I have my hopes to comfort me, I’ve got my new horizons out to sea … on the wind, soaring free.The Moody Blues. 1972. New Horizons from the album ‘Seventh Sojourn’. Threshold Records.
If you are an aspiring émigré who is seeking to move to Australia then perhaps you are already undertaking (or are about to start) research into what the place is like and such things as which type of visa is available to you and how to get it. After doing my own research on Australia and having decided I wanted to move there permanently, to save my time and effort in getting there, I used a migration agent who guided me through the process perfectly … and there are a lot of things to be guided through, believe me. If you’ve never migrated before then can I suggest that it may well be a major learning experience in your life … and it was one that I enjoyed thoroughly, especially as immigration is what Australia is good at. After all, Australia has been taking in folk since 1787 and so it’s well up the experience curve by now. I reckon that immigration is one of Australia’s biggest industries. Indeed, everyone there seems happy and willing to welcome new talent eager to add to Australia’s social and economic capital.
Let’s get down to practicals. Why did I leave England and choose Australia? Well, like most life-changing decisions, there were push factors and pull factors. Among the biggest push factors was the British weather. My wife, an Australian living with me in England for two years, had become unhappy with the poor state of the UK weather. She said a year in England comprised three months of winter and nine months of bad weather and, compared to the great weather ‘down under’, she was right.
The other big push factor was that, in UK job market terms, I was getting old. I was in my early fifties and my career was being hindered by ‘ageism’. Competence and critical thinking were no longer criteria in my job and the focus was on low-cost compliant strivers: I had become a coaster and the writing was on the wall. So, facing a loss of relevance (and income) it was time to jump ship: the world was my ‘prawn on the barbie’ as they say.
There is a general rule in change management that says change will occur only when the costs of staying the same become higher than the costs of changing. Costs in this case being risks to my and my wife’s physical and mental health as well as financial losses through having less work. Also, with no career ahead of me in England, there was a huge opportunity cost to take into account.
The initial pull factors that decided us to migrate to Australia were (the list is neither exhaustive nor in any priority order):
• English is the national language of Australia. If you have English as your only language and have lived in a foreign language land for some time then you will know the joy of living again in an English-speaking nation.
• Many Australian laws and rules are similar (and sometimes identical) to the UK. For example, Australia drives on the left-hand side of the road and it operates on the Westminster system of parliament to a great degree.
• Australia has plenty of room. Britain with its 67 million people is 32 times smaller in land size than Australia and which has a population of just 26 million.
• The Australian weather, that is:
– Whereby it’s ‘beautiful one day and perfect the next’ (as the advert for Queensland says).
– Whereby my hot water tank is situated OUTSIDE my house as the ambient temperature in my neighbourhood never gets to freezing point.
– Whereby Brisbane winter days can have the same temperature as London summer days.
• Whilst Britain has some glorious scenery, the landscapes in Australia can be breathtaking.
Of course, economic pull factors were vital to our decision-making. The economic prospects and opportunities to use my skillset in Australia were many and various and, put together, they were compelling. I maintained my self-employment here for almost twenty years and retired aged 70 because I could.
More to come …