Jake Downing, 36, his fiancé Wendy, 38, and their children Molly, 5, and Alfie, moved from Brixton, London to Alice Springs, Northern Territory.
We love the amazing lifestyle and the great opportunities to explore the outback," says Jake Downing about his family's new life in Alice Springs, a town close to the southern border of Australia's Northern Territory.
Jake and his fiancé Wendy moved to Alice with their two small children Molly and Alfie back in April 2010. The couple had already had a taste of life Down Under having moved to New Zealand in 2003, initially on a one-year working holiday visa.
The couple ended up living in New Zealand for nearly four years --- obtaining permanent residency in the process - before moving to the Falkland Islands, where Jake had been offered a more senior role. Says Jake: "We loved it but we soon felt ready to embrace the adventure of a life Down Under again, and I was lucky enough to be offered sponsorship for my current job in Alice Springs."
Although Jake, 36, had visited Australia on several occasions, he had not been to Alice Springs before, although his partner Wendy, 38, had. After looking into it further, the couple decided that Alice would be a great place to bring their kids up.
Jake says that the relocation itself was pretty straightforward. "As I was moving to Alice from the Falklands, my company offered some funding which covered our flights and some of the freight costs.
"The hardest part about the move was moving eight bags to four different places on the way to Alice, as we choose to have a holiday on the way, and by that time, we had two kids under the age of four to take with us!"
The couple did not require the services of a migration agent, instead preferring to handle their visa application themselves. Jake says that he and Wendy were meticulous about completing their visa paperwork correctly.
Leaving their loved ones behind in the UK was tough, but the family decided to set up an online blog so that all of their friends and family could keep a track on what was going on in their new life. When Jake and his family arrived in Alice, they moved into a rented property which fitted their needs perfectly.
The three-bedroom open plan house came with an attractive garden, filled with lots of native plants. It was a bonus that the property was part of a new complex popular with families and young professionals, and all of the residents had free access to a swimming pool and gym.
Jake says that the family found it easy to fit into their new lifestyle.
"Moving has allowed us to spend more time outside and has allowed the kids to become involved in activities which they wouldn't have been able to before, such as swimming in rock holes and watching the kangaroos at their local park.
"It's great being able to get in the swimming pool nearly every day --- our two-year old just thinks that is the norm in life now!"
The food on offer at the supermarkets is great, says Jake. "There is a wide variety of fresh meat and veg on offer --- even camel burgers! There are plenty of nice restaurants we like to visit too, from Australian-style ones to lots of Asian options."
For Jake, a typical working day starts with him cycling to work along the Stuart Highway bike path. Says Jake, "It is about a 10-minute ride and on the way I often spot lots of birdlife and kangaroos. I then spend the day helping my team promote and sell Northern Territory holiday experiences.
"At lunchtime, I often go home and have lunch with my fiancé and kids --- it's always nice having a break with them. Then, at the end of the day, I will get home and go for a swim with the kids before settling down for a relaxing night."
Weekends for the family are usually spent getting to know the surrounding area. "We will often take a drive along the East or West MacDonnell Ranges and play in the water holes and enjoy the stunning scenery," says Jake. "Alice is also a hub for lawn sales. When we first got here I would often take the kids and we'd look for bargain toys and things we needed for the house --- they're a bit of an institution here!
"We will often have people round for a barbeque or we'll go to one of the many events which happen in Alice, such as the Camel Cup, an annual camel race, or The Henley on Todd Regatta, a tournament which features bottomless boats racing down the dry river bed. I also enjoy playing hockey for my local club."
Jake's advice for other British people wanting to move to Australia is to have an open mind.
"This attitude will help to ensure that you make the most of your time and fit into your new life," he says. "Also, try to relax and don't let the move stress you out too much --- I can assure you that it is all worth it in the end!
"And don't travel with too much stuff --- you can usually buy it all when you get here or get it shipped over. This will help to keep your stress levels down and help you to enjoy the journey."
Living in the Northern Territory
WHAT'S IT LIKE?
Living in the Territory does take some adjustment when you have moved from a cool or temperate climate. Firstly, gentlemen, there is no need to pack your suit and tie! These items of clothing are only required for court appearances. And ladies, imagine a world without tights! Winter becomes a distant memory, and on days when the mercury only just tips 25 degrees Centigrade, you'll be using the word 'cold'.
What are the main industries?
The Territory's regional centres --- Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Nhulunbuy --- are busy hubs supporting industries that include mining, tourism, defence and pastoral. Each town has a unique character that has attracted people from all over the world to make a new home. The Northern Territory's economy is strong, and with several major projects on the horizon, the demand for workers and associated business opportunities are only set to increase.
What are the JOB prospects?
Jobs are plentiful in the Territory. The Northern Territory has one of the lowest unemployment rates in Australia and the highest workforce participation rate. The Northern Territory Government maintains an occupation shortage list and provides assistance to businesses that want to sponsor skilled workers to migrate and fill vacancies. Skills that are currently in high demand include teachers, doctors, nurses, engineers and trades. The Northern Territory Government will even sponsor skilled workers on the list to come to live and work in the Territory.
For information about migrating to the Northern Territory visit: www.migration.nt.gov.au
Want a life in the Northern Territory ? You'll find it at Down Under Live.
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