After travelling the world for six months, we decided to try out something different and move to England. It’s been 7 years since I last lived here, and with Steve being Australian, he lived here back in 2005 for two years. We have only lived together in Sydney before so the time felt right and here we are now living in Brighton. I also have my PR in Australia so we can always go back at a later date if we want to and of course we will go back to visit family and to write more updates about Sydney for this site.
A lot of people wonder whether to move back to England after their time in Australia isn’t quite what they hoped it would be for one reason or another. It’s a big risk especially if you have kids, so you want to make the right decision even if you end up becoming a ping-pong-pom (you move to Aus, return to England and then return back to Aus not that long afterwards once you’ve realised what you actually missed about England wasn’t quite worth it!).
So I’m going to document everything we’re going through during our time back to show you what it’s like for someone actually going through it. You’ll be seeing updates every so often about how we’re getting on with an honest view point as always.
Firstly, why did we move to Brighton?
I wanted to be near my brother who lives here in Brighton, it’s also by the water so we hopefully won’t get too many withdrawals from the beach and it’s super close to Gatwick for some quick getaways. Of course, there’s also a direct train line to London in supposedly 50 minutes. I have heard many expats end up moving to Brighton from Australia, probably for similar reasons. I also lived here as a student years ago and always felt like it was home for me.
How did we find a flat in Brighton?
We were actually really lucky as we stayed in an airbnb for two weeks when we arrived and got on with our owner so much that she agreed to let us move in. Phew!! We didn’t have the money to rent our own place and we found it hard to find a flat share that was OK with couples. There are also laws here that you can only rent a studio for one person if you were even thinking of going down that route too.
What about Steve’s visa?
Steve’s come into England on a six months tourist visa. This means he has six months in the country without working whilst I get a job. He will then have to return to Australia in the New Year to apply for the defacto visa (which is what I was on in Aus). But he’ll only have to wait a couple of months in Aus before it gets approved and he can come back into England. We’ll talk you through the entire visa process when he goes through it to help you if you have an Aussie partner too. PS, it doesn’t make a difference if you’re married.
So within our first month of being back, here are 10 things we’ve learnt since moving back to England from Australia.
We returned to England at the end of June 2018 to be hit with the UK’s best Summer yet. We didn’t see any rain for nearly five weeks (first bit was for ten minutes yesterday). Temperatures have been up to the late 20s/early 30s and it’s been glorious. Honestly, if the weather was like this all the time in England, it would be absolutely brilliant. But how does the heatwave compare to summer in Australia? See below for more insights as I’ve written a whole blog dedicated to everyone’s favourite topic, the weather!
2. How bad is the transport system in England?
Considering we have been travelling around the world over the last six months, we’ve been shocked at how incredibly bad the transport is in England. Trains don’t run you know, because the driver hasn’t turned up, there are power line problems and so on which delay the trains. Oh, and it’s incredibly expensive too.
We were going to go and visit friends up in Chester this weekend but had to cancel because it would have cost us £200 for a 3-hour train journey. We were then going to rent a car, but unbeknown to us, the car rental prices increase by the minute. So we looked at flights from Gatwick to Manchester and it was going to cost us £300 each. How can a flight to Barcelona cost less than flying in your own country? Mental! My friend was even charged £60 return for a 20-minute train journey into London during peak hour. That’s just nuts!
It’s definitely made me appreciate the transport system in Sydney much more. All those times I would think how bad it was, and now we often say how you can go to Newcastle NSW which is a three-hour train journey for FREE with your opal card on the weekend! Obviously there are way more people in England but with the lack of aircon and the expense of the trains, it’s a total joke over here.
The most interesting thing I have learnt about the transport system in England is without a car, I feel quite trapped because it’s so hard to go anywhere in the country without paying loads of money. In Australia, I felt trapped because I felt like I couldn’t leave the country without paying loads. I do miss having a car in Australia and being able to go out on the weekend to explore NSW. There is so much to do there but as I’m starting to realise, there’s so much of England I’ve not seen yet so I’m excited to really start seeing what I’ve been missing out on all this time! I’ll just need to be more organised and try and get some cheap train tickets in advance next time!
At least one of the perks about living in Brighton is the access to Gatwick airport and the abundance of countries to visit because like I said, flying out of the country is cheaper than flying in the country. Weekends to some great European cities, here we come!!
3. How much cheaper is everything in England compared to Australia?
When we arrived, we didn’t really notice much of a difference with the price of everything in England. Food is slightly cheaper but the quality doesn’t even compare with the standards in Australia. At the moment, we are spending about £100 a week on food from Asda for 2 people compared to our $200 shop at Aldi in Sydney. However, we’re totally into the £3 meal deals, when you think about it $5 for a sandwich, drink and snack is amazing value! Water is also very cheap here, you can get a 2-litre bottle for 80p, oh and if you like alcohol, that’s super cheap too. No more $20 for a pack of 6 beers, you can buy them for like £8 in England.
As we mentioned transport is really expensive and so is petrol. In Australia, it cost us $40 to fill up our car whereas over here it costs us £70 (that’s over $100!!). It’s honestly a joke and it’s upsetting how much we are getting ripped off in England.
Housing in Brighton is quite expensive, we’re having to flat share at the moment and we’re paying £800 a month for a flatshare compared to our $2000 a month for our own place in Sydney. If we wanted our own flat in Brighton, we’d be looking at at least £900 for something decent plus bills. Now, this is the difference when it comes to Sydney. In England, we have to pay for water, electricity, gas, internet and COUNCIL TAX. In Australia, because we had solar panels, we only paid for the internet and Netflix. But having solar panels isn’t the norm I know, but I’ve never paid for water, gas or council tax in Aus before.
Clothes shopping is cheaper because there’s much more variety in England and when you have shops like Primark, it’s good for basic cheap items, like paying £6 for shoes rather than $100. Although let’s not forget Kmart. It’s funny because when we arrived, I was thinking about Aussie shops like ‘oh we could get that from Kmart’ but it’s not here! International stores like Zara are much cheaper here in England and probably the main thing I’ve noticed is that they don’t keep the same stock in the shops for months on end. The stock is being updated every single day in England. Interestingly, when we first arrived and still now, I think in Aussie dollars, not in pounds and am in that comparing stage like the opposite when I was when I first moved to Aus.
4. Let’s talk about the people in England
At the pub during the World Cup in Brighton.
Firstly, the people in England have been so nice to us, it’s one of the first things that has stood out. We’ve probably spoken to more people since we got here than we did in the last six months of our trip around the world. Also with Steve being Aussie, everyone has a story about Australia. Either they lived there, their mate did or it’s turned to chat about New Zealand. Steve’s enjoying the attention that’s for sure.
We always found most Aussie peeps in Sydney quite hard to get along with (obviously not all, I have some awesome Aussie mates), but they were so clicky and just didn’t get my sense of humour at all. Basically, it felt like people were at a job interview most of the time in Sydney and I couldn’t relate. But I’ll write more about this soon as it’s a topic I think a fair few Brits might be able to relate to.
In England everyone chats to you, whether you’re on a train or lining up to buy something, we’ve found English people to be lovely. The funny thing is, everytime we tell English people this, they seem shocked but proud too. But, this could be because it’s Summer so we will have to see if it lasts!
But there are so many types of people in England, we’ve been surprised by the number of chavs in Brighton. Obviously, if I was living in London, I probably wouldn’t notice it but in Brighton, it’s definitely apparent. At first, the kids especially scared me because they are just so unpredictable unlike in Australia. I always found school kids in Australia much more well behaved.
It also refreshing to see some individuality in England, unlike everyone looking the same wearing
activewear gym gear with a full face of makeup on, with the same haircut. I know this stuff doesn’t matter but when you’re a creative person and you’re constantly around what feels like a group of drones, it’s a sigh of relief to be back in the land of the norm again. But, at least it made me want to treat my body better in Sydney. Seeing active people constantly definitely made me more active myself. It’s not unsurprising to see groups of girls in their gym gear all weekend in Sydney. Image source: hellomondayactive.com.au
Because Sydney has become what’s known as a nanny state (because it’s become strict with various laws), it’s funny to see how people don’t abide by the rules in England. For example, there will be a sign saying ‘no dogs on the beach in summer’ yet everyone has their dogs with them. At first, Steve was getting paranoid about us cycling in a no cycle lane but I reassured him this is England, no one cares!
This also relates to the police. They are much friendlier in England as I’ve had some shocking behaviour from the police in Sydney before like when we got pulled over because Steve had literally just got into the car and hadn’t put his seatbelt on yet. We got fined $400. Imagine the police doing that in England? I’m sure there might well be cases like that but from what I’ve seen, police don’t have time for that. It always made me wonder whether that was a good thing in Sydney because there isn’t much of a crime rate so I’m guessing the police would have to fill their time doing RBTs obvs.
5. Job opportunities in England
Image source: realbusiness.co.uk
Since I’ve been back, it’s incredible to see how many global brands there are to work for in England. It’s very exciting and has made me realise how small the job market is in Sydney. It’s no wonder it’s really hard to get work in Australia because there are so many educated people with fewer jobs on offer.
Depending on your industry, unsurprisingly Australia is way behind the UK in many industries, mainly on the digital side. So if you’re thinking about moving to Aus, keep this in mind. But the pay in UK is terrible. I’m having to take a 50% pay cut for a similar job to what I had in Sydney.
6. The Countryside
The countryside is one of the things I missed the most when I lived in Australia. We often went down to Bowral and the drive there is incredible but it just wasn’t the same as it is in England. I am loving visiting all of the beautiful villages and lovely country walks and picnics on offer again.
7. The streets and shops
A beautiful cobbled street in Rye.
I’ve found the streets in Brighton especially are so dirty it’s crazy. Chewing gum, alcohol, probably wee, the list goes on is what is filled on the streets in Brighton. Luckily when we go to nearby villages, it’s normal again. I’m also surprised by many shops I go into whether its a supermarket to a clothing store, most of the time they are in a mess in England. It made me appreciate the cleanliness in Sydney.
At least people in Sydney know how to use a bin. The beach can be full of litter here that recently when I fell asleep on the beach, I was woken up with an empty packet of crisps flying into my face from the wind. Not fun. But again, this could just be Brighton.
8. How to be healthy in England after living in Australia?
In England, it’s pretty hard right now to stay healthy when everyone wants to go to the pub all the time, the mandatory Sunday Roasts at a classic English pub and of course, who would pass up a cream tea in a quintessential English village? Let’s not forget about fish & chips too. Food choices totally change in England, like I’ll be eating smoothie bowls in Winter here? Yeah right. It’s also hard to find a really good healthy cafe to eat at and I do miss the wide selection on offer in Sydney terribly. But I suppose I’ll be living off sandwiches and Pret for the foreseeable future then!
9. How different is it moving back to England than coming for a holiday?
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed is how different I feel coming back to live in England than coming for a three week holiday. Before it was always incredibly exciting, yet exhausting trying to fit everyone in, get my shopping fix and generally trying to appreciate everything I had missed about England.
This time around, because we decided to move here, it feels different. We’ve both been through many emotions since coming back and often wandered the following; is this the right thing to do? I miss Sydney, should we move back? It’s not like how I remembered.
It’s also been a bit of a rollercoaster coming back after spending six months travelling the world. We weren’t only exhausted but quickly realised that there was no more of the where are we going next? on the agenda. But, if there’s one thing we learnt about this recent trip is, we don’t need to travel for long periods of time anymore, we just want to settle down now.
Coming back full time is definitely different because it’s not a holiday. I realised all of my friends I have missed terribly have moved on, just as I have too but I realised fast that I won’t see them all the time like I hoped I would have. They are all settled down with their new families now so of course, with seven years passing, the time has definitely changed for all.
But, Sydney changed me for the better. I grew up and since coming back to England, I’ve realised how different I am now as a person. Sydney taught me to really explore, to become adventurous with my hiking, to spend most weekends getting out and about rather than sleeping off a hangover. Now as I’m living in England, I’m starting to see there are so many places I’ve not been to and there’s so much to discover yet. Best of all, there are so many countries I can easily go to on a budget.
10. But after everything…
The main reason I’ve come back to England and what I’ve noticed already is I’m feeling back to myself again. There are so many things I love about Australia but I never quite felt like me there. Now I’m back in England, I’m absolutely loving it and appreciating so much there is and what I have here.
If you’re wondering about how this blog will continue, I have loads of posts I wrote before I left Australia about some fantastic gems to share with you yet. I also have some great writers in Sydney too and open to hearing from more of you who want to share your experiences about living in Sydney or anywhere else in Australia. Just contact me here if you want to feature on this blog.
I’ll be coming back every so often for holidays so I can share more experiences with you then but for now, I’ll be documenting my story about coming back to England, Steve will be writing about his experience as an Aussie moving over and we still have some amazing countries to share with you from our recent travels around the world! I’m also excited to start seeing more of Europe so I’ll be sharing some proper gems too!
This is my one month update. Let’s see how things go as time goes on and I experience my first Winter in England in 8 years! Wish me luck!!