Lots of people heading over to live from the UK want to know, what’s life in Perth really like? Is it all blue skies, suntan cream and sandy beaches? Is it better than the UK in every way? Is everyone as ‘happy as Bruce’ and do the kangaroos all smile and wave you on your way as you speed off to work your 5 hour day?
In a word, and a very short one at that, NO.
Despite popular misconception, it does get cold here as well – Perth has long winters with not much sun and a lot of rain. Just like the UK, everyone isn’t happy all of the time, and kangaroos don’t really smile. I’d say if anything they smirk.
Some people, understandably, given how many burning hoops they have to leap through to get a visa, want to believe that Perth is the answer to all problems on earth – and the very opposite of evil old England. Yes, without a doubt it’s a lovely place to live and the lifestyle is so laid back that many have trouble getting upright again. But like every country it’s far from perfect.
Houses are still expensive and the cost of living high. Jobs are often hard to come by, and the working hours and commutes long. Older kids are often tempted by the huge drug scene on offer. Gang crime, knife crime and gun crime still fills up the news. Politicians still fail to deliver and continue to talk out of their backsides… So Perth may be many things to many people, but if you’ve built it up in your mind to be ‘perfection’, then you might just be shocked to find it’s not the answer to all of your prayers.
Those migrants fresh from the plane and still marveling at the vastness of the sky, the millions of stars on view at night and the wide open beaches will tell you that ‘Perth is as good as it gets’. And that, I think can be very misleading to those trying to decide whether to make the move over. Firstly because the reality of life overseas (once the initial excitement has worn off, whether that takes a week, a month or ever a year) can sometimes be very different to what people expect, and secondly peoples idea of ‘as good as it gets’ can vary greatly.
Many people move over from the UK for a better lifestyle and a house in the sun, a chance to escape a country that is spinning out of control. But despite this, a massive 40% of those who move over from the UK still decide to go back again. That’s an awful lot of people making an extremely costly and difficult decision to return – a decision no one would ever take lightly, or do without good reason. Moving your life around the world is a big enough upheaval in the first place, moving back and starting again is an even bigger one.
Everyone has their own different reasons for not wanting to stay. Some find the distance from friends and family too great. Some feel too cut off from the rest of the world. Some realise that problems faced in the UK are also faced over here. Perhaps some just didn’t want to spend their weekends surfing, hiking, fishing, camping and drinking beer around a BBQ. Or maybe once they’d had a year of cooking sausages in Kings Park, eating fish & chips at Hillarys and trying to spot animals at Perth Zoo the novelty of it all simply wore off. Who knows, maybe the reality of life here simply never lived up to the hype.
So if you’re leaving England and heading south in search of perfection, then it might be wise to really get the lay of the land before your feet touch down on the dusty ground. This way you cut then risk of being surprised, disappointed or disillusioned by what you find. Because if you arrive ready to start your new life Down Under with your eyes wide open, then you will probably love it all and never look back.
To quickly go back to the original question of what’s it like to live in Perth, here’s my answer:
Today I got woken up early by the radio. It was grey, wet and cold outside and the drone of irritating DJ’s put me back to sleep – until the dog barked millimetres away from my ear. I dragged two children from their beds and fed them breakfast. I made my own breakfast and then watched it conceal into concrete as I hunted for last nights homework sheet. I stepped on the dogs tail as he rushed past me to the backdoor. It was still pouring with rain, so as the school bell went in the distance I threw the kids into the car.
I returned from the school run, cleared up breakfast, emptied the dishwasher, put on the washing machine, swept half the garden off the kitchen floor. I then rounded up my son, his water cup and potty and headed out to the supermarket. We navigated the aisles with a renegade trolley while I fed him pancakes to keep him quiet and contained. I loaded the car, filled up with petrol and unloaded the car – all in the rain.
Next came lunch, as requested by my son. I watched him push it around his plate for so long that I gave up, ate it myself and then cleared up. He got all his toys out just to see what would take his fancy – we played with Lego, blocks and trains. The school bell sounded, so we set off with the dog in tow. We ran to the park so the dog could wear himself out while we all stood under a tree in the downpour. I supervised homework, cleared up the house, cooked dinner for the kids and remembered the washing in the machine from this morning. I shoved it all in the tumble drier as it was still raining.
Fed both kids their dinner – felt my blood pressure rise. Cleared up the mess. Supervised their bath time – felt my blood pressure rise further. Overcame a toddler meltdown when Tellytubbies said ‘Goodbye’. Shoehorned two kids into bed and then cleared up the house. Again. Started dinner. Again. Husband arrived home. We both collapsed in front of TV – exhausted. The dog barked at next doors cat and woke me up at 1am. I lay there staring at the clock and waiting to go back to sleep again. I started to panic when I couldn’t fall asleep. Then I suddenly remembered I’d forgotten to turn the tumble drier on. I went to sleep convinced I could already smell the washing going mouldy.
I got woken up early by the radio….
Point made? Living in Perth is like living in many other countries around the world – 5% sunshine and light, 95% reality of your day-to-day life. So whether you choose to live at the top of the world or down here at the bottom, your bills will still mount up and your funds sometimes run low, your children will still squabble, bicker and sulk, and the contents of your ironing basket will still have doubled in size everytime you walk past.
That, as they say, is life.
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