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Published on October 28th, 2009 | by


Aussies take a money hit to move back home

A dismal UK economic outlook and tightening visa regulations are driving Australians home in their droves, according to a leading foreign exchange firm.

Currencies Direct has seen the number of Australians buying dollars to return home leap by 35 per cent in the last year, while international removals firm Movecorp reports a similar increase (38%) in people moving back ‘down under’.

The exodus is believed to have been caused by various factors, including the prospect of a recession-hit British winter, the introduction of much harsher conditions for getting a UK work visa, and the fact that the Australian economy is one of the strongest in the world right now.

In the latest round of unemployment figures, Australia recorded the biggest fall in almost two years while the UK continues to see its rate rise

There are estimated to be 117,000 Australians in the UK and those who do choose to return home will face a hefty financial burden.

The Australian dollar has fallen nearly a third (29%) against sterling in the past year, and Aussies repatriating £195,500 (the average UK house price) will be £44,302 worse off than 12 months ago.

Mark O’Sullivan, director of dealing at Currencies Direct, said: “Following a sharp increase in the amount of Aussies returning home in recent months, the once thriving Australian community in Britain is diminishing before our eyes.

“The interesting thing is how many Australians are prepared to take such a significant hit on the exchange rate in return for better job security and prospects ‘down under’.

“To compound matters, there is expectation in the market that the Australian Central Bank will increase interest rates again and the Australian dollar will strengthen. So the dilemma for Aussies living in the UK is whether to jump ship now or risk riding the storm.”

In September this year the UK authorities implemented a tough new points system for working visas for people outside the European Union. It is designed to raise the skills bar for migrants and is making it harder for Australians who have lost their jobs in the UK to stay here.

James Tennant, head of sales at international removal firm Movecorp, said: “Over the last 12 months our removals to Australia have risen significantly.

“However the size of the moves has fallen as people have struggled to sell their properties and opted to rent them out instead – perhaps giving them a safety net to return to should things improve in the UK.”

The silver lining for Australians is that a recent UN study1 found Australia to have the second best quality of life in the world, behind Norway.

Matthew Jewkes, a 23 year old Australian living in London, said: “The prospect of returning home to a more stable job market, beautiful beaches and regular BBQs is very tempting indeed.

“I’ve been in and out of work over the last six months and financially things have been very tight. If I can secure full-time work in Australia and the exchange rate becomes slightly more favourable, I’ll definitely be heading home for Christmas on the beach.”

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