Moving 'Down Under'

Why are so many British families emigrating to Australia?



When we were small, my dad decided to explore the possibility of emigrating to South Africa or Australia. At the time, there was an unbelievable 'carrot and stick' promotion going on to entice young families to Antipodean shores...

The '£10 passage'

The promotion did exactly what it said on the tin - it got you to Australia for a tenner on a one way ticket! Quite what you did when you got there was another matter, I'm sure...

Families were drawn by promises of employment and housing, a more relaxed lifestyle, and a better climate. In reality it was much harder and somewhat of a culture shock, with native Aussies referring to these new alien settlers as 'ten pound Poms'.

An offer you can't refuse

One would hope attitudes have improved a bit since then, but the 'carrot and stick' system is still very much in operation. The Aussie government seems quite determined in encouraging desirable (well-educated, hard-working, professional) UK citizens to their shores, and it certainly seems to be working.

The promise of great weather, the outdoor life and a better work-life balance are very tempting indeed. But is it really all that simple?

Reality hits home

Thousands of Britons emigrate to Australia every year, but now more and more are deciding that Down Under is not for them and returning home. Why?

I visited Australia way back in 1995 and have to say I loved it, but when it came to wrestling with the decision to move there permanently to be with my then Aussie boyfriend, I'm pleased to say good old Blighty won the day.

I can absolutely see why people would want to give it a go on a permanent basis - the country itself is unquestionably stunning - but when push came to shove for me, I just couldn't make the move. The pull of family, friends and familiarity were overwhelmingly triumphant.

Appreciating what you've got

It's incredible how, when faced with the reality of possibly leaving the UK, I suddenly began to notice its merits.

Family ties aside, my heartstrings genuinely twanged at the thought of leaving behind our rich culture; our museums, our ironic sense of humour, our well-stocked supermarkets, and even our rubbish TV.  (It's actually a minor factor in many Britons' decisions to return - Aussie TV is dire, but granted that's because they're all outside doing stuff!).

Then there is the issue of it being the largest island in the world, making it very tiresome when wanting to pop to Sydney to see friends, or Wollongong to visit Auntie Vera... Nine hours in the car on a round trip? No thanks!

As beautiful as it is, for me there was a sense of being trapped on this enormous island, whereas back home the feeling that you can hop on a plane or train and be in another country in a couple of hours is very comforting.

Things to consider

Us Brits will always share a healthy love-hate relationship with the Aussies based upon our history together, but culturally we are very different and this is a major point to consider when thinking about emigrating.

Australia is young, new and changing, whereas we are old, well-established and perhaps a little set in our ways. Personally, I love that about Britain and wouldn't have it any other way. 

Oh, and don't forget: if you do decide to make the move, DON'T MENTION THE ASHES!

Jayne, Working Mum and Freelance Editor

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