Warning - long post!
A few months ago we became permanent residents after having been here since the back end of '07 as SIR495 holders. Since then I've been meaning to provide an update on our time here so far, the high points and the low, our likes and dislikes. As you good people all know, opinions can vary and one person's experience might not match another's, so it's likely that you'll disagree with some of these observations – and wouldn't life be boring otherwise?
As mentioned above, we arrived on the run-up to Christmas '07 and, knowing that this wouldn't be a good time to job hunt, spent the first few weeks in holiday mode, settling in and enjoying our new surroundings. This was tempered to a degree by the on arrival accommodation we were staying in which, while we were grateful for it because of the savings we made in rental costs for those first few weeks, was a bit grim. It did the job and seemed clean enough (although cockroaches made regular visits despite the place getting a good dousing by all insecticides known to man) but still felt prison-like. The road it was off was a major hoon burnout location, and we would often listen to revving engines and the screeching of brakes as rubber was laid in wiggly lines on the tarmac. On one eventful night, a car was torched right beneath our bedroom, forcing a hasty retreat from us because of the heat and lest the whole thing should explode. This was followed, a day or so later, by the arrest of one of our neighbours (in what I assume was an unrelated matter), who put up an entertaining if doomed struggle for freedom ...
Before making the move, we'd come over here form a three week recce and to validate the visas, and during this time stayed in four different places in order to experience different suburbs, travelling time, public transport, facilities etc. We had a great time and decided early on in the recce that we'd make the move to Adelaide. During our on arrival accommodation experience with its car burning etc, we were able to focus on the Adelaide we had previously seen on our recce and knew that not all of Adelaide was like this. I do wonder, though, what our feelings would have been had this been our first exposure to Adelaide – we might well have been on the next plane back.
In mid January '08 we decided it was time to find a longer term rental, and this coincided with me landing a job, thus reducing the financial burden of paying for our new accommodation.
We moved to Northgate (next to the new Lightsview development) and have been happy during our time here and all has been quiet, apart from the one night, just a week or so after moving in, when a car was set alight right outside our house ...
We've settled well into life here; Thomas loves it and the number of kids at his fourth birthday party showed that he has a healthy circle of young friends.
So far, Adel has looked after Thomas during the day and therefore hasn't hunted for work. Given that we're currently having a house built and are about to be saddled with a much bigger mortgage than our original dreams suggested would be the case, this will shortly have to change!
Incidentally, we're building in Nairne. During our recce, one of the places we stayed in was Crafers, and we loved the feel of the Adelaide Hills and it became a choice between living right by the sea or up in the hills – no 'somewhere in between' for us! Given the prices of easy-reach beach suburbs and the size of most blocks, we ended up concentrating our efforts in the hills, eventually buying just under half an acre in an established part of Nairne. Since then we've been going through the lonnggggg process of having a house designed, gaining council approval, changing builders along the way and now finally seeing the thing take shape. With a fair wind, at some point in around three months we should finally move into our new home and I think that's when we'll feel properly settled.
On discussion boards such as this, there is the occasional debate about whether holding a temporary visa is a limiting factor when applying for jobs. To this debate I can add only that for me it hasn't been. In applying for the first few jobs, I made mention of the conditions of my visa, highlighting its temporary nature to would-be employers. I either heard nothing back (nothing unusual there as most job applications receive no response) or I received a query asking for clarification on my visa status ... then heard nothing back. In subsequent applications I simply pointed out that I held a visa allowing me to live and work in SA, and got a far better response. Most employers don't know much about the various visa types and their interest in this matter extends only to the point that it's 'safe' to employ someone. Of course, it might be very different with another occupation, but for me, the only limiting factor seemed to be my original insistence in pointing out the visa conditions whether the employer wanted to know about them or not!
Still on the subject of jobs, I was very fortunate in landing a good job relatively quickly. As a result of several meetings with recruitment agents, I was interviewed by two companies (where the roles hadn't been advertised) and offered both jobs. I was notified about the second job the week after starting the first, and because this one paid better than the one I was doing I explained to my employer that I was considering leaving. My salary was then increased by my employer, so I remained and have been working here since and really enjoy it. I work in HR and my working conditions are very similar to roles I've held in the UK, it being just as much a 'corporate' environment as anywhere else; I do know, though, that this isn't the case everywhere, and anecdotally I've heard some horror stories about how some people are treated by their employers.
What do we like about Adelaide? Lots of things – the weather, the access to great beaches and countryside, exploring different places within easy reach, parrots darting through the trees, the wildlife, the number and variety of cafes and restaurants, and the attitudes of most people.
What don't we like? Lots of things – the standard of driving (and the lack of any action to raise these standards to anything like a decent level), the hoons, the amount of graffiti, the crime, the state of the politics, dog owners who think that beach rules apply to everybody else except them, the price and lack of variety in supermarkets, the massively overvalued real estate, dogs barking in the night, the parochial – sometimes much worse, bigoted – views of a few people.
Overall, are we glad we made the move? Yes. It's cost us more financially than we'd expected and can comfortably afford, and we'll have a much bigger mortgage for the house we're building than would have been the case had we made the move a few years earlier, and family and friends are sorely missed, but yes, we're glad to be here.
Are we here to stay? We're not sure. We don't have any active plans to move on, but then, six or seven years ago we didn't have any firm plans to move from the UK. There are a lot of places in the world that have their attractions and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if we were drawn to one or another of them in the next few years. Equally, we'd have no qualms about moving back to the UK; we had a good standard of living there and made the move primarily for the adventure and to see another part of the world, not because we hated the place. For now, though, Adelaide is home.
Would we recommend Adelaide to others? Hmm, this depends on the reasons for leaving where they currently are and the reasons for choosing Adelaide. It strikes me that some people make the move having done very little research (e.g. 'we're arriving next month – what's the weather like at that time of year?' – what, you mean you're dragging yourself and your family to the other end of the world and you're not aware of the climate?) and then when Adelaide falls short of their incredibly wide-of-the-mark expectations, it gets a bashing. Equally, some who have made the move seem blind to its attractions, while others are just as blind to its shortcomings (on this latter point, for anyone who hasn't realised it, Adelaide has crime! There isn't the same airspace or media coverage of it as there is in the UK, but it's there nonetheless, albeit some of the descriptors used are different: bashings, home invasions, hoon driving, rorts ...) If someone is looking for a high-rise skyline with theme parks and non-stop action, then I'd be reluctant to recommend Adelaide. If they're looking for a crime-free haven where the sun always shines, everybody is friendly and you can have a dream house with a pool for less than you paid for your last car, I'd equally not recommend it (but I'd be interested to hear about the place they do find – we might settle there ourselves). If, though, someone is looking for a nice place, where most people are hospitable, where property remains just about affordable if you're willing to compromise and be realistic, where hard work pays off, where some things are annoyingly second rate but others are delightfully first rate, then Adelaide is certainly worth a look.
If you got this far, I hope this has been of some use!