What is it about Australia that makes the country such an appealing destination to Brits? Is it the sunny weather? The Australian lifestyle? The perceived prosperity? Or a combination of all of these factors?
Not everyone's trying to escape Blighty, but as the cold, dark and dank days of the British winter approach, the UK becomes a less attractive place to live. And in these months, Australia becomes an especially appealing prospect for potential emigration, investigation and investment.
A bit of ‘search science’ backs the above statements up: a quick look at Google Trends – a tool from Google that shows how searches for specific terms varies over time – reveals that there are huge spikes in UK searches for terms like ‘ jobs in Australia’ and ‘emigrate to Australia’ over the winter months – particularly in January.
So what’s the draw? To answer this question we've spoken to a few people who've made the around-the-world move to distill what makes Australia attractive down to three key points – and we’ve also added a bit of eye-opening insight into Australian trends within each section.
Unsurprisingly, the country’s many poisonous creatures don’t feature but serious encounters with the land’s deadly spiders, snakes, jellyfish and other critters are actually very rare.
Whenever Australia's mentioned, the stock response is usually something like “ah, the Australian lifestyle”. It's famed but what exactly does the cliché mean?
To quickly summarise, here are some of the key phrases that the people we spoke to mentioned:
- Sensible working hours
- An active but laid-back routine
- Time spent on the beach
- Barbecues (balanced by an increasingly diverse gastronomic scene)
- Sunny weather
And to elaborate a bit more on the matter, here’s a summary from Shane Lyons, an Irishman who moved to Melbourne to work in digital marketing in 2011:
“The reason that I like Australian life so much is because so many things like food, drink, transport, and sports facilities are of a high quality but at the same time easily accessible.”
Al fresco living
So-called ‘al fresco’ living (al fresco translate as ‘open air’) is huge in Australia at the moment and hoards of natives and expats are shelling out on verandas , pergolas , and outdoor patios to really embrace the Australian lifestyle, but also to increase the value of their properties.
Yes, based on spend, it has been reported that verandas and pergolas are one of the best ways to add value to Australian property, and many specialist companies like Install a Veranda have sprung up to cater for rising demand.
While the UK's economy stagnates and stutters, Australia's economy is still in relatively rude health. And the country has remarkably avoided recession for the past twenty-one years.
Pertinently, this growth means that Australia is a lucrative destination for many of the expats we spoke to due to the comparably high salaries and the stubborn strength of the Australian dollar. Still, the recent removal of LAFHA - the ‘living away from home allowance’ that provided additional income for expats’ food and rent has meant that Australia isn’t quite as financially rewarding as before for many of our subjects.
End of the mining boom?
Over the past few months, a plethora of reports have focused on how the Australian economy could be slowing due to falling commodity prices and the alleged 'collapse' of the mining boom.
These reports are mainly speculative and exaggerated, perhaps coloured by a bit of jealousy, and it’s unlikely that Australia will be afflicted by European-style stagnation at any point in the near future as mining investment remains high for the forthcoming few years.
The IMF agrees too, after recently giving the Australian economy a big tick.
Sunshine is synonymous with Australia. The mere mention of the country immediately conjures up golden imagery of sun, sea and sand. And most people we spoke to expect those three things in abundance before moving down under.
These associations aren’t strictly authentic though – they have been marketed a bit. Melbourne’s weather can be notoriously erratic and Sydney’s summers can be humid and wet but, still, the weather’s mostly good and sunshine hours are usually higher than most places in the UK – even in southern regions.
El Nino to go away?
The last few Australian summers have been tinted an almost-British shade of grey by rain and mediocre temperatures – even in traditionally sunny areas – but the forecast for this year is for a long and hot summer after the cooling effects of El Nino draw to a close.
The weather, so far, has been appreciated by most of the expats we spoke to, with Louise Acheson, an IT professional based in the Victoria countryside, saying, “it’s been good, quite a few sunny days above 25 degrees and it’s only spring – I’m hoping for some even better weather over the summer though”.
Stereotypical Australian weather might be about to return then, bringing the perfect chance to take advantage of the pergolas, verandas and al fresco living we mentioned earlier.
That’s our view on what makes the country so attractive, but have we missed anything?
For more information on verandas for Australian properties, and even some Veranda designs visit www.installaveranda.com.au.