Am I leaving Australia for good……? To be honest ‘how do I know?
Almost on a daily base I get not only to hear that question but also that I am silly to leave Australia. When people ask me ‘if it is for good’ they tend to get this facial expression of disbelief and pity. It is bizarre as on the one hand people enjoy telling others that I am planning to move to Europe. And on the other hand the reactions are of utter disbelief.
Permanent? For good? Why would you want you do that? Really?
Australians really believe that they live in the best country in the world. They like to travel and visit other countries but in general would not want to stay overseas. Off course there are some that moved abroad and are happy to be there. I even know some who have left and wish never to return to the land Down Under.
Having lived in London we have come across many Aussies who lived and worked for a couple of years in London. It seems to be just temporarily as most of them tend to go back to Australia when they are ready to settle and have kids.
Why leaving Australia seems to make no sense
Australia is indeed a great country to raise kids. Not only that but also to have a pleasant life. People are friendly, the weather is good in most places and the quality of the essentials in life is relatively high.
The water is clean, the streets and parks are well kept and there are many outdoor facilities for sport and recreation. It is easy to find a free public toilets and drink water fountains are abundant in contrary to many other countries we have visited. However bottled water is in those countries very affordable while in Australia they cost a premium!
Good quality and well maintained picnic tables on Stradbroke Island
The standard of the health care system is high. It is easy to get to see a doctor, get a test or see an alternative practitioner. It is overall not an extremely expensive system but in general you have to pay something for every service. The reason you can get an MRI or some other test within a couple of days is because you pay.
I know that in London, UK you have to wait weeks to get a doctor’s appointment, let alone an X-ray. One of the reasons Brexit came along….
One thing springs to mind though…. What about paying a small sum for the privilege of an appointment. Might speed up things a bit…….
Anyway put all these wonderful Aussie services aside and assess what other things could make me stay. The fact is that I have been here over 25 years and have indeed enjoyed fantastic weather, breathtaking nature, empty sandy beaches and good quality food. It has been wonderful and satisfying.
One of the beaches in Byron Bay, one of our favourite spots to visit.
However if I stay another 20 years, granted that life gives me that amount of years to live, I will enjoy exactly that some more. The point is that I want to experience different things. I am saturated with Australian life and made the most out of it, but I am done!
Why leaving Australia makes sense
Staying in Australia feels a bit like stalling the rest of my life. I want a different experience. For instance I want to speak my languages, five of them to be precise. To keep my brain active I have added a sixth – I am learning Spanish.
Australians don’t get this wish or urge to want more. Many of them like going abroad but some of them have not even been out of their state. Our babysitter, age 18 when the kids were young, had not been over the Queensland border. Most Australians have not seen Tasmania or West Australia. It takes 5 hours to fly to Perth and it takes 5 hours to fly to Bali. So you get the gist.
Australians are rather insular. They think their country is the one and only one. In general they can not see why you could want to live somewhere else.
One of my clients, a 94 year old local with a brain that still works like a train, had a bit of a whinge recently. She said that Australia had been the lucky country for a long time. But she reckoned that it ain’t gonna be that lucky for much longer.
She would like to see Australians travel more so they would expand their horizons. She likes them to realise there is more to life than pool, sun and BBQ’s. Refreshing words……?
A friend of a friend went to live in Portugal to retire. He finds it hard and is occasionally lonely. One of his Aussie mates hoped their would be a Coles or Woolies around the corner – that would soften the pain. Another friend hoped I would be able to find a Bunnings in my French neighbourhood if I wanted to get back into gardening.
People, people, every country has their own Coles and Bunnings, but do Australians who rarely travel, really believe they could be the same shops??? Get real.
For non-Australians, Coles, Woolworths and Bunnings are giant monopolies in Australia dictating what Aussies eat, drink and pay for it and how they renovate their houses and maintain their gardens.
A bit of a comparison
Life in Australia is attractive, but it is also superficial. There is a lack of complexity and culture. Not so hard to understand as it is a young country. Also bizarre as we have a population that is made up of dozens of different cultures. Somehow these cultures do not really make an impact in the Australian experience.
The country remains very much a part of the Commonwealth with the remnants of its laws, rules and systems. Apart from the food culture.
During the eighties you could barely find a good coffee, now we have a coffee culture that is world class. ‘Australian Master Chef’ attracts guest chefs with international fame and is watched far beyond our borders.
Australia – the land of the great coffees and brownies as well, it seems!
You can find ingredients for every type of food in Australia and in the bigger cities many restaurants selling a huge variety of ethnic dishes. That is one thing I definitely will miss. I will be much harder to enjoy the melting pot of different foods that is available here.
The food on offer is diverse but it comes with a price. It ain’t cheap. That is something I won’t miss. Our markets are nothing more than huge outdoor deli’s where organic strawberries are not sold because it is the season. They are on offer because they are organically grown and because of that they must cost a fortune.
Markets in European markets seem to sell their wares in season and for an affordable market price. You buy stone fruit in late summer and cherries in May. Not like in Oz where most people do not even know what fruit is in season at what time of the year. It seems to be available all year round, but there is hardly ever a cheap time for any fruit.
This may be to protect the local market or due to the monopoly of our supermarkets but I am fed up with paying 4-5 dollars for an avocado. We grow them ourselves, they are an Aussie ‘icon’, so why on earth 4-5 dollars?
Leaving Australia is a ‘sure’ thing
Anyway, enough on the subject. There are many reasons for me to stay in Australia but the pull to explore other things that Australia does not offer has become so much bigger.
So yes, I am going to be leaving Australia for real. I am not sure if I am leaving for good nor am I sure that I will remain in Europe forever. Who know these things? Life throws many things at us and sometimes it forces us to make changes for the worse or the better.
Nobody knows in advance and also nothing is set in stone. In contrary to many Australians we have the option to leave and live in other countries.
We have the passports. Lucky us……..!