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Australia coaxes Bolton family away from UK gloom

With the UK sinking deeper into recession, the prospect of a new life abroad has, for many people, moved from dream to reality. For Lee Ascroft, a senior contracts manager from Bolton and his wife Charlotte, moving overseas offered a much brighter outlook. 

The couple, along with their three children Harry (aged 17), Henry (aged 13) and Emily (aged 8) left their Bolton home to start a new life in Perth, Western Australia.

“It was a lifestyle choice,” said 42 year old Lee. “We were unhappy with England and had been thinking of moving abroad for a few years. It seemed like a good time to take the jump – the migration cut-off age is 45 and the children were at an appropriate age to move with their schooling. We decided it was now or never!”

Lee and Charlotte considered a number of countries in their search for the perfect location – New Zealand, Canada, USA and Spain all came up against Australia but the lure of the laid-back Aussie lifestyle was too much to resist.

“Australia and England share a similar culture so that helped in our decision. Religions also follow suit; as Jehovah’s Witnesses we are able to meet people at the local congregation, which is making it easier to settle into the new community.”

After attending the Opportunities Australia Expo in Leeds last April, Lee and Charlotte began planning their dream move. “The information was very helpful in preparing us. We sat through presentations for a number of different Australian locations but immediately Perth was our preference,” Lee added.

The next step in the process was for Lee to find a job in Australia – this would determine where the family would settle. Lee sent out 27 emails to firms in his line of work and the following day had received 3 positive responses. This progressed to a telephone interview with one Perth-based company and Lee was delighted to be offered a job.

The family took a trip to Perth to get to grips with the local area. “Perth had a big impact on us when we visited; it’s a clean city and everyone was very friendly. What appealed the most was the Australian ethos - ‘work to live’ not ‘live to work’ like it is in England. They appreciate the value of enjoying their lives and that is important to us.”

“The visit cemented our decision – Perth was definitely the place we wanted to live, so we began putting plans into place.”

The couple chose to hire the help of a relocation company, which would give them some expert advice and get their household possessions packed and shipped. “We approached four relocation companies and although some of them lacked the enthusiasm we felt we needed, Crown Relocations gave us a great deal of confidence.”

“Crown impressed us no end. Our representative, Victoria, was truly fantastic – she was very thorough and responsive, giving us lots of advice and sending us all the necessary information.”

“We felt Crown paid attention to our needs – they gave clear and detailed advice that put us at ease. They provided us with an information pack, which included pointers on all the things you need to know and how to prepare for a move overseas. It even gave us details about cultural issues and how to help the children cope with moving. It was extremely helpful.”

Crown Relocations packed up the family’s belongings, including woodwork items that Lee and the two boys have made, and shipped them over to Perth. Lee worked from home at the time so Crown had to pack up around him, “The staff were great about having to work around me and I didn’t feel disturbed by them at all. They even set up a bed in the back room when we had a sick child!”

The family organised new schools, with plenty of primary and secondary schools to choose from in Perth. Harry - who has been studying at college – was tempted by the apprenticeship opportunities available for trade workers in Australia.

The Ascroft’s initially rented a house in Perth, with a view to buying after 12 months or so. They decided to rent out their Bolton property, having secured a two year rental, but will eventually sell up to fund the purchase of a new home in Perth.

“The whole process was remarkably smooth. We expected there to be a few hiccups but there really wasn’t.”

“The two boys were very excited about moving to Australia, especially as they are quite active and have been even more so since we’ve been here. I have to admit Emily wasn’t so keen in the beginning. In fact, she was adamant that she didn’t want to go, but now she loves it.”

For other families considering a life-changing relocation, Lee has the following advice: “Do your research and explore every avenue for house/job searches. Don’t be put off if you get any negative responses as there is always a way. Remain focused on the end result and what you hope to achieve will get you through the process!” 

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