It’s been over four months since we decided to do the moving back from Australia to UK thing.
It’s funny how the term ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ becomes a phrase used a lot. I’ve found since my last update, things seem different since we moved to UK. It’s been 7 years since I last lived in England and as I embrace my first autumn and winter in 8 years, I’ve been a bit apprehensive as to what it would look like.
Moving back from Australia to UK
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Let’s go back to three months ago
We arrived in UK after literally only deciding to move back 2 weeks before. That’s right, just 2 WEEKS. We always knew we wanted to come back but we weren’t sure when. After an amazing yet incredibly exhausting 6 months of travelling the world, we were ready to hang our shoes up. We loved it but we felt it was more than time to settle down now so we decided to do something new together and move back to the motherland.
I knew I’d get the why did you do want to move back? question a lot from people, but for us the weather and beach wasn’t a good enough reason to continue living in Australia right now and more than anything we wanted to be able to travel more, to see more countries than we would have done so when we lived in Australia.
Might sound weird but living in Sydney really felt like we were far away from the rest of the world. In 4 years, I left Sydney once to visit family in UK. Now I hear about people popping over to Paris or Italy for the weekend – to us, this is gold dust.
Getting a job in UK
I was lucky because I landed myself a brilliant role right in the middle of central London just after two months of being back. Although it wasn’t a plan to have to commute from sunny Brighton to London each day, opportunities seemed much better in London.
I was surprised firstly at the rate of global companies hiring jobs. I couldn’t believe how much bigger the job market is in London compared to Sydney (an obvious one I know but as it’s been so long, I’d forgotten how many more jobs there are in London). Companies like Apple and so on were popping up all over the place and it felt exciting to have these opportunities standing right there in front of me.
I applied for jobs in Brighton but had no such luck. In London however I was getting interviews which is great because I could earn double in London. I am in fact almost on the same money as I was on in Sydney. So when I got a job and started two months after we arrived, I started to notice a lot of things I probably wouldn’t have noticed about moving back otherwise.
How does working in London compare to working in Sydney?
In terms of working for a very similar radio company in both cities, I can confirm London is way ahead than Sydney although the company I currently work for is much, much bigger and ultimately brings in a lot more revenue. But in terms of ideas and where they are at with radio, it’s much further ahead. For example, in Sydney, they were going through a digital transformation, something I saw a good 5 years before in London.
One thing I’ve noticed which I read from an Aussie living in London is that it seems so far that Sydney people have more of a work to live attitude, and don’t take it too seriously. I remember when I had a boss move over from UK to Sydney and he had to keep reminding himself that he could switch off at the weekends.The days when I used to absolutely appreciate that you could swim in probably the most iconic ocean pool in the world before work, at Icebergs, Bondi.
I’ve found people in London take work a lot more seriously although my actual work hours seem to be less. In Sydney I worked very long hours (we’re talking anything from 7am-10pm but I had different jobs to the one I have currently) but in London I tend to work until 5:30pm with a bit of work on the train on the way home. This is very early days so I’ll be interested to see how time goes on.
I’ve also noticed that work people in London hang out with work friends outside of work and go to the pub a lot. When I worked in Sydney I found that work people and friends were always kept very separate no matter how many companies I worked for over there.
If you’re moving to Sydney check out the below post!
I felt like I had just disappeared for 7 years
As funny as it might sound, going back to work in London has honestly felt like I had disappeared for the last 7 years. I’m now working with some people I worked with in both Aus and UK. It’s a weird feeling having two worlds collide but not only is it strange working with people I used to work with in London because we’ve all physically got older, but I definitely feel like a different person now. Living in Australia and travelling the world has definitely changed me.
I also feel like I have no idea about everyday things. For example, people at work talk about British celebrities that I obviously wouldn’t have thought about since leaving England have had like 3 marriages and a load of kids since I left. Or other novelty things like someone bringing in a colin the caterpillar cake for a birthday and I’m there just thinking, ‘I haven’t seen one of these in years!’.
My instastory post seemed very relatable on Instagram to other expats too!
I remember asking people in a shop what the limit is with contactless (paywave) cards. They looked at me weirdly. There’s been loads of instances where I should know about everyday things but I feel like I’ve now moved to a brand new country.
If there’s one thing I miss, it’s the hikes and space in Sydney. Here on a hike to the Figure 8 Pools near Sydney.
I’ve really noticed how different I am as a person since moving back to England. Although when I moved back I got into the pub culture again, I’m trying to get back to my Aussie ways of trying to stay healthy. Although it’s incredibly hard to fit in exercise when I’m away from home over 12 hours a day, I plan to get myself back on track.When you have access to views like this in Sydney, it becomes very easy to miss it!
But funnily enough, I don’t see people working out like I did in Aus, and I’ve realised there’s almost no pressure or guilt on myself to do so now. It’s like there’s no inner pressure to even attempt to be on par with the fitness girls in Bondi and it’s a nice feeling to know I’m around normal people (if not quite unhealthy people) in England who are more bothered about spending their time having fun in the pub rather than exercising. Part of me finds this relieving, other part of me completely misses that infectious healthy side of Sydney.One of the better meals we had recently in Brighton but it’s easily £40 for a chinese or thai meal at a restaurant here (I’m talking two mains and a side)!
Mind you eating out in England is pretty rubbish. Sydney is hands down a million miles ahead when it comes to decent food. I think food is way overpriced in England for the quality and portion size. For example a steak and chips in England comes in at no less than £15 from everywhere I’ve been. That’s approximately $25 for a crap meal.
But when it comes to doing a food shop, fruit and veg is really cheap… the mark up is on the ready-made meals. I must admit, we’ve only bought into the ready made pizzas from Tesco’s which are amazing but at £5 each (that’s nearly $10!) for one, prices do amount up fast. And we can’t forget about the £3 meal deals which we loved when we first moved back. (Dear god, no more sandwiches please!!)
People’s attitude in England
Morning commute views at Piccadilly Circus
When I started my job in London, I was horrified at that look you see on everyone’s face when they get on the train each morning for work. It instantly reminded me of why I left UK in the first place. People don’t seem as friendly as when I first came back when the sun was shining which is a no brainer. I started to see the England I remembered it to be – miserable people who looked like they hated life.
I wandered whether it was just a commute thing and worst of all, it took me approximately 1 month of going back to work to feel like I was becoming one of those people again. (I’m still trying to remain positive and not let it get to me.) I think that’s why people can look miserable in UK, it’s because the transport system is so incredibly abominable that I’m actually more surprised how much patience English people really do have.
I still think English people are nicer than Sydney-siders (maybe it’s because I can relate to them more) although there definitely seems like there’s more built up aggression in England; more passive aggressive people I think. I never saw anyone really aggressive whilst living in Sydney, maybe that’s because of the weather and lifestyle. I’ve noticed how much happier everyone is when the sun is out but I’m appreciating those blue sky days more and more now I don’t see them as much in England.
In England, I definitely feel more on edge with people’s unpredictability. Maybe it’s got a lot to do with the weather and lifestyle. I think the idea of going surfing after work sure sounds more inviting than a two hour commute home.
Although the aggression is adamant, funnily enough I still find English people to be more real which is something I just couldn’t get my head around with Sydney people – I always felt like they were quite closed off. From shop assistants, to cab drivers, to anything really, both Steve and I have noticed how much friendlier people are in England.There’s so many people in England that they have to close the tubes everyday due to overcrowding.
But you have to take these things with a pinch of salt. My commute to work is looking pretty bad. A 2 hour journey with moments of sitting in the train aisle for the entire commute, to standing outside the station as they’ve closed it off due to being over capacity, it wasn’t fun rushing between trains let alone paying out £531 a month for that commute. Yep, that’s nearly $1000!!That day I sat on the floor in the train aisle for 2 hours to get to work.
Instead, I decided to change it up and am now walking to work from Victoria which includes walking past Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square each day. It’s now up there with my wow moments of my Sydney commute on the ferry through Sydney Harbour. Obviously as the best commute in the world, I don’t think any commute will be anywhere like my Sydney commute but at least I’ve made a pro-active effort to make it better. I think just making those small tweaks can make a world of difference.
There’s just so many people in England
I miraculously had 5 minutes to spare at Victoria before my train and took this photo.
I remember my best friend who lives in Sydney came back to UK for a visit and she told me she’d never live back here because it’s just so overcrowded. I never really understood what she was talking about until now. The commute to work is jammed packed, the roads are packed that it makes you not want to venture out at the weekends for the fear of just sitting in a car the whole day that when I went to visit my friends in Chester, the 4 hour journey ended up taking us 7 hours to get back on a Sunday.
Walks through the countryside make the commute worth it.
Because of the packed roads, I also spend my weekends very differently to how I used to. We’re living in Brighton because of the beach and access to the countryside which are my favourite things in the world. The beach obviously won’t ever compare to the Aussie beaches but the countryside is my draw card. Now on the agenda is a Sunday Roast at a country pub with a lit fire (I actually struggled to find anywhere in NSW that had a fire lit until I went to stay near Wombeyan Caves for the weekend) or going for a cream tea in a village cafe or to a garden centre. I also love the country walks along the coast.
I do miss the hikes in Sydney like this one from Bundeena to Big Marley beach.
But, maybe it’s because we don’t have a car but I miss going on adventures on the weekends like I did in Sydney which felt adamantly much, much easier to get to. I miss the hikes to the wild swimming spots or going to find an awesome secluded beach, and the space… I miss the vast amounts of space in NSW.
Now I’m in England, it’s weird because I just don’t have the desire to venture out. Maybe it’s because I’m exhausted after my 4 hour commute each day to work, maybe it’s to do with the weather, or maybe it’s the fear of just being stuck in hours worth of traffic, because you haven’t seen traffic anywhere in the world like there is in England.
Things I thought I missed about UK when I lived in Australia
At Oxford Circus on my lunch break recently.
There are some trivial things that I really missed about England when I lived in Australia.
Firstly the fashion – I mean come on, fashion in Sydney is literally like non existent and I missed having conversations with others about where they got their dress from, the new trends, who’s wearing what or worst of all seeing British peeps on Instagram wearing these amazing outfits that I knew I’d have to wait three years for in Sydney. Most of all, I missed how Sydney people just didn’t get excited over fashion and high street trends. I found girls there to literally wear the same block colour palette of grey, black and white.
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Now I’m back and I work right in the middle of central London, I have access to all of the high street flagship stores. Am I buying into it again? No. I do love talking to people at work about fashion and it’s brilliant to see that passion within every single girl in London, but Sydney actually changed me and I didn’t realise it until I moved back to England.
Sydney made me realise that 8 years ago I would have been snapping up the current fad trends like leopard print or a corduroy suit (yes, they are everywhere right now) but now I’ve realised that, wait for it… it’s a waste of money. These trends will be out of fashion before the season is over and I’d much prefer my money to go on holidays which is one of the main reasons we’ve moved over. After I sold a lot of my clothes at Kirribilli Markets in Sydney, it woke me up to how much money I’ve wasted over the years.
Selling my clothes at Kirribilli Markets woke me up to stop wasting money
I’ve also noticed how likely it is to be wearing the exact same thing as someone else in London. It happens all the time at work even if stock is changed every single day which is probably why it’s so much easier to buy into it in UK. When it’s pouring with rain, you know you can pop over to the shops to see what new stock is in. In Sydney, the same stock would be in the shops for months on end. It’s funny to think I never bumped into someone else in Sydney wearing the same outfit! But, London girls definitely have more individuality, and although you’ll see a lot of the same high street outfits, the amount of vintage shops is incomparable.
It’s also made me realise how much the UK is designed for consumerism, well way more than it is in Australia. I found in Australia I’d spend my weekends getting out and about, not buying the latest clothes or random stuff. It makes me wonder if I could have saved more money in Sydney than I could in London? If I lived in London there’s just so much to see and do that I’d be spending constantly.
When there’s so many beaches to choose from, it’s easy to save money in Aus! Here at Shoal Bay in Port Stephens
I remember seeing an insta story by @mummasmojo who recently moved to Sydney with her family and she found it really interesting to see kids walking around with their hair not brushed and with no shoes on. She was used to seeing kids in London wearing designer gear and definitely found it refreshing.
I also thought I missed TV in England. I know that’s lame but TV in Australia was absolutely awful. It’s amazing how terrible the news stories and TV shows are over there, at least with England I now know what’s going on in the world. Part of me however felt like it was a good thing to be in a bubble in Sydney, not knowing what was going on. It’s going to take me a while to get into watching any TV shows in England as I just watch Netflix now like I did before so nothing’s really changed there!
Surprising things I’ve learnt in the last few months about UK
A visit to the famous Durdle Door in Dorset!
All in all, I’ve realised there are many things that I thought I missed when I lived in Australia, but when living back in England, those things are actually meaningless. Although I might not feel 100% safe in some places (let’s face it, working in Leicester Square always makes me feel slightly paranoid about terrorist attacks), I still think English people are generally pretty nice and friendly the majority of the time, even if there is aggression with some of them!
I’ve also noticed how English people just aren’t on their phones as much as they are in Sydney. There’s nothing worse than walking down a street trying to dodge all the people looking down on their phones. In London, everyone is rushing around to have time to do that. Even on the trains there’s free wifi and yet I see a lot of people reading the paper or a book in UK.
I’ve also noticed how much everyone is geared up to ditching the plastic in England. You’ll see most people will have their own recycled coffee cup, rather than buying one and everyone brings their own shopping bags to the supermarkets. You would have thought Australia would be way ahead with that but unfortunately I have no idea why they aren’t.
Have we made the right decision moving back?
On my final day in Sydney
This is something we’ve wondered a lot. We had to remind ourselves, what is it that we’re actually missing about Australia and why are we in England?
Over the last couple of months I’ve wondered if I feel like I fit in more in Sydney now than I do in London? It’s been a long time since I lived in England and the reality of moving back is starting to set in. But I think these things are just natural. I know as it gets colder here in UK and I see everyone’s Summer pictures of Sydney, I’ll be missing that sunshine and beach for sure but for now that’s my moving back from Australia to UK update!
I wonder what the next four months will look like! Stayed tuned for more updates about my journey moving back to England!
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