To expat or not to expat?

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June 12th 2010
Published: June 12th 2010
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Well it’s very cold this week, bitterly cold. But the sun still shines and it’s interesting being in the southern hemisphere and Australia where a hat, gloves and scarf are required. I arrived in Australia nearly 12 months ago and it was the same conditions then in way-off over there Perth, Western Australia - so I feel like I've come full-circle in my head.

It’s fair to say that I’ve on the receiving end of some rather generous acts of kindness from various people since arriving in Melbourne. Whether it be turning up at Christen's place and letting me stay for a few days which has turned into never having left. Claire has taking me out on weekends to the mining town of Bendigo and the famous wine country of Yarra Valley. Robert buying me a ticket to the footie and also inviting me to a BBQ; and lastly my own boss not only allowing me to work in Melbourne four days a week so that I didn’t have to commute but who also very kindly lent me a bicycle to use for getting into work. You beauty! Her latest act of kindness is taking me on the Great Ocean Road - a beautifully scenic stretch of road on the Victorian coast. I've been pretty fortunate in the people I've met here in Aus.

My boss has also been giving heavy hints about a possible job: “What are your plans after here?” she asks. “More travel,” I reply, “Iran, Pakistan, Axis of Evil-type places or at the very least where I can hear matter-of-factly that “America is the devil”. Those destinations seem to perplex her before she continues. “You probably aren’t aware, but I’m taking early retirement at the end of this year.” A long-planned period of travelling beckoned. “And, you know, if you wanted to stay in Australia… I think you’ve the experience and qualifications…if you were at all interested.” All this on my first day at work.

I hadn’t yet made up mind up about staying in Australia but the spectre of staying in Melbourne for the foreseeable future coerced me into thinking more. Fast.

Melbourne, the capital city of the State of Victoria, is classified as 'the world's most liveable city' (The Age 6 February 2004). And as car licence plates attest, the State of Victoria is 'the place to be'. It may perhaps seems strange that I should then wish to go to one of the world’s worst liveable cities, that of Tehran in Iran (currently joint 130th in the world) according to the Economist’s Global liveability report.

The old proverb seems to hold true - familiarity does breed contempt. Fickle Londoner me - I'm just never impressed am I? As much as I liked the coffee shops, loved the boho-musician-artist, interested cultural people 'vibes' of places; the relaxed nature of the people and the place as well as the good weather. Seriously, it’s been sunny blue skies most days (even during their Autumn) and if it does rain (usually hard) it’s mostly during the night. I don't think it's gonna keep me here.

The music scene doesn't interest me and Melbourne is really too far away from everything that I know and love. It’s basically a little old outpost of the West, thousands of miles distant.

Over to facetious Jeremy Clarkson to encapsulate my feelings (his columns and TV show Top Gear appear here):
“The fact of the matter is this: every single person who ever moves to another country - with the exception of America where you go to grow - is a failure. Seriously, no one has ever woken up and said: "I am completely happy. I have a lovely family, many friends, a great job and plenty of savings. So I shall move to Australia ." It's always the other way around. "My wife has left me. My children don't want to know. The divorce cost a bundle and I don't have any mates. So I shall move to Oz." That's why they call us whingeing poms. Because the poms they get do nothing else.”

Stand still, wimp - only failures run off to be expats - 'Stay where you are and face the music, even if it's the gristly, gooey sound of your fingernails coming out'"

The Sunday Times, The (London, England) - Sunday, March 29, 2009

So, it's fair to say that I've made my mind about Melbourne and I'm off. I'm gagging to get back on the road to be honest and by talking about all the places I'm reading about annoying my equally restless American house mate in the process.

So the past month or so I've been working out at the gym to sort out my fitness. Finishing up the screenplay (at last) during the train journey commute to work and researching Iran and obtaining a visa. Not cheap and a bit nerve wracking to be honest.

I've found it interesting how many Aussies at work have commenting on my leaving with the remark, 'well you never know when you'll come back'. They're presuming. The one thing Aus has got going for it is that it has barely been affected by the World Recession - it's mineral exports have kept things tick-tock. If the UK really is rubbish for employment - there is the option of course. But, things have to go very Clarkson scenario and I have to seriously buy-in to the Aussie lifestyle of beach house, jogging, sunglasses.

Anyway, this is my last blog from Australia - I'm saying goodbye to it and I can't really say any more because it's hard to digest a whole country and a whole year into this format.

Here's to the next adventure.


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