Should I Stay or Should I Go?
The definitive guide to moving abroad and whether it's right for you


This is a preview to the chapter Australia from the book Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Paul Allen.
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Thus far 1.3 million UK citizens have gone Down Under in search of sun, surf and ... well, something else. More than 100,000 Americans have headed to Oz too, making it one of the most popular destinations for US expats. Considering Australia has a total population of just 21 million that’s quite an influx.

And it’s easy to see why Australia continues to be the most favoured destination for the émigré Brit, as well as being popular with many other nationalities. Go back to those four broad pull factors outlined by the ippr as reasons for moving – family ties, lifestyle factors, adventure and career opportunities – and there is motivation galore.

The country boasts a high per capita GDP, good employment opportunities, an enviable climate, an enormous array of leisure activities, diverse habitats ranging from alpine to desert to rainforest, and a thriving arts scene. Oh, and the national language is English, which makes integration all the easier.

Put together it adds up to a great potential standard of living. So much so that Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s 2009 survey into the quality of life offered by the world’s premier cities placed five of Australia’s in the top 50: Sydney, the highest placed, was 10th, followed by Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane (at 34th).

Rob Parnell grew up in the English city of Winchester, before moving to London in search of success first as a musician and then as a writer. But things didn’t pan out as he’d have liked. Tired of living from hand-to-mouth doing temp jobs he hated to pay the rent, he upped sticks for Adelaide in 1999.

“Since the 1970s I’d heard stories about the easy life of Aussies: everyone has a house and a pool, and it is one long beer-swilling paradise,” he says. “Of course the reality is different, but actually not far off.”

Rob’s partner at the time had been offered a job with a South Australian company while they were still in the UK. “She came over first for around three months and I came over later to tour Thailand and Cambodia, and check out Adelaide to see if I liked it. I did. It’s a city without pretensions nestled between hills, facing the sea. I felt at home straightaway. I can see why the early settlers thought it was like England should be, but without the cold and rain.”

Climate is certainly a big plus point in Australia’s favour.

In spite of South Australia’s “dreamy Mediterranean climate” and that her husband had relations there, making it an obvious prospective destination, author Vicky Gray and her family decided to settle in Queensland. “We had both visited Queensland, and just loved the sub-tropical balmy weather, where coats and scarves were a thing of the past,” she explains. “Plus it was the fastest growing state in Australia ... which to us meant jobs and money!”

As for the country’s south-eastern temperate zone – which stretches from the middle of South Australia round to the New South Wales/Queensland border – it is blessed by warm summers and mild winters5. Not surprisingly, it is also where most of the population is to be found.

Check out Sydney’s vital statistics as a case in point:
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