Where better for a fresh start than the other side of the world? as thousands of Brits are swapping dark and rainy skies for the sunshine of Australia.
According to Statistica, the number of UK citizens leaving the country to migrate down under is the highest it has been since 2012.
Last week, The Times also reported that over 21,000 Irish citizens were granted Australian working holiday visas in the 12 months up to July last year, which is the highest recorded figure in 16 years.
Meanwhile, research from last year revealed that, nearly one in two Britons say they believe they would be better off swapping the UK for Australia or New Zealand – whether it’s the sunny lifestyle, better working options or more affordable housing, something is drawing people to start a new life on the other side of the world.
MailOnline spoke to those who’ve made the plunge and would never look back, as well as travel experts for insight on why the mass move is taking place.
Ben Sly (pictured with his wife Maddy), 30, from Essex, first came to Australia in October 2015 to play cricket for Maffra for 6 months – however, he fell in love with the country and can’t see himself ever moving back to the UK
Ben Sly, 30, from Essex, first came to Australia in October 2015 to play cricket for Maffra for 6 months – however, he fell in love with the country and can’t see himself ever moving back to the UK.
He told MailOnline: ‘I decided to stay as I met my now wife and loved the lifestyle Australia could offer. It was so relaxed and friendly and I loved the people I met in Country Victoria.
‘The working holiday visa turned my life on its head completely. I wasn’t particularly happy in my job in the UK, so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and travel to Australia to play cricket for six months on a working holiday visa.
‘Life in Australia was great, I did some farm work and based myself in country Victoria where I met so many friendly people who made life such a pleasure’.
He gushed: ‘My life is amazing now. I met and married my wife, we now have two children and I am officially an Australian Citizen.
‘We’ve built our own four-bedroom home and have life-long friends with all the people I first met playing cricket together back in 2015’.
The 30-year-old junior accountant says he earns around 20% more in Australia compared to a similar role in the UK.
Ben explained: ‘I have worked in the role for a few years and have just started my university studies as I wasn’t able to study before I became a citizen.
Ben said: ‘My life is amazing now. I met and married my wife, we now have two children and I am officially an Australian Citizen’
‘The property market is also a lot cheaper in Australia. Comparing where I live now to what I could get where I was from in the UK is miles apart.
‘We actually built our house which tells you how much space there is in Australia, especially in Country Victoria where we currently live’.
After being down under for nine years, he can’t see himself or his family ever moving back to the UK – however, he would like to come back for a nine month stay and let their children experience a year in school in England.
Ben said the biggest thing keeping him in Australia is the slower paced lifestyle and friendly people, which he loves.
He said: ‘The lifestyle is very different, I have found the work life balance to be much better in Australia.
‘We sometimes take a trip to the beach of a Sunday morning to walk our dog as it is only a 30 minute drive.
‘I also cook a lot of our evening meals on the BBQ, especially in the summer, as the weather is a lot nicer.
‘One of the biggest culture shocks was the amount of people walking around with no shoes on. Another was how cold everyone likes their beers, there wasn’t a pint of Bitter in sight anywhere.
‘Also, having warm weather on Christmas Day is something I still can’t get used to but would take it over snow any day’.
Talking about why so many people are moving there, Ben added: ‘I think the visa changes, meaning no specific work and increased age, are brilliant.
Ben said the bigges thing keeping him in Australia is the slower paced lifestyle and friendly people, which he loves
After being down under for nine years, he can’t see himself or his family ever moving back to the UK – however, he would like to come back for a nine month stay and let their children experience a year in school in England
‘Anything that makes the process even easier and removes work restrictions is a massive positive.
‘If these were in place when I applied, it would have been a lot easier to extend my stay beyond the first year and I would have had more job opportunities and more diverse industries to work in’.
While he loves the Aussie lifestyle, he admits there are some things about the UK he does miss – a traditional English pub and real Sunday roast dinners are big cravings.
Ben’s family were shocked at first when he told them he wanted to move across the world, however they’ve now visited multiple times and ‘completely understand’ why.
Meanwhile, Sarah-Jane McQueen, 42, traded her life in South London for one in Melbourne in 2022 to further her career and is ‘in it for the long run,’ with no plans to move back.
She explained: ‘I work for the education marketing company Candlefox and prior to this I had led their UK arm called CoursesOnline from our London office, which I had built from the ground up as the company’s first expansion outside of Australia.
‘The move to Australia was suggested by our Commercial Director in 2022, and my first action was to discuss it with my long-term boyfriend as naturally it was a huge venture which was being proposed.
‘He’s always lived in London and if he wasn’t up for the move it obviously wouldn’t happen, but he surprised me by committing to the adventure.
Meanwhile, Sarah-Jane McQueen (RIGHT), 42, traded her life in South London for one in Melbourne in 2022 to further her career and is ‘in it for the long run,’ with no plans to move back
‘We then went through the long process of applying for our visa and ultimately we were able to come in under the temporary skills shortage visa. Due to the backlog from Covid, however, it took about 6 months for our entry to be granted’.
She added: ‘During that time we did all the stuff in between – like setting up our house for rental, investigating schools for my daughters, and we were lucky that we had a relocation consultant helping us through the process’.
Sarah-Jane revealed that her biggest motivation to move was ‘the career prospects that Australia offered’ – she became the first female member of her company’s leadership team.
Since moving, she and her family have fell in love with Melbourne and much prefer it to the UK.
She said: ‘We love the lifestyle and weather here – being able to head down to a gorgeous sandy beach after work is something that you just can’t find back in the UK.
‘For our daughters and seeing how they’ve taken to it, we’re certain it was the best move for us, an opportunity to experience a new environment, and for them to learn and grow.
‘The opportunity to visit places like New Zealand and Japan is great, as the journey is shorter from Aus’.
She had a generous relocation package which enabled her to turn her London home into an investment rental property, while starting a new life down under.
Sarah-Jane had a generous relocation packagage which enabled her to turn her London home into an investment rental property, while starting a new life down under
When it comes to money, she adds that: ‘The income tax and other taxes are better off in Australia – and looking at my UK pension vs my Australia Super is far more favourable in Australia – the UK company contribution is 4% whereas the Australian super is 11%.
Sarah-Jane believs so many Brits are taking the plunge because Australia is a country that’s very similar to the UK in terms of culture and of course language, but with ‘far nicer weather on the whole’.
She added: ‘Many Brits have family or friends that have made the move in the past as well, so it’s not like you’re going to a completely unfamiliar place.
‘Work wise, there are a lot of Australian employers looking to make the most of economic uncertainty in the UK and who are deliberately marketing themselves to pick up skilled workers looking for a change of scenery and someone to help them through the visa process.
‘My biggest initial fear was how the move would impact my eldest daughter. I was so fearful and anxious that she wouldn’t find her tribe and she would find school hard.
‘We did have some behaviour issues at home initially and I had mum guilt, but over time she’s found her place and friends and each day has got better and better. Now today she’s the happiest I have ever seen her’.
Now that her family is past the adjustment phase, the British mother is certain they’ve found their place and will be out there for ‘a long time to come’.
Mike Harvey is Managing Director at 1st Move International, a UK-based international removal company.
He has over 25 years of experience in relocation, moving and shipping services to Australia, Canada, the US, Dubai and more – but says Australia is the most popular global destination for UK expats.
He explains: ‘Almost 1.2 million Brits call this country home.
‘Australia has lots to offer British newcomers, including a shared language, a laid-back culture and an unrivalled emphasis on work-life balance.
‘Most Brits state that the improved quality of life is their main reason for moving to Australia.
‘The country also boasts scorchingly sunny weather, beautiful beaches and lots of space for outdoor living.
‘It’s climate inspires people to come together at sporting events, barbeques or social gatherings of individuals with the same interests, which is extremely appealing to Brits wanting to escape the gloomy British weather’.
Adding that educational opportunities in Australia are also ‘excellent, with good teachers and programs’.
He advises that there is a mixture of public and private schools, and parents can choose between them according to their preference.
Concluding that ‘While it’s expensive to live in major Australian cities, expats from all over the world choose to make themselves at home here, where both salaries and the standard of living are high, making the cost of living affordable’.