Sunday, 23 November 2008

7 months status

Number of months without wearing socks 7.

Number of jelly fish stings 1 (Daughter aged 7, painful but otherwise ok)

Number of giant spider sightings 2 (Those huntsman are huge)

Number of times gone off road with 4x4 car 0.

Number of times we've complained its too hot 600,007.

Number of times we've gone in pool to cool down 600,007.

Number of wild kangaroos seen 0.

Number of wild parrots seen 976.

Number of lightning strikes watched from the veranda 821.

Number of times fell asleep in hammock on veranda 2.

Number of tropical fish seen while snorkeling 57.

Number of cockroaches squished 9.

Number of times downstairs flooded by major storm 1.

Number of cheap take away meals consumed 31.

Number of times woken up by birds going crazy at 4:50 in the morning 76.

Number of surfing lessons 1. (Daughter aged 12 had one)

Number of times eaten kangaroo 1. (Dont tell the kids)

Number of geckos spotted about the house 5.

Number of possums removed from loft 1.

Number of geckos accidentally trodden on 1.

Number of times lay on bottom of pool on a hot evening looking up at the moon through the water. 5.

Number of prices converted to pounds 1209.

Friday, 7 November 2008

redundancy looms

Well its been a worrying week, the Corporation I work for employing 10,000 people decided to make 10% of its staff redundant last week, blaming the recessions and the need to cut costs. Unfortunately the team I was on was earmarked to take a 50% cut in staff.

It was a scary few days while the decisions were made and the potential to be sent packing really made us realised just how much we didn't want to go back to the UK.

Being on a 457 really is a risky business, no company is truly safe and once you are made redundant you have 28 days to find another job and not just any job but a job that will sponsor your 457. At the end of 28 days if you fail to find another sponsoring job you have to leave Australia or face deportation. Its a worst case nightmare scenario, you lose thousands of pounds getting your family and things back to the UK, we would go back to the UK with a 12 month rental contract still to pay for in oz. our home in the UK is being rented out to someone else. The kids would have to move school just as they are settled in.

Fortunately I survived the cut and live to work another another day, but its made us realise we really do need to get permanent residency.

So now we are going through the visa immigration process again (with an immigration agent), this time a skill based sponsorship visa, which can take as little as 2 months to process. The pre-requisites are that your employer will sponsor you and that you have a degree in a required skill and have worked in that skill for 3 or more years.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Bribie Island, paradise found

I love the beach, from St Andrews in Scotland to Greece to Spain.

In oz weve sampled Scarborough, Redcliffe and surfers paradise.

But now we have found the perfect beach. Bribie island, 90 mins drive from south Brisbane.

We had a fantastic day on this empty beach on the south western shore, we took a look at the eastern side (the surfers beach) but the waves were too small to be exciting but too big for the little ones, and the wind was blowing a gale, and the beach was far more populated. The west was far more sheltered, and as you can see empty as can be.

The water was full of hermit crabs and plenty of fish including a couple of 50cm sting rays that turned up at the end of the day to make us in turn excited and nervous as they swam towards us then flitted away in an instant, more nervous of me than I was of it despite the fact I have no venemous barb. The sting ray kept returning and we walked along only meters away from it watching its sides turn up and ripple as it swam along.

Monday, 29 September 2008

Buying a car your first week.

If your anything like us you will want a car ASAP, you might hire one for your first week so you can get around, and during that week you will want to tour all the garages to pick your car.

The trickiest thing about buying a car is actually getting the loan, you have just arrived have no credit history in oz, no history of addresses or employment. But it seems its still possible (we managed it).

You will need a lot of stuff to get the loan, we had to supply.

1. Proof of rental address (my employer had to provide a letter as they were paying rent)

2. Proof of visa (just a photocopy of passport label)

3. Proof of employment (letter from company)

4. Three references (we had to supply names and addresses of 3 references, I used someone at work and long lost Australian relatives)

5. Three years worth of previous addresses.

6. Any random ID you may have, medicare cards, bank details etc.

The interest rates here are huge my car loan was 13.7% and that was deemed pretty good by the people I spoke to.

We also needed proof of no claims bonus to get insurance and needed a Queensland driving license to be able to drive the car away.

You can get a Queensland driving license with some ID (passport) and proof of address and your UK license (the picture card, they wont accepts the big green piece of paper as it has the word provincial on it somewhere which sends them a bit crazy).

The driving license only lasts for a few years(maximum of 5 years) and the longer it lasts the more you pay, (its up to you how long you want the license for).


Insurance is a bit odd they have this CPT insurance that is like insurance for running over a pedestrian (its a bit vague at the moment to me). But you get it with your car tax but have to choose an insurer. Seems to be a form of public liability.

Car tax is called rego (registration) and seems to cost a bit more than UK. You don't need an MOT certificate to get the car tax, all though they do require the car has a valid safety certificate whenever the car is sold.

Then you need normal insurance, except its for the car rather than the person (all though they still need to know the details of all the drivers)

Buying the car.

The number plates don't tell you how old the car is, you need to read the fine print in the window. The Australian's don't seem to care about car age only mileage is relevant (and they clock up a lot of miles here, no not miles kilometers). When I told one ozzy that in the UK the number plates show you the age of the car, he just stared blankly and asked "what would you want to know that for?".

90% of cars here are automatic (in Brisbane anyway), and if you can drive a manual the car salesman will get very excited that you might actually buy one of the few manual cars they have. (which are cheaper and more efficient but will be tricky to sell on).

The cars all have huge engines, a 2.0 litre engine is considered frugal here.

We ended up with a huge 4x4 offroader with a 3.6 litre engine, but it runs off lpg which is only 30 UK pence a litre.

So we got our car in the end, took about a week to sort out all the paperwork before we could drive it away.

If your shopping for cars in Brisbane you need to go up gympie road north out of Brisbane, its where all the car dealers congregate.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Things to do around Brisbane

Some places we have visited in the 4 months since arriving in oz

Australia zoo

About 90 minutes drive from Brisbane, Steve Irwin's zoo heavily concentrating on crocodiles (obviously) but with various other animals too. Elephants were our favourite, lining up to hand feed fruit to 3 elephants, and the tiger cubs were great too. There's a big stadium called the crocatorium with crocodile shows. What ever you do make sure you miss the cringe worthy bindi show, basically 30 minutes of bindi ( steve and terry's 12? year old daughter) singing and dancing. We accidentally attended not realising what the show was all about , thats 30 minutes of my life I will never get back.

Fig tree pocket koala Sancturary Brisbane

Close to the center of Brisbane (15 mins drive for us), a koala sancturary for rescued koalas, also contains a lot of kangaroos you can hand feed much to their indifference. Occasionally you can find a kangaroo that isn't completely stuffed to the brim with food and it will raise its head from its sprawled position to let you pop in a bit of food (come on sir, its only wafer fin).

Also lots of birds (very good birds of prey show), lizards, snakes, including some sulpher crested cockatoo's who can say hello and goodbye when prompted.

Surfers Paradise

This is what I came to Australia for, big waves, clear turquoise sea, sand so fine it squeaks as you walk on it. Ninety minutes from Brisbane (by the time you have found somewhere to park).

The beach goes on for ever, hundreds of miles, but there's only an occasional bit of sea you can go in marked with 2 yellow flags and a life guard sat in his jeep. The yellow flags are about 50 meters apart so while the beach is hundreds of miles long everyone is crammed into these pockets of beach. Not too bad in winter but I can imagine it being hellishly busy in summer.

And the sand really does squeak as you walk on it :)


The locals here (in Brisbane) don't seem to consider Redcliffe a proper beach, maybe the sand doesn't squeak enough (it is courser and errm red'er).

Very pleasant, great for kids (no giant waves) no yellow flags, can be a bit rocky in places. Nice series of man made outdoor lagoon pools nearby.

Movie World

Slightly over an hour from Brisbane, its a roller coaster theme park based around movies. There wasn't that much for the younger kids to do unless they are brave enough to go on things like the log flume. My 4 year old was terrified of the scooby doo actors roaming the park but loved the kids roller coaster that was actually quite big and fast (too fast for the 11 year old to risk going on).

Highlights were the Shrek 3d movie and the super man roller coaster.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Shipping your stuff to Oz, International Removals

There's lots of international removal companies out there who will do the removal/shipping of all your stuff to oz, we got 3 quotes, with two of the quotes sending someone out to appraise what size container we would need. For a 40ft shipping container we got quotes ranging from 5 to 7 thousand pounds.

A 20 ft container is also available or you can apparently even share containers if you have less things to ship.

The quote included doing the packing, transfer to the boat, shipping over and delivery at the other end to our house. (It didnt matter that we didnt know where we were going to live in Brisbane, just knowing the city was enough).

Some tips about the packers, do not think of them as intelligent human beings, think of them as packing machines who will pack everything in their way. They need to be supervised or you will find they have packed house plants, and even bins full of rubbish. (just 2 of the things ours managed to pack while our backs were turned).

There's strict quidelines as to what you can bring into Australia, no wicker, no plants, no food, no seeds, The packers will be aware of these guidelines and will ignore them completely.

The packing took about 4 days. (for a 5 bed house). As well as boxing everything all the furniture is wrapped in cardboard coated bubble wrap. It was all loaded onto one lorry then on the last day it was moved across to the container on the back of another lorry. (As seen in pic above)

When your container arrives in Australia it will undergo a customs inspection (costing several hundred pounds, the removal company UK side said this may or may not be required and its down to luck, on the OZ side they told me its always required as theres always a customs check), you will be required to show receipts for anything you have bought in the past 12 months(you will be charged VAT for anything that you declare to be new), you are also required to declare any alcohol so you can be charged.

According to the Australian side removal company the fact that everything had been professionally packed meant the customs inspection would be very quick, the customs officials tend to concentrate on owner packed containers.

Our possessions were put on a lorry on the 2nd May and arrived at our new home 2nd July. with a couple of weeks in Customs (mainly waiting for our destination address to become empty).

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Cost of Emigration

We emigrated to Brisbane from Scotland 3 months ago and even though my new employer paid for much of it its still a costly experience.

Heres our costs (in uk pounds), obviously a lot of them are optional :)

1. £6150 to ship our stuff over door to door (40 foot container, they packed)
2. £300 maritime insurance
3. £300 customs inspection fee
4. £4000 flights for 7 (estimate, company paid)
5. £300 2 nights stop over in Singapore (money well spent)
6. £450 7 day people carrier rental.
7. £275 per week 3 bed holiday apartment rental (for 3 months)
8. £13000 Buy a car (we bought a car our first week here)
9. £1000 Buy electrical items we left behind
10.£900 Paying a months mortgage back home before finding someone to rent it
11.£600 Medicals/xrays for 457 visa for 2 adults 5 children
12.£250 Ordering UK passports for all the ones that had expired
13.£250 Buying a big gas barbecue (not optional, you need one!)
14.£500 Buying a big glass patio table that sits 8 (very optional) :)
15.???? Visa application and agency fees if used (company paid ours)

The Company who employed me paid for the flights and the removal costs, and the visa fees. They used an agent who was able to get the visa very quickly so its probably well worth investigating using one, ours handled the whole thing for us even booking the medicals in Scotland for us.