Why I’m quitting my job and moving to Australia
No sensible person would do this. Resign from a perfectly good job in this uncertain economic climate. Pack up the bags, bid farewell to brilliant friends and family and move to the other side of the world – to a continent they’ve never set foot in. To a country where, for years, the only people to be sent there from here were undesirables: convicts, orphans, vagabonds and minor royals.
But, in a remarkable reversal of fortunes, Australia is now the land of hope, opportunity, and empowerment. Moving there has never seemed so sensible. Which is why, like a record number of Brits, I’m over the moon about moving down under.
In the decade to 2009, emigration from the UK to Australia doubled. During that period almost half a million people moved from the UK to Australia. That’s the highest figure since records began. Australia is now the number one destination for Brits like me to set up home in by a country mile.
That trend looks set to continue and probably increase given that Australian unemployment is 5.3%- a significant 3% less than the UK’s rate of 8.3%.The Commonwealth ‘working holiday visa’ for 18 to 30-year-olds makes it very straight-forward for young people to work there. My visa application was processed within 7 hours: impressive super-efficiency that explains a lot about this buck-the-trend booming economy. It was a relief for me as I’m already a sneeze away from 30.
It’s not just those from the UK who are being coaxed by the call of the kangaroo. Recent reports reveal an unprecedented number of Greeks trying desperately to escape record 18% unemployment rates by moving to Melbourne – home of Australia’s biggest Greek community.
The neology ‘Boomerang Aussies’ has even entered into popular parlance – always the first sign that a social phenomenon is upon us. These are the droves of Antipodeans returning home after an unsatisfactory few years in the UK. Nathan Da Fonte was one, who returned to Sydney from London in December 2011.
Although he enjoyed his time in London, he said: “A strong reason I moved back is the buoyant economic and employment situation in Australia. Also, the Australian Government offers first home buyers a grant to assist them in joining the property market, which will allow me to buy a property sooner than living in the UK.”
Todd Moore returned to Melbourne in November 2011 “because the UK is FREEZING!” Aside from obvious climate differences, Moore cites similar reasons to Da Fonte: “Sadly, the big driver for me was the prospect of earning a professional wage here. Knowing that international experience would be highly valued, I could get a better paid job, and when you do the exchange, I’d be earning nearly 3 times more than I was in the UK.”
So that’s why everyone else is moving or returning there. But what about me? Why am I leaving? Believe it or not – the decision wasn’t just based on economics.
Don’t get me wrong: my life in London was glorious. I was Communications Manager at Comic Relief. I got a cheap, decent bike on the cycle to work scheme and had a stress-free, 10 minute commute. I had fantastic, funny friends. I rented a charming, quirky flat in a converted pub with a useless, but endlessly fascinating, mezzanine. I dined out weekly, went to the theatre monthly and sometimes clubbed in Vauxhall until lunch time. And, at a time when many can’t indulge in such hedonistic pursuits, I was well aware of the privileged position I peered out from. Whilst cramped on my useless mezzanine.
But 2011 was not a good year for the UK. The riots happened at the end of my road in Clapham Junction: I saw two girls giggling past my window with bags of JJB sports loot and felt furious, ashamed and scared all at once. As the Tory cuts smash up our public sector, the Labour opposition looks increasingly pathetic, with too many of its MPs using Twitter as a rope with which to hang their careers. I’m already well and truly Olympicsed out (if I have to hear another tenuous ‘I know! Let’s hook this to the Olympics!’ idea, I’ll use one of the famous five rings to strangle the wise guy suggesting it). Everything about our Olympics is aesthetically un-pleasing: from the now infamous dog’s dinner of a logo to the Anish Kapoor mangled crane structure. Comparing it to the fabulously attractive Sydney 2000 Olympics is basically the same as juxtaposing a British and Aussie set of teeth.Also, the news here is hell-bent on doom. Plus every bus has that bloody bigot Thatcher peering ominously back at me.
In contrast, here are the things I love about Oz: it’s run by a woman (who is nothing like Thatcher.) They don’t seem to take life too seriously; this sunny, sanguine disposition even plays out in news reportage. It reminds me of boom time cool Britannia under Blair. And it has now well and truly surpassed America as the land of unparalleled dreams.
As David Cameron explores what makes Brits happy, perhaps this is a response he’d prefer to ignore.
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