Immigrate to Australia
Peter and Helen share their migration story with you

Peter & Helen immigrated to Australia in November 2003 and live in a rented property in Sorrento, one of the Coastal suburbs north of Perth.

They applied to immigrate to Australia in July 2002 and received their Visa a year later. Peter was the main applicant and applied for a skilled migrant Visa Visa Class 136. Helen was assessed as the spouse so they could get enough points (they needed 115).

Peter was a mechanical engineer although he had been working in a sales role prior to the application. Because of this as part of the application process he was required to complete 3 Competency Essays which demonstrated his level of skill.

Peter told me that they would have been tempted to go through the application themselves but as they knew that if they got turned down the first time they would be too old to then apply again for a skilled migrant visa they choose to go through an agency.

The migrant agent they used was ASA Group, a company recommended to them. Peter said that he did hear of a negative experience from someone using them after they had begun the process which gave him a brief sinking feeling but they had no problems and they were perfectly happy with the service they received.

Before settling in Perth Peter, Helen and their two children Tom then aged 10 and Lucy then aged 6 spent 6 weeks touring the major Australian cities before arriving in Perth. They had been to Australia for holidays in the past but where not entirely sure where they wanted to settle.

So they started off in Brisbane then went to Sydney followed by Melbourne finally arriving in Perth in November 2004.

Perth was where they decided to settle and I don’t think that Perth being the last stop on there list was accidental but more intentional. They wanted to make a lifestyle change and knew that if they lived in Perth they would be able to afford to live both close to the City and the beach.

Now because they were not sure where they would end up all their worldly goods were still sat in a container back in the UK. They organized for them to be shipped to Perth once they had made the decision that this was where home was to be. Of course they had to wait for the container to arrive which seemed to take forever (it was only 8 weeks). They shipped everything over to Perth with used Doree Bonner to ship everything over. Doree Bonner was the mid range quote out of the companies they approached. Helen was pleased with the service they provided Doree Bonner where efficient and they had no complaints to make about them.

In the meantime they also needed to find a place to live. Life in Perth started off in an apartment hotel (Mounts Bay). This was a short stay because although not expensive it was not a place you wanted to spend too much time. Helen said the idea of having a self catering apartment was to save spending the savings they had on eating out all the time. Trouble was the apartments where damp and dingy and not a place you wanted to spend all your time. They soon moved out into a furnished apartment in Victoria Park which was better and not really big enough but it filled the stop gap until they found their current rental in Sorrento.

Sorrento is North of Perth and not very far from Hillarys Boat Harbour. They choose to live North of the River (NOR) because they wanted to live close to the city and close to the beach. Based on the rental budget they had, their research (confirmed by a real estate agent) indicated that they would need to look at areas NOR. They were glad they made this decision as they found that a lot of migrants lived NOR and they were easily accepted in to the community.

Helen and Peter run their own business here in Perth, Chocolate Attraction. They recently won the Australia Post Best New Business Award for 2005. After only 18 months of their migration to Perth this is an achievement to be proud of. They have made many new friends through the business support groups they joined and found that people where quick to congratulate them for their business success.

Prior to migrating over to Perth Peter and Helen knew they wanted to start their own business although they were not sure what it would be. In fact while they were over on the East Coast they looked at some franchising opportunities, which, have yet to find there way over to Perth.

Helen came across the Chocolate Fountain Business idea (which originated in Canada) in a newspaper article back in the UK. They had seen them around on their travels and liked the idea of a Chocolate Fountain business so they began to research the concept before going ahead and investing in their first Chocolate Fountain. At the time they were still living in short term rental accommodation so Helen would go join all the teenagers down at the internet café in Bentley researching the business opportunities while the teenagers around her were playing on-line games. It just goes to show that you need not let lack of a home computer slow you down. Helen registered the business name from a computer in an internet café in Feb 2004.

Chocolate Fountains had started to become popular in the UK and could also be found in other places round the globe but had yet to be introduced in Perth. Peter and Helen certainly got there timing right so following plenty of research they put a business plan in place and Chocolate Attraction was born. It was the research, hard work and detailed planning that they put the success of the business down to. They started off with just the one fountain and built the business up increasing the number of fountains they have for rental. Peter looks after the business full time while Helen works part time as well as supporting the chocolate fountain business. At the moment they are reinvesting the income from Chocolate Attraction back into the business and will soon be looking to employ someone to help delivering the chocolate fountains out for rental.

In fact at the moment the business takes up a lot of their time delivering fountains in the evening and working at functions during the day is keeping them busy. It leaves little leisure time, however, they still find time to go down to the beach with the children and play taxi and support at the surf life saving club and dancing. Of course you expect to put a lot of hard work and effort into a new business at the beginning if you want it to work

Peter told me that for those of you wanting to start their own business there are a lot of support groups around. The support and encouragement available certainly helps. One organisation he mentioned was The Small Business Development Corporation , a government led initiative, which, gives you confidence in the information they are providing as it is unbiased.

They moved to Perth Australia as a result of a lifestyle decision. They had had enough of time sat in traffic trying to navigate their way around the M25. Sitting in endless traffic jams on a bank holiday, by the time you got to your day trip destination it was time to turn round and go back home again then of course the British weather can be so unpredictable.

Rather than selling there home in the UK they decided to rent it out. It’s an investment at the moment, which, if they choose they can sell when the time is right to buy there own place here in Perth. For the time though they are renting a place in Sorrento a suburb they enjoy to live in.

Peter was originally from Manchester and Helen from Durham but they had been living in Tonbridge, Kent for 12 years prior to leaving the UK. Their family did not live close by but they were in constant contact and would visit home once every couple of months. Even so leaving the family was hard, they underestimated just how much they would miss the family.

The family did not really understand why they were making the move and were not happy about it to begin with but they have all been and visited and left to return to the UK much happier with the decision of Peter and Helen to move to Perth as they could see the benefit of the life style change the move has made.

If they could have done anything different then they would have come straight to Perth and chose to arrive in January. Then the children could start the new school at the beginning of the new school year (which runs from the end of January). Arriving in November meant it was almost the end of school year and the long Christmas holiday which meant they were having to take the children with them while they were finding where they wanted to live. On the subject of education I asked them what they thought about the difference between here and the UK.

Although not as demanding of pupils as the UK is in Perth there is more of a focus on developing a rounded and happy child. There is a higher focus on sport and team work with taking part being the important thing and not the winning. The UK system is far more stressful with too much emphasis being put on academic achievement. The attitude towards children in Perth is far more balanced, sure there are academic talent programs in place for children but there is not the pressure to have to do it. If you have ability then you get the additional challenge but you don’t get pressured into anything.

I asked them if they had any advice for would be migrants and they said

  • Do plenty of research, the internet is full of information accessible to all.

  • When you arrive expect it to take a couple of years to get to a financial standard of living of what you were used to in the UK. (This is feedback I get from a lot of migrants).

  • Starting a new life in a new country is not easy but it is what you make it. You need to expect it to be difficult to begin with, it takes time to find the right job and to start earning again.

  • Budget while you find your feet and build your new home. Expect too much and you are bound to be disappointed.

  • Don’t expect it all to be handed on a plate put in the hard work and it will pay off in the end.

  • Bring as much as you can, when you are starting up home you will be amazed how much the cost of all those little things add up and if you have to manage 6 months before you are working then you may prefer to keep your savings rather then spending them on all the bits and pieces you left behind.

  • Oh and don’t leave all your jumpers back in the UK as we do get a winter here and you will be sorry you didn’t bring them.



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