Dreaming about moving to Australia but what’s the reality?

(27 Posts)
Wishfulmakeupping Wed 07-Mar-18 07:53:29

2 couple we know moved within last 8 years and are doing fantastically well - they say they are happy there,made great network of friends, spending lots of time outside, the only downsides I can get from them is being away from family and friends and still living in rented houses.
Watching the wanted down under revisited and so many seem to go and just do well.
I’m starting to Ask Dh to think about it, but I’m obviously aware it’s harder for some to settle as people do comeback.
Away from the Facebook/instagram life what’s the reality of oz? Thanks

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Wishfulmakeupping Wed 07-Mar-18 09:09:34


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chatwoo Wed 07-Mar-18 10:37:13

There's not much information in your post - ie, where do your friends live, what do they do for work, etc. It's a huge country; the state of NSW is larger than the UK, for example.

Have you looked at on mumsnets for advice? There is a living overseas section, and Australia is regularly talked ahout: home and garden > living overseas.

chatwoo Wed 07-Mar-18 10:41:01

didn't engage my brain there! What I meant to say, was, having you looked in this section of the forum for posts about Australia?
There is also the pomsinoz forum but there's a lot of information to sift through.

Most people will ask you what location you are looking at, can your jobs be moved to Australia - ie, are they on the state sponsored or 'in demand' lists - because you can't just turn up and work; what you would want to get out of living there - ie, people talk about the weather but a lot of people find the heat of the summer, very limiting.

It's a bit like 'how long is a piece of string' in answer to your questions!

Wishfulmakeupping Wed 07-Mar-18 10:57:01

Thank you I think if we ever were to go it would be Melbourne as that's where our friends live. I don’t want to question them directly as its still just a daydream really plus think they will obviously be biased towards oz for various reasons. I want to know the downsides bar missing family are?

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chatwoo Wed 07-Mar-18 11:41:21

For me, downsides are:

- Too hot in summer - I am fair and not a great fan of anything much over 25C grin. I am here with my partner, before anyone asks why I moved to a hot country when I don't like heat.

- Distance from other countries - ie, no short trips to Spain, France etc. Obviously there is still all of Australia to explore, but can be more expensive than it first seems if you don't want to drive everywhere.

- Cost of living can be high. We came from London so not much difference in day to day costs, but a lot of things are much more expensive (examples for me are: mid-range clothing, shoes, bags, nicer brand cosmetics/toiletries).

- Healthcare can be pricey with private insurance, dental costs etc.

Ultimately I like being here but do not see it as being long-term. There are lots of small things that annoy me, but that's life in a big city (Sydney). There are a number of things I don't like about Australia and Australians, but I'm not going to trot them out, as they're specific to me and can be a bit generalistic.

Life continues much the same - work, shopping, housework, family, but just in a different setting.

Obviously different people, will have difference experiences, so see who comes along here and comments smile

Puppylucky Thu 08-Mar-18 02:11:56

I have been in Sydney for just under two years. It's a nice place to live but there are definite downsides:
- It can be very hard to make friends - particularly if you are a bit older or don't have kids
- Employment law is very different and employees have fewer rights than in the UK - for example no SMP and employers are not obliged to provide maternity pay
- Everything in Sydney at least is very expensive - and as a PP has noted mid price options in clothes and homeware are non-existant
- The weather can be glorious but it can also be very extreme - heavy rain / storms etc - a pair of my shoes melted in the rain once!
- Lettings market (again in Sydney at least) is insane with multiple people chasing properties and landlords raising the rent every year as a matter of course
- Depending on your profession the job market can be very tight with fewer opportunities than London in particular - plus it's a bit of a closed shop in a lot of industries
We are leaving this year as we think the time is right to move on - it's been lovely (despite the above) but it's not Nirvana!


AltheaorDonna Thu 08-Mar-18 02:29:11

I've been in Perth for five years. For me the positives massively outweigh the negatives. Yes you still have to work and live, just like in the UK, and moving here can be expensive and difficult. Emigration is hard work, and I have seen a lot of people not make it and go back, but I've seen more people breaking their hearts because they came over on a short term visa and were unable to gain Permanent residency.

However, I love it! We have had a few ups and downs at the start, but live in a beautiful house five minutes walk from a glorious beach. The weather is, to me, a major advantage, I barely ever have to wear a coat or even socks, and we spend as much time as possible outside. I have flexi hours at work so I start early and often go to the beach after work, which to me is heaven! Yes, it is expensive, but our wages here are higher so we are better off. And we have found it easy to make friends.

To be honest, there is little I miss, apart from family and friends of course. If I had a Marks and Spencer's food hall, decent newspapers at the weekend, and a regular supply of Tayto Beef and Onion crisps I would want for nothing! grin

Microwavey Thu 08-Mar-18 02:35:02

I used to live in Melbourne and it's a great city but life does just continue with work, school for children etc. It's a long way to travel to get anywhere outside Australia except for NZ and very expensive to get there. Weekends away are limited to places in Aus.

I have found things like healthcare are better here (we don't have private health insurance but are Australian citizens) and but there are out of pocket costs for visits to our gp (usually around $40 a visit for adults after Medicare rebate, but free for children). Maternity care was completely free with my last baby and light years better (seriously so so much better) than the nhs maternity care I had in 2 previous pregnancies in London). There is paid parental leave of 18 weeks at minimum wage after having a baby, with certain elegibility requirements.

I think you need to consider what it is you are lacking where you are and why Melbourne would fill that gap, as the move will create other gaps. I personally had a few friends in Melb when we arrived but didn't find it particularly easy to make new friends. I've found it much easier in Sydney but that is due to children starting school and having another baby so joining a mothers group. Without that it would have been very hard to build friendships here as someone in their mid 30s. Our workplaces here just don't have the same drinking and socialising culture of our old London jobs.

We've definitely found it hard work wise because we don't have the same contacts here but both have decent jobs. Housing is expensive (more so in Sydney but Melbourne is pretty pricey too). In fact most things are expensive! We like the beaches and the warm weather (but not the extreme heat during heatwaves...I'm fine with anything up to 32 degrees but have quite a few 38+ days in summer). I hate the lack of proper heating in many rental properties here - it may be much warmer in winter than the UK but it's much much colder in our home than it ever was in our centrally heated London flat. For us it works as we have family here but if I had family in the UK still I might choose to live there purely for the sense of being closer to the rest of the world.

SuperBeagle Thu 08-Mar-18 02:41:22

I think posters might be able to provide more advice if you have some questions in mind (specifics). For example, are you wanting to know about work-life balance? Education? Healthcare? The weather? Australian culture?

I am Australian. I love it in spite of its (minimal, IMO) shortcomings. But I do accept that I am, to a certain extent, biased. But I should be able to give you some more specific answers if you have more precise questions/concerns.

MaitlandGirl Thu 08-Mar-18 03:33:19

I’ve been in NSW for 8 years and I’d never move back to the UK.

It’s hot here, very hot (and dry!) and I complain constantly through the summer about the heat and lack of rain and then complain about the cold winter nights but in all honesty I’m never happy with the weather. An even 30C would suit me but we’ve had weeks of 40+ this summer and it’s nearly killed me off.

I miss my family desperately. I’m having to face the reality that I may have seen my parents for the last time as they’re both around 80 and it’s such a long trip. I’d live to go back to visit but my back isn’t up to the long plane trip. I phone my Mum every week (my dad is deaf so can’t talk on the phone) and it feels like we’re only a few hours away but it’s hard knowing we’re not.

My kids love it here (22-17) although youth unemployment is very high in our area so we’ve put a lot of emphasis on university education. While they might not do anything in their chosen degrees but the cross-transferable skills will help. They had the options for apprenticeships in various trades but they’re all more academic than practical.

Australia is a great country if you’re prepared to accept it as a separate identity - too many people expect it to be England only warmer and they tend to be disappointed.

SallyVating Thu 08-Mar-18 03:40:03

It'll be just as shit as here but hotter and with scarier creepy crawlies

flumpybear Thu 08-Mar-18 03:42:50

My mum lived in WA and I visited but never took to it

Didn't enjoy the heat, lack of culture, lack of nice country areas and villages as there were none just scrub land, crap pubs and racism was awful backbthen too (15-20 years ago)

Creambun2 Thu 08-Mar-18 04:13:23

I have been shocked by the levels of casual racism in Australia.

AltheaorDonna Thu 08-Mar-18 05:54:00

What rubbish flumpybear. I live in WA and there are lots of lovely country areas and small towns. Its not all scrub land at all! Just this weekend we drove through a huge forest for more than an hour when we were on a road trip (between Walpole and Manjimup if you don't believe me). And I'd hardly call Margaret River scrub land! Pubs are the same as the UK, some crap, some great (but I'll admit they aren't as good as Ireland.) It's no more racist than the UK or Ireland (I've lived for extended periods in all three). And lack of culture is utterly laughable, unless you're discounting the fact that the oldest culture in the world is native here. If you're talking about theatre, symphony orchestras etc, well there is plenty of that too. Just a couple of weeks ago the Perth Symphony Orchestra did a free concert in my local park for example.

Fair enough about the heat, that's a personal preference. I love it! But please don't condemn an entire continent based on your trips 15-20 years ago, it's a bit silly and rather rude.

SuperBeagle Thu 08-Mar-18 07:27:07

The "Australians are racist" line gets trotted out on all of these threads. hmm

Also, I think Poms (this must be the "casual racism") forget that Australia is the size of the mainland United States, but with only 23 million people. Of course it's isolated; of course there are vast expanses where no one lives. Much of the country is largely untouched, and that's unique in itself.

And yes, the "no culture" thing is laughable, especially when it's being said by someone who also says that Australians are intolerant/racist. Pot meet kettle.

Cousinit Thu 08-Mar-18 07:38:27

Have you ever visited Australia, OP? If you can afford to do a trip to visit your friends, that would be a start. I lived in Australia for a year and now live in NZ. I loved living there but as with anywhere there are negatives. Shopping is crap, most things are more expensive than in the UK and it can get way too hot in the summer (but I found this was balanced out with fantastic weather through the rest of the year). On the whole though, I think it's a great place to live. IME the people are friendly and much more laid back and positive about life than in the U.K. It's also much more family friendly and a great place to bring up kids (as is NZ). The only thing I would say though is don't underestimate how homesick you might get. It's horrible when you're missing family and friends back home and you can't just nip back to see them.

raglansleeve Thu 08-Mar-18 07:50:13

Agree with above poster that Australians generally have a far more positive outlook. Cities are very expensive, house prices, eating out, food etc, far more expensive than the UK. In Sydney the summers can be very humid, but the rest of the year is lovely - we frequently have barbecues in winter.

‘Culture’ - plenty of it, good theatre, opera, ballet, exhibitions etc. Great restaurants, beautiful landscapes, good wine.

I think you need to either live in the country or near (within 15-30 min drive) the coast to have the best life. The western suburbs of Sydney fill me with dread.

HPandBaconSandwiches Fri 09-Mar-18 12:49:49

We’ve lived out here for just over a year. To be honest, what you need to look at is how much you will earn in Aus, what the job market is like and then compare it to cost of living. Look at realestate.com.au for rental costs and look at Coles or Woolies for cost of groceries. Elec bills are enormous (probably 3x UK) but petrol is cheaper.
I think Australia has huge potential and agree with others that Australians general outlook tends to be more laidback and positive.
We’re doing well but get paid well. I wouldn’t come out here for a similar paying job, cost of living is high.
Many people also don’t think about the initial costs. By the time you’ve paid visas,flights, rentals, employment skills ratification, new furniture/shipping etc, for a family of 4 you won’t get much back from £20000, so you’ll need some savings.
The big downside is the sense of disconnect from not being at “home” - my rational brain says this is much the better life but the emotional side feels displaced. Hopefully that will ease with time but it’s that disconnect and missing family/friends that drive most people home.

Good luck OP. But if you want to do it, do it soon. The visa situation is not going to get any easier or cheaper.

bluebells1 Fri 09-Mar-18 13:16:19

I have family in WA and I have traveled to Aus as well. It is a lovely country and people have a very nice lifestyle. I love that the work-life balance was very good and many people had the opportunity to let their hair down after work. I think that's because of the weather.

I love the place but will never move there because of the summers being too hot and winters being dry and cold. I also found that things were either very cheap or very expensive. No middle ground like PP mentioned. I could be wrong because my experience was limited, but I felt that real estate was quite expensive in the major cities and towns. I felt that most of the families were in the suburbs.

ifink Fri 09-Mar-18 18:46:36

I loved living in Australia. It's like a second home but the UK for me is home, always was, always will be. Whatever you end up doing it won't be a wasted experience. You can go, come back, stay.....whatever! Living overseas enriched our lives and shaped our futures...it sounds cliche but it is true. We came back to the UK with a renewed sense of love for our 'home' country and all it has to offer being 'in Europe'. We left friends in Oz who became like family and will always be there whether we return to Oz for good or just holidays. We loved the outdoor lifestyle and easy laidback culture...it is easy to fit in and get on with life there.

tentative3 Sat 10-Mar-18 14:53:39

We lived in Melbourne for 6 years and loved it. We were sad to leave and sometimes wonder if we've made the right choice. We've been back twice since we left.

Australia as a whole and Melbourne individually have problems, as does anywhere else in the world. On the racism thing, we were there during the period in which protests over attacks on Indian students and taxi drivers took place:


Friends of ours who are of Indian origin did feel uncomfortable and my OH, who worked in recruitment, did feel there was prejudice against Indian names. But, this was a good few years ago now. Things may very well have moved on.

I think the racism thing is a difficult one - I'm not entirely sure that Australia is any worse in terms of sexism or racism, I think perhaps people are more open with their opinions. I don't know. I adored Melbourne and can understand your reaction, SuperBeagle, to the comments about racism but all the same I can't dismiss them outright. Equally, I don't think the UK is an equal society by any means.

Culturally, there is a huge amount going on in Melbourne. I definitely don't recognise the comments about Australia being a cultural wasteland. We went to all manner of events, and friends are often posting about things they've been to. If you live rurally of course 'culture' is going to be difficult to access, same as in the UK. The food scene in Melbourne is phenomenal and I miss the restaurants hugely - fantastic cooking, available at all levels. We had so many excellent meals, and always felt they were great value.

On the friendship thing, well we were pretty young when we moved and for me in particular there was workplace socialising, in my first job at least. We made friends fine although of course they are never going to be friends who've known you since 3. On the flipside, these are people you are choosing to make friends with as a fully formed adult, rather than a friendship formed from a mutual love of mudpits or whatever, and in some ways I feel those friends are more 'me' than my oldest friends, if that makes sense. We did have a more expat friendship group than we do in the UK but that is probably more to do with the industry I worked in than anything else - and they were very often not British expats. We have plenty of Australian friends too.

There's no escaping how far away from everything Australia is, and we did come to miss the chance to travel inexpensively. We also missed family. We chose to move on to new adventures but like I say, miss it hugely and have questioned the wisdom of our decision several times. Still, we can always go back.

ItchyBites Sat 10-Mar-18 18:03:32

The first thing to ask, of course, is can you get a visa? If you don't qualify then it's a non-starter anyway.

We lived in Sydney for about nine years. The first six or seven years were great, we went all over the place, the kids were at a nice school, we had a big house in the suburbs with a pool etc, beach on the weekend, living the Australian dream. However, for us, the more time that went by, the less settled we became. We were never really homesick as such, it was just that the feelings of not quite fitting in, or not being in the right place increased the longer we were there.

It is a hugely expensive business, particularly if you move to one of the major cities such as Melbourne or Sydney due to the cost of housing and rentals. Work-life balance was much worse for us in Australia, working longer hours and overtime expected as the norm. We certainly weren't knocking off at three and heading for the beach!

We also struggled to make friends. We were in a very Aussie part of Sydney, where there was a slightly lower than usual expat population (not the west), partly through choice, because we wanted to live in Australia and not in a community of other British people living in Australia. Friendships were very shallow. We found that people tended to stick to family/friends of family, school friends and people from church, and despite trying very hard at the school gates, I would say I left Australia with maybe two people I could loosely call friend. We moved back to the UK six months ago, to a completely different area to where we had come from, and I already have a little social circle of people I could call friends. I think the difference was that people were friendly rather than friendshiply, if that makes sense? At the start I had mistaken friendliness for friendship, and it was only later on that I found that friendship wasn't there.

That said, we did enjoy our time there, and I would probably make the same choice given my time again. It was a wonderful opportunity, it allowed us to broaden our horizons and see parts of the world that other people could only dream of, and the kids are confident and happy children. My 82 year old grandmother visited us too, it was fantastic to give her that experience. It is a beautiful country, and I do love it, and I often wonder if we'd gone somewhere else in Australia would we still be there. However, I think in my heart I know that the UK is home.

Heatherbell1978 Sun 11-Mar-18 07:44:32

I don't live in Aus but recently been through this. We started the process for a 189 visa 18 months ago but we're not going to get it before DH turns 40 so we left it too late (he'll lose 10 points then).
We have friends in Perth who have fantastic lives; we've been out twice and that's where we'd planned to go.
But...we've come to terms with not going as we really can't see how we'd have better lives aside from the weather (which can be extreme). In the UK we'll pay our mortgage off in 8-10 years time but in Oz we'd need to take on a bigger mortgage to get what we'd want. We both commute less than an hour to get to work here and work from home half the week. In Perth the commute from the suburbs would be huge with no guarantee of the flexible working we have here. We have family who help with childcare here which we wouldn't have there....
I do look at their pictures and think 'if only' at times but the reality is our lives would be hectic around working and childcare and commuting to get that 'dream'.

Once we repay our mortgage we can go there every year for a holiday if we want and actually enjoy itsmile

Wishfulmakeupping Sun 11-Mar-18 08:15:42

Thank you all- had a few discussions with Dh about it all and done some research i think it’s a non starter. His salary is 45k here whereas he’d need to go down to a trainee wage there so would only be earning the equivalent of 34k for the first couple years and he’d need to do more hours. Plus looking st the average temps Dh worries about doing his job in that heat. Plus housing wise we wouldn’t get what we have here and I wouldn’t want to rent long term but thank you all been interesting reading all your comments

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