Though we haven’t said it out loud to many people until recently, our move to Australia has been in the works for years (very fortunately, because it took two years to get my partner visa!). In that time, the people we have told often had questions about why I would want to move “so far away.”
The grimly ironic situation now is that no one questions our decision to move – many are frankly envious.
But, even before COVID, there were plenty of good reasons to move to Australia.
The fact that Brendan is Australian is one very good reason: Australia is his home far more than the US is mine (I’ve spent about half my years living in other countries and don’t have a strong sense of anywhere as “home”).
We don’t particularly like where we are now. Life in the Bay Area manages to be both hectic and exhausting, and… boring. There’s not a lot to do in leisure time unless you are willing to spend hours in traffic to go somewhere, which never sounds appealing after a long workday/week.
Life in the Bay Area is also ridiculously expensive. We are currently paying $4600 a month in rent – yes, on a very nice house, but it’s not in a top school district. (It would cost around $1.5 million to buy this house.)
The wealth in the Bay Area is very unevenly distributed. I am deeply uncomfortable with being part of and de facto supporting a lifestyle in which service workers have to commute 2-3 hours to get to their jobs cooking, waiting tables, cleaning offices, etc, and the homeless live in tent encampments on the side of the highway. That this happens within a 50 square mile radius of some of the greatest wealth the planet has ever seen – and we do nothing to improve it – is simply obscene. I don’t want to be part of this.
Brendan has a 10 year old son. I don’t want him growing up in this rat race, and I deeply dislike that he has had active shooter drills every school semester since kindergarten, with one actual lockdown incident. This is insane. Because of the gun lobby’s stranglehold on American politics and the heavy propaganda waged on citizens in favor of gun ownership, we are raising a generation of kids to be afraid of everything and everyone, and to believe that lethal violence is a normal part of their lives, in the name of “freedom.” This can only do damage to young psyches (ask anyone who grew up in a war zone). Australia does not have this problem.
Yes, Australia does have problems of its own, but (no doubt it’s easy for me to say) they seem more tractable than America’s.
It’s also true that Sydney is expensive (roughly on par with the Bay Area), but you get more for your money, including good public transport, and 90+ public beaches!
Another good reason to move to Australia (more than ever now) is that it has a competent, long-standing public healthcare system, which no one is trying to take away. The ACA, while far from perfect, ensures coverage even for the many of us who have pre-existing conditions. Without that, I am at the mercy of my employers, forced to stay in jobs that are actively toxic for me because I cannot afford to lose continuous coverage (nor afford to pay for COBRA). This situation is very familiar because I’ve been in it, before Obamacare was passed. It’s extremely stressful, and completely unnecessary. That is what the GOP wants to return us to. It’s a form of subjugation that many Americans cling to because they have been propagandized to believe that “socialized medicine” is evil. (Come on in – the socialist healthcare is fine!)
Another positive reason to move: When it becomes possible again, I want to explore more of Asia/Southeast Asia, a part of the world where I have not spent time since childhood, which is more easily reached from Australia. I’d also like to see more of New Zealand. And there’s lots more to see and learn and do in Australia itself.
Yes, I’ll be far from many of my friends and family. But that is the way my life has always been: no matter where I go, I am far away from somebody I care about. And yet, as long as plane flights are available and I can afford and am in physical condition to fly them, I am also close to everybody. And I hope they’ll all come and visit us!