Published on June 22nd, 2016 | by john.weir2
Loving life in Brisbane, Australia’s river city
Robert and Angela Cumberbatch made the move from Leeds to Australia’s east coast, where they live with their two children, Jade and Jordan. Here is Angela’s story….
As I am writing this, it is our three year anniversary of arriving in Brisbane.
Our story started four years ago when my husband’s manager suggested (again) we relocate here and work for her. She moved here seven years ago and we had the same opportunity then, but I wouldn’t relocate!
It was a fantastic opportunity for us. We’d watched all the Wanted Down Under shows, and England was changing for the worse, in our opinion.
Pam, my husband’s manager, raved about Australia and the lifestyle seemed perfect, so we felt it was only fair to give the children the opportunity of a different lifestyle. We all hated the cold, wet British weather, although we hadn’t been to Australia before!
We first tried a migration agent, but it seemed costly and Rob felt he could do it himself, so we did. We were lucky his new employers in Australia funded the move.
It cost about A$7,000 to ship our furniture and belongings, then the added costs of medicals, police checks and applying for Permanent Residency, as we knew once we arrived we might not meet the criteria as Rob would be 45, and no points are given after 45!
Robert’s occupation was on the wanted list, but his age was against us as we still didn’t have enough points for Permanent Residency. Therefore, he had to sit the professional full day English exam. In total it was about £15,000 for the whole move.
We completed the visa online. We had to gather together documents such as birth and marriage certificates, certified copies of bank statements and wage slips. It took six months from submitting the application to receiving the Permanent Residency visa, in May 2012, which again is all notified online.
We plan to apply for Australian citizenship, but we have another year to wait, as we have to be Australian residents for four years.
The most stressful part of the move was leaving family and friends behind and not having them here to support us. Skype and Facebook are brilliant for keeping in touch and feels more ‘real’, though sometimes it is more difficult as you can see everything you’re missing out on!
We arrived just before Christmas and as we were waiting for our furniture to arrive, Christmas wasn’t an ideal time to come, having to sit on deck chairs and blow up beds!
The shipping container took longer than we were told – just over three months – and we couldn’t wait to get our belongings. Some items were broken and missing when they eventually arrived! My advice would be to take photographs and insure specific items, rather than the whole container.
We have found the big differences between the UK and Australia are healthcare and schools. We were unfortunate to have two unexpected major operations in our family shortly after we arrived. We have private healthcare but this doesn’t cover all the costs, so my advice would be to shop around with healthcare cover, although we have found the healthcare in general to be better and faster here than in the UK. Both our children also needed braces at A$6,500 each, so factor in extra costs if you have children.
In both state and private schools there is the cost of uniforms, which is more expensive than in Britain.
We rented first, in the north side of Brisbane in Murrumba Downs. It is a lovely area, not too far from shops, with good public transport, parks, a river and schools. It is halfway between the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane City, with easy access onto the highway and about 20 minutes to a beach.
We bought our home about six months after being here as the children were then settled in school, and we liked the area.
Our home is a five-bedroom, three-bathroom detached property on a large plot with a swimming pool. We were thinking of a newer build but these tend to be smaller plots. Our home is about 30 years old and needed renovating! We paid A$550,000 for our house, but the house prices have gone up in the area in the last three years.
It is unusual to find a good rental with a pool, and that was our push for buying as we were all keen to have one, along with the fact I thought our own home would make us feel more settled. Homes here are more spacious than UK homes, with an open, airier feel and better value for money.
The weather is hot all year round during the day, but winter nights can get cold. Winter days are beautiful, still T- shirts and shorts but we don’t need to put air con and fans on, unlike the summer, which can get unbearably hot!
The move has definitely changed our lives for the better. We go out more as a family, have become much more outdoorsy and it’s now a habit for us to eat outside (a rare occasion, even in summertime in the UK).
For us, the move has been positive and a totally different way of life. I can understand the Ping Pong Poms and why they do that, as there is a big family pull, but the quality of life here, we feel, is better than in the UK.
It is a coffee culture here in Brisbane. There are coffee shops all over the place and we’ve now got the coffee bug (no more instant!).
There isn’t as much choice in supermarkets as the UK, as there are only two main supermarkets to choose from, but the fruit and vegetables taste fresher and nicer than in the UK. There is a local tavern (like a pub/restaurant), but the main pubs and nightclubs are either in the city or in another suburb about 25 minutes away.
The children found it difficult to settle at first, but this became easier once they started school and made friends. When we first arrived I joined a local women’s group. It was there I clicked with a fellow Pom, Tracey, who lives nearby and we have become great friends. Through Tracey and my husband we have a fabulous group of British and Australian friends and a typical weekend will be barbeques at the beach, hanging out by the pool, camping or evenings spent with friends around a barbeque.
The ladies make time for a coffee catch up, a pamper day and more recently, high tea at the Versace Hotel, where we met the UK stars from I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! I feel migrants without extended family here try harder with friendships as they become your family. Friends are not going to find you though; you have to make the effort.
The things I miss most about the UK are the people, particularly family. I’ve been back to the UK once, in our second year, and family have been out to visit, which was brilliant.
I also miss the old buildings and the cold weather at Christmas – it doesn’t feel the same putting decorations up in 90 degrees! I also miss some of the shops, like good old M&S and Boots!
Our plans for the future would be to buy a motorhome to travel around Australia and adapt a granny flat for the grandparents, so they can stay longer!
I’ve been fortunate to have made a fabulous friend here, as well as a work partner, Kate! She is also a fellow Pom, and it’s nice to be able to support each other.
We are both UK qualified and Australian certified counsellors, and have set up our own practice which supports people who have migrated, and who may be finding the transition difficult. We are Brisbane based and we do individual, Skype and group counselling sessions.
Our advice for readers considering a move to Australia is first, do your homework, particularly on private healthcare, hospitals and schools.
Do not assume Australia is like the UK, but hot! It’s a different lifestyle, culture and climate. Consider bringing as little as possible and start again with furniture. Keep important documents together in a safe place – even after three years here, you will still need them! Finally, just live the dream, you will never know if you don’t try!
Looking for some help in making the move downunder ? Why not come to Down Under Live – the UK’s ONLY event for emigration and jobs to Australia.