Been here 3 weeks now and have finally got round to doing my first post having arrived on Sunday 13th April. Apologies for the length, I rarely post but once I get going I struggle to stop!
For those that donít know I have come on my own for 5 weeks with Ali and the children following on behind 5 weeks later. Ali and the kids came to the airport with me with Aliís parents so we could fit all of us and my luggage in 2 cars Ė couldnít get 5 of us and my stuff in a Punto! I have to say I found the saying goodbye both to family in the run up to the big day and at the airport harder than I expected. I was really impressed with how the children coped. Hardly a tear, if any between them Ė anyone would think they were glad to see the back of me!
I flew with Singapore who were great. The food was good and as I really struggle to sleep at all on planes I spent the whole time watching films and listening to music. I had 17 hours in Singapore so had booked a room at the transit hotel for 12 hours which was a godsend. Filled in the rest of the time wandering round the airport, having a nice relaxing meal and a couple of beers Ė ah the joys of peaceful travel on your own!
I was met at the airport by Dennis and Rene from the Meet and Greet service. They were really helpful and took me straight to our On Arrival Accommodation. They gave me loads of info, then took me shopping for some basics. I would recommend the Meet and Greet service to anyone. Being a fairly independent soul my initial reaction was íIíll be ok, can manage on my own thanks very muchí. Ali talked me into it and I have to say it was well worthwhile.
On Arrival Accommodation. This seems to have had a fairly bad press on the forums over the last few months. All I can say is that I am really pleased with what we have been allocated. We have been given a 3 bed detached house in Novar Gardens. Novar Gardens is a pleasant enough area in general and is fairly close to the airport and transport into the city. I even managed the first few days without a car. The area is fine and Iíve not had any problems so far. Yes the house is basic and no itís not what we would choose for a permanent home. However, it has enough space for us to all fit in when the 5 of us are all here. It has enough of the basics to be going on with and it is cheap in comparison to open market rentals. With arriving on a Sunday the rental started from the following Saturday so we effectively get 13 weeks here if we need them and Iím thinking that we will probably use most of the 13 weeks if only to save a bit of cash till Iím earning again.
Iíve seen a few queries recently about OAA so will pass on a few bits of info I got off the guy who came to sign the rental agreement. Houses like the one we have are saved for people with large families Ė I think that means at least 3 children Ė as they have 4 singles, a double and a cot. Also ours had just had the kitchen redone Ė new cupboards, work tops and a new fridge freezer. He said that they are trying to improve the stock gradually but that when they started they were given some really Ďshadyí properties by the housing association. Apparently they are getting better ones now and what they have is improving all of the time. Based on our experience so far I would recommend OAA but it does sound like itís a bit of a luck of the draw scenario both in terms of getting OAA and what you get allocated.
Since arriving I have been sorting out all the practical things that need to be done on first arriving. For those yet to come out my list is as follows: activating bank accounts and getting cash cards and internet banking sorted, joining a library for free internet access to start off with, getting a new driving licence, tax file no., signing up for medicare, sorting ambulance cover, mobile sim card, telephone and internet access, house insurance, buying a car, car insurance, forms to apply for child benefit when the kids arrive, buying a tv for the kids when they arrive, buying essentials like sheets etc, visiting recruitment agents. Now Iíve typed it out it doesnít seem that long but it has taken the best part of 2 weeks to get through it all.
The last week has been spent chasing agencies re job adverts and starting to drive round areas to narrow down the list of potential suburbs to rent and eventually buy in. Been around some of the south and the north east so far. Did 150 miles the first day and am I glad it was just me and not the 5 of us in a car all day. Have to say I ruled out far more areas than I ruled in but hey thatíll make the decision easier at the end of the day.
So what have I made of Adelaide so far? I like the city centre Ė beats Liverpool where I worked for the last 4 years hands down. Been to Glenelg and do like it but my first reaction on getting to the jetty at the front was ĎHmm, smells just like Rhylí Ė the similarity did end there! As yet I donít feel as if I have got any feel for what living here will be like, but then again Iím here on my own and not with other half and 3 kids and not working yet so couldnít possibly have a view on that yet. Virtually everyone Iíve met has been friendly and helpful. Life does seem more relaxed here than the UK although I do suspect that I will find some aspects of this irritating at times when I want something sorting out. I realise that to a certain extent I will have to learn to live with it after all I need to adapt to Australia not the other way around.
Some things have struck me so far (no complaints or whinges just observations):
∑ 50 cent coin Ė donít recall seeing such an enormous coin anywhere before, certainly know when you have a few in your pocket. The 20 cent isnít far behind either.
∑ 2 dollar coin is smaller than the 1 dollar Ė caught me out a couple of times as Iíd expect it to be the other way round
∑ Not having any 1 or 2 cent coins. The rounding up or down when you pay cash still gets me. I asked how much a battery charger was in one shop, itís $24.99 sir he said so I gave him $25 dollars. Really confused me when I only got a receipt in return and no change! Still Iím sure iíll get used to it.
∑ Crocks Ė as far as I can see theyíre designed for hot weather to keep feet cool. Iíve come to a hot country so see them around a fair bit. But I didnít expect to see a shop selling lambswool lined crocks!
∑ Driving Ė ok this is a bit of a complaint Ė such large, wide roads and what feels like such low speed limits. I was really depressed at having to buy an automatic to start off with (donít do the model we wanted in manual). My original and current view is automatics are boring, tedious, inefficient and remove all the enjoyment from driving. Having had one now for all of a week and a half Iím dead right but on spacious roads with speed limits in most areas of no more than 60kms (thatís 37.5 mph) my licence wouldnít last long in something more Ďentertainingí. Thatís my Jeremy Clarkson moment over with. Finally do I regret coming and would I change how weíve gone about it?
On the regret side itís too early to say but so far no. I can see great potential for us as a family to get what we want eventually. Obviously some of the biggest determining factors will be work for me, the kids settling into good schools and making friends, Ali building up friendships like she had in Winsford and ,for us all, finding a church like we left behind . The real acid test will be whether in 2 years time the balance in our lives is how we want it to be. One thingís for certain weíll give it a good go, see where we end up and enjoy the experience along the way.
On the how weíve gone about it question. I think me coming on my own was the right thing. Donít know if Ali will say the same after the flight. The one thing I would change is the 5 weeks apart bit. 3 would have been better and this weekend would have been the perfect time for the rest of the family to come out. The plus side is that hopefully from missing each other as much as we have done weíll all appreciate each other more from now. Thatís one for me to remember when I get ratty with the kids.
Anyway I have rambled enough - I'm sure Ali will post an update once she's arrived and settled and give a better insight into daily life.