back to article 'There is no downside – unless you count the total bath you take moving your stuff'

Welcome to The eXpat Files, a new weekend Reg regular in which we chat to an IT professional who's decided to seek his or her fortune in another land, so you can learn how to follow in their footsteps. This week, we chat with Piers Goodhew, an Australian who spent the last two years working in London, but is about to head home …


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  1. Hipsterina

    "seems to belie a greater level of mutual human respect than I've seen anywhere else."

    So there isn't a greater level of human respect, but there's more dishonesty in pretending there is?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Belie: (of an appearance) fail to give a true notion or impression of (something); disguise or contradict.

      I read it as him saying there's a lot of mutual human respect, which conventions of politeness can hide. For example, my (Merkin) wife noticed that people getting off buses thank the driver. That could just be meaningless convention, but he's on the side of us actually being grateful that somebody else is doing a boring, uncomfortable job so that we don't have to.

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        As an American who rides buses...

        ...I always make it a point to say good-morning (or whatever is appropriate for the time of day) when boarding and thank-you when leaving buses, trolleys, etc., and taught my daughter to do the same.

        Part of this is simple courtesy of course, but part of it is enlightened self-interest as well. Treat the driver well and, comes the inevitable day when you're still one hundred feet away from the bus stop in a driving rain, a driver who is well-disposed to you is more likely to stop and wait than one who doesn't know you from Adam and whose only interest is not getting ticked for not keeping on schedule.

    2. veti Silver badge

      I've formed a Theory that the general social level of mutual respect is directly proportional to national population density.

      Basically, if you live in England, you know that no matter where you go, you're always going to be pretty close to your neighbours. You really have no choice but to get on with them, and you hope they'll treat you the same way.

      Whereas in Australia and the US, in particular, it's hard for people to get rid of that weird fantasy about the huge open spaces where you can just go and live without depending on anyone else for anything. Of course not one in a thousand Australians could afford to do that, and most of those who could, don't want to... but they can all dream.

      In England, that dream doesn't exist. Co-dependence just is, everyone's stuck with it no matter what. And that tends to make people more considerate of one another.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        I don't think it's to do with density, there are many countries where people mainly live in flats in built-up areas yet it seems everyone's noisy so they can be heard over everyone else's din and politeness is pared down to the minimum, especially when it's not friends or family. Well that's one way around the problem I suppose.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arrogant much?

    "'I'm going to be overqualified for everything' at home"

    Things in Australia which will shit all over what this guy has done:

    - Square Kilometre Array - Senior System Engineer (Now hiring)

    - Various 5 eyes positions spying on the planet (if that's your thing)

    - Four massive banks, three of them undertaking core modernisation programmes

    - Innovative companies like Black Magic Design which are shaking up their industries

    - Product engineering roles in various tech firms (Google, Yahoo, IBM)

    So you set up a few macs for a bunch of video pro's - good for you champ!

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Arrogant much?

      lol banks

      If he's arrogant, then surely he's got more self-respect than to work for a coin-clipper ?

    2. joeldillon

      Re: Arrogant much?

      Dude, he obviously meant 'in his field', which is post-production, not spying or banking.

      1. Steven Raith

        Re: Arrogant much?

        AC is just jealous that their lack of interpretation skills means they'll never be at the top of any field that doesn't contain cows or corn.

        It was perfectly obvious from the context that the subject of the artcile meant in his chosen specailised corner of IT; the six downvotes only a few hours after the article posted - on a weekend where traffic is lower - sort of prove that point.

        Edit: And since I started scrawling this post - it's now gone to eight, and that's before I've downvoted it too. Nuff said.

        Steven R

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Arrogant much?

      Australian Banks ? Got to admire their reaming of the customers with daily service charges which would see them laughed out of the business in the UK. And innovative ? Having worked in core banking IT in two large Australian banks, they are just as fucked and backward as many very big UK ones.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BRW 50 most innovative companies, clipped to top 5:

    1 Planet Innovation

    2 Commonwealth Bank of Australia

    3 Buzz Products

    4 Westpac

    5 UM Australia

    Two banks!

    Of course you will now criticise BRW and tell us that you and your friends in the Newcastle Socialist Alliance are far smarter than they are. I can guess that from your childish 'coin-clipper' drivel.

    1. veti Silver badge

      All that tells you is what a frickin' backwater Australia really is, compared with Europe. Look at a global list of "most innovative" companies, and count the Australian names there.

      Seriously, three of those five "companies" have fewer than 100 staff, and the top one has only been in business five years. It's easy to be "innovative" when you're nobody and no-one cares what you do.

  4. Ol'Peculier

    I can be somewhere where they don't speak English in an hour too.

    It's called Lancashire.

    (can we have a "War of the Roses" icon?)

    1. frank ly

      I'm sorry, can you say that again? I can't understand your accent.

      1. John Sager

        From his moniker I'd guess he hails from that benighted territory the other side of the Pennines. And I can more or less understand them just as well as my own compatriots. Must be something lacking in the water that side... By the way, if you want incomprehensible, try this part of the UK (a ways east of MK)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One way ticket

    I de-camped from Oz in 1984. I visit regularly, but for the life of me, except for some of the leisure activities available to me in Australia and the far better weather than most places, I cannot think of any professional reason to ever return, while I am still in the workforce.

  6. Euan 1


    As much as he makes working in he UK. Sound like heaven. After working and living in the uk for most of my life plus 5 years in Germany too. I gave up all the perks of a modern civilisation such as Internet access that didn't suck, amazon, decent tv, etc etc. I sacrificed it all for blue skies and sunshine in NSW Australia. :)

    I'm poorer now relatively speaking, but sunshine is golden.

  7. Euan 1


    I'm Scottish and often get German colleagues to translate my order to Aussie restaurant staff for me. Servo staff are probably the hardest to converse with.

    1. Gray Ham

      Re: Accents

      Is it the Dart*?

      *Australian cultural reference that no-one else will understand. See here

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Not the Dart!

        I followed the link, and then looked for the Dart.

        It looks sort of smart from the outside, but the austerity of the inside is a bit bleak. But I think I would probably prefer it to the Goggomobile featured in the advert!

        I think that the world could do with smaller engined cars*

        * I'm currently doing a round-trip daily commute of ~90 mile in a three-cylinder, 800cc car, and apart from the fuel savings, don't really see the difference from a larger car.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Travel and working abroad is good for you

    Though my time abroad tends to be weeks or months, rather than years. It's worth it though; it gives a different perspective on what diversity really is. It will also get you lots of pointless answers*.

    * I've been to several of those.

  9. LINCARD1000
    Thumb Up

    Moved to Norway from New Zealand and spent 4.5 years there (give or take a month) before returning home. While it was difficult at times and about as far from home as it is possible to be and still be on the same planet, it is an experience I will always treasure.

    Living in a relatively isolated country like NZ it was very easy to become quite insular in your way of thinking and looking at the rest of the world, wondering why various 'dirty foreigners' do the things they do, say the things they say, think the things they think. But then you move somewhere unfamiliar and your whole worldview is shifted - usually for the better. It really does give you an appreciation for other cultures, other ways of thinking, and is something that everyone should try and do at least once in their lives.

    Great article - looking forward to seeing more in the future :-)

  10. OzBob

    Came back down under after 11 years in England

    Was planning to retire but had to find another gig. Was running a large Server infrastructure across multiple countries / time zones / currencies, here I am just a basic sysadmin-for-hire. New Zealand and Australia are a "lifestyle block" in terms of IT (Think "The Good Life" vs a proper farm). They try to big up the innovation side but there is not enough money or scope to build big systems, so it's fringe and small-scale work mostly.

    1. Long John Brass Silver badge

      Re: Came back down under after 11 years in England

      As a kiwi who spent 10 wonderful/horrible years in London your post seems very familiar

      It's odd how many of us come home to OZ/NZ & buy a lifestyle block (a mate did the very same thing)

      I had a very love/hate relationship with London. I will miss the pubs, restaurants etc, I won't miss the bloody tourists who suddenly stop in the middle of Victoria station & gawk mindlessly about themselves. I used to get pedestrian rage :(

      The oddest thing about working in IT shops round London was that the pom's seemed to be a bit on an endangered species... More often than not there were only a few token poms (usually manglement), I loved the united nations aspect my co-workers presented. Oddly enough now that I'm back in godsown country the workforce is much more diverse than when I left.

      1. LINCARD1000

        Re: Came back down under after 11 years in England

        Heh, funny that - we bought a (mostly bush) lifestyle block before we left though, and used much of our ill-gotten gains obtained overseas to build our sky-castle on it on our return.

        Working overseas is a great way to be able to afford to come back home and retire in style... not that we can retire just yet, dammitall.

        The most bemusing thing about being away from home as long as we were, was that it became very noticeable just how similar the Oz and NZ accents are. This might be horrifying to many NZ'ers and Ozzies who think we sound very different - we do, to our ears - but to dirty foreigners we're very alike :-)

  11. Gray Ham

    I found some of the article familiar, some confusing (note: I'm a pom who made the reverse journey many years ago, after MHT kindly arranged to fund my passage).

    Although I agree that there are many ways in which Australia lags behind Europe, in my field (I work in Local Government) it often seems the reverse is true.

    As to the cultural experience, there are opportunities in both countries. Yes, from London you can get to Paris in a short time ... but from Australia you can go to many equally diverse places with relative ease. And, in many cases they're cheaper, they drive on the correct side of the road, plus (unlike Parisians) the locals will actually be polite to you.

    I can't answer for what London is like now (it's a few years since I've been there), but if it's more diverse than Australia I would be very surprised - both in my workplace and around my home, I can think of at least a dozen different Asian, European and other nationalities represented.

    Agree with Piers though that it is important to get out there and experience the world - whether you go from here to there or there to here, there will be new experiences and you will be the richer for it. But, be open and prepared to make adjustments - even between UK and Aus/NZ, there are cultural differences, which is one reason why so many poms fail to make a go of it here.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      "I can't answer for what London is like now (it's a few years since I've been there), but if it's more diverse than Australia I would be very surprised - both in my workplace and around my home, I can think of at least a dozen different Asian, European and other nationalities represented."

      You'd be surprised then, very surprised.

      Just my bank of desks - SA, Nigeria, India, Pakistan Oz, France, Germany, Singapore, Italy, England, Scotland, NZ, and Spain. The Welshman left last week and was replaced by another Englishman.

      I visit some family down under, and to equate the two for diversity would be incorrect. Oz is no comparisson. Now, whether London should look like the UN or not I leave to respective commentards, as there's some very divergent views out there with little scope for agreement amongst them.

      1. Gray Ham

        "I visit some family down under, and to equate the two for diversity would be incorrect.

        Hmmm ... not sure which part of Australia your family are in, but in my workgroup I can manage Malaysia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Malta, Singapore, Laos, Pakistan, China (mainland), PNG, Chile, Russia, Finland, Japan, Fiji, NZ and Iran. There is an Australian, but her parents are Greek too. Similar diversity around the street where I live.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          "Hmmm ... not sure which part of Australia your family are in"

          Perth. One of the most monocultural cities on Earth.

  12. Bsquared

    Cost of living

    Excellent article, thanks.

    Did it the opposite way round and bailed from the UK to Oz 6 years ago.

    Figuring out relative cost-of-living is REALLY hard, actually. One thing not mentioned is that while cars may be more expensive, petrol is still much cheaper here than in the UK. It's not quite pound-for-dollar, but it's not far off.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But that UK weather.....'s inhumane.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: But that UK weather.....

      But interesting, and you'll never be short of a conversation.

      Even bloody foreigners get the hang of talking about the weather after a little while, as long as you speak SLOWLY AND LOUDLY.

  14. Winkypop Silver badge

    Retire maybe, work, no

    With family connections and having been there a dozen times, I could contemplate retiring in the UK.

    But work, hmmmm, no I don't think I could, despite the ability to do so.

    If I'm going to suffer a wet summer, I don't want to be going out to work in it.

  15. Flymo

    Good topic...

    ...we bought a bush block in VIC some years ago, just love it there (although the winters are still too cold imho, but then, one can always drive North for a day or two).

    Yes, there can be scale effects in employment, although two of my Australian long-time colleagues (from Silicon Valley days) have fixed that by running their own companies. That's not applicable to all disciplines, of course, and I'm now long retired, so shouldn't vote.

    Great neighbours here (same as in UK), excellent fresh produce available (bit better than UK, especially seafood), cheaper petrol, funny bank charges (but more stable banks), slow & costly broadband (near-monopoly telco), but good supplies of PC parts at decent prices.

    Endless list....

    It's swings and roundabouts - I've lived/worked in France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Scandiwegia, Latin America, the USA and the UK. To a young'un I'd recommend travelling - it's a great experience. Puts things in perspecitve.

    They're all good places if you give them a go, but my personal favourite as an escaped Pom is Australia!

    (Please forgive me, Australia, that little problem with the Test series started -exactly- when I switched my allegiance. Murphy must have been busy that year.....)

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