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England vs. Australia


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We (me, husband and 2 girls aged 6 and 1) moved to the UK a year ago from Johannesburg. It has been really tough and I still feel I haven't totally adjusted, and miss South Africa terribly.

I always wanted to go back but I am starting to realize that this probably won't happen, as things seem to be getting worse. My husband has an opportunity to go to Oz (Melbourne) with his work (he is a business consultant).

My question is will Australia feel more at home than England? (I know it is kind of a daft question as it depends on myself), but if there is anybody from SA that has lived in the UK and now stays in Australia please could you let me know your feelings?

I am just so scared to move again and still not feel at home!! :ilikeit:

At least we have been through the worse and know how it is to do our own housework, gardening, putting petrol in the car, looking after children 24 hours a day, etc. etc.

South Africans are tough on the one hand, but extremely spoiled on the other (I know I was one of them) and it has been a real eye opener for me (but I am still s$%t at housework!!)

My reasons for not feeling at home in the UK - I am struggling to make friends (but real friends take time to make), the weather sometimes gets me down, some of the people are quite unfriendly especially if you have small children. Oh yes and I miss Clearwater Mall (I know you can't have it all)

But I am worried that my husband who is a real gogetter will be frustrated in Australia - it seems to be quite laid back and trying to climb the ladder frowned upon a bit? Don't know if I have the right idea please correct me if I am wrong. Although he is not enjoying the 'getting to the top at any cost' attitude of the people at the UK company he works for either.

Any advice or input will be much appreciated. By voorbaat dank!!

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Hi Sibella,

I lived in the UK for 7/8 years before coming to Australia, so I'll add a few thoughts that might help.

To answer your question - yes, physically, Australia feels more like home to me than the UK ever did. The beaches, the trees, the suburbs, etc. That being said, we had a good group of South African friends in the UK, which made our time there so much easier. We've still not made that many friends over here. (or the ones we have are more than an hour away so we don't get to see them much).

For me, the move to Australia has been a lot harder than I expected in some ways. I think that I was looking for it to be the solution to all my problems, the land of milk and honey - it's not. But that being said, a year on, things are starting to look up as we're settling in, getting involved in more things and finding our place in the world. With the right attitude then Australia really has the potential to allow you to live a great life.

I think that Australia is logistically an easier place to move to than the UK, I'm not sure if it's because of the similar outdoor lifestyles, the wider spaces, the similar interests... and I think that you're at an advantage to most people having already adjusted to one country, you're now more adaptable to another lifestyle.

The thing that I am really enjoying about Australia is the opportunities to live an outdoor/sporting lifestyle like I did back home in SA, that were just not possible for me in London. Going to the beach, going camping, I'm now getting into triathlons, playing tennis, etc. People actually get out and do things here, braais/bbq's in the park, picnics, etc. The family is hugely important in Australia, and there are so many more activities that are geared towards the family than in the UK. And the best part of it all - you can do most of these things in complete safety!

I agree with you that it's hard to make friends in the UK, and some people struggle over here in Aus, but generally, people with children over here find it far easier to meet new people through school avitivities, mothers groups, etc than in the UK. Over here, quite a few people we know with young kids have a bustling social life with the people they've met through their children. Brits are strange people like that - they won't invite you around or accept an invitation as they're so involved in their own crowd that they mostly grew up with. I don't think Australians are as aloof as English people.

Question - Where in the UK are you living??

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The other thing that I wanted to mention is... (and this is just the perception I've had so far)

If your husband wants to climb the corporate ladder, there's nothing wrong with that over here in Aus. There are plenty of career minded people over here, and plenty of ladder climbers. I just think the difference is that they aren't as self-important as some business people in South Africa and the UK can be.

There is a certain amount of "tall poppy syndrome" over here, but most of the time it's only a problem if people flash their possessions around, or boast about their achievements. Generally, people over here who drive nice cars tend to drive them because they like nice cars, not because it's a status symbol, and you'll see that in execs that would rather drive a Holden Caprice because it's a decent car than a BMW or Merc because of the label.

That being said - there are plenty of yuppies in Sydney, and even in Melbourne, and you do get your typical wanker-banker scene, but it's not as prevalent as in, say, London. I'd say that Perth, Brisbane Adelaide are more relaxed.

Phew, I'm banging on now... :hug:

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No problems climbing the corporate ladder in Aus - they work you VERY hard and tough and demand a huge amount from their workers - long hours and blood sweat and tears.

As to feeling at home....I don't think we'll ever feel at home. Sometimes I think it's easier being in a place which is different enough to feel like an adventure, rather than similar enough to upset you that it's "not quite home".

All the best with the difficult decisions!! Nothing is forever though, so see it as an experience, regardless.

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Hi Sibella

After 7 years of feeling like a round peg in a square hole in England, we came to Aus and I immediately felt like I was 'home' - not back in my old life in South Africa, but in the place that I'd happily call home from now on. It was like all the searching was over and we could just relax, kick back and smell the roses a bit!

You've got over the wrench of leaving SA, so in that respect the move should be a lot easier for you. I'm sure there are a few things that you'll miss from the UK - cheap travel, online shopping, cheap 'gadgets', Waitrose and M&S food, but there will be plenty of fantastic experiences here that will more than make up for those. I say give it a go!!!


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If you accept that you will never really feel completely at home anywhere other than South Africa, you should be OK. Otherwise, you're just always going to search for that elusive something or someplace that will be a clone for everything you have let behind and miss and that doesn't exist.

We also lived for 7 years (what's it about 7 years? :holy: ) in the UK and felt like we had come home when we stepped off the plane in Adelaide. To be honest, I suspect that you who have only been in England for a short while might still have a clearer memory of what yor life in SA was really like, but to us, who only have the romanticised version left in our brains somewhere, it certainly felt like slipping into a comfy pair of old slippers and heaving a huge sigh of relief.

We have loved being able to live the outdoors life again. I am virtually unrecognisable as I cycle my way around the seafront and swim in the sea etc. :thumbdown: No more SAD in the winter either :unsure: . The people are 1000% friendlier here (can't speak for other cities, but in Adelaide at least!) and there is not as much materialism here - YET. There are signs that things are moving that way though, as I suspect is the case globally.

One thing that stands out to us most though is the work ethic. These people work hard, very hard! If you pitch in and do your part, respect your fellow workers and treat everyone fairly, they will respect you for doing your bit and you will fast rise through the ranks. Don't worry, my husband is a bit of a gogetter as well and was massively frustrated by the lack of willingness to try anything new, or for that matter try anything at all in the UK. In his field of work at least (architect), things are much more progressive here. Although there are different quirks and foibles which he has to get used to here now. Once you have worked in the UK and got a bit used to the OH & S and working within rules and regulations, dolling the i's and crossing the t's etc., it's easier to adapt here. I don't know where the idea comes from that it's frowned upon to be successful or to be ambitious. Nothing could be further from the truth! I think there is a misconception as to what tall poppy syndrome actually means. Aussies love nothing more than a good ags to riches story, but the proviso is that you should not forget where you came from. Rich and successful people and expected to put something back into the community, to not think that they are better than anyone because of their success and to treat every person exactly the same regardless of position in the company or in society. People are often proud of their humble beginnings and you won't get much of that "let's pretend I actually have a more posh background that I actually have" attitude that you so often get in SA. You knnow, the type whose dad was "in management for Anglo American" when he was actually a mine foreman. Most Aussies have no time for that kind of person, but will politely tolerate it and shake thjeir head in disbelief at the silliness of it all.

For me, moving from the UK was the best thing we ever did and we should have done it years ago, but I also treasure my years there and would not have wanted it any different - it's made me who I am. I do miss some things from the UK - the green green gren of the landscape, the beautiful castles and the proximity to Europe, not to mention H&M and TK Maxx!

The secret is, don't set your expectations too high. Australia is different. It's not like South Africa, it's not like the UK, it's probably somewhere inbetween and totally unique at the same time! :unsure::lol: Ultimately, ONLY more safety or ONLY more sunshine does not make for a perfect life, nor a perfect person, family, job etc. It's still up to the individual to make their own luck and happiness and the choice is your whether you go into it seeing the glass half full or half empty

PS: a year in my opinion is still way too early to feel settled anyway, so give yourself a break as well a bit...

Edited by Annette
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Thanks for all the advice, you have been really helpful.

We stay in Guildford in the UK, which is probably one of the best places to stay as far as the UK is concerned - 30 mins by train to London, hour's drive to the (so called) beach, beautiful pebble stoned High Street and miles and miles of beautiful green countryside closeby. It is just terribly expensive and we had to borrow money high and low to buy our tiny 2 1/2 bedroomed house, but at least we have a patch of grass outside.

If we do decide to go I will definitely miss online shopping, Marks and Spencers and being able to go camping in France easily and cheaply!

I think that is probably the worse thing about living in a different country - although there are lots of things you don't like, there are loads of things that you learn to love and then you will miss those when you leave!!

I think we need to hang in there and really enjoy Europe for another year or two, while getting things started for Australia - will see how it goes.

With regards to my husband, he really doesn't care about keeping up with the Jones's - we always hated that aspect in SA. But he is hardworking and gets frustrated when he does not get recogntion - so it hopefully that will be a bit better in Australia.

Just one other question - are the shopping trolleys in Australia also so dreadful as here - they go all over the place and are so difficult to push! Also are the parking bays bigger than in the UK? And is parking cheaper? And are there lots of indoor malls like we were used to in SA?

Once again thanks, I really appreciate all the advice.

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Hello Sibella

We left South Africa in 1995, to live in Berlin in Germany (where my parents originated from). We struggled, with the weather, and also with the mentality. We thought we would give it some time. We gave it three and a half years, and then eventually decided we were not German. I managed to get a good two year contract in the Middle East, and while we there we started thinking where to after this contract ended. South Africa - No. Germany - Jeez, NO. Then we saw an immigration agent in Dubai for Australia, and applied under the skilled migrant points scheme. We got our visas six months later. We've been here for seven years now. It was like coming home.

We classify western society into two groups: Old World and New World. There are those that over the last 300 years have been leaving Europe , those that stayed behind. They are very different people. Even though we both spoke fluent German, the culture shock moving to Germany was greater than moving to the Middle East. Rules rules rules, silly little rules everywhere.

We also find the the buying power of what we earn here is far greater than what is was in Germany. Unfortunately for migrants property prices have climbed enormously in the last 3 years, the bank valuation of our house has gone up two and a half times since we bought in 2002. At the moment this makes it a good deal harder to get your first home, but it's not impossible.

Our advice: Don't waste your time in Europe. The grass may not be greener in Oz, but the sun shines a lot brighter, and there is an unbelievable amount of space in this country. The Aussies have a manner of appearing casual and relaxed, but on average they work really hard, and to my mind are more efficient than the Germans because the argue less. They are also very trusting, and the average Aussie does a lot of volunteer work, at least in our town.

There is nothing that beats a South African shopping trolley.

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With regards to my husband, he really doesn't care about keeping up with the Jones's - we always hated that aspect in SA. But he is hardworking and gets frustrated when he does not get recogntion - so it hopefully that will be a bit better in Australia.

From what my husband has experienced there's a lot less 'red tape' and beaurocracy here, so am sure his efforts will be rewarded

Just one other question - are the shopping trolleys in Australia also so dreadful as here - they go all over the place and are so difficult to push! Also are the parking bays bigger than in the UK? And is parking cheaper? And are there lots of indoor malls like we were used to in SA?

Unfortunately the trolleys are a bit of a nightmare here, although there are clever things at the big mall I go to where you can take your trolley on a travelator to and from the car park - don't have to queue up for a lift.

Parking bays seem HUGE here, and I haven't had to attempt a parallel park since we arrived!

The only place I pay for parking in Brisbane is at the airport or at the hospital - or in the CBD (very expensive there). No parking charges at all at the malls I've been to.

Plenty of big malls to choose from, plus most suburbs have their own shopping complex with a supermarket, butcher, baker, fruit shop, bottle shop, newsagent, doctor, post office, take-aways etc

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