Queensland, Australia... maybe?(17 Posts)
We are considering our options.
DH and I, mid 50's, were seriously considering a villa in southern Spain for retirement, but 'recent events' have slung a spanner in those works, so now we are beginning to think about Qld, probably Sunshine Coast or further north to Maryborough. Can't afford Briz!
We'd have £350k to spend on a house, and immigration won't be a problem.
If you have knowledge of recent life thereabouts, could you please share? DH and my's last encounter with the area was 15 years ago! And, tbf and without drip-feeding, as residents. So we can dispense with the 'two week holiday and I wanna emigrate' issue!
How does it feel socially? Economically? Politically? What's good/bad? What direction is it heading? Has the Chinese economic slow down had much effect? Are supermarket prices ever-rising? What's racism and homophobia like? We're not directly 'affected' by either but consider both a bellwether of a society's maturity.
We have DC but older teenagers, so Oz uni might be an option (which we need to research), but that's not 'primary' right now.
Your thoughts are very welcome!
There are plenty of Aussie mumsnetters, but I can only speak second hand. My brother moved to QLD from UK a few years ago.
They feel things are much better economic than here. They didn't have a recession. The cost of living is high. Supermarkets are pricey as for most things. Clothes are getting better, but still no cheaper end clothes. the quality for the price isn't good.
It rains a lot!
They have health insurance. No NHS obviously.
I lived in QLD for 4.5 years - though Brisbane area not further north. Standard of living is good but comes with a hefty price tag. Shopping is expensive and limited compared to Europe but that might not matter to you. Other than that it is difficult to gauge the 'social' aspect as where you end up and with whom you socialise can vary enormously. I found Brisbane a pretty international transient sort of place but I can't say it would be like that on the sunshine coast. Travel within and outside of Australia by air can be hugely expensive so if you are planning lots of holidays then you will find all your money going on that. If you like camping and the beach then fine, that can be done fairly cheaply (although not in peak season!) and if you live near the beach then even better!
There's a lot of talk of a potential recession here once Trump takes power. China buys a lot from us and sells to America - if Trump has his way America won't buy so much from China, so they won't buy so much from us. As with everything it's all very up in the air but the mining industry has def slowed down, which has affected a lot of people.
Cost of living isn't too bad, though - but internet shopping is awful (we're about 15 years behind the UK).
With uni fees, unless you're a citizen you have to pay up front but the costs will be set as domestic students - not international - so not horrendously expensive. Citizens can defer there fees with a govt loan that's only paid back once you're earning over a set amount.
I grew up in Brisbane and my parents now live on the Sunshine Coast. Culturally and politically it's more conservative than Sydney or Melbourne, for example. The MP for my parents' seat until recently was a billionaire of questionable character. There's still some surprisingly open racism according to my dad, who is relatively conservative himself but has been shocked by a few comments recently. It's definitely not multicultural in the way a city like London is and that has a knock-on effect on people's attitudes. Homophobia is less than it was in years gone by, I'd say. I live elsewhere in Aus and find there's a degree of casual racism and sexism in the country that is more noticeable than what I saw in the UK (I was in London for over a decade so may be different elsewhere).
There's plenty of good food on the coast but not a lot of 'high' culture per se, although there are thriving craft groups (eg painting, knitting, weaving etc) and sports clubs. There's plenty to keep you occupied but people travel to Brisbane or interstate for theatre and art.
Food is relatively expensive and tends to be seasonal. As pp said, internet shopping is rubbish as deliveries take ages. It's a long way from everywhere else, which I think is its biggest problem. It's a lovely place but takes a lot of effort to get anywhere much different. The places you can drive to or fly short distances to are all quite similar. Travel abroad is expensive and travel interstate can be too, although you can get some cheap fares on the budget airline. The economy...who knows. So far things haven't crashed but everyone knows the boom days are winding down.
You've lived here before, where are you leaning towards? You could afford a nice house inBrisbane with that money. Will you be working or retiring? That may be a big factor in where you end up.
Thanks for the responses.
I'm not sure if I'd be doing any work or not, it would depend when (if!) we go. I believe I wouldn't have much trouble finding work in my line.
I am interested in what people say about fearing a economic downturn when Trump kicks in as the only way he'd be able to bring jobs back to the US is to stick barriers up to China, destabilising the Chinese economy and thus their willingness or ability to buy Australian
iron goods. Was always amused at how many Australians think their prosperity comes from the easy life style/she'll be right/no worries attitude, rather than the fact they're shipping raw materials clawed out of the Australian ground to the world's next booming economy!
Speaking of mining, I'd heard there was a bit of a split in Australian society between 'those who have benefited from the latest mining boom' and 'those who didn't'. Is this true?
Zero am a bit surprised that the SE Qld you describe sounds very much like the one I left 15 years ago! My DH comes from Gympie, a place back then I could not have tolerated living in; but, 4 years ago (last visit), I did find it rather less parochial- and considerably bigger!- than before. But possibly a bigger population inevitably is going to bring some new ideas with it.
I found central Brisbane a mess of freeways and tunnels, and South Bank a victim of its own success and will be interested to hear the views of an Oz friend who is currently there on holiday.
Basically, what appealed about Spain was - its proximity to the UK (and the rest of Europe) as the DSs are pretty 'Brit' having lived here for 15 years so can easily remain in the UK; its relative cheapness; its pleasant climate; good food and drink. The downside is the language barrier (tho DH is pretty good at Spanish and the DSs both have GCSE Spanish); the flipside of cultural difference; the daily small irritations of life in a 'Manana' culture. Oh, and possibly some hostility from Spanish locals seeing Brits as being the cause of the current European lurch to the Right.
So, with Brexit diving the £ and Trump possibly destabilising Europe (and emboldening an expansionist Russia..); Spain is possibly not a good idea. Thus, looking to Australia, you'd get a Med climate in WA but I found Perth a bit sterile and isolated; Oz is an awfully long way from the UK but maybe my DS's futures might be better than in the UK, anyway; there'd be no language issues, but I accept some cultural differences. I'm interested at how the cost of living seems to have risen- were mining wages the reason?
Anyway, we're a bit torn, tbh; we didn't see Brexit coming, nor Trump but we want to try and make the best of it for the family as that's all we can influence!
We live on the southern end of the Sunshine Coast.
We have been here 10 years now.
The area around Kawana if ever growing. New super hospital. Big uni.
Personally I don't find racism any worse than the uk!
Gympie is a small rural town which will have its own issues with changing demography .
We like it on the sunny coast. Very different to Spain tho!
The issues with trump etc. nope don't even consider it. I doubt he will do half the threats he touted. I'd take my chances with trumps threats over the impact of brexit.
I live in Perth. Well, in the Northern Suburbs (22kms north of city).
I've been here for a year and this is my 11th country! So far, it's my favourite. Reasons: access to sport, recreation, ease of driving, shopping, not getting stressed out by parking (free on weekends) and general ease of life. Beaches are great and I love the weather.
There are so many British people here that when you go to a bar, you end up meeting more Brits than Aussies (who tend to socialise at home).
I love it here. I regularly work in Queensland and I also love it there but it's very humid with lots of nasties in the water and elsewhere. I often feel like Perth is not the "real Australia" - partly because we're so pest-free (or is that just my feeling?) and partly because it's so British.
I would find the culture in Spain too isolating. Ie., you would just end up in a 'ghetto England" because of the language issue.
Lucky you to have such choices! Good luck!
if you like the idea of Perth weather, but don't like the isolation, then you could consider Adelaide. It's officially classed as having a Mediterranean climate. I found it very similar to Seville and Malaga -- Hot, dry summers and cool (but not freezing) rainy winters.
Adelaide has pretty much everything you would expect from a city, just on a smaller scale - museums, theatre, food and bar scene, adequate shopping, and a world class arts festival which draws people from around the world.
There are nice surroundings - you can drive 25 mins from the CBD and be in beautiful bushland, or 15 mins in the other direction and find long sandy beaches.
Housing is substantially cheaper in Adelaide than Perth, Melbourne and Sydney (I don't know about Brisbane, but I expect so). 350k sterling would buy you something very reasonable, or even a bit luxurious if you were prepared to live just outside Adelaide in one of the satellite towns. There are pretty decent connections to other destinations. Sydney is about 90 mins flight away, Melbourne, just under an hour I think. There is a choice of very good universities for the DC too.
Everywhere has its downsides as well, and I can mention some of Adelaide's if you are interested.
I think you need to decide if you want a humid heat or a dry heat, because that will narrow down the options for you as it makes all the difference.
The mining boom finished the day I landed in Oz, 2012 and the full effects were shown last year with this getting progressively worse, I hear perth is a bit of a ghost town now with salaries dropping like hot potatoes but equally rents too.
God sake don't go to Joondalup if you do you. I'd stay close to the city. Nedlands, Subiaco, Shenton park. The established areas. $700,000 will buy you a very nice house. But rents are so cheap you might want to keep the uk house where rents are rising and wait for the dollar to drop to a more normal level.
I have a love hate thing with perth but I probably will live there again
chloe -We used to live in Buderim Forest so I'd go shopping in Kawana or The Plaza. And Wises Farm was still clinging on as a farm!
I'm not sure I'd like the urban sprawl the southern 2/3 of the Coast has become, now, sort of killing the goose that was laying the golden eggs; which is why we might look further afield.
DH, as stated, is a country boy tho left Gympie at 17 to go to uni and has never lived there since (we met in Brissie). On the Coast we both worked in Nambour, which, again, I gather has changed somewhat. No sugar cane trains trundling down the high street!
I am interested to hear what PissedOff says about the end of the mining boom and its effect on Perth. My new SIL (very rural woman of 70!, in Maryborough) was constantly telling us how amazingly well her adult DC were doing, having bought houses in mining towns and making $$ renting them to the mining companies- til, overnight, the companies stopped hiring and now they can't sell the houses on for love nor money. But I guess mining is always boom and bust.
I'd need to consider Adelaide. I admit I've only been there once, in 1988! A trip to Kangaroo Island took the best part of a day and we stayed in a YHA where you were literally tripping over fairy penguins to go to the loo in the night!
But the sea's cold, isn't it?
I'm chuckling at an earlier comment that it rains a lot in qld... not for 2 years in seq. finally the drought has broken out west.. for us it's dry dry dry.. my horses have canvas rugs on for the first time in two years.. for rain..
How about areas like tin can Bay? Agnes water 1770? If works not an issue?? Lovely unspoilt areas.
Moved out recently (under 6 months ago) will try to answer your questions.
How does it feel socially?
Everyone, from people on the street, to neighbours and shop workers has been very nice to me. I have only experienced interest and niceness towards me, and neighbours/locals are always quick to include me and explain things I do not understand. Economically? The local economy seems pretty good. Can't speak for all of QLD obviously. Everyone seems to be doing well for themselves and shops are seldom empty, buildings and sites seem in general well maintained. Politically? I don't have too much of a vested interest in politics as due to being a non citizen I'm not eligible to vote so I try not to pay too much attention but in general I've seen very left leaning political attitudes with a mix of disdain towards refugees and illegal immigrants, which is sad but I try to avoid the topic for obvious reasons...
What's good/bad? Bit of an unspecific question but I'll do my best to answer.
So far I've enjoyed -
A lovely 2 bed house with mod cons, garden, dishwasher, built in oven and air con included, close to public transport (I'll message you location privately but it's Brisbane Northside) and a large shopping centre (10min walk if I get held up at the road crossing) for the same price I'd pay back home for my 1 bed flat on a top floor, no garden and a pretty poor area in all respects.
My Aussie home is a bit more expensive by about £180pm BUT
1. It's rare for you to have to pay water rates as a renter as they must prove it's a water efficient property and this is very costly for them to do so it's often cheaper for LLs to swallow the cost of the rates.
2. After 2011 (I think) in Queensland a renter cannot be liable for council rates.
Back home my water bill was 44/pm and my council tax was 160/pm so it evens out.
I've been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food.
IMO homebrand stuff is on par with supermarket brands, in some cases their "better" brands (eg tesco finest)
Veg is cheaper. 300g of spinach for 49c in Aldi.
Most products I buy have made in Australia on them, which is nice, as you don't have to go out of your way to support local trade.
Lawton market is reasonably nearby and absolutely fabulous for a bargain. Half a kilo of strawberries for $2! all locally sourced too. They have dried goods but these are often cheaper in Aldi or woolies.
The nearby butcher, who carries mostly free range, rspca approved Australian meat often has great specials on. $3.99 for a kg of chicken breasts last week. That was DD sorted for the week (I'm veggie)
Perhaps irrelevant to you but I have an orange tree and a palm tree in my back garden wouldn't get that back home.
So much green space! Honestly, a simple drive into town from the suburbs and you will see many more farms/fields/general green space than the UK.
Good public transport links, I can do 30km on the train faster than I can by car. Often, even when you include time spend getting to the bus stop/station, it somehow works out faster and cheaper to use public transport. Trains are always on time (I use them a lot and have never experienced a delay) and generally reliable and comfy. Queensland rail also provides free wifi as standard.
Brisbane city centre also has free wifi. That confused me (how can an entire city centre have free wifi?!)
Go cards (like Oyster cards) are widely used, and the great thing is parts of your journey are often free. So
I can go from station A to B, pay a flat rate (normally about $6) then carry on to station C and then go back to station A only having paid once.
You must tap on and off though, otherwise you're charged a flat rate fee of $10 which is annoying, but helps me not to forget
Charity shops seem much cheaper here. I got a full bag of clothes for dd from the Salvation Army shop for $5 last week, although charity shops might not be your thing I think they're great.
Petrol is very cheap.
Taxes are generally lower.
Presuming you're a uk citizen you're mostly covered for free healthcare under the reciprocal healthcare agreement Australia has with the U.K.
Onto the downsides!
I really really love the houses compared to the UK but they could really benefit from double glazing and some kind of heating and insulation.
It can get very cold on winter nights sometimes close to 0.
You will also acclimatise which means you feel cold at temps that you'd previously had considered comfortable or even hot, so a fan heater or similar is essential to have even though you may only use it a few times a week during the winter.
Alcohol is hideously expensive,
Cigarettes are quite expensive. Don't know if either is a problem for you.
Has the Chinese economic slow down had much effect? I haven't noticed any signs of a bad or poor economy, so I'll say no, but I could be wrong.
Are supermarket prices ever-rising?
On the whole prices seem pretty reasonable to me.
Dry stuff like pasta is pretty cheap. I pay 90c a bag in Woolworths or 69c a bag in Aldi.
Rice is a similar price.
Frozen food is quite expensive,
As much as $12 for a branded frozen pizzas.
Even Aldis very cheapest are about $3.50 each.
Ready meals hideously so (about $7 minimum for something that looks and tastes like shit)
Meat is a bit more expensive if not on special, but welfare standards (for both animals and workers alike) are generally higher. Meat doesn't shrink while cooking as it's not pumped full of water.
Fresh fruit and veg can be very very cheap if you eat in season. Aldi stuff is better quality than in the Uk and the majority of stuff I buy there is proudly labelled "made in Australia"
On the whole, if we convert to GBP my weekly shop for myself and almost 1yr old dd in the uk was £40 per week.
Here my weekly shop is about £55 per week, but we eat a lot more fresh stuff.
Lots of fresh fruit, berries etc that were previously too expensive for me to buy regularly.
What's racism and homophobia like?
I've never experienced racism or disdain for being British. I've never seen homophobia or racism here but I may just be blinkered as I'm white and straight. I expected to experience racism as a "Pom" but no one has been anything but kind and polite.
I hope I don't offend anyone,
But when people say they spend much more money here I think often it's forgotten what kind of lifestyle they had.
I can't speak for all but in the 30 or so expats I know this often comes up.
I had an interesting conversation with a lady last week.
Her expenses are much higher here but in the uk she couldn't afford a car or to run one, lived in a 2 bed house (rented) kids went to state schools, she didn't eat out much or have many treats. That was on one full time salary and one part time.
Now, on one full time salary doing a position in the same field but a step down from previous (so less stress) however working about 6 more hours pw,
They can afford a 4 bed (mortgaged) home, 2 secondhand cars, private school for 2 children, eat out once a fortnight and regularly have treats and outings, weekends away and camping. They also have some savings, good insurances and in general just a more secure, fun and happy life...
but she is always the first to moan about how expensive Australia is.
I will pm you some details about where I live, so you can research the local area or ask questions if you're interested.
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