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Emigrating to Western Australia

John and Ashley Glenn haven't looked back since moving to Perth in Western Australia three years ago. "We could not afford to buy a house in the UK and saw better opportunities and bigger, more affordable housing in Australia," says John. "The beautiful weather, beaches and outdoor living were also big factors in our decision to move."


It helped that the couple were familiar with Australia before they decided to migrate there. Ashley, 24, had got to know the country well after backpacking around Australia for a year as a student while John, 32, had visited the country on holiday.


The couple, from Northern Ireland, began the visa application process in November 2006, and their Permanent Residency visas were awarded in January 2008. Jokes John: "But during this time we did hold up the process by getting married!" The couple financed their migration through savings, and spent around £5,000, which covered their migration agent fees, skills assessments, medical checks, flights, removals costs and insurance.


John says that the hardest thing about the migration process was waiting to hear if their application for residency in Australia had been accepted or not. "It was the not knowing whether we would be making the biggest move of our life or not, and that it was in someone else's hands to decide."


After saying their goodbyes to family and friends, in August 2009 the couple headed for Perth, spending a couple of nights in Hong Kong en-route.


Arriving at Perth Airport late at night, they just grabbed a taxi and headed to the rented apartment that they had organized in advance through their migration agent.


Says John: "For the first night or two it was hard to get much sleep due to a mixture of jetlag, excitement and the fear of being eaten by a snake or giant spider, but it didn't take us long to settle in Perth! We spent the first few days exploring our new city before we started to look for work."


Fortunately, where job-hunting was concerned, luck was on their side. John started work within a week and Ashley had a job within two weeks.


Says Ashley: "We were glad to start work straight away as we made some friends who were then able to help us with things such as Medicare, getting our driving licences sorted, and more importantly, were able to show us Perth's nightlife!"


Next on the couple's list was to look for more long-term accommodation, and it wasn't long before they found an apartment to rent in the city. A month later, the couple had bought a car and were using it at weekends to get to know their new surroundings better.


The couple's first Christmas felt strange, says Ashley. "It was warm, sunny and we spent Christmas Day morning on the beach. We certainly wouldn't be doing that back home!


"The summer was very hot but we were smart enough to rent somewhere with air-conditioning. We soon began spending the weekends enjoying barbeques, lazing at the beach or going for walks in one of the lovely parks."


After the six-month lease on their apartment ended, John and Ashley decided to move into a bigger two-bedroom apartment in the city, located within five minutes walking distance of their jobs. "It has a balcony and we love to sit and people-watch on a sunny afternoon," says John.


Ashley says that their first visitors were her parents, in February 2010. "I loved being a tourist with them and was proud to show them our new home. However, it also meant we had to say goodbye again, which was hard." The couple love the lifestyle perks that living in Perth brings.


Says John: "The weather is unbelievable and can get pretty warm, but surprisingly, you get used to it. We have lots of facilities around us in the city centre and lots of parks where you can go for a run or lie in the sun, and the beach is only half an hour away.


"The move has drastically changed our lives. We enjoy getting up in the mornings! When we were back in the UK we didn't want to get out of bed but over here we rise with the sun and go for a run or walk in the morning before we go to work.


"There are brilliant walking and running tracks along the Swan River and Ashley has even seen dolphins swimming up it while she has been out running. We live far more healthily over here and it has shown on our waists. Both of us have lost weight since we arrived and Ashley has not needed to use her asthma inhalers since we arrived either."


The couple say that the main difference between life in Perth compared to the UK is the traffic. Says John: "You can drive a couple of hours north and not see a car on the road - it really is so nice."


The food and nightlife is to the couple's liking and there is always a good selection of bars, clubs and restaurants for them to choose from, says John. "At night, we usually catch up with friends for a few drinks and maybe a barbeque. Australians tend to meet up at each others houses rather than the local pub. We also catch up with our family at the weekend using Skype, which is great as we have little nieces and nephews who we can see growing up."


NO LOOKING BACK!
The couple say that they would not change anything about their move. Says John: "We were very lucky in that we did our homework and planned most things pretty well and so everything went much better than expected."


Ashley and John both found it easy to make new friends once they had made the effort to talk to new people. Says Ashley: "We have found everyone to be very friendly, but we missed the closeness we had with friends from back home at first, but through work, the gym and touch rugby we have gained some very good friends."


The couple haven't been back to the UK yet, but are planning a trip there soon. Their main plans though are to buy a house and start a family within the next two years.


Says Ashley: "This country is so nice to bring children up. It has a lot more wide open space for children compared to the UK and its parks, sports and clubs are of a high standard."


The couple's advice to anyone thinking of migrating to sunny Perth is to come as soon as possible! Ashley says that they would also recommend using a registered migration agent as they found theirs to be invaluable. "I would also advise you to look at the exchange rates closely as you can lose out on a lot of money if you don't transfer your money at the correct time."


Happy with their new lives in Oz, Ashley says that the next step for her and John is to apply for citizenship. "We have been very lucky since moving to Australia in that everything has gone our way and has been relatively easy for us.


"We have really settled in Perth and are enjoying the outdoor living, and of course the lovely weather. And you'll be pleased to know that we haven't been bitten by any snakes or giant spiders!"


"We have noticed how much better we feel waking up to sunshine rather than the grey skies that greeted us in the UK.


What's it like? Perth has a population of one and three-quarter million people, many of whom enjoy a relaxed outdoors lifestyle. The city boasts a Mediterranean climate with warm, extremely sunny weather for most of the year. Perth enjoys around 3,200 hours of sun annually, higher than any other major Australian city.


One of the world's most isolated cities, other Australian cities are several hours away by plane.


Almost three-quarters of Perth's houses are detached, with varying sizes of garden. Many British migrants have chosen to settle in the northern suburbs around half an hour north of the city centre.


IS IT EASY TO GET AROUND?
Perth is a clean, spacious city with wide roads and highways. As with any big city, rush hours can be busy but the traffic usually keeps moving. Most people in Perth drive themselves to work rather than using public transport. Perth's public transport system is good for getting you into the central city and out again but is not so good for travelling between suburbs, for which a car is strongly advised.


Want a new start in Perth ? Come to Down Under Live and dream under a different set of stars


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