back to article Three expat Brits explain their move to Australia

In our New Year's edition of The eXpat Files we're going to do something a little different: namely, chat to three folks who've all made the same move from Blighty to Australia, to give you an idea of just how good your correspondent has it down here at Vulture South... and how good you could have it if you brave Australia's …

  1. Ol'Peculier
    Pint

    Grass always greener

    Miss about living in the UK - easy access to Europe.

    I'd love the easy access to SE Asia you get from Australia.

    Oh, well, off to Bali in a couple of years time and apart from taking over a day will cost an arm and a leg.

    Beer icon because, well, there will be a lot of it drunk with friends.

    1. poopypants

      Re: Grass always greener

      The best place to stay is with your friends and loved ones, wherever that may be.

      (No I don't write greeting cards for a living.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Grass always greener

      Oh, well, off to Bali in a couple of years time

      Am I correct in assuming you're not in Aus and may be unfamiliar with how far SE Asia is from Australia? Here's a few distances for comparison.

      Sydney to Bali: 4619 km

      London to Tehran: 4407 km

      Melbourne to Hong Kong: 7394 km

      London to New York: 5587 km

      Brisbane to Hanoi: 7389 km

      London to Nairobi: 6805 km

      The major population centres in Australia aren't as close to SE Asia as some people think.

      1. Greg 16

        Re: Grass always greener

        Never knew that! I've travelled a bit and I know where most places are on the globe, but I was always under the impression that Bali to Aus was kind of like UK to Spain!

        1. Mark 65 Silver badge

          Re: Grass always greener

          Brisbane to Melbourne is the equivalent roughly of UK to Spain.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Grass always greener

          I was always under the impression that Bali to Aus was kind of like UK to Spain!

          In cultural terms you're 100% correct. It's the overseas destination of choice for young Aussies who want to get drunk and catch the occasional STD.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Grass always greener

        > The major population centres in Australia aren't as close to SE Asia as some people think.

        Of course not. The SE Asians are not that stupid.... mate. ;-)

      3. Ol'Peculier

        Re: Grass always greener

        You're right, I'm not. But I remember being sat on a plane in Borneo with a bunch of people from Perth and was feeling a little jealous about how quickly they got there.

        Perth > Sarawak = 3,674 km, London > Sarawak 11,558 km, so yes, there is a bit of a difference.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Grass always greener

      The best thing about Australia is surely the immigration policy. They tend to dump unwanted foreigners on a desert island in the middle of nowhere.

      Perhaps we can adopt the same approach here and use Gruinard Island as an ideal location?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Watch out for the health Police

    I was refused a work visa because I had Childhood Leukaemia. 20+ years all clear but still no joy. Still too high a risk for them down under.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Different strokes for different folks

    To some moving be it to Australia or elsewhere is an exciting challenge while to other's it's an intimidating risk. Finding what makes you happy is the goal - wherever that may be.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. CJ_in_AZ

    I'd love to hear about Yanks in Oz. I've been to Australia 4 times myself, though not in more than 10 years. I'd have to go for a "retirees visa" now, though. My favorite area is the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane. Anyone up for a ride on the Gympie Rattler?

  5. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Can you brew your own in OZ?

    Just asking cos I cant live without proper beer and last I hear the only one brewing their own out there was my uncle who was a customs inspector and confiscated all the homebrew ingredients and made them up at home!

    1. LaeMing Silver badge

      Re: Can you brew your own in OZ?

      You can buy home brew kits is any hardware store or large supermarket. Whether they are any good, I can't say.

    2. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: Can you brew your own in OZ?

      Come to New Zealand then if that's what you're after, it's not much further home brewing is part of the culture here.

      You can also distill hard liquor for your own use if you wish.

    3. Neil of Qld

      Re: Can you brew your own in OZ?

      Yes home brew stores everywhere

      You can also distill

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can you brew your own in OZ?

        Yeah home brew is very popular. I've got a few friends and colleagues who produce top quality beer. One bloke now has his own label and is selling the stuff.

        You can own a small still, but technically only to produce essential oils, not alcohol.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Can you brew your own in OZ?

          "You can own a small still, but technically only to produce essential oils, not alcohol."

          It's much easier (and cheaper/safer) to use "cold distillation" techniques.

  6. Charles Manning

    Rule #1, don't live like a refugee

    If you want to go somewhere, then go. Forget about the comparisons, they are just pointless.

    If you are thinking milk/bread would be cheaper (*) back home every time you go to the supermarket, then you're going to have a hard time of it.

    Life is not a spreadsheet where you can weigh up the cost of a BMW vs being able to go to the beach.

    Footnote (*): They are not cheaper. They are subsidised. That means you just pay for them somewhere else. Australia has the second lowest agricultural and food subsidies with NZ being the lowest.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    "doors that stop an inch above the floor"

    You'd think they'd want to tighten their houses up a bit, living in a country that's home to most of the world's most deadly spiders...

    1. LaeMing Silver badge

      Re: "doors that stop an inch above the floor"

      The spiders mostly keep to themselves.

      It is the (European) cockroaches I have issue with.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not being British

    It's easy when you are British/American/Anglo-Saxon...

    I (Slavic origin) tried both Australia and New Zealand. You are always "bloody immigrant" for your employers. NZ is particaularly bad at this.

    I had 15+ year experience as a developer, ERP, big databases, but all I could get were simple jobs (equal to replacing paper in printers). Non-british can hope to become managers (even team leaders) only after at least 5 years working there.

    Felt as there was a "glass ceiling", not allowing anybody else to rise through the ranks.

    I suspect it will be the similar in UK (If you think not, hire me! :) ).

    From friends I heard that US and Canada are totally different and do not have this kind of problems for imigrants.

    1. Jim Lewis

      Re: Not being British

      As a Brit who left the UK expecting to emigrate to Australia in 2000 I can confirm that the racism extends to everyone. I was a 'whinging Pom' and although I am grateful for being given an insight into how miserable being discriminated against solely due to your place of birth is, it meant that I changed my mind and returned to the UK.

      I should explain that I was working offshore which having spent most of my career up to that point in Norway was like a return to the 70s. Almost exclusively male dominated and with a macho/bullying culture that was just depressing and unneccessary.

      I would probably have put up even with that if the lifestyle had suited better. Yes the sun is always shining, but culturally Perth had a fraction to offer of what EG Bristol does. Eventually I needed more than just sports and recreation, although they are good fun for a few months.

      Possibly Melbourne and no doubt Sydney have enough to offer, but I am happy to have returned to Europe. I would like to take a holiday over there again though.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Not being British

        I've always been a bit startled by the level of casual racism in Australia.

        Also Perth is like a country town grown huge. Worst museum in the world.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not being British

          Shall we talk about the casual racism in the UK then? Much worse here than in Australia. At least in Australia they give jobs to people from other parts of the country who have a slightly different accent, instead of saying "stupid northerners" and ignoring them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not being British

            > At least in Australia they give jobs to people from other parts of the country who have a slightly different accent, instead of saying "stupid northerners" and ignoring them.

            I am going to hazard a guess that your problem is not the "northerner" bit. :-)

            I knew someone that when asked during a job interview (for a London-based airline) why they should hire him instead of someone else, he responded: "Well, since I'm from Northern England, it would look good on your equal opportunities stats." Yes, he did get the job somehow.

            1. OzBob

              Re: Not being British

              Antipodean humour is very much designed around having a thick skin. If you are offended with being continually greeted with an insult, then down-under is not the place for you.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not being British

                Antipodean humour is very much designed around having a thick skin

                I'm not sure the racism I witness here could ever be classed as humour. Mrs Coat is an Aussie and it was only after marrying a Pom that she realised how much everyday racism there was in the tea room when her workmates forgot she was married to one. I can't begin to imagine what's said about non-white people.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Not being British

                  "Mrs Coat is an Aussie and it was only after marrying a Pom that she realised how much everyday racism there was in the tea room when her workmates forgot she was married to one."

                  Last time I checked, being a 'Pom', aka 'British' wasn't a race, and therefore such comments cannot be considered racism.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Not being British

                    Last time I checked, being a 'Pom', aka 'British' wasn't a race, and therefore such comments cannot be considered racism.

                    Twattish, stupid, bigoted, ignorant, intolerant, prejudiced, biased, sectarian, discriminatory, etc. To paraphrase Groucho Marx, if you don't like my adjectives I have plenty more.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Not being British

                      "Twattish, stupid, bigoted, ignorant, intolerant, prejudiced, biased, sectarian, discriminatory, etc"

                      Possibly. But not racism.

                  2. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Not being British

                    "Last time I checked, being a 'Pom', aka 'British' wasn't a race"

                    It commonly means those of largely WASP heritage.

                    Relatively new arrivals are often not really British from that pov. After all, Jesus was born in a stable but that didn't automatically make him a horse!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not being British

            "instead of saying "stupid northerners" and ignoring them."

            They would have called you "northern monkeys", surely?

            It's just the same for anyone else. If you can't speak English properly you are going to have difficulties getting a job where it is expected that can communicate effectively.

      2. Gray Ham

        Re: Not being British

        Unfortunately, Jim, if you object to being called a 'whingeing pom', it means you probably are one. My experience was that, if you take it on the chin and attempt to adjust to the local culture, Australians will accept you very rapidly. Although it can be difficult to adjust to some things - it was years before I felt at ease having Christmas in the middle of summer - the migration experience has been nearly all good for me (note: I have lived the past 30 years in Canberra, which as everyone now knows is the best place in the world1. So there.)

        1 http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/07/upshot/want-an-easy-life-try-canberra-australia.html?_r=0

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not being British

      > I (Slavic origin) tried both Australia and New Zealand.

      It may serve as consolation to know how another Slavic immigrant (who, to add insult to injury, hailed from Argentina) dealt with this when he moved to Australia. With apologies for quoting W*******a, but I'm referring to Lord Bloody Wog Rolo. E.g.:

      « Argentine born Rolo first came to the attention of the Sydney community in 1979 when he renounced his pledge of allegiance to the Queen immediately following his immigration citizenship ceremony on the grounds that he was a republican and the Queen was not a democratically elected representative of the people. »

      > From friends I heard that US and Canada are totally different and do not have this kind of problems for imigrants.

      I certainly get the impression that the US and Canada are a lot better at absorbing newcomers than Europe. What I like about North America is that you can still be whatever you are without that being seen (by the vast majority) as incompatible with their own American / Canadian values. Unfortunately there are downsides too, such as one country being an Evil Empire and the other an Evil Empire's neighbour¹. :-(

      > I suspect it will be the similar in UK

      To be fair, the UK is probably the least racist country in Europe, a very small handful of annoying idiots notwithstanding. You might come across people who are painfully ignorant of other cultures, true, but at the same time, its vast diversity is about the only thing I miss. It's certainly closer to Canada than Australia in that respect. Besides, there is a rather large Slavic community living there these days, so you'd hardly look out of place, especially since you already speak fluent English, I presume².

      ¹ I sustain that Canada should make the world a favour and invade the U.S. (all of it, not just Florida) and depose all their warmongering politicians. Should be fairly straightforward since the Yanks won't be expecting it.

      ² Observation does not apply in the Outer Hebrides and certain parts of Wales.

  9. WibbleMe

    Reasons not to go from family and personal experience emigrating:

    1) They have a different sense of humour

    2) America has more to offer

    3) If you have been a civil servant all your life you will find you actually have to work

    1. hitmouse

      1) it might be a little different, but then Americans are wildly different. I've lived in UK, US, Australia and some other places. The Brits, Aussies and Kiwis find each other through shared humour.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      3) If you have been a civil servant all your life you will find you actually have to work

      No reason at all not to go. Whoever wins the election this year, a substantial number of public servants may find they actually have to work.

      To help prepare them for the coming transition, I've translated some of their perks into real world equivalents. No more clocking off because it's 5pm (or 3:30 on a Friday) - you go home when the work is done. Flexitime is the bit of your free time you give up to do additional unpaid work, it is not an extra day and a half off each month because you have a crap and read the paper before leaving the office. Annual increments are what happens to your train ticket, not your salary. And finally, strikes are something you get while bowling, they are not a means of levering more money from your employer. Good luck.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My 2c

    Eric Worrall: Pure luck. I arrived in Australia with my family, rented a house, and started calling every employment agent in the phonebook. Then I came across an advertisement from someone who needed help developing apps for clients, working from home.

    Eric, you are a bastard :-) Having the income potential with the lower cost potential is an enviable position.

    I can share my 2c on the way I see the place:

    • Pretty much everything is more expensive, it's the Australian way. They are one of the most price repressed nations on earth. They put up with it to an extent and purchase overseas where possible.
    • Buy a car like a Toyota or other such brand as European brands are a total rip-off
    • Despite what the various reports would have you believe, Australia is home to some of the most corrupt politics/politicians in the World. Property development that defies logic and planning restrictions is testament to that. As a result Australians are largely divorced from politics and refer to politicians largely as "bastards".
    • The State will put costs back onto the individual wherever and however possible. For instance if your kids go to a State School you will be presented with a listed of several hundred dollars worth of items per year per child that you must supply.
    • The health system has a distinctly American feel to it - i.e. you get a distinct impression there's some external force always trying to separate you from your wallet. Dentists are a law unto themselves and charge like a wounded rhino. You will miss the NHS no matter what you thought of it. If nothing else it provides a pricing sanity check against the private sector.
    • The weather is better by far. Although I found that in the UK the onset of summer was almost greeted by hedonistic celebrations of the first sunny day when I last returned the weeks of drizzle shit me to tears.
    • There is little to no history here - very limited. I miss the museums, galleries, and history of the UK especially London where I moved from. I have many UK friends that live in older houses than the historic buildings of Australia.
    • I love the beaches. I don't actually consider myself a beach person but you cannot help but appreciate being able to turn up and walk for miles on a near deserted stretch of sand. NB Does not apply to Sydney beaches.
    • I find work opportunities far more limiting. Sure, it's not been hard to shine amongst the locals as many returning workers can attest, but I find that IT is a much less appreciated skill-set here than in London. I accept that London is quite a unique market but at least there they recognised that, today, almost every company is an IT company to some extent and that it is an area where you can gain competitive advantage if you do it right. Being a Finance contractor has been a double-edged sword as the change in relative income levels is huge.
    • Being able to BBQ pretty much any day of the year is great
    • I have found the people in general to be more friendly. This may also be a function of the suburb you live in. Although I have witnessed the casual racism I do not think it is all malicious but more a kind of strange ice-breaking technique. I am an Anglo though so I recognise life will be different here for me versus others. I believe the regions and city versus outside vary greatly in their feel for the newcomer.

    I can confirm that for some, myself included, the transition is hard. Having a partner from here is double-edged. In some respects you settle in quicker but in others I have found that I sometimes resent the fact they have all their friends and family here whilst I do not. Making new friends is all well and good, but I quite like the ones I already had. Having a lot of friends working in finance in London has proved difficult as they have gone onwards and upwards whereas I have encountered a market bereft of such opportunities. Having your own business is largely the way to go here as Eric can likely confirm. I often find myself comparing my circumstances with theirs and ruing the day I left and how my financial outlook has changed. However I also appreciate my children likely have a far better life here spent in the outdoors than they would in the UK. I like being able to drive a hour or two to get to great beaches. I like being able to travel across to Moreton island and almost feel like you've travelled back in time and left all of life's modern issues behind. It is a wonderful experience. It is also very hard to value as a previous commenter has noted. I've been here too long now for any sort of constructive move back to occur. It doesn't stop me thinking "what if?" but I know, deep down, that the move has been for the better and I just have to find a way to reconcile it.

    I'm open to any questions should anyone have some.

    1. OzBob

      Re: My 2c

      Seriously, you know how certain areas of the UK get slagged off for being backward? The Aussies are worse and quite frankly pride themselves on it (imagine a "chav" with worse dress standards and a larger car, and you have a "bogan"). Set your watch back 40 years in terms of social progress and halve your IQ, and you will fit right in.,

    2. ranton5000

      Re: My 2c

      I have been back in Oz ( on the West Coast, born & bred ) for 3 months now ( after more than a decade away ) and this summary very accurately reflects my situation and initial findings at least. IT in Finance Industry in London as a perm employee meant good conditions, excellent pay, 5 weeks of Euro holidays each year + opportunities.

      But with a young family needing to move to larger place ( with a larger commute to boot ) , family etc in Oz meant that it was time for a move ... whether it works out time will tell but the adjustment is definately tough.

      Got work for the time being but can definately identify with 'I find that IT is a much less appreciated skill-set here than in London'

      I come across plenty of Eric's over in London, contracting life does take it's toll .... daily rate acts like drugs and means that you can burn out .... as it sounds like in Erics case. Can definately see how his life has improved on his return and hope it continues.

      Everyone's situation is different so it will work better for some than others

      Not been here long so am certain things will improve but reading 'My 2c' summary does provide a reassuring realistic analysis for myself at least.

    3. Obitim

      Re: My 2c

      Just a quick thanks for the comment - no interest in emigrating to Oz, (I really like the look of Canada) but a great and balanced critique

    4. soaklord

      Re: My 2c

      I feel this way about having moved back from London to the United States. I will say that I have had more opportunities in the United States (Murika) than you describe and I get the joys of beaches and all that. And yet, like another comment said, I lived in a building that is older than historic buildings in my town. I miss the culture in London. I miss the museums. For the most part, people were friendly and interacted with you more in London than they do here where everyone is in isolated boxes (homes) where they get into isolated boxes (cars) then get angry at all the other isolated boxes on the road before walking into a cube. I also have been here too long and in a position that keeps me from realistically moving back (A 3-4 bedroom in London? Ha! Not for less than a Beckham makes.) But I still "what if" constantly.

  11. Richard Jukes

    I just couldnt do it. BBQ everyday? I'd be dead within 6 months.

  12. david 12 Bronze badge

    Yes, the casual chauvanism from Aussies can be pretty strong, and often totally unaware. But on the other hand, it's been 30 years since I was in a group that was entirely or even mostly 3rd generation Aussies.

    Russion, Polish, Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, Chinese, Slav, English, NZ, Islanders, Filipino, American, Canadian, Turks: Management, professional, or factory floor: if they weren't born overseas, their parents were.

    My current workplace has only 1 (one) person with grandparents born in Aus, and 50% of the management positions are filled by people born elsewhere. You could find different, but it's not exceptional.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Vietnamese, Chinese, Islanders, Filipino, Turks: Management, professional, or factory floor"

      But these ones - mostly in takeaways and restaurants.

  13. BrendHart

    What is Canberra like for .net developers.

    My wife and I have applied for state sponsorship and are waiting to see if we will be accepted. I have done all the research and it looks like there are decent enough opportunities. Is anyone around from there who could give some feedback on the immigrant experience there?

    1. Gray Ham

      Re: What is Canberra like for .net developers.

      Brend,

      There's several of us around in Canberra. Not sure whether any are .net developers.

      In general, though, it's a great place - especially if you have children. Schools and unis are excellent, there are plenty of opportunities for sport and/or cultural activities.

    2. DiViDeD Silver badge

      @ Brend Re: What is Canberra like for .net developers.

      There seems to be a lot of demand in Sydney for .net developers, particularly C#. On the subject of the immigrant 'experience' I can relate the following from Immigration at Sydney Airport (yes I know, not really the WHOLE of the immigrant experience):

      On hearing me say I had nothing to declare: "I hope you're going to declare that bloody shirt"

      On being told I had bought 2 bottles of whiskey for someone while my woman had bought none: "Let me explain it to you again. YOU bought ONE bottle, and SHE bought ONE bottle. Otherwise I have to do the import duty form. Got it now?"

      And when I was travelling to Auckland to get my permanent visa sorted and it was discovered my tourist visa had expired 6 months previously: "Tell you what, we could deport you to New Zealand, and look - you already have a ticket. That saves us a lot of paperwork."

      On the actual being in Oz thing, yes, there's probably more casual racism than you are used to, but remember that the White Australia Policy is within living memory for most people. I know people who didn't ever meet anyone who wasn't white and English until their 40s. Not to excuse it, just to try to see where it comes from.

      The worst aspect is that Australians don't believe that a degree from, say, an Indian university can possibly be worth anything, with the result I have been in taxis driven by some highly talented mathematicians and physicist who can't work in their field until they get a TAFE certificate.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: @ Brend What is Canberra like for .net developers.

        Yeah, the failure to recognise overseas qualifications is a massive protectionist fail. Likewise I've met some bloody smart Indians/sub-continentals that are driving cabs when they could be adding somewhat more to GDP and the tax coffers.

        As for C# in Canberra, I was under the impression that Java is more the thing there then you can immerse yourself totally into the Federal Government trough and earn a fair chunk of change contracting.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh Australia!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cFkPzLi-YI

  15. miho

    Immigration(Canada)

    .Can anyone tell me which country is the best place to migrate, is it Canada or Australia?

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