I have been using this site for a while, especially to help plan our recent move back to the UK and thought that our experiences may help some, so here is our story.
We moved to Oz in 2004, at that time my wife and I and a one-year old boy. I transferred with work and ended up in Ballarat, Vic. We then spent the next few years in Victoria and NSW, having two more children and getting citizenship, before ending up in Queensland near Rockhampton.
I work in mining, so it was a very good time to be around and we did well, ending up with a lovely 1 acre block with a pool, 4wd, shed and the kids in private school. Basically we had everything that people want from life.
We visited the UK in mid 2014 and happened to end up in a small fishing village in Cornwall renting a cottage. We were sitting around the kitchen table when the penny dropped. I looked up to my wife and said “Maybe we should come back” and she said “I’ve been thinking the same”. It was quite a revelation, as up to that point we couldn’t see past the life we had. I realised that something felt hollow about what we had and that it seemed like we had slipped into retirement in our early 40s.
After that, it was just about the planning and mechanics. What we should sell and when, what the ideal date was, where would we live and work? I had no guarantee of getting a job in my field, but was sure something would come up and we had a fall back of buying an old cottage and doing it up, as we could just about cover the cash for that.
We started to get the house ready for sale (boxing up non-essentials, filling and painting) and sold our 4x4 in November, buying a small runaround that we could sell quickly. In January I told my boss and, as I work for a multi-national, he asked if I would let them try and place me before looking for jobs. We had set a date around September 2015 as giving us enough time, being good for tax and trying to get the kids in close to the start of a school year (never a good time with the different calendars).
The plan carried on and we watched the housing market, got new passports and prepared. In April, we got our house on sale. Around July I was offered a job with my current company which fitted my skills perfectly (albeit paying half of a similar role in Oz).
An offer was made on the house and I bought tickets for 23rd September, booking the dog in for the same week (Jetpets - $4,400 Rockhampton to Heathrow).
We sold our last few bits, negotiated with the company to help with relocation and then had a fraught few weeks organising. Not a few bottles of wine were required. This was the most stressful time.
On Friday I finished work and the kids broke up. On the Monday, I dropped the dog at the airport and the removalists (Wridgways - $21,000 for a 40’) turned up. On Wednesday the container left and we flew out. On Thursday the dog arrived at LHR at around 06:00 and we arrived at 13:00. We drove to the animal reception and picked her straight up with no hassles. During that day, our house settled.
I had arranged to start work in November, giving us time to organise ourselves. We stayed with my parents and found a house to buy and an off season holiday rental in Devon. Our container arrived on the 8th December and we finalised our house on the 11th, so had to pay a bit in holding costs.
It’s hard to put how we are feeling down on paper. Australia is starting to look like a great time in our lives that we have moved on from. The kids have been up and down, especially when things were uncertain (extended stay with grandparents!), but we have been honest with them and now things are much better. They love the freedom of a small town with friends around the corner and everywhere within walking distance.
Obviously it’s winter now, but Christmas was great, even with a house full of boxes.
In hindsight, everything went right for us. The budget I did 18 months ago worked, even with the exchange rate. We won in some areas and lost in others.
All in all, we feel at home. Older, wiser and with a perspective that enables us to appreciate things like deep mud, autumn colours, fresh winter days, the taste of cox’s apples and the breadth of culture. We went to Australia for a couple of years as an adventure and ended up staying for 11. For most of that time, a move back to the UK was unthinkable, but when the idea came, it seemed natural.
We have drivers in common with many on here (ageing parents etc.), but feel that the time was right for us and the children, giving them time to settle into UK education before university. We’re sorting out photos to pick out and frame to remind us fondly of our wonderful life adventure. If anyone wants needs any more info to learn from our experiences, I’m more than happy to share.
Sorry for the long post, I hope this has been of interest.