Gordon Dolan, Perth

My name is Gordon Dolan; for many years I wanted to migrate but had cold feet, until a recruitment team from HM Naval Base, Auckland, visited Plymouth where I worked in the Devonport Dockyard; being selected for migration with costs paid was too good to pass up, my partner Diana agreed and off to New Zealand we went, when I was 30.

We were ‘sponsored’ by a Naval Base employee and after a very unsettled period (missing family & friends) managed to get over the separation. As usual my partner suffered most as I had my work to distract me from homesickness while she was alone with two children, yet she showed determination to see it through. After 6 months we were up & running, she started work and we did very well for the 7 years of our stay. Diana ran a very successful business manufacturing and selling custom knitwear at premium prices until the Finance Minister of the Lange government killed the economy by removing tariff barriers overnight, giving no-one a fair chance to adapt.The following year New Zealand experienced a net outflow of 88,000 skilled people, mainly to Australia- us amongst them. We were trying to pay 24% interest on our housing loan, believe it or not! Many friends who stayed fell into bankruptcy.

We built two houses in New Zealand; like Australia there are few restrictions on home building which results in great variety in architectural styles and choices. We had a ball with the process, getting great satisfaction and achievement and few negatives to report.

Arriving in Perth in Feb 1988 to be met with the hottest month on record, not knowing a soul, we rented whilst having our first house built; to our amazement we could afford a big 2 storey, 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom place beside the ocean- big swimming pool, games room – utter luxury, to us! Perth is a major destination for ‘Poms’ like us and we also met a few people we had known in England who were inspired by our story and followed suit. Nobody has been any less than helpful and agreeable here, no Pommie bashing at all; Sydney might be a bit different, though!

Sadly, there was a building slump immediately followed by divorce which affected us badly, yet we were both able to pick up and start again in property- we both built or bought several houses subsequently.

I lived in Brisbane and Gold Coast for a couple of years and enjoyed it; the climate is less extreme than Perth and more to see and do – Perth is indeed the most isolated capital city in the world. Brissie might have been my favourite had we not chosen Perth.

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I had detested English weather having suffered badly from bronchial problems, sinusitis, etc. due to cold and wet conditions; thus the warm (hot!) summers and mild winters fixed that problem. In younger days the beach/barbie lifestyle with the kids was great but towards retirement we have to find other interests.

What I dislike in Perth is the way it is growing into a large city with all the inflationary issues, huge increases in house prices and cost of living- now on par with Sydney. We had the best years, before the minerals booms generated big migrant numbers and attendant price pressures, recently Australia’s most expensive house was sold in Perth…($54 Million)!!!

Advice- well, very difficult; don’t expect the cheap living we had. Migrate with eyes open, for better reasons than money- climate; freedom; great opportunities for your children.

My plan is to spend retirement elsewhere; through unwise money management or possibly bad luck I can’t afford the cost of living here. All is not lost, there are many countries where one can live warmly and cheaply and my grown up kids are set for life in Australia, plus they are dual passport holders, able and accustomed to travel freely. They are not scared of anything much!

So many folks we knew in the Old Country now bemoan the fact they are too old to migrate, despite our encouragement; DO IT!! If you don’t like it, home is a mere airfare away; if you do, it will change your life for the better.


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