I’ve often wondered what it would be like to pick up and move to another country with my family and so I badgered one of my close friends who went all the way across the world to Australia to live with his new family. Australia isn’t a hop, skip and jump away so I reached out to him to find out what the transition was like. It’s an interesting read, please enjoy.
Meet my friend Neville, Jamaican in Australia.
How hard was it to make the move?
Honestly I wasn’t a huge fan of the idea. People migrate everyday, but moving to Canada, USA or England where you have a Jamaican community and the trip back home is a single plane ride away wasn’t the same in my eyes. The prospect of leaving everything I’ve ever known and loved in my entire life to go literally 10,000 miles on the other side of the globe wasn’t something I was particularly enthused about. It took a bit of pushing on my wife’s part to convince me. It was also the only real option as I never liked the idea of her living in Jamaica.
What striking differences are there to life in Australia vs Jamaica?
I had developed certain habits in Jamaica that felt normal at the time, but now feel absolutely ridiculous. Habits like watching the car behind you in the rear view mirror to see if it has taken the same corners as you, or keeping eyes in the back of your head if you hear a bike approaching. I was always mentally prepared to take on the worst whenever I was out. It’s sad to say but I feel so much safer here. Nowhere is perfect, there is still crime… but need for crime is different. In Jamaica it’s a part of life, there’s limited jobs, not many ways to generate good income, and more mouths to feed so that need generates random acts of violence. Here, people are comfortable… they complain & protest about things like the baby bonus(money from the government for having kids) cut from $5000 to $2000. When those are the things you have to worry about who has time to rob and kill? On the flip side, because life is easier, there are more opportunities to just be careless and fall into lazy habits, to potentially not appreciate what you have as much as you would in Jamaica.
Beside that, lifestyle & music are the other 2 biggest differences, but nowhere is like Ja in terms of that. At their core, Jamaicans and Australians aren’t all that different. Fun, laid back characters who just want to go to the beach and drink. Jamaica’s motto could easily be transferred to Australia without much question, a big melting pot of nations, races, and religions.
Would you recommend Australia as an option to those Jamaicans who are considering migration?
If you have no commitments it’s an excellent option. If you have commitments, get easily homesick, or just find the idea of a totally new life scary it’s not for you. It’s a great place to start fresh, the people are friendly, the lifestyle is great, the culture is diverse, the weather is beach friendly most of the year, & the food is amazing (the money isn’t too bad either)…. but it’s not “yard”. It doesn’t feel like Jamaica, at all. If you look at the main hubs where Jamaicans migrate you find them gravitate to their elements in that other country. Currently that Jamaican element is almost non existent in Australia, but it’s perfect for a fresh start.
Now that you have settled there, where do you hope to retire, would you move back to Jamaica?
I’ve thought about this a lot, I’ve looked into it a number of times and I’m very unsure. In 30-40 years what will Jamaica be? Who will I be? Will it still be the place i love? Will i have a big new family here that I won’t want to leave? Will the people I know and care for still be there? At the moment I don’t see myself retiring in Australia, based solely on the lifestyle I’ll be able to afford outside the country, but I hope Jamaica is how I left it or better and I can make my way back home.
What circumstances do you think would have to be met before you considering returning to Jamaica?
I want what anyone else would want and that’s safety and comfort. Jamaica is and will forever be my home, and it meets all my needs except for income. If I could make close to the same amount of what I make now I’d strongly consider coming home. I would like Jamaica to become a safer place for me to raise my children there. I don’t have the same level of worry for them here as I would there, and I want them to have the opportunity to not struggle on a daily basis which is easier to achieve here.
What is the job market like, was it easy/difficult for you to get a job?
I can only compare it with what I left in Jamaica, and it’s much better here. The job market is incredibly large and its quite easy to spot ongoing positions in fields you majored in. But you have to understand there are also many more qualified applicants so there’s no easy way in. Fact is though, there are so many options that you can feel confident that unemployment is only a temporary option.
What is the social life like?
The social life is what I have found difficult to connect with. In Jamaica we plan things at the last minute, we arrive to parties late in the night, nothing compares to our bars and nightlife. Australia is so much more structured. People go for coffee instead of drinks, they have picnics on the beach instead of having fish, rum and music. There is a definite social scene, but nothing that compares to home and how laid back it is
What do you miss most about Jamaica?
I miss my family and friends the most. Australia is incredibly far and it takes an average of almost two days, 3 time zones and a couple of month’s income to make the trip back home. I miss the atmosphere and vibe of Jamaica.
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