Destinations Magazine

Are Brits Better off in Oz Or Back in Blighty?

By Russellvjward @russellvjward

More than 1.2 million British citizens call Australia home out of a total population of 23 million and the annual numbers of Brits migrating to these shores keep rising. In 2010, 64,000 of us moved down under, up from 48,000 in 1992 (Read: When I no longer feel like an expat).
Our love affair with the lucky country looks set to continue.
We come here in search of the lifestyle. We come here in search of better jobs and bigger houses. We come here in search of fantastic year-round weather which, to be honest, doesn't require much searching for at all.
We land on these shores looking for an improved quality of life and wellbeing but is it a long-term move for the better or would we actually do well heading right back to the UK?

Are Brits better off in Oz or back in Blighty?

Photo credit: Boston Public Library (Flickr Creative Commons)

Australia versus the UK
Both countries have much to offer in a range of areas so I've handpicked the key factors that might influence a decision to stay or to return home.

Australia's economy fared well in the global financial crisis and recession was a word associated with countries further afield. The UK struggled and recovered then struggled again. Now there are signs of growth and recovery in Britain but with vital statistics such as GDP growth, house price increases and employment rates, the UK still lags behind Australia.
Standard of Living
The cost of living in Australia is one of the world's highest and you won't find many Brits heading here for cheap beer, clothing or groceries alone. In fact, more than a third of Brits emigrating to Oz are returning home because they cannot afford to stay here. On average, eating out in Australia costs more than the UK - about 15% more. However, when comparing London to Sydney, London is more expensive. A meal for 2 in the local pub in London would cost over 11% more than it would in Sydney and a ticket to see the latest blockbuster film would cost 8.5% more in London than Sydney.
The weather is undoubtedly one of the main reasons that Brits flock to Australian shores in large numbers and it's not hard to see why. Sydney's average summer temperature reaches 26 degrees while London's temps stutter at a measly 15 degrees, although this summer was quite the windfall for Londoners and Brits alike (Read: Britain basks in glorious sunshine). In terms of sunshine per year, Sydney has almost double the number of sunny days as London but, surprisingly, more rainfall.
Quality of Life
In 2013's Better Life Index, Australia was ranked the world's happiest nation among developed countries for the third year running (the UK was tenth) and Sydney consistently appears in the top ten cities to live in according to the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Liveability Report (British cities appear further down the list). For wellbeing, it's apparent that Australia scores well while the UK still has room for improvement.
So, across these key indicators, Australia comes out on top and the UK doesn't fare as well, but is it as simple as this when choosing to live abroad or are there other things to take into account?
To see how much your weekly shop costs in Sydney compared to London or to see how much a night out would cost in Melbourne compared to Manchester, visit a cost comparison tool which can be found here.
My own story
My own love affair with this country started thirteen years ago when I met my wife (Read: That one defining moment). To me, Australia was a far-flung land, too distant to register on my radar and a place where people called Alf and Ailsa ran around on sandy beaches while the rest of us worked and ate and slept.
When I did first set foot on Australian land, I wasn't blown away or smitten by the things I saw. I liked the place, enjoyed my vacation, but didn't pine to return quite the way I thought I would. When I did eventually move here, it wasn't in search of sun, sea and sand, it was to bring my wife Sarah home.
Seven years on and I get it. I see why 1.2 million Brits choose a piece of earth as far removed and as far away from the motherland as could possibly be found (Read: Ten years and counting). It's not about how much money I earn or where the best schools are. It's not about how much I pay for a loaf of bread or a long black at the local cafe.
It's about my life. Our life here together.
It's about what feels right at this time in our lives and where we feel happiest. At this moment in time. In the here and now.
What you need to consider
Surveys and indicators are all well and good but there's a key criteria for living (and staying) abroad that no survey can give you - gut feeling and a sense of contentment.
Ask yourself if you like living here? Do you enjoy your free time? Can you see yourself staying longer-term living this kind of life?
Every day, we're bamboozled with reports telling us which countries are safest, cheapest and happiest to live in when really it comes down to one thing: personal choice. If you feel connected to a place and at peace with your decision, then you stand a good chance of enjoying your life there.
One trick I employ is to think of my son, then I ask myself two important questions:
1) Where would he be better off in terms of lifestyle, sports, education, health, etc.?
2) Do I want him to grow up in the country I now call home?
Whether it's right or wrong, I find that considering my son's future is a great leveller. I lose the emotion. I think sensibly. I make decisions with a clear head.
And then it becomes obvious to me exactly where I need to be, regardless of surveys or data telling me this or that, why or why not, and whether to stay away or return back to the UK.
Do you think Brits are better off in Oz or back in Blighty? What have been your experiences in terms of returning to a place - better off or wishing you could move abroad again? Do you pay much attention to country surveys?
Tonight, I'll be appearing on Wanderlust on Bondi Beach Radio, interviewed by Katie Mayors about the blog, expat life in Sydney and my recent sponsored travel trips. I'd love for you to tune in so here are the details for listening either through their website or via the TuneIn app:
Date: Wednesday 2nd October
Time: 7pm Australian Eastern Time (10am UK)
For further comparisons between Australia and the UK, visit Schepen's infographic here.

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