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Canberra... bad idea?

(26 Posts)
SlippersOnToast Wed 13-Jun-18 14:27:09

Family of 5, 2 primary aged kids, one at nursery in U.K. We’ve been desperate to have an overseas adventure, an opportunity came up to move for 2-3 years to Canberra and we signed up.

Except, we didn’t really do any planning/research/calculations - just wanted it so much we said yes. Job is actuallly a pay cut (around $150k), and now I’m panicking we won’t be able to afford to live.

Anyone from the area who can shed light on what expenses we will have? Visa application has gone in ‘temporary skilled’ new version of 457. I think (hope!) schools will be free as on skill shortage list.

No idea what to do with our stuff - shipping could be really expensive as we’d need to bring it all home again. I’d like to live in a family friendly area, green spaces, areas to cycle, parks, sail, climb, run. Happy to live in a basic house, and would like to travel around in the school holidays to explore Oz and NZ. Air BNB looks really expensive for LT furnished rentals - any other suggestions?

Anyone done this? Any help with childcare costs to those on temporary visas? How do you sort tax when earning in UK (will rent our house out) and job in Oz?

Cars - will I need a new licence? Is one car in Canberra possible with a family and a work commute by bike? Likely office in Fishwyck.

Will I be able to use reciprocal health agreement or is private a good idea? No health probs currently.

Usually I’m such a planner and look into every detail first, but heart won over head and now head is wondering what on Earth we are doing - please tell me this isn’t going to be a disaster...

sleep5 Wed 13-Jun-18 18:49:41

Canberra has got a reputation as a bit of a boring city in the middle of nowhere. I'm sure you'll cope fine on that income if you budget.

CrackersForPolly Wed 13-Jun-18 18:54:03

You might want to do some research on actually living in Canberra. It's pretty sterile IMO and I don't think I'd want to live there.

However good news is it's exactly halfway between Melbourne and Sydney so you've got your exit routes planned smile

SlippersOnToast Wed 13-Jun-18 19:33:32

Thanks for suggestions. I’ll do some reading. We live quite rurally in the North at the moment, so was thinking small city might suit us. Maybe not if nothing outdoorsy to do though?

QuilliamCakespeare Wed 13-Jun-18 19:38:56

Canberra is as dull as dishwater. I can't imagine living there when you have cities like Melbourne and Sydney (reasonably) close by.

HerRoyalNotness Wed 13-Jun-18 19:39:37

Is it a transfer or a new company hiring? Is there no help with shipping goods etc?

You could call a company in Uk and get a price for a 20ft container for an idea. We have stuff stored with White and Co in the UK at a reasonable price. When we’ve moved we take a temporary furnished apartment month by month while we find a permanent house. The last one in the USA 2bed (2 kids shared) in a complex was US3500 a month. So say 3000 AUD would be a likely budget for something like that.

OverTheHedgeHammy Wed 13-Jun-18 19:43:08

Canberra is full of people coming in for 5 or so years and leaving. Which means there are a lot of people out there looking to form friendships and socialize with newcomers. In all honesty it's probably a lot easier to adjust to a city like Canberra because of this. It also means that there is a large rental market there.

It is a lot like Milton Keynes, in that it has lots of roundabouts and none of the houses face the main road.

Racecardriver Wed 13-Jun-18 19:50:14

I Australian but not from Canberra (although I know a few people who moved there). The general consensus is that a car is not essential, cycling and public transport links are very good. Like all Australian cities canberta is fairly green but not sure there are any sailing facilities - its not on the coast. I would strongly suggest taking private health insurance but the Australian state healthcare system is better than the NHS so if you have been on the NHS here you will probably find it adequate. You really shouldn't send your child to a state school in Australia. Private education is very affordable and let's just say that affordability is just one reason why it is so popular! Really, they will be very behind when you return to England.

Zinn Wed 13-Jun-18 19:50:23

I lived in Canberra when my children were about those ages and I found it a great place to live. I live in Sydney now, but would happily move back to Canberra if it wasn’t for family commitments. It’s a very outdoorsy place - people tend to do lots of active stuff. It has a great sense of community. People are really friendly. There is quite an intellectual community for a small town because of the university presence. It’s quite left wing too. It is way more affordable than Sydney and a much easier place to live.

The bad press for Canberra is because people associate it with politicians and bureaucrats and also because it is a bit of an odd place to visit. When you are just visiting Canberra it is hard to find the spots where the people actually are - you just see wide main roads. The real city is behind the main roads.

Fyshwick is a bit of an odd place to work - it was very industrial (and the home of Canberra’s porn industry) when I lived in Canberra, but maybe it’s more developed now. It’s close to Kingston and Manuka which are some of the nicest parts of Canberra.

Zinn Wed 13-Jun-18 19:53:16

I think people sail on the lake - I’m sure there’s a club around Yarralumla. And Canberra is pretty much mostly green spaces. Cycle lanes everywhere.

Racecardriver Wed 13-Jun-18 19:53:17

If you have the option of other cities don't choose Melbourne, very overrated. Hobart can be cool so long as you never talk to anyone and homeschooling your kids, ditto adelaide. Sydney is nice but the people there have an annoying accent.

rebelrosie12 Wed 13-Jun-18 19:53:57

Sorry no help on $$ but I know quite a bit about Canberra. It's got a bad rep for being boring but actually it's a lovely place to live with kids. You're not going to be on holiday so you don't necessarily need massive tourist city. It's got wonderful parks, very outdoorsy lifestyle, beautiful surrounding countryside and lots of wild kangaroos. And Sydney isn't far either.

Zinn Wed 13-Jun-18 19:55:38

State primaries in Canberra will be fine. (I’m not sure how private schooling can be considered affordable - it’s over $20000 a year in Sydney - would be cheaper in Canberra).

SlippersOnToast Wed 13-Jun-18 20:47:56

Thanks for all the excellent suggestions.

Will look into storage - the job is a transfer, with a lump sum to cover some of the costs of the move, so we can spend as we like and use savings for the rest. So we could ship our things across the world twice or store and go for Gumtree and IKEA to get some basic furniture. As long as it’s functional, I’m happy. Cheapest wins.

On our budget I don’t think we can afford private schooling - does anyone have experience of bringing their kids to the U.K. from Australian state primary and then being miles behind?

Thanks also for the suburb/district suggestions, will have a look at some real estate websites to get a feel for the budget. I guess we’ll start with the big things - rent/bills/groceries and go from there. I’m guessing $200 a week on groceries, $80 a week on heating/lighting/water, is there a council tax equivalent? Other big unknown will be car insurance until we find a vehicle, and I guess our no claims history won’t be portable so we could take a big hit.

We’ll give Canberra our best shot, but the company have offices in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane too so if it’s awful then we may be able to negotiate a move. I like a challenge, but from what Zinn says it might suit us perfectly. I guess we are a bit boring. I haven’t been to a club in years, prefer meeting friends for picnics and watching the kids play together

isthissummer Thu 14-Jun-18 00:35:38

My dsis is in Canberra on a transfer with primary school dc and they love it. It is expensive in terms of food etc but I think most of oz is. It has really good activities for dc, sports, horse riding etc, parks, lots of museums and cultural days. They get loads out of living there and are in no rush to go back.

IvorHughJarrs Thu 14-Jun-18 00:41:29

We visited friends there last year and loved it, no advice but I'm very jealous!

MyDcAreMarvel Thu 14-Jun-18 00:44:41

I would double the grocery bill for five people.

sunbunnydownunder Thu 14-Jun-18 07:09:57

I am not in Canberra but just want to say. Not all private schools are better public and vice versa. Depending on the area the public school could be excellent. We did look at Canberra at one stage and I looked into schools. Canberra actually has some of the highest performing public schools in Australia.
If you are on a 457 you will most probably have to pay for public. I don't know what the cost is in ACT but in WA I think its $4000 per family per year

DownUdderer Thu 14-Jun-18 07:14:55

I’d live in Canberra happily with small kids! It seems perfect for young kids. We had a two week holiday there recently and met up with friends who live there and I really could live there. But we live in Sydney so we’ll just keep it as a holiday destinationsmile

Violet25 Thu 14-Jun-18 07:24:34

I live in Canberra and love it. I grew up in Brisbane and have also lived in Melbourne. I live in Deakin which is one of the older suburbs near parliament. Canberra is relatively expensive but in part that is because salaries here are high. Consequently unless you are in one or two of the worst suburbs the quality of public schooling is good. In fact Canberra has the best public schools in Australia. We have a three year old and there is so much to do here and it is cheap and easy to get to. Parking in Canberra is generally free or very low - as an example you can park in the CBD for around $11AUD a day. In other Australian cities it would be a minimum of $20-30. I will say that Canberra gets cold in winter - it's 4pm and is currently 4 degrees. But it is generally a blue sky type of cold The other thing to mention is that because of the public service, the diplomatic service and the defence forces it's quite a transient city so people are generally friendly and keen to meet new people. Also the best place to browse for rentals is

SlippersOnToast Thu 14-Jun-18 07:57:19

Thank you. And thanks for the schools reassurance!

For those that live in Canberra is $150k do-able? I know it’s all about how you spend. We aren’t big spenders, but I’d like my children to be able to do a couple of hobbies each E.g. guides/Girl Scouts, and to each fresh fruit/veg daily. Rent - am I dreaming to think we might find a 3 bed in an ok area for $500/week? They exist on the rental websites, but I don’t know if the areas are good

echt Thu 14-Jun-18 09:50:31

You really shouldn't send your child to a state school in Australia

Utterly ridiculous statement. To assume any private school is better than a state is most unwise, as so many would-be private parents are discovering, as enrolments are going up in the state sector, so much so that private schools are whining for a handout from the government ( I'm looking at you, taxpayers) to make up the shortfall.

Violet25 Thu 14-Jun-18 09:52:00

150k is a very standard salary in Canberra and you will be able to live comfortably. Do you know which part of Canberra your husband's work will be? In terms of activities my daughter does ballet each week- $155 for a ten week term.

The only areas I don't like are Tuggeranong which is quite economically depressed and reasonably far from things (having said that it doesn;t take more than 20 mins or so to get most places). For your budget I'd look at the Gungahlin area which is a new town centre on the north side of Canberra. Lots of young families and great facilities. The schools are good and there are also a couple of low fee paying Anglican and Catholic schools. The light rail will service Gungahlin - currently being put in but due to start reasonably soon. I'd look at homes in most parts of Gungahlin except Ngunnawal and Palmerston. If you want to be closer in, and you'd be happy in a unit or townhouse then the inner north could be an option - particularly Watson, Turner, Braddon. You might also like to check out this website - gives you a sense of life here

Violet25 Thu 14-Jun-18 09:56:04

Also have to disagree with a PP - life in Canberra is much better and easier with at least one car. Totally doable with just one, but you would be quite isolated without one. Btw - there are fantastic farmers markets each weekend on a Saturday at the Exhibition Grounds. It's a really social, fun thing and the fruit and veg are fantastic.

Kimchi Thu 14-Jun-18 09:59:26

We're in Melbourne and moved here 5 years ago from uk. You will get reciprocal health cover. I think you'll need to pay for ambulance cover if you don't have private healthcare but it's not expensive. You should budget more for food... at least 300/350 I would say. It's expensive here compared to UK

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