Case Study: 2 relocations, 10 years apart

From Manchester to Perth and Back: 

I met Wendy in Perth Australia back in 2014, she had moved over from Manchester with her husband and son some years earlier.

After almost a decade in Western Australia, she decided to move back to Manchester – primarily to be closer to her extended family who live across Lancashire.

I remember Wendy discussing her family a lot, mum, dad, sisters, nieces and nephews all growing up quickly. I knew she missed them and Manchester “the greatest city in the world”, but she never discussed details about her relocation to Australia (nor of her subsequent relocation back to the UK).

Wendy has been back in the UK for several months now, so I thought it a pertinent time to ask her about her relocation experiences, almost a decade apart.

Did you get any relocation support from your employer when you left Manchester in 2010?

My move to Perth was supported well initially. From the original enquiry and application, everything was good. I had good communication with the team in Perth and the appointed migration agent made the process of applying for the visa relatively straightforward. They reimbursed the cost of my flight and offered partial financial assistance towards the cost of shipping.

However, there was very little support in terms of relocating a family to a new country. With a young child, I had been working 4 days a week in the UK but my request for those hours was turned down in Perth. As a family we had to find a house to rent, open bank accounts, hire/buy a car, understand the local areas, schooling and transport links to the city for commuting.  I had to find childcare that would support my hours and manage all of this whilst getting straight into work.

Honestly, the people who gave me the most support were those that had been in my position. They offered the advice and guidance I needed to settle into life in Perth. Some of those people I still call friends 10 years later. The induction was centred more around the company than the relocation. Social media was not the same 10 years ago as it is now so advice and support were not as readily available as it is today (Facebook pages that support relocation from the UK to Perth).

Looking back at what support would have been useful?

  • An overview of the Perth economy – industries that drive the market, biggest companies etc.
  • An understanding of areas around the CBD and commuting times
  • Schooling for my son – i.e., I had no idea Catholic Schools in Australia were part private so from a budget perspective that would have been useful to know
  • Typical weekly / monthly budget for food, utilities, rent etc
  • Applying for a medicare card – what medicare even meant vs private health
  • Applying for Australian driving licences (there was a lot of conflicting advice around the need for an Australian driving licence whilst on a VISA)
  • The process from visa to permanent citizenship

Do you think your relocation to Perth was successful, did you achieve what you wanted to achieve?

My relocation was successful, but it was a massive learning curve. It was by no means easy and if I had my time again, I would have done some things differently. I was surrounded by expats and we all had different battles at different times which can be mentally exhausting. Perth is a fantastic city with lots to offer but it is an economy driven by the resources sector and when that suffers so does Perth. The weather is beautiful 70% of the time but no one prepares you for the winter, it is cold, dark, colder in your house than it is out of it. As a family though, we had some very special times, we had extended family who would never have travelled to Australia come to visit us.

Did you get any relocation support from your employer when you left Perth in 2018?

The relocation back to Manchester from Perth has been very different. I have been fully supported but that is more to do with the company I work for and the planning we did together before the move. We researched a lot in terms of the market here, where to open an office, salaries and local competition. The company paid for me to come back to the UK for 4 months before the actual move so I could scope things out.

How do you feel about Manchester now you have been back for several months – do you think you made the right decision?

Manchester will always be home for my family and the main reason for moving back was the connection with our extended family. Now 6 months later we are loving being back. The change of seasons is brilliant and we have Europe on our doorstep, we are never short of things to do and places to see. However, we made the decision to commit ourselves to Australia and applied for citizenship. It was such a big part of our lives and we would never rule out a return in the future.

Written by Nathan Gunn – Senior Recruitment Consultant – Global Mobility, HR & Expatriate Services at Alchemy Global Talent Solutions.