jim and adel

Quality of Life - what does it mean to you?

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    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! :biggrin:

     

    Jim

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    I find I work longer hours here than I ever did in the UK and as for being debt free thats a long way off

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    Really interesting post. We were some of the ones that emigrated almost as a spur of the moment decision really so I'm not sure if we gave much thought to QoL - for me it was more about being somewhere warmer as I suffer really badly in cold climes with my circulation, and with the dark early evenings and mornings in the winter. We were able to go from both working full time, to me just working part time (although I still insist on the OH working full time tee hee) so I guess that was an improvement. Plus we lived in a quite crowded and expensive bit of the UK so the school our kids attend here is probably of a much higher standard than those they would have had a choice of back in Essex.

     

    For me I think where Adelaide wins hands down over Essex and the UK is in terms of the media that our kids are exposed to: role models imho here are more sports people than "It" people - the red tops have a lot to answer for in England I think! The 'Tiser is never going to have that sort of influence here, let's be honest! With the better schools, the more 'outdoor, sporty' lifestyle for kids and teens, and the more laid back culture here, I think overall kids stay kids a little longer here, and seem to actually turn into really nice human beings, even when in their teenage years. Obviously as we are not living simultaneous parallel lives in the UK, we don't know how much is due to the place, and how much due to the person, but I'm giving Adelaide the credit!

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    Quality of life is different for everyone.

     

    If it's all about spending more time with the family then you can do that anywhere - you don't have to move to the other side of the world to make that happen.

     

    If it's about having more money and being mortgage free - that was a possibility for many before the GFC. For most who have moved since 2008, who had assets of some sort (house, savings, pension etc) in the UK to transfer - then due to fall in the exchange rate and the drop in house prices in the UK and the fact that house prices kept rising here until 2010 (they are dropping now) they will be worse off in Australia. If you come with little or nothing then it doesn't matter.

     

    Diane says the difference in the media makes the quality of life here better (ie no gutter press), and I agree to some extent. You can control the media that your own children are exposed to, and teach them to question what they are told, but unfortunately the media affects other people and has a general effect on society. Although they don't have the Sun here, most people only read the Advertiser and I don't think one newspaper is a healthy thing. It's influence on opinions is huge, and it isn't a particularly intellectual one. (I recommend everyone to watch Media Watch on the ABC Monday nights). And people here are just as obsessed with the likes of X factor and MKR as in the UK, I don't think it's really any better here, just a few years behind the UK.

     

    The debate about what gives a better quality of life is huge - there are good points and bad points in each country. The things I value here are the wide open spaces, the vast outback to explore, the clean air, the empty roads. I like living close to the facilities of a city, being able to go events with ease as opposed to a long stressful journey into London to see a band or a football match or a play. I love being near the beach, being able to look out to sea and hear the waves. I like the fact that whenever you go somewhere, you don't find that the rest of the world has had the same idea and it is packed out, you don't get stuck in a traffic jam and the car park isn't full. I like the fact that there is very little litter in comparison, but I hate the graffiti.

     

    The weather is much better than the UK, and at the moment is just perfect. The winters however are miserable, as are the really hot days in summer. On the whole there are a lot of these little things that make life good here, but then there are loads of things I don't like... but that is another story.

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    Our quality of life is far better here,there is no doubt about that.But even that does not tick all the boxes.Still we miss the familiarity of our life in the UK.We are happy here,but if we had to return home we would accept it happily,and meet the new challenge with the same conviction we showed when coming here.I'm happy now,life's good wherever!:smile:

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    Guest Barney Rubble
    I find I work longer hours here than I ever did in the UK and as for being debt free thats a long way off

     

    :wubclub:

    my long lost brother . . . .

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    I think the basics don't change. You will still work 5 days a week and Oz is not cheaper then the uk but in my opinion about the same. That said I have more disposable income here than in the uk.

     

    So for me the quality of life come from the stuff we can do outside of work. The weather, having time to do something after work and having the daylight and weather to be able to do those things. Being able to plan something at the weekend knowing there is a 95% chance that you will be able to do it without the weather getting in the way.

     

    I also think there is a vast amount to do in Adelaide and SA and it's all easy to get to and days out here are cheaper. It's a more family orientated way of life and children seem to be children for a little longer. And the wife does nothing so she truly has a greater quality of life.

     

    All in all the weather and what that allows us to do gives us the better quality of life.

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