It’s time for a summer getaway! Whilst many of us are preparing to escape to warmer climes for a week or two others are packing their bags and planning to make that move permanently. I wanted to speak to people who had upped sticks, left Preston and settled abroad. In this, the first in a three part series of articles, I talk to two Prestonian ex-pats now living in Australia to find out whether they are really ‘Living the Dream’.Advertisement
Two decades ago, before the widespread use of the internet, Arthur Heaps, 52, and his family relocated from Preston to Sydney and set up their own printing business.
“When I moved with my family we were completely blind,” he says. “These days with the internet you can do so much research on the availability of jobs, cost of renting, best areas to live. We had to learn by making mistakes and with experience. It was a fairly expensive way of finding out.”
Arthur’s initial motivation was to gain further experience in the printing industry and to see Australia and New Zealand. Twenty years later he and his family are still there.
“There have been many benefits in moving to Sydney,” he says. “My son has a very good job which if the job had been available in the UK he would have been up against a hundred or so other people.”
At the end of May 2012 the Office for National Statistics published their quarterly report which detailed that the estimated number of British citizens emigrating long term from the UK in the year to September 2011 was 142,000. Six thousand more than the year before, not a huge difference but still people are moving.
Lisa Lewis, 38, lives in Diamond Creek, Melbourne. She, her husband and two sons left Preston five years ago for a better standard of living, quality of life and future for her children.
“The schools have great facilities,” she says, “especially in sport. From the age of eight children are encouraged to speak freely about various topics in school and encouraged to travel, taking time out of the classroom to do so. They say travel will educate you more than any classroom can!”
“The weather makes all the difference to the way of life, my eldest spends every evening after school at the skate park and we have a local outdoor pool. A far cry from Haslam Park baths when I was a kid.”
So with the weather, the great leisure facilities and opportunities in Australia is there anything the families miss back home in Preston?
“I miss my family, the countryside, going on North End with my brother, some pubs and my Friday nights out,” says Arthur.
Lisa agrees, “The downside is missing my family and friends. Although it gets easier I still miss them and get homesick, even after five years. It’s still devastating saying good-bye that never changes.
There are other downsides, Arthurs says that food is more expensive but petrol is cheaper and Lisa says the cost of living is higher but the wages are too, so it’s all relative. So would they move back?
“Moving back is a good question,” says Arthur. “I would never come back to Preston as I feel the town is not for me. I may consider moving to another part of the UK but the weather is grim, it is over populated and there is a lack of public services.”
“I wouldn’t move back,” says Lisa. “Although I miss family and friends Australia has so much to offer. We have a large house with a pool and the kids have great freedom, with relatively low crime in the area where we live.”
Ambler Collins are a UK based multi-destination visa consultancy, providing specialist advice for those seeking to make the move down under. Nicky from Ambler Collins has noticed an increase in people wishing to relocate to Australia. What advice would she give to someone thinking of making the move?
“The first thing I would advise anyone to do is to undertake an English Language Test, points are no longer awarded simply because you can show a UK passport and to be in a position to gain the most points available it is essential that an applicant completes an IELTS test.”
“The cost of this is minimal in comparison to the cost of a Skills Assessment and in my view until this is completed successfully any potential applicant could be spending substantial monies but may not be able to make an actual migration application.”
How long does the process of relocating take? Nicky says, “From July Australia are implementing a new system whereby potential applicants have to
make an Expression of Interest, these are held in a pool for up to two years and there is in fact no guarantee that it will be chosen from the pool. As this is brand new policy I am not able to give an estimate of timeframes for General Skilled visas.”
So do our Prestonian Poms have any advice for people seeking to live down under?
“If a family is moving over to Aus then they all have to sign up for the adventure as emigrating is a big step,” says Arthur. “Home sickness is a big problem and for many it just does not work for them. Do plenty of research, go on social media forums and ask plenty of questions.”
“Come with a positive outlook,” says Lisa. “Give yourself at least two years to settle in and adjust to your life. Aussies really do like to relax, chill and enjoy each day!”
In part two of Living the Dream Blog Preston talks to Charlotte Walker, a Prestonian who has lived, worked and studied in Spain and Switzerland. We talk to her about the opportunities and challenges of settling in the Netherlands, where she now lives and works.