My new Life in Australia

“I think women are amazing.” Olympic Medallist, Bridgitte Hartley
Win new Bok Jersey

By Andrew Sneddon

I left Cape Town with my wife (Sam) and our two young girls almost 7 years ago. We loved Cape Town, had an amazing lifestyle living in our dream home, which we’d built – we had a share of a good business and for the most part I enjoyed the work I did and the industry I worked in. I loved exercising, especially ocean paddling and running, so every day I was pretty much doing one or the other before work – you couldn’t find a better place in the world to do this in and often my morning would start with a run a 10km run on Tafelberg road below Table Mountain watching the city wake up or a paddle from Granger Bay to Clifton and back, often paddling with dolphins or seeing a whale every so often – I’d then shower, grab a coffee and I’d be in the office at 8am.

Andrew loves to Surfski

Andrew loves to Surfski [/caption]

We had a really nice group of close friends and both myself and Sam’s parents both still lived in Cape Town so we used to see them often and our kids got to spend plenty of time with them. So, on the surface we were ticking all the boxes but since having children I always had this subliminal fear that something could happen to them, I was always looking over my shoulder, continually worried where they were being driven etc, which made me anxious, worried and nervous. The two major things I disliked about SA was the crime & how cheap life was and the danger that came with the way people drove on our roads – there’s absolutely no respect for rules or for each other and I wasn’t prepared to risk having my wife and kids on our roads, especially after a car they were in was written off (ironically not by a taxi or drunk driver but by a person with a horse trailer in Constantia driving like an asshole.) Our move had nothing to do with the politics (as I believe most politicians around the world are fairly similar), the economy (although my preference was to earn dollars) or racial indifferences (my kids God Mother is Zulu and still one of our best friends).

We’d gone to Australia on holiday a couple of times before moving there and it was the closest we could find to Cape Town and the lifestyle we’d enjoyed. We travelled around Australia but of all the places we visited there were only two places we thought we could call home, which was the upper Sunshine Coast in a place called Noosa (similar to Plettenberg Bay just bigger) and Sydney, which we really fell in love with. Sydney to me was a stunning mix of the beauty of Cape Town with a mini New York City – Sydney has a great CBD with heaps of energy, amazing restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, clubs etc.

We were lucky enough to get permanent residency so made the call to move to Sydney in late 2010. I was 40-years-old, we didn’t know anyone in Sydney and had no network but we were hungry and in a rush to carve out a future for our girls.

These 7 years have been enjoyable but tough at the same time – tough because when you come over here I reckon you go backwards 5 years financially – you make mistakes, it takes time to work out the system and you realise just how expensive it is. I still can’t get my head around paying R170 for a watermelon, R45 for my morning coffee or R100 for a beer.

Here’s my take on CT and Sydney.

I miss Cape Town:
-For its overall wild beauty, the rough ocean and it’s rich marine life
-I miss my favourite coffee and food spots
-I miss my parents as I only get to see them once a year for a few weeks and I feel guilty that my kids aren’t spending time with their grandparents

Cape Town

What I like about Sydney:
-It’s a true multi-cultural city – every 2nd person is either from another country or another Australian city other than Sydney – I have friends from China, Japan, USA, Greece, India, Spain, Lebanon etc
-It’s a beautiful city built around a stunning harbour with amazing beaches and warm water
-Like Cape Town it has a great coffee & foodie culture
-The bad guys do seem to get caught and punished – including corrupt politicians
-My kids can walk to the beach & mall, and catch a bus to the city and to friends’ houses without us worrying about them
-On the whole people are polite, friendly and respect each other
-Things just work – buses/trains/ferries arrive on time and people take road rules and the police seriously

What I don’t like about Sydney:
-It’s brutally expensive, especially schooling and housing – you need a good chunk of money to really enjoy Sydney. You also get the feeling that around every corner they’re trying to fine you purely to get more money into the state coffers. Recently someone I know in Queensland got fined for leaving his car doors unlocked outside his house. He asked why and cops said it’s a waste of their time if someone had to break into the car
-Traffic can be lousy like any big city

Perceptions of South Africa and SA people by Aussies:
-On average the Aussies I’ve spoken to have a healthy respect for South Africans and most are spoken of as being hard working, ambitious and determined, although sometimes bordering on being aggressive but that’s probably because we’re in a rush to catch-up
-Aussies seem very keen to holiday in SA and many do but they are also wary due to the horror stories they’re told and read about. Most Aussies I know who have been to SA for a holiday have loved it
-Most Aussies don’t know much about SA and are a lot more interested in what’s happening in the USA, UK and China

Sydney, Australia

My take on South Africans living in Australia:
-I haven’t gone looking to hang out with fellow SA’s but we’ve met some really nice one’s through the school my girls attend and through the sport I do – on the flip side I’ve also met some real chops but that goes for most countries I guess. I’ve also met some great Aussies and likewise some Muppets.

-I’ve also realised that there are different types of South Africans living in Sydney – you get the South Africans who congregate around areas like the Eastern suburbs of Sydney and seem to stick together, you get the guys who have been here for 6 months and they have Aussie accents, you get South Africans who talk well of SA and you get the South Africans who moan about SA.

This is a very broad statement but Australians are not too different to South Africans – we like doing similar things, the outdoors, sunshine, sport, winning, BBQ/Braai et al

Purely from my perspective, I don’t have any regrets about moving to Sydney and it’s been home from day 1 – I still have my SA accent, I still support the Boks, Proteas and SA sports teams ahead of Australian teams but I’m hoping that in time I naturally become a supporter of Australian teams ahead of others because it’s my adopted country and my girls will be more Australian than South African. Australia is a country that no matter who you are or where you are from, if you work hard enough and want something badly enough you can achieve it. From an SA perspective, the SA people I’ve met here look like they’ve adapted well and enjoy being here.