As soon as the opening credits rolled I knew watching Love It or List It Australia was a terrible idea. Those first few glimpses of beachfront abodes, sprawling single-storey homes and gorgeous heritage terraces in Surry Hills had me pining for the all places we could have been living in Australia.
Then, as the show went on, and I recognised clothes, homewares, cafes and more in the background of scenes, I found myself pining not just for the life we used to live in Oz but the version of me who lived there.
I miss the Aussie version of me
I accept it’s an unfair time to make comparisons. It’s January in the UK. I spend most of my days at home, on the floor, with a messy baby. I wear comfy clothes with expandable waistbands and eat far too many biscuits. But even if I take this post-baby situation out of the equation I still think I was a better version of me when we were living in Sydney.
You see, I fully subscribed to all the Aussie lifestyle clichés. Taken away from my regular surroundings, I felt no limit on who I could or couldn’t be. There was no voice in my head to say sipping smoothies, donning leggings and taking early morning coastal walks wasn’t very me, and, as it turned out, it could be!
These are just some of the things I miss about the Sydney and Melbourne-dwelling me.
I ate much more healthily
I know there is no valid excuse for not eating well in England, but the truth is it came much, much more easily in Sydney. I started my day with smoothies, sipped in the sun on our balcony. I bought fresh salads for lunch and dinners were mostly something thrown on the BBQ alongside fresh veg and salad.
It didn’t hurt that a lot of my favourite vices – looking at you Fox biscuits – weren’t available out there and I never did gain a taste for Aussie confectionary. Dairy Milk just tastes weird in Australia, in fact, all chocolate does really.
I worked out AND enjoyed it
There is no excuse for not working out in England – I can and should find time for it. The biggest difference between exercising here and in Australia, though, is that I did it far more regularly because I really enjoyed it.
Our apartment in Sydney had a pool. It was unheated and a little brutal to get in, but it was there waiting for me every time I wanted to take a break from my desk and binge on vitamin D. I could head downstairs, do a few laps in the sun, and rinse off in the luxury of my own bathroom afterwards. (Is it just me who finds getting washed and dressed at the local leisure centre the worst part of the swimming process?!)
In Brunswick, we were a short cycle from an outdoor public pool, which was kept at a comfortable temperature. A few times per week I would head there to do laps, after which I’d lie on the grass reading while I dried off. Then I’d ride back home, via a coffee shop usually.
The weather wasn’t always right for al fresco swimming, but in that case I would throw open our balcony doors, pull up Yoga With Adriene on YouTube and do a short tutorial in our living room. Our current house doesn’t have the room or daylight to inspire at home workouts, but hopefully our new place will.
I spent more time outdoors
I can’t tell you how many weekends in England I’ve ended up in a shopping centre or at the ‘big Tesco/M&S’ just because I can’t think of anything better to do.
I hardly ever went to malls in Australia unless I needed something specific, we were too busy at the park, the beach, going on road trips to the likes of Mornington Peninsula or Daylesford, or just spending long leisurely mealtimes at pavement cafes.
I have made a vow to explore more of the UK this year because I know there are beautiful national parks and beaches in this country too – they are just a little further afield compared to what we had on our doorstep in Sydney. Also, I’m waiting for the weather to get better. (Aren’t we always lol.)
I wasn’t afraid to meet new people
There’s something about moving to a city on the other side of the world that pushes you to make connections with strangers. I signed up to attend events where I knew no one and walked in alone, confident (or desperate) enough to strike up conversations with strangers and hopefully come away with a new friend.
I arranged ‘mates dates’ with other expats, sometimes set up via a friend of a friend, and joined societies and meet up groups to help establish my career out there.
Being a new mum has created similar scenarios, I’ll admit. I’ve made lots of new friends through NCT groups and baby classes, but, I must also admit, it has been harder to strike up meaningful conversations over baby percussion instruments!
We hosted more often
The houses we lived in Australia were much bigger with larger socialising spaces than we currently have in the UK. We loved nothing more than having friends over to enjoy nibbles and wine around the island bench and never had the awkward sofa shuffle that happens every time we host people at the moment. “You have the only comfortable chair in the room,” “No YOU have it.” :p
We also had more room for guests in our house in Melbourne, and when friends and family flew out to visit us and we got to show them around our favourite haunts, we were really in our element.
We socialised more often
I guess by virtue of living in a city, some of our friends were slightly less dispersed in Australia than they are in the UK and hence we saw them more regularly.
Our wider friendship group was spread over epic distances but that just meant we all made extra effort to get together for important events. I think the climate and scale of Aussie homes/gardens/wineries has a lot to thank for this as I find it much easier to imagine where I’d host gatherings in Oz than I do for gettogethers in England.
I owned less clothes
I was really proud of my capsule wardrobe in Australia. The warmer, slightly more consistent, climate (at least in Sydney!) meant I could get by with less layers and I owned only 1 coat for the handful of seriously cold days.
In comparison, I’ve very quickly accumulated in England – a coat for rain, one for best, one for slightly milder days, one for when it’s really cold, one for the park… You get the point.
Repeat the above for shoes, trousers and jumpers…
I don’t shop nearly as much as I used to but I do feel the more variable climate in the UK has necessitated an expansion of my wardrobe.
We enjoyed a greater variety of cuisine
Is it even a Saturday night in the UK if you’re not deciding between fish n’ chips or an Indian takeaway?!
I know it’s not fair to compare Berkshire to Brunswick when it comes to food options but the difference between our choices here and there are on another scale.
I found the quality and abundance of south east Asian cuisine in Australia was particularly good. (Although it must be a case of the grass is always greener as I did spend a lot of time lamenting the lack of a good Indian curry when we lived there!)
Thinking of moving to Australia? You might find these posts handy: