afford it?

differentnameforthis Mon 09-Apr-12 07:55:37

Wages are not always higher...depends on the profession.

exoticfruits Mon 09-Apr-12 07:56:33

The price of books was unbelievable!

differentnameforthis Mon 09-Apr-12 08:34:43

The price of books is crazy! I order from a UK website & they always come up cheaper.

widdles Mon 09-Apr-12 08:56:14

My parents loved living their and i have a few friends who have moved their too but everyone has said finding work that pays well enough to live in a nice area is very hard. One friend has a good paying job in melbourne but her rent isnearly as much as her wages because she live in a nice area. I think have maybe 2 or 3 long holidays their over a year and look at the work situation.

I am lucky to have citizenship but sadly dh doesn't fir the criteria to go or i would be on the next plane

pestooneverything Mon 09-Apr-12 13:08:54

Thanks for the responses - migrant - glad it worked out for you! Did you move with kids?

widdles - i totally take your point and from watching lots of TV shows I know property is pricy but isn't that the same in the UK? DH and I earn £100K jointly with us both working part time and had to move out of London as we couldn't afford more than a 2 bed tiny flat! If you have citizenship can you and DH not go together? It's a good idea to have a long holiday there to look around. Perhaps we should plan for that first!!

I know people say you can't just move for weather but I am cold for 4 months of the year - that basically means i spend 1/3rd of my life cold. I probably spend another 4 months inside cause it's raining so then we only get 1/3rd of the year to really enjoy ourselves outdoors. I think when you have a young family weather IS a good enough reason to move? (all other things being equal?). I think we would still be in a similar financial situation but i do feel we would enjoy a better quality of living....

But it's so so so so far sad

Anyone else got thoughts?

differentnameforthis Mon 09-Apr-12 15:19:06

Well it gets cold here too...especially once you adjust to the heat of Summers. Ours wasn't too bad this year (South Aus) but we did clock up some hot days. The worse was dd2 first summer, so 2009, we have 3 weeks of 38+ & to be fair, that is as restrictive as the cold/rain etc. it is no more comfortable or enjoyable going out in that than it is the rain.

And if I am totally honest, give me the rain any day!

migrant Mon 09-Apr-12 16:56:48

I left uk with a one year old and then had DD2 a couple of years later. My daughters both swim very strongly and spend weekends at the surf beach - beats hanging out at the shops in England to me!
Yes it gets hot but our houses are designed for it and the pool is in the garden.
Perth doesn't have cold winters like Melbourne. I don't own a thick coat. Lifestyle is so different when you very rarely have a day without at least some blue sky and people have space to move. When the girls were little we spent so much time just out there doing whatever came along.

xmyboys Mon 09-Apr-12 19:06:48

I'm an Ozzie here in the uk. Starting to desperately want to move back.
I want a simpler life, esp for my children. Good schools, good sports, home close to the beach and much cheaper mortgage.
DP doesn't sad

chloeb2002 Mon 09-Apr-12 21:51:20

xmyboys... yes i agree with all your statements..Schools better yes.. (especially the private ones! more affordable too!)
Mortgage rates are high here but our house costs less... so balances out..

Going back.. nope.. first time round i did after 4 years , but because i had no (Immigration) regretted it every day... very glad im back now since 2007..

Weather.. just complain its too hot/ humd and wet at different times! but we can at least plan to do stuff!

Kids love all the cheap sports and activities...

Pool in the back yard...

ponies in the back yard....

room for a tennis court....

going back .. nope..

easy to make friends.. yes..

invicta Mon 09-Apr-12 22:09:28

People seem to think that moving to Australia will be perfect. However, Australia still suffers from crime, illness, poverty, divorce, benefit cheat, racism, etc, plus for many people, they elect a higher standard of living but then are shocked to find wages are lower, mortgages are higher etc.

Plus you get horrible spiders and snakes!

ThatVikRinA22 Mon 09-Apr-12 22:39:04

interesting in a profession that recruits for oz from the uk...but ive got limited time left to think about it.

DH would go no probs but my kids are growing up and arent so keen....

shellybr Tue 10-Apr-12 00:55:16

We moved to Perth 7 months ago with a now 2year old and a almost 5yr old. We love it we have settled in really well and have made loads of friends. We had the boys in NZ then went home to Ireland for a year and spent the year planning to leave again. The lifestyle didn't suit us, we love the sun and going to the beach or the playground. My brother lives in Sydney and has just spent Easter here and they really like it too it is a great spot with families. Although the grass isn't very green here unless u run your sprinklers :P

nooka Tue 10-Apr-12 06:08:01

My sister moved from London to Melbourne and is really very unhappy there. Her dh is Australian and spent the last 10 years moaning about living in London. For example he will tell you that the weather in Melbourne is better, she will say it isn't, he says the culture is more interesting there, she says it's not a patch on London.

I guess this shows that it is where you feel at home that matters.

iMoniker Tue 10-Apr-12 06:42:09

We moved to Brisbane and absolutely love it.

Brisbanites are a lot more welcoming than Sydneysiders or Melburnians (well that's my experience anyway).

I earn about 50% more than I did for a comparable job in the UK. Our house, however, cost about 25% more than what we'd pay for a similar sized home in the UK. Given we are 5kms from the CBD - it's not really comparing apples with apples though.

Cost of living is a lot higher in Australia. We were in the UK in December. Clothing, utilities, food and almost everything other than petrol is probably 30% more than the UK - again given a higher wage this balances itself out.

Mostly - I adore the freedom that we never, ever take for granted living in Australia. Some criticise it for being a "nanny state", but we embrace it. I can walk the dog at night - safe and sound. There are lots of checks and balances in place to keep Australia on track (socially and economically).

The weather is not always great - in Queensland we endure monsoonal rain for four months a year, but this is made up for by sublime autumn, spring and winter seasons.

Don't ever try to renovate a home in Australia - tradesmen (or tradies as they are known over here), are a breed on their own. We have renovated several homes in different countries and I have never ever experienced anything as stressful as we did here.

Don't understimate the physical distance between Australia and the UK. Especially if you are close to family and friends. I am not close to my family - having lived on separate continents for most of my adult life, so for me it's not a biggie. For others, though it can be a dealbreaker - especially if you have kids who are used to spending time with Grandma/Grandad/ Aunties/Uncles/Cousins.

It's not nirvana. There are problems here - nowhere is perfect. It's an easy place to live though, if you are prepared to accept that it's not the UK and that there will be a bedding down period where you have to start from scratch with friends etc.

SparkleSoiree Tue 10-Apr-12 06:43:54

We moved out to Perth just over 6 weeks ago. Dh worked here for a couple of months last year but this is my first time out.

I have mixed feelings about it. I have a 19yr old, an 11 an 4yr old. It is a lot of hard work setting up a new life and closing down an old life - there is so much to do, the stress is huge. The weather is fantastic and I have only seen light rain once, we live in a beautiful location but I have yet to make any friends/acquaintances despite trying (I appreciate it is early days). The girls start school after the easter holidays so they will make friends soon enough and DH is only home 1 week a month as he works in the desert.

For ME it is not so good. I will have to keep myself busy with my studying and potentially a part time job potentially without making friends and I have no other support out here. For our overall situation in the next 4 years it will be good, we will have gone on an adventure, experienced a different culture, improved our financial situation, THEN we will come home. The two youngest will have finished their next stage of school so can move easily into the upper schools when they get back to the UK. Our parents will be older too and we want to be there for them as they get older.

The wages are higher but some things are more expensive like food. Petrol is cheaper but it is creeping up. The real estate prices have dipped in the last year genearlly but rental prices have risen and property in Perth is in HUGE demand.

I love the cold, rain and snow. I miss my open fire in my UK home and love snuggling. However walking down a beach in 30degrees with a warm breeze on my face watching my children jumping in and out of the water screaming with glee makes my heart sing and it is for that reason that I will stick out our 4 year plan.

pestooneverything Tue 10-Apr-12 08:40:10

It's funny how you hear what you want to hear isn't it! I seem to be engaging much more with the posts which say it's great!

I have to stop myself disregarding the posts that say it's not all it's made out to be as i so want to believe it is!! I think the only way I could do it would be in the style of sparkle and say that it's an experience to try and see how we get on. (sparkle how does the 19 year old feel about all the moving?)

I thought pools in the back yard were for the mega rich but perhaps it is something we could aspire to? I think I would probably earn about $120K (at a lower estimate) and DH similar. Would that give us a nice standard of living? I know food etc seems to be expensive.... I don't want to live in a CBD.

Does anyone know about the cost of childcare? And also do you get any statutory maternity leave? We would love more kids in the future....


rosinante Tue 10-Apr-12 08:52:53

Does no one in Perth find its relative isolation a problem in the longer term? We lived there for the length of a posting and enjoyed it very much for what it offered, including outdoor life and lovely trips to Margaret River, but found many things far 'behind' the UK -supermarkets for example - also it is We felt after four years, we had had enough. I feel this way about Australia in general, though I feel it is more obvious in Perth due to its distance from any other city.

saffronwblue Tue 10-Apr-12 11:34:39

pesto have a look at for some property ideas.
I think the key difference between Australia and the Uk is we have not been very hard hit economically in the last few years. There are some cuts at the moment in government and manufacturing jobs so maybe there is more pain to come but we have just had nothing like the devastaion that has hit the UK and US. There are areas of skill shortage and if you do anything that can associate with the mining industry you can earn a lot of money, particularly if you are prepared to live somehwere a bit remote.
It is all relative- I live in Melbourne and find Perth very closed and isolated. Childcare can be expensive - a friend of mine told me last week that their child care is $90 a day for one child. This is in a very upmarket city centre. There is a complicated subsidy scheme where you get some back.
I pay a babysitter $18 per hour, for 2 older DCs.
Lots of houses with pools.
You need to think about how you would feel being 24 hours away from everyone and the awful possibility that you might not be able to get back if something dreadful happened. Are you good at making new friends? Have you moved to new locations before? With small DC you will meet people in parks, swimming lessons, play groups, libraries, wherever, if you are open to it.

SparkleSoiree Tue 10-Apr-12 11:58:54

Our 19yr old is trying to settle mentally although he misses his mates lots and still Facetimes a lot with them in the UK. On the upside he has lost a lot of excess weight, been stopped smoking for over a month and has developed some new found self-esteem which is wonderful to see.

I do feel that four years is our maximum and Perth is the most remote city in the world. I am not into camping or anything so can't see us doing lots of road trips which rules out a huge chunk of life out here. I am quite mentally locked in 'fixed time' out here then we go home and I pick up where I left off with my career.

We are in a similar salary bracket to yourself with DH being a well experienced Rail Engineer with over 20 years experience so financially we are good. We rent a lovely 6-bed house with pool in a nice location outside the CBD but only a half hour drive to the airport for DH's transfers and the girls will start in a private school after Easter - the fees here are far less than in the UK so we are lucky that we can afford to do both. we have kept our house in the UK for us to return to.

We really are looking at this as an adventure. If we suddenly both fall in love with the place and decide to stay then we will cross that bridge when we come to it but for the moment it is purely an adventure.

God I sound a right miserable faced, ungrateful cow! Seriously I am not! grin

ninedragons Tue 10-Apr-12 12:12:06

240k would get you a comfortable suburban lifestyle, with things like regular restaurant meals, holidays in Fiji, a newish car and savings/investments. You wouldn't be top of the economic heap but you certainly wouldn't be at the bottom. It's a solid, white-collar, double-wage household income. That said, I know a lot of people on that kind of income and nobody has more than two children. You'd be scraping on that if you had three or four and wanted things like a bedroom for each child, and private education (the big Sydney schools charge in the region of 25-30k per year).

Childcare is mind-bogglingly expensive. I pay almost $130 per day per child. I do get a fair bit of that back from the government (capped at 7.5k per child per year, but it's not means-tested, thankfully), so you should check very carefully that you would be entitled to that. It can also be difficult to get a place, so the second you make the decision to go, get your name on as many waiting lists as you can. I put DD2 down for the local centre when I was five weeks' pregnant, and still didn't get a place for her by the time she was one - the best they can offer me is "maybe when she's three".

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