A browse through posts on any site like this shows that 'quality of life' is a key reason for migrants coming to Aus. I've wondered a fair bit about what this term means.
When we started getting serious about moving from the UK early in 2005, it wasn't because we didn't like the place we were in; both Adel and I had good jobs, a nice house in a nice place and our only debt was a small mortgage that didn't have long to run and which we could have paid off in one go had we been inclined, taken the plunge and applied our reserves to it. In short, we had good lives, we liked the UK and after our latest trip back just a few months ago, still do.
For us, the move was about doing something different, having some new experiences and getting to know a place in a way that doesn't happen whilst there on holiday. Our list of possible destinations wasn't confined to places warmer than England; we looked at moving to a few places in Europe that have similar climates or colder, and also Canada and NZ before deciding on Aus.
We knew we'd not have the same career opportunities we already enjoyed unless we moved somewhere close to a big city. We are both originally from Manchester, but by this time lived in a Northants village. Adel's work was divided between Birmingham and Leicester and I spent a lot of time in London and other cities around the country, and we were pretty much over busy commutes, so we were prepared to trade career progression for sanity. This was the first part of our QoL.
Balancing that, we wanted to move somewhere where it wasn't too expensive and we could get fairly decent jobs; if we weren't going to be earning big bucks, then we equally didn't want to move somewhere and not be able to afford the things we were accustomed to, like nice holidays, eating out when we chose, owning a decent house etc. Being frugal suits some, but we had no intention of upping sticks to lower our lifestyle. Our QoL formula was taking shape.
Adelaide started floating to the surface of our plans at that time because the SA Gov had just launched the first iteration of its 'Make the Move' campaign and was heavily promoting it in the UK. Back then this leant heavily on SA being one of the world's most affordable liveable places. We sent for the pack – glossy brochures, DVD (or was it CD-rom?), maps, testimonials etc – and when we got it there was much in the way of price comparisons – everything from bread to cinema tickets, real estate to wine – showing how SA compared favourably with other Aus states and places overseas.
Other migrant sites were the places to hang out back then (the one with the yellow screen being the most popular), and much of the talk was of migrants selling up in the UK, buying in SA and living mortgage free, with leftover funds for a car. I recall a good sized thread on the subject of 'would you come here if it meant having a mortgage' that, while it produced quite a few fors, had at least as many againsts. 'Quality of life' to many migrants back then very much included living with lower debts or being free of them altogether.
It's not unreasonable that what comprises 'qualify of life' should change a bit over time, but clearly it's shifted a long way in a relatively short time.
Living debt free in the short/medium term seems to have been replaced as an aspiration for many Brit migrants to SA by an intention not to 'live to work, but work to live'. Perhaps because they see this as pivotal many set their stalls out accordingly and achieve this, but how much of this achievement is down to being in Australia, and how much is down to simply deciding to live a different way at the same time as making the move? If you're changing jobs, moving house, living somewhere different etc, then it's the ideal time to also introduce some new rules about how you'll live and the hours you're prepared to work. These rules aren't necessarily features of the place you've gone to or of its broader population, but they get associated with it by migrants because they form part of the package of moving there.
Put another way, if migrants from the UK work fewer hours here than they used to back in the UK (and not all do, just that many state this as part of their QoL formula) and this is integral to living in Australia rather than coincidental, it should follow that Aussies generally work fewer hours than other nationalities. This, though, simply isn't backed up by any independent measure. International studies repeatedly show that Aussies work some of the longest hours in any developed nation, and take less annual leave because of work pressure.
If the effects of the GFC don't soon pass (and some indications suggest that Aus didn't get away with it as lightly as it appeared – certainly economic conditions remain at best 'patchy', which is code for 'if it wasn't for China needing resources we'd be down the pan'), this 'work to live' part of QofL could seem as unlikely as yesteryear's migrants' hopes of living debt free.
What then for QoL? Er, beaches and weather ... okay, after the last two summers, just beaches!