Emigrating to Australia & New Zealand .. then boomeranging back.

26 November 2012

Misc One Way Travel

Like a child with a new toy, I was very excited to try out Wordle (the online tool that generates an image made up of the words that appear in a set of text – the largest words are the ones that appear most often in the original text) in combination with recent subject threads on popular emigration forum British Expats.

Why? Well, I hoped that by gathering together 250 of the most recent consecutive post titles from both the Australia Discussion Forum and the New Zealand Discussion Forum I could identify and contrast the preoccupations of postees that are planning a move or who have already made the leap.

As a travel insurance company that specialises in offering one way travel insurance and emigration insurance to people who are emigrating anywhere around the world , often to Australia or New Zealand, it interests us to see which destinations people are heading for, what advice they are looking for and what are the pro’s and con’s that they discover along the way.

Bring on the Wordles…drum roll purlease!


Australian Forum Wordle

Australia Emigration Wordle

As you can see, several words are written particularly large, and featured heavily in the forum threads. In general, practical arrangements regarding financial matters, visas, shipping companies, driving, employment and accommodation featured strongly as those that have yet to embark reached out for help and advice from those who have already made the big move.

As you can see, the locations of Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne, Townsville and Sydney are striking in their size, there are also smaller locations of Tasmania, Mandurah and Adelaide that make it to the wordle. The Australian Healthcare system of Medicare makes it on there as do several professions including ‘teacher’/’teaching’, ‘nursing’/’nurse’ and ‘banking’.

Family centred words like ‘baby’ and ‘child’ are prominent, as prospective emigrants aim to find out which locations are family friendly and about schooling and education options.

Intriguingly, the word ‘rabies’ appears, even though Australia (and New Zealand) are rabies free countries, perhaps this is related to the time that relocated pets need to potentially spend in quarantine in these countries as a precaution to stop rabies entering.


New Zealand Forum Wordle

New Zealand Forum Wordle

Once again, the practicalities of moving to a new country and establishing a new life, loom large in the visual. Destinations that are popular this time are Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and to a smaller extent, Torbay. Professions that crop up are ‘electrician’ and ‘nurse’.

As I was browsing through the posts on both the Australian and New Zealand forums, an unexpectedly recurring theme caught my eye – people that had made the move and were wrestling with the decision to move back to the UK, those that were definitely moving back to the UK and those who had already returned to the UK.

There were those whose move had only ever been a temporary one, there were those who wanted to return to the UK to spend time with an elderly or ill relative and those who just didn’t feel ‘at home’ in their chosen country. In one extreme case, a Mum was considering moving back to the UK on her own to spend time with her elderly relative, whilst her husband and children would remain happily settled in New Zealand.

With this in mind, I thought that it might be a fruitful exercise to conduct a similar wordle exercise on the most recent 250 threads on another forum on the site – ‘Moving back to the UK.’


Moving Back To The UK Wordle

Moving back to the UK Worlde

As you can see, the practical and financial implications of returning to the UK, loom large, with ‘passport’, ‘citizenship’ and ‘shipping’ being some of the queries raised. Several people on the forum asked advice about which part of the UK to move back to, in terms of job prospect s and quality of living generally. Individual areas haven’t featured prominently, because they weren’t mentioned enough times to be a noticeable size in the graphic. The issue of rehoming or shipping pets was mentioned several times. The word ‘spouse’ is a sizeable feature, often enquirers were asking about visa requirements for other halves that weren’t born in the UK, and obviously wanted to come to the UK too. Countries that stand out are ‘NZ’ – New Zealand, USA, Canada and OZ – Australia. Of course, these are all extremely popular emigration destinations, so they are bound to feature highly in any bounce-back statistics.

A few of the more intriguing or interesting threads were:

  • Moving back as retirees
  • Pregnant Canadian spouse
  • Talking your partner into coming back with you
  • Leaving debt in the US
  • Moving back to London in early 2014 after 15 years in Oz
  • Torn between UK and NZ
  • English girl, illiterate Serbian Gypsy husband – how hard is English test?
  • Pets – deciding
  • Worried about my sons education
  • Poor and disabled – any programs for my return?
  • Think I have reverse culture shock

One particularly heart-rending thread asked about advice for returning from the US to the UK, as the person in question was broke and disabled, had a disinterested family and was about to be made homeless. She very much wanted to escape the US, where a comparative lack of social and health care, left her vulnerable and scared. She received many sympathetic replies, and advice about how she could seek help in the UK.

Australia is the most popular emigration destination for want-away Brits,(between 2005 and 2010, nearly 107, 000 Britons settled in Oz) but the country has also attracted attention for the ‘boomerang Brits’ or ‘ping-pong Poms’ that end up returning to these shores, rather than staying permanently (more than 7000 British people left the country for good in 2009-10 – the largest emigration in recent memory).

Many British residents decide to depart for sunnier Australian shores due to the outdoor lifestyle, sunshine, space and a shared language. The booming Australian economy has also played a significant part in attracting Brits who want to earn more and have greater security.

Yet despite these obvious attractions, many Brits are drawn to return home to the UK. Prof Roger Burrows, a sociologist from the University of York has studied the phenomenon:

“The people who don’t settle have always lived close to their family and friends (in the UK) so any move comes as a shock. If they live in a bungalow in the suburbs of Adelaide, it gets lonely. There isn’t a culture of going for a drink after work and the TV is terrible.”

“Some people went to Australia for the heat but ended up hating the warmth, the flies and having to cover the kids in sun cream all the time.”

“It’s not about living by the coast in the sun – it’s about living in a dull flat in suburbs that don’t have any real infrastructure.”

“For some migrants, moving to Australia can be a source of sorrow and regret for people for the rest of their lives.”

Other reasons that are often cited are:

  • A lack of history and culture
  • The cost of living is high in Australia
  • Dullness and isolation
  • Having Europe on your doorstep when living in the UK
  • Feeling like an ‘outsider’
  • Finding it hard to transfer employment or qualifications
  • The illness of a loved-one in the UK
  • The seasons
  • The food
  • Good chocolate back in the UK
  • Poisonous snakes and spiders

Of course, the vast majority of UK emigrants to Australia do end up staying. Here are some of the reasons that they enjoy their life down under:

  • Outdoor life
  • Better for kids
  • Warmth and sunshine
  • Being close to Asia
  • More space
  • Bigger houses
  • Good economy
  • Safe country

In the final reckoning, it seems that it is very much an individual decision about whether you are happier living in the UK or Australia, as much depends upon your frame of mind and individual sense of belonging, as it is does to the practicalities of family, employment and housing etc.

At the end of the day, home is where the heart is…

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