I’ve been here for just over 4 months now and thought I’d post an update as we always found these useful when we were in the UK.
I arrived on 13th April and was here on my own for 5 weeks before Ali and the kids joined me on 19th May. Since our last updates we have sorted a 12 month rental in Greenwith in the North East. I have a permanent job that I have been in for about 6 weeks and that is going well so far. The job started out as part time doing half a normal working week but is now up to 3 quarters although I put in a full week last week. Doing part time work has been a really good way of starting to get into work but also having time to help Ali and the kids settle.
Our older 2, Meg and Joey, have been going to Golden Grove state primary for a couple of months now. Both seem to have settled well and we have been really pleased with the school. The facilities are incredible in comparison to the school they went to in the UK. The approach is, however, different to what we were used to in the UK.
At the age that our kids are (9 and 6) there is less emphasis placed on academic achievement and more placed on other aspects like self confidence and self reliance etc. There are positives and negatives to this but for us the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. Meg in particular has blossomed and from being really timid and reserved at school in the UK now has the self confidence to just decide to pick up her ‘Egg Flip’ toys on Friday morning to take into school and do a talk on them for the whole class. Joey now has the confidence to volunteer for a speaking part in this next week’s school assembly in front of over 600 kids! The downside is that we have found that the reading levels in Joey’s class in particular (reception/yr 1) are appalling and that this is not seen as a big deal. Fortunately Joey has already got a really good reading base from the UK. This does raise concerns for our youngest, Pippa who is 2, however our view is that we can give her the extra support so she is at the same reading level as the older 2 at the same age. Overall I think that the kids are better off at school here than they were in the UK.
As far as settling into daily life goes we have done pretty well I think. When it comes to shopping the cost is on a par with the UK. This makes the cost of living higher because wages are lower. However, we have found that meat in particular is a lot cheaper and of a far better quality than we could get where we were in the uk. We have found that we do not really miss anything other than a good take away curry. We don’t look for UK foods or brands in particular, we buy what is available to suit our budget .
The weather has surprised us. Since being here we have had the coldest day for something like 50 years and even had a couple of days of frost. The houses (at least the OAA we had and our rental) really can’t cope with the cold and do get genuinely cold. Roll on the summer when the house will probably be too hot! It’s also been a wet July (close to long term average rainfall) and the Ozzies at work tell me that August has been unusually wet so far!
On the social side we are just starting to find our feet. After a bit of looking we seem to have found a good Church which is important to us. It is a church where the kids have settled into Sunday School and one where they have an attached play group for Ali and Pippa. The kids are starting to get into a few activities. Meg is picking up her dancing again and wants to try tennis. Joey is going to Joey Scouts (same as Beavers) and has started doing tennis (also called Joey tennis – there’s a theme developing here) as well as soccer at school. The kids have decided to support Port Adelaide and me and Joey will also be following Adelaide United.
As hard as leaving family was we can genuinely say that as yet we haven’t felt homesick but are both conscious that it is early days. Everyone that we have met has been friendly and helpful. As an example 2 weeks ago at Church we mentioned to someone that we could do with finding a good Indian take away. The next thing we knew we were invited round for a take away the following week. We went today and had a lovely lunch and afternoon with a really friendly Australian family – probably the best day we have had so far.
On the housing front we are buying a block of land in Salisbury Heights (settle this Tuesday) and are in the process of signing up to build with Homestead Homes. Hopefully we can tie this in with the rental ending next June or at least get a 6 month extension on the rental.
Since we have been here we have well and truly tested out the healthcare system. So far we have been to 3 hospitals but that is a whole thread in itself – check out Ali’s separate ongoing tales of touring the local healthcare system. Suffice to say so far we’ve been satisfied with the care levels, other than the potentially disastrous cost of Meg’s contact lenses.
In summary so far we feel settled. For me as an adult I wouldn’t say that Australia is a dream come true. It’s a place to live that so far is pretty good. For our children however, I think that it will be a superb environment to grow up in and so far I think that we’ve made the right decision. We are quite realistic that we have only been here a few weeks and so cannot really tell at this stage.
I am conscious that in the whole migration process for us most things have fallen into place when we needed them to. We sold our house in the UK before the visa came so we could decide when to come after that, we got OAA, I’ve got a good job relatively quickly, we got the first rental we looked at (and a 4 bed which is quite rare), we wanted to get the kids into Golden Grove primary but were outside the catchment area only to find that the rules had been relaxed so they had vacancies, we’ve found a really good piece of land for our needs and the kids have settled into school really well.
All in all we have been really blessed. As Christians we see all of this as a blessing rather than good luck. We have prayed about most of these things and God has been generous enough to provide in answer to those prayers.