Stephen and Karen Harkness had been thinking about migrating to Australia for a few years before they finally made the decision in 2003 to take the plunge. Stephen had always been keen to move to Australia but it took him about 5 years to convince Karen!
Stephen is a qualified panel beater/spray painter which is a profession on the skills shortage list so on this basis they applied for a skilled visa. They found the process quite long and frustrating at times as there was so much information they needed to provide but eventually they received their visa in October 2003 and within one month arrived in Perth.
Karen says, "Saying Goodbye to family and friends was heart wrenching and we cried enough tears to last us a lifetime but I think this was normal - after all we were going to the other side of the world on our own". Stephens brother lives in Australia and had organised rental accommodation for them on arrival in Perth so this was one less thing for them to worry about. However, although they recognise that Perth is a beautiful city, both Stephen and Karen were used to living in the countryside and felt that city life would not suit them. "Armed with a Perth directory we set off in search of a new home", adds Karen. They travelled south to Bunbury and fell in love with everything about the area - the easygoing ways of the locals, the picture postcard beaches and the dolphins. Their new house is a threebedroom bungalow with a large garden and essential for Australia, a pool! Karen advises that although there are plenty of houses for sale it is best to research thoroughly the area you are looking to buy in and enlist the help of a good estate agent. The house buying process is very quick in Australia compared to the UK for example, and within five weeks of arriving in Perth they moved into their new home in Bunbury.
Both Karen and Stephen have not found it easy to find the jobs they want and have had to be flexible but both have now found work and for now, at least as far they are concerned - a job is a job! They are both settling in well to their new life but as Karen says, " We found our first Christmas very difficult and we really missed home but with email, text and writing we are never that far away. The homesickness does not disappear within the first week but you just have to ride the storm and it does becomes easier once you are over the initial hurdles".
Looking back they both wish that they had known more about the job situation in Australia and how difficult it can be to find the right place to live so advise all potential migrants to research these areas as much as possible before arriving. Their learning curve has been steep and they believe that you cannot fully prepare for your new life until you arrive. Karen and Stephen feel that they have definitely done the right thing and are very happy with their new life.
Source: Australian News and Stephen and Karen Harkness.