Moving to live in a place you hardly know is an exciting experience, and also a steep learning curve.
About 10 years ago, Richard and I decided to stop off in Perth for a three-day look-see on our way from Sydney to Bali, and were really surprised how much we liked it. We’d expected a quiet, sleepy little place on the edge of nowhere, but instead we found a beautiful sunny city with tasteful modern architecture and very friendly people enjoying a great quality of life.
So when we decided to move from the UK to Australia, Perth was at the top of our shortlist for locations to check out, and now here we are.
Different to the UK
“Ooh look!” we say when we spot a cloud in the sky. The UK has three seasons, according to some — light grey, dark grey, and the one or two days of summer where the sun makes an appearance. But here the skies are vast and blue, and clouds are rare, fluffy white wonders, worthy of finger-pointing exclamations.
“Wow!” we say when we spot a green lawn. With 3,200 hours of sunshine a year, Perth is Australia’s sunniest city, but this takes a toll on the grass. Only lovingly watered turf survives, so it’s not an everyday sight.
“Aaah!” we say, whenever we park our car and can open the doors on both sides to get out. Australia is a big island, and the size of parking spaces reflects this. Not so in the UK, where all too often the front passenger has to get out before the car is parked, and sometimes the space is so tight that even the driver can’t open their door after parking. No wonder Clarkson Parking is catching on there (named after petrolhead and TV presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, who started a trend for taking up two parking spaces for one car).
“Yes!” we say, when we contact a company to help us set something up, and they are positive and helpful and get the job done with the minimum of fuss. In the UK, a cartoon sketch I once saw of a skeleton holding on the phone to get through to Customer Service sums up how difficult it can be there.
But “Oh dear!” we say, as we survey meagre organic produce sections of Perth’s supermarkets compared to the superb quality and plentiful array of Prince Charles’ Duchy Organics, available in all the many Waitrose stores back in Blighty. The hunt for good sources of organic food here is on.
And “Oh-oh!” we say, if we spot an indoor spider’s web. In the UK, we just get out the feather duster and clean it away but here a web reveals that a spider’s got in so we need to also find its access point and seal it.
“Hmm…” we say, as we peruse the complex Aussie taxation rules we need to understand to set up our new business. They are written in English but read like a foreign language.
And “Eek!” we say, when we discover the cost of calling an ambulance in Western Australia can be as much as $10,000. On the rare occasion we once needed one in the UK, it was free, but here “ambo” insurance has now been added to our ever-growing To Do list.
The long term
With each passing day, we discover a new aspect of Aussie life that needs to be researched and understood. We’re making good progress, but it does take time.
When we moved from Bali to the UK back in 2010, it took us two years to fully set up our lives, set up our business, and learn the know-how of getting things done. Seven years later, here we are, going through this process again. We’re happy to do it but have no plans to move continents again after this!
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Copyright © Karen Kingston, 2017