Atkins Family Wanted Down Under Revisited


Atkins Family

An updated look at families previously featured on Wanted Down Under. A year after their week in Perth, Australia, has Shari persuaded her husband to move?


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Transcript


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They say it's not where you live but who you live with that's important.

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But what if you and your partner are at loggerheads over where to spend

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your future and that's threatening to ruin your relationship?

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One year ago, Shari and Karie Atkins faced just that situation.

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Today, we'll find out what happened next.

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Having arrived in the UK 15 years ago,

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Shari Atkins was desperate to return to Australia.

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As much as home is here now, there's part of my heart in Australia.

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But husband Karie couldn't bear to leave the life he loved in the UK.

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There are family, there are friends, there are finances, you know,

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the reality of it all.

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A trial week down under was crunch time for Shari's dream and marriage.

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If Karie voted to stay in the UK,

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that's really going to put a nail in our coffin because I do think...

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I think I'll be done with waiting.

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So, a year down the line, where are they now?

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It's not gone quite to plan, let's put it that way.

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The flattest and lowest landmass on Earth,

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Australia is a nation people have called home for over 40,000 years.

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Offering stunning landscapes and a fabulous climate,

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in more recent times, it's been considered a land of plenty

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for British families on the move, with recent figures showing

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an estimated 34,000 people emigrate there every year.

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When Shari Atkins arrived in the UK from Australia in 2001,

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it was meant to be a temporary trip.

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15 years on, however, despite repeated promises from husband Karie

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to make the move down under,

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she was still living in Wales and the issue was putting their marriage

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under pressure. In 2015,

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Shari had one week to convince Karie to follow her home

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or face the possibility of losing her forever.

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The couple's return trip to Australia started with a flight

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from London to Dubai and then on to Perth.

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And Karie was exhausted when they finally touched down.

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The journey was very long, didn't get much sleep.

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Shari was delighted to be back on Aussie soil.

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I'm just excited to be home, to be fair.

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But Karie was more anxious.

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'I'm pretty nervous.'

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There's a bit of pressure on me this week.

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Their emotions were conflicting,

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but the couple agreed on the importance of the next seven days.

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There's a lot riding on this week.

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Yeah, there's a massive amount riding on this week.

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I guess it's us, at the end of the day, that is riding on this week.

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Pretty much.

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As the couple headed into Perth,

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they knew their marriage could be on the line if they couldn't agree

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come the end of the week.

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Back in the UK, Karie and Shari Atkins lived in Chepstow

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in South Wales. Born in Australia,

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Shari was considering travelling the world when, in 2001,

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the flip of a coin changed her future for ever.

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It came up heads and I literally walked out the door,

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went straight to the closest travel agent

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and booked a one-way flight to the UK.

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Five years later,

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Shari was just six months from returning home when she met Karie.

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Having hit it off, she temporarily delayed her return to Australia

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on the understanding if Karie remained in her life,

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he'd eventually go with her.

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It was a non-negotiable deal.

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When the couple decided to tie the knot three years later,

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Karie promised Shari a future down under.

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When we got engaged, Karie had said that we would,

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at some point in the future, move back to Australia.

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Despite his promises, Karie had concerns about a move.

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I'd need to be confident that there was a job there for both of us,

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that we could afford a house.

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To know that we could at least match

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the kind of life that we have in the UK.

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And also, that I could fit into the lifestyle.

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He was also worried about leaving family in the UK.

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I do love them very much and it just...

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it would be a real struggle for me, I think.

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But after nine years of waiting, Shari had run out of patience.

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So desperate to return home, she was contemplating going on her own.

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I've realised that I've got to give it a go so that's...

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..that's where it's come from.

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Sorry.

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The couple faced a week that would make or break their relationship

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as Shari tried to convince Karie to follow her home once and for all.

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Blatantly, I've not come through on my promise.

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I do feel bad about that.

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Just giving it a go, that's all I'm asking.

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Not, you know... Not the world, just give it a go.

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-Be fair.

-I know.

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Shari and Karie spent their trial week

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in the coastal port of Fremantle,

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just 12 miles from central Perth in Western Australia.

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Their temporary home was a one-bedroom cottage

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on a leafy street close to the beach,

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but did it live up to Shari's memories of Australian living?

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-Oh!

-Here.

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Oh, wow!

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The quirky interiors appealed to Shari straightaway.

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I could live with something like this. I'd be very happy. Yes.

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But Karie wasn't sure.

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It's like, kind of not Australian, but...

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I don't know. You know what I mean?

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-It's probably not what you were expecting.

-Exactly.

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Outside, Shari spotted something that would appeal to Karie.

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-Shed. Yeah.

-Off you go.

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Yeah, I know where I'm sleeping.

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Hopefully, it wouldn't come to that, but as they made themselves at home,

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Shari's enthusiasm for being back on home turf was unsettling Karie.

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You know, there is a bit of pressure there for me to kind of like things

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and want to feel the same way.

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But I've got to look at it with a clear mind and see what I think,

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and see what's possible.

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The week ahead was crucial

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if Shari and Karie were to have a future together.

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I know ultimately that I want to be here and I'd like Karie to be,

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but if he chooses not to then...

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Well, I guess we'll just have to

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cross that bridge when we come to it. Hopefully not, so...

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Back in the UK, Shari and Karie

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lived in a two-bedroom terraced cottage in Chepstow, South Wales.

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It was our first home as a married couple

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so it has great importance to us.

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Shari was prepared to give it up

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to return to the country where she was born.

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The couple's property budget was £330,000

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and they agreed on what they wanted.

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Oh, I would love a big backyard.

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A small house on a big piece of land.

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Three bedrooms would be great.

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-Shed for you.

-Yeah, a shed or garage.

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Close to the beach.

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In an ideal world, it would also be quite close to some wooded area

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so you could go off and do some biking.

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To find out what kind of house they could have,

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we showed Karie and Shari three properties,

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two based on their budget and a third,

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which could have been their dream home.

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After they'd seen each one, we showed them what it cost.

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House-hunting got underway in Bayswater,

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just over three miles north-east of central Perth.

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Stretching along the banks of the Swan River,

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the area offered plenty of open space for running and cycling,

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which was perfect for Karie,

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but was it the house to persuade him

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to make Shari's wish to return home come true?

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Oh! This is nice, isn't it?

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Nice open plan, straight into the landing.

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I wasn't expecting that actually.

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Karie didn't sound sold.

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I like the layout, but not so keen on the look of the kitchen.

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But the master bedroom was a hit.

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Wow! It's beautiful.

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-That's not a bad size, is it?

-Absolutely beautiful.

-Yeah.

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For a while.

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It's kind of weird for me having a bedroom at the front of the house.

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Well, British houses are upstairs, downstairs aren't they?

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Aussie houses are a bit more...

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You always have bedrooms at the front.

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The layout could take some getting used to,

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but with three good-sized bedrooms

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the house had the space the couple wanted.

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Moving outside, the huge garden was a big hit with Shari.

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Whoa, that is awesome!

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This is exceeding my expectations at the moment.

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An additional space for bikes and sporting equipment

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left Karie speechless.

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If this fits with the budget we've got in mind, wow!

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Would you move in tomorrow? I'm not joking.

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I know. I know you're not joking.

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It looked like the property could tempt Karie to swap Chepstow for

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Perth, providing their £330,000 budget was enough to buy it.

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It was time to find out.

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Wow. £343,200.

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That is amazing.

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-OK, it's over our budget...

-Yeah.

-But it's not that much over.

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That's really impressive.

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Just over £13,000 over budget wasn't enough to dent the couple's

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enthusiasm. Encouraged, they moved onto the second property of the day.

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It was situated in Karrinyup,

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a well-established suburb 15 miles' drive from the city.

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Properties along here are not cheap.

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It's by the coast. It's going to be...

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-The coast is there, right there.

-Yeah.

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Close to one of Perth's most popular beaches,

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the area appealed to Shari

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and plenty of green area suited to running and cycling

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made it perfect for Karie, too.

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But was the three-bedroom cottage

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somewhere the Atkins can make themselves at home?

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Oh, wow! This is quite a nice little sitting room, isn't it?

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Front lounge. It's much bigger than ours.

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Yeah, huge compared to ours.

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The recently renovated interiors had plenty of charm

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and the master bedroom won Shari over, too.

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-Really, really nicely done, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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Unlike the last house, though, the bedrooms weren't as big on space.

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The rooms might be a bit smaller but it's quite nice because you've got

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the character of the property in it.

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Not just boxes.

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Yeah.

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But outside was less to Karie's taste.

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Right, you've got a house right there.

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But look at this. This space is beautiful.

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But I was expecting maybe a little bit of greenery.

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But, think, no mowing the lawns.

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-There's no gardening that you have to do.

-Yeah.

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Shari skilfully kept Karie on side.

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Now, all they needed to do was find out how much the house cost.

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Their budget was £330,000.

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I reckon this is going to be, like, £400,000.

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-Yeah, I'm going to go 440.

-Yeah.

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So was anyone right?

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Oh, my God! 353?

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Yeah, I wish that was kind of nearer the 300,

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but we were expecting 400 so that's a really good surprise, isn't it?

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A good way to think about it. I'm really impressed with that price.

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£23,000 over budget could still be achievable with the right salaries.

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To see the final property, the couple headed for Doubleview.

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Six miles north-west of central Perth,

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this thriving suburb offered a good compromise

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between beach and city living.

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But would this immaculately presented three-bedroom house

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be the couple's dream home?

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I mean, it's sort of a bit terracotta.

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I'm not sure about the style of it.

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It lacked kerb appeal for Karie, but was inside more desirable?

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Here we go.

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OK.

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It's a little bit more bright and airy in here

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than I thought it was going to be.

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The main living area had plenty to offer.

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-This is good, though.

-This is a brilliant area, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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Open plan, looking out on to the garden as well, which is cool.

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The couple could see potential,

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but the main family bathroom proved distinctly average.

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It's not a wow factor, but is very...

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-It's nice, it's tidy...

-Practical.

-It's practical.

-Yeah.

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Inside evoked mixed reactions.

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And outside...?

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Ha!

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-A Jacuzzi.

-Or a very, very tiny swimming pool, yeah.

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The manicured north-facing secret garden was perfect for entertaining,

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but not quite what they were expecting.

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-It's quite...

-Interesting.

-Quite weird.

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It is quite private, but I'm not too sure about it.

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It wasn't Shari or Karie's dream home,

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but with all the space they needed,

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was it somewhere they could afford on their £330,000 budget?

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-Let's have a look.

-Ready?

-Yeah.

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-379...

-OK.

-..700.

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Around £50,000 over budget.

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Yeah, OK. I think this is all about location.

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If we were going to go nearly 50K over our budget,

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-I'd want it to be a bit nicer than this.

-Yeah.

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It wasn't the perfect end,

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but house hunting had given Shari and Karie plenty to consider.

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Property one was almost perfect,

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with huge garden Shari dreamt of

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and the shed Karie longed for.

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The interiors of property two won the couple over

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and despite initial reservations about the garden,

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Karie could see himself settling in.

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The location of property three was perfect,

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but at almost £50,000 over budget,

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the house fell short of being the couple's dream home.

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So, had the day done enough to make both Shari and Karie pick Australian

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property over their home in the UK?

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-Australia.

-Australia.

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Wooo! That's good.

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I'm really impressed with the houses we've seen today.

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I'm really, really stoked you chose Australia.

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A vote for Australia from Karie

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meant Shari's crusade was off to a flying start,

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but to keep him by her side,

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laying his job concerns to rest would be crucial.

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Back home, Karie was a programme manager

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looking after aircraft equipment repair contracts.

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It would be really important for me

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to find something that is akin to what I do in the UK.

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Shari ran her own business providing public relations for utility

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companies, but she was ready to give it up to move back home.

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I am quite open to the fact that I haven't got haven't got contacts

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behind me so I might have to work for somebody else for a change.

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But I'm quite excited about something new really.

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Karie, on the other hand, wasn't as flexible.

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I think it would be really hard for me to consider a move without having

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the ability to see that I could get

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a good job and a good wage in Australia.

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To gauge work prospects in Perth,

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we had arranged for Karie to meet Amy Nichols,

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an executive consultant in the recruitment department of one of

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Australia's largest transport logistics companies.

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After a look around, Karie was ready to talk business.

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You've seen my CV. I'd like to know whether I have transferable skills

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-that could work for this company.

-Absolutely.

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The industry that you worked in is quite specialised,

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but the skills that you have in that role

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are quite generic and transferable.

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It was just what Karie needed to hear.

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But was the outlook as promising for Shari?

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Wanting to gain some experience in the local market before possibly

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setting up her own business,

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we'd arranged for her to meet Peter Harris,

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managing director of a global public relations consultancy.

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Shari welcomed the opportunity to look around and explore her chances

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of securing a job down under.

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At the moment, there isn't any specific placements,

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but I would say that someone of your experience and skill sets,

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I believe you'd have a very strong chance of securing employment

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in that particular sector in WA.

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That is absolutely brilliant news.

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Shari might not walk into a job straightaway,

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but knowing she'd be a desirable employee was encouraging news.

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Back at the logistics company, Karie had discovered his best option

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might be to look outside the aviation industry.

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I would see you in the future

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-looking to get towards a project management role.

-OK.

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However, you might have to take a bit of a step back to get some of

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your Australian experience,

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understand the culture and the way that they work out here.

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Karie was encouraged,

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but was the potential salary for a junior role as promising?

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If you went in to a project coordinator role, 40-45,000.

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You're probably looking at 60,000-plus for a project manager.

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-OK.

-Pounds.

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That's really impressive wage, actually.

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Karie earned around £38,000 in the UK,

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so even though he'd be doing a different role down under,

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his prospects look good.

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Meanwhile, Shari was investigating

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her earning potential as an employee.

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The starting point for someone with your experience, I would suggest,

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would be in the approximate range of 57 to £60,000,

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but then increasing as you gain further experience

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of the local marketplace.

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Outside, Shari admitted the salary

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made working for someone else an attractive option.

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It was almost double what I earn in the UK

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for what seemed similar hours. And the conditions are brilliant.

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So that was a real plus for me.

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It was positive all round,

0:19:250:19:28

but would Karie's research be enough to see him fly the Australian flag

0:19:280:19:32

when it came to choosing between work at home or away?

0:19:320:19:35

-BOTH:

-Australia.

0:19:470:19:49

Awesome. I didn't think you would go with that.

0:19:490:19:52

I may have to take a step down in Australia initially...

0:19:520:19:54

But, you know, I really want this to work for us and if I need to make

0:19:540:19:58

some compromises then...

0:19:580:20:00

-Yeah, I think I can. I think I can do that.

-Yay!

0:20:000:20:03

Bowled over by Perth's properties and buoyed by potential job

0:20:090:20:13

opportunities, one by one Karie's concerns were being laid to rest.

0:20:130:20:18

So would experiencing the Australian lifestyle Shari longed to return to

0:20:180:20:22

be enough to tempt him further?

0:20:220:20:25

The couple enjoyed an outdoor lifestyle in the UK

0:20:250:20:28

and keen to add water sports to their repertoire,

0:20:280:20:31

the pair headed to Lake Leschenaultia, in Chidlow,

0:20:310:20:34

to start their day with some canoeing.

0:20:340:20:37

After a quick safety briefing, they were ready to go.

0:20:370:20:40

-Here we go.

-You ready?

-Yeah.

0:20:420:20:44

Just 45 minutes from the city, this former railway dam

0:20:440:20:47

was the perfect place to enjoy some time on the water.

0:20:470:20:50

Lovely, isn't it?

0:20:500:20:52

Karie looked like he could have found a new sport.

0:20:520:20:56

I do canoeing in the UK, but the weather is fantastic.

0:20:560:20:59

It's autumn...

0:20:590:21:01

And Shari was right at home.

0:21:010:21:03

It just reinforces what I've always remembered Australia to be.

0:21:030:21:09

Next, the pair hit the popular mountain biking trails

0:21:090:21:12

of nearby Paulls Valley.

0:21:120:21:14

An avid mountain biker back home,

0:21:160:21:18

Shari hoped the day would convince Karie there is plenty of scope for

0:21:180:21:22

cycling down under. And it looked like she was in luck.

0:21:220:21:26

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

0:21:260:21:28

You know, I can't really have a bad word to say about it, you know?

0:21:280:21:31

-Yeah?

-Don't push me off!

0:21:310:21:33

The afternoon had worked wonders on Karie and rounding their day off

0:21:330:21:38

with a picnic on Gooseberry Hill,

0:21:380:21:40

Shari seemed more determined than ever to come home.

0:21:400:21:44

If Karie chooses not to want to come back I will be gutted because this

0:21:440:21:47

is... You know, it is everything that I want for us.

0:21:470:21:51

But as the sun set over Perth, Karie wasn't so sure.

0:21:530:21:56

These aren't just the things that I have to consider, there are family,

0:21:580:22:01

there are friends, there are the finances, you know?

0:22:010:22:04

The reality of it all.

0:22:040:22:06

The couple would face some tough decisions,

0:22:060:22:09

but had the lifestyle seduced Karie into choosing Australia over the UK?

0:22:090:22:13

-BOTH:

-Australia.

0:22:210:22:23

-Did you? Really?

-Yeah, yeah.

0:22:230:22:26

Just today has started to underline that we can potentially

0:22:260:22:30

have a life in Australia that can match up equally, or if not better,

0:22:300:22:35

-than the UK. So...

-Yay! Cool!

0:22:350:22:39

Karie's consistent votes for Australia were Shari's clearest

0:22:440:22:48

signal she could return home with her husband by her side.

0:22:480:22:51

But she still needed to prove the move wouldn't rob them of financial

0:22:510:22:55

stability. If she succeeded,

0:22:550:22:57

the couple hoped to sell their house in Wales for around £150,000.

0:22:570:23:02

We'd arranged valuations from two estate agents

0:23:020:23:05

to see if that was possible.

0:23:050:23:07

Oh, wow! Lovely room.

0:23:070:23:10

-Oh, OK.

-'Nice and bright. Nice floor.'

0:23:100:23:13

Oh, nice space. This is really impressive and they've done a good

0:23:130:23:17

job with the decor. It can be a bit dark but they've really made it nice

0:23:170:23:20

-and light with these colour schemes.

-Awesome!

0:23:200:23:22

Oh, what a nice garden. Plenty of storage space.

0:23:220:23:26

Really nice.

0:23:260:23:28

In the current market, I would value this property at £166,500 and,

0:23:280:23:35

for a quick sale, I would value the property for 166,000.

0:23:350:23:41

-That's great.

-That was a quick sale.

0:23:410:23:43

On the open market today,

0:23:430:23:44

I'd value this property at £185,000 and for a quick sale,

0:23:440:23:49

I'd say £174,000.

0:23:490:23:52

-BOTH:

-NO!

-That's awesome!

0:23:520:23:55

-180!

-I know.

-That is incredible.

0:23:550:23:58

Feeling positive, the couple sat down to work out

0:23:580:24:01

how much living in Australia would really cost,

0:24:010:24:04

starting with their weekly food shop.

0:24:040:24:08

Vegetables seem to be a little bit more expensive here.

0:24:080:24:11

-Eggs?

-Eggs are more expensive.

0:24:110:24:13

-Tuna, a lot more expensive.

-Tuna, wow!

0:24:130:24:15

Chopped tomatoes are way more expensive.

0:24:150:24:17

That's weird, isn't it?

0:24:170:24:19

The items revealed they would spend

0:24:190:24:21

around £10 more on groceries every week.

0:24:210:24:24

Next, the couple moved on to bigger bills,

0:24:240:24:26

basing their mortgage repayments on the first property they'd viewed.

0:24:260:24:31

It would be £1,000 more a month, our mortgage.

0:24:310:24:34

But I guess, at the end of the day, we're upgrading, aren't we?

0:24:340:24:37

Fortunately, there were savings to be made elsewhere.

0:24:370:24:41

Gas and electricity...

0:24:410:24:43

-Look.

-Cheaper here.

-Gas is.

0:24:430:24:45

Electricity is more.

0:24:450:24:47

Our monthly cost would then be...

0:24:470:24:49

-Oh.

-4,166.

0:24:500:24:54

That was £828 more than they spent in the UK.

0:24:540:24:59

-That's not good.

-No, it's not good.

0:24:590:25:02

Everything rested on the couple's potential salaries down under.

0:25:020:25:07

In Australia, our wages would be, combined, £5,587.

0:25:070:25:11

-OK.

-And in the UK they are £5,058.

0:25:110:25:16

Wow!

0:25:180:25:19

That was £829 more in Australia.

0:25:190:25:22

So, we would be one whole pound better off here.

0:25:230:25:31

OK.

0:25:310:25:32

£12 a year better off wasn't life-changing

0:25:320:25:34

but Shari was relieved to prove

0:25:340:25:36

they could afford the lifestyle she wanted.

0:25:360:25:39

This is starting to dawn on me that, actually, we can have an upgrade.

0:25:390:25:44

No-brainer, surely? Surely?

0:25:440:25:47

I can't argue with you on this, can I?

0:25:470:25:50

It's there in black and white.

0:25:500:25:52

So, had the figures done enough to put the couple on the same page

0:25:520:25:56

when it came to choosing between finances in Australia or the UK?

0:25:560:26:00

-BOTH:

-Australia.

0:26:080:26:10

SHE CHEERS

0:26:100:26:12

Yay!

0:26:120:26:14

Convinced the finances could work,

0:26:140:26:17

Shari's attempts at selling her homeland to Karie were paying off.

0:26:170:26:21

But there was one more fence to clear.

0:26:210:26:24

Sitting down to watch messages from loved ones at home,

0:26:240:26:27

Shari knew this could be the thing that kept Karie rooted to the UK.

0:26:270:26:31

Hi, Karie and Shari.

0:26:330:26:34

Hope you're well and having a fab time in Australia.

0:26:340:26:37

-Hello, Karie and Shari.

-BOTH:

-Aw.

0:26:370:26:40

Hi, guys. Hope you're having an amazing time.

0:26:400:26:43

-Hope the sun is shining.

-And hi from Austin. Hi!

0:26:430:26:46

BOTH: Aw!

0:26:460:26:47

They bounce off each other.

0:26:470:26:49

-Both full of energy, brilliant couple.

-Aw!

0:26:490:26:52

Karie, as a man today, is very caring,

0:26:520:26:55

but I don't think you could meet a nicer man.

0:26:550:26:58

BOTH: Oh!

0:26:580:26:59

Shari is great. She's really welcoming, she's very friendly.

0:26:590:27:03

I think it must be the Australian-ness in her.

0:27:030:27:07

Shari is one of the best friends you could possibly ask for.

0:27:070:27:10

Aw!

0:27:100:27:11

He was my first grandchild, you see?

0:27:110:27:13

So, he's always been a little bit special.

0:27:130:27:17

Yeah, I shall...

0:27:170:27:18

really upset myself before he goes.

0:27:180:27:23

Karie and Shari, you probably mean more to me then you know you do,

0:27:230:27:27

but at the same time I think this is an incredible opportunity for you...

0:27:270:27:31

-Good work, Bambi.

-'And I think you should go for it.'

0:27:310:27:33

I'm going to miss you guys more than you can believe,

0:27:330:27:36

but I truly want you to be happy.

0:27:360:27:38

Shari, I think we already know you've made up your mind so,

0:27:380:27:41

'Karie, it's down to you, mate. We will miss you.'

0:27:410:27:45

I just want you to know that whatever you decide

0:27:450:27:48

then I am 100% happy.

0:27:480:27:52

Well, Karie and Shari, I shall miss you very, very much

0:27:520:27:58

and you know how much I love you.

0:27:580:28:00

-Yeah. Likewise.

-Oh, bless your gran.

0:28:040:28:09

That was quite a hard watch, wasn't it?

0:28:090:28:11

-Yeah.

-Are you all right?

-Yeah, sorry.

0:28:110:28:14

They're not going to go away. We're not going to lose them.

0:28:140:28:17

It's going to be a real big thing to overcome, I think, for me.

0:28:170:28:22

-This was always going to be the hardest bit, wasn't it?

-Yeah.

0:28:220:28:25

Always.

0:28:250:28:26

The prospect of leaving family

0:28:280:28:29

had always been a stumbling block for Karie

0:28:290:28:32

and hearing heartfelt messages from home magnified his concerns.

0:28:320:28:37

After being consistently sold on Australia all week,

0:28:370:28:41

would his strong emotional ties to the UK

0:28:410:28:44

now see Shari's dream for their future unravel?

0:28:440:28:47

When they'd arrived a week ago,

0:28:490:28:50

Shari was on a mission to convince her husband they could make a great

0:28:500:28:54

life for themselves in her native country.

0:28:540:28:57

The last seven days had shown plenty of potential.

0:28:570:29:01

I've felt exceptionally at home.

0:29:010:29:03

It's reinforced everything that I've believed about Australia.

0:29:030:29:07

But the reality of putting half a world between him and everyone

0:29:070:29:11

he loved back home was playing on Karie's mind.

0:29:110:29:14

I've got a fantastic wife that I love very much.

0:29:140:29:18

But I've also got a family in the UK.

0:29:180:29:20

It's a real dilemma for me, this.

0:29:200:29:22

A flip of the coin almost 15 years ago meant Shari met the man of her

0:29:220:29:26

dreams. Now a turn of flags will decide if she had a future with him.

0:29:260:29:33

I love her so much and I don't want to lose her.

0:29:330:29:36

Whatever decision I make, I don't want to lose her.

0:29:360:29:39

If Karie voted to stay in the UK, I just think...

0:29:390:29:43

I think I'd be done with waiting.

0:29:430:29:45

Sorry.

0:29:520:29:53

It was crunch time for Shari to find out if she'd been moving home with

0:29:550:30:01

or without her husband by her side.

0:30:010:30:03

-BOTH:

-Australia.

0:30:130:30:16

Did you really?

0:30:160:30:17

THEY LAUGH HAPPILY

0:30:170:30:20

Seeing it with my own eyes and kind of experiencing it all with you

0:30:210:30:28

has just made me realise, like...

0:30:280:30:30

This will make me happy as much as it will make you happy.

0:30:310:30:35

It just... It just means the world.

0:30:350:30:37

-It means the world to me, too.

-I know.

-You mean the world to me.

0:30:400:30:43

Bless ya!

0:30:430:30:44

It had been a long time coming,

0:30:540:30:57

but nine years after those early discussions about Australia,

0:30:570:31:01

Karie was finally ready to sign up to Shari's dream of returning home.

0:31:010:31:06

So, 12 months on, has the couple finally made the move?

0:31:060:31:11

It's May 2016 and the Atkins are...

0:31:110:31:15

on opposite ends of the world.

0:31:150:31:17

Shari is in the city of Ballarat, 65 miles west of Melbourne

0:31:170:31:22

and Karie is still in Chepstow in the UK.

0:31:220:31:26

But fingers crossed, it's only a temporary split.

0:31:260:31:29

I guess the current plan is that we will both be in Australia at some

0:31:290:31:33

point. But it's not gone quite to plan, let's put it that way.

0:31:330:31:38

I think the events over the last 12 months have really kind of shown me

0:31:380:31:44

that it's not as easy as black and white.

0:31:440:31:47

After a great ending to their trial week,

0:31:470:31:50

Shari started putting the feelers out for work in Australia straightaway.

0:31:500:31:54

And a few weeks after returning to the UK, she was offered a senior

0:31:540:31:58

management role in a government department in regional Victoria.

0:31:580:32:02

It was really weird when I got the job offer from Australia

0:32:020:32:04

because I cried. I cried and I was really upset about it.

0:32:040:32:09

I think it all came crashing home that this was it now.

0:32:090:32:12

At the same time, I was very, very excited because this was

0:32:120:32:15

one step closer to the Australian dream that we would have.

0:32:150:32:19

Although they wanted to move to Perth,

0:32:190:32:22

Shari viewed the job as a means to boost her Australian work experience

0:32:220:32:26

and the coming days were a bit of a whirlwind.

0:32:260:32:29

When I heard the news that Shari had got the job it was like...

0:32:290:32:32

OK. Erm...

0:32:320:32:34

So things are going to have to move really very quickly.

0:32:340:32:37

What am I going to do?

0:32:370:32:39

How... How is this going to work, really?

0:32:390:32:43

It turned into being a quite frantic adventure because I got the offer

0:32:430:32:47

and then, literally, had about three weeks to

0:32:470:32:49

then return back to Australia.

0:32:490:32:51

So it was all go, go, go after that time.

0:32:510:32:54

It was just crazy. It was just crazy times.

0:32:540:32:58

Karie still needed to arrange his visa,

0:32:580:33:00

so the couple agreed Shari would leave the UK on her own and he would

0:33:000:33:04

follow her as soon as he could.

0:33:040:33:07

I really didn't want Karie to take me to the airport.

0:33:070:33:10

I just wanted to do it by myself cos I didn't want the, kind of,

0:33:100:33:12

goodbye, goodbye. Long, sweeping, crying kind of mess.

0:33:120:33:17

But that's what happened! And...

0:33:170:33:20

Yeah, it was hard. It was hard getting on that plane.

0:33:200:33:23

It was really emotional in the airport.

0:33:230:33:26

It was pretty horrible really, to be honest.

0:33:260:33:30

And, erm...

0:33:300:33:32

Yeah, I...

0:33:320:33:34

We had a pretty tearful farewell.

0:33:340:33:37

And, erm... Yeah, I think I ended up

0:33:370:33:40

just sitting in a coffee shop for half an hour when she left,

0:33:400:33:47

just to get myself together before I drove home.

0:33:470:33:49

It was pretty full-on.

0:33:490:33:52

Shari arrived in Ballarat in August 2015,

0:33:520:33:56

but despite belonging to be back in Australia,

0:33:560:33:59

the reality wasn't as planned.

0:33:590:34:02

I didn't feel like I was home and that surprised me because I always

0:34:020:34:06

thought the time that I came back, I'd be home.

0:34:060:34:09

But I just didn't have that feeling inside.

0:34:090:34:12

Scheduled to start work just two days after arriving,

0:34:120:34:15

it was a challenging time for her.

0:34:150:34:17

The first few weeks were really, really difficult

0:34:170:34:20

because I had moved to Ballarat.

0:34:200:34:22

I'd never been here before, I didn't know anybody,

0:34:220:34:24

I started quite a high-pressure new job, I didn't have anywhere to live,

0:34:240:34:30

I didn't have any transport, I was riding around on a bike.

0:34:300:34:33

And I was missing the UK.

0:34:330:34:36

It was the depths of winter, it was cold, I was lonely.

0:34:360:34:39

I just hated it.

0:34:390:34:41

We had some sad times in that period really.

0:34:410:34:44

And I really didn't like hearing that she was, you know,

0:34:440:34:47

struggling and not getting on very well, you know.

0:34:470:34:51

Back in the UK,

0:34:510:34:53

Karie was readjusting to life without his wife, too.

0:34:530:34:56

It was quite a change,

0:34:590:35:02

quite a struggle for probably a good couple of months

0:35:020:35:05

to get into a different routine.

0:35:050:35:07

Although he admits he's had it easier than Shari.

0:35:070:35:11

You know, I wouldn't say

0:35:110:35:12

'it's been plain sailing for me,

0:35:120:35:13

'but I think, you know, I'm here in our home.'

0:35:130:35:18

It's been a struggle to adjust, but she certainly had the...

0:35:180:35:24

had the lion's share of the stress.

0:35:240:35:26

Living in a B&B and working round-the-clock,

0:35:310:35:34

Shari also had to find a suitable Aussie home for her,

0:35:340:35:38

Karie and their beloved dog, Pickle.

0:35:380:35:41

After three months of knockbacks,

0:35:410:35:42

she finally found what she was looking for.

0:35:420:35:46

When the first house popped up that would allow dogs,

0:35:460:35:50

I took it and I'm very fortunate, it's a beautiful house.

0:35:500:35:53

Shari moved into this single-storey Victorian style cottage soon after.

0:35:560:36:01

With three bedrooms and open-plan living,

0:36:010:36:04

it had everything she needed,

0:36:040:36:06

but the best bit was she'd finally got the big garden she'd dreamt of.

0:36:060:36:11

This is my favourite area of this house. It's a backyard

0:36:130:36:16

and it's something I've always really dream about

0:36:160:36:19

whilst living in the UK. Over the summer,

0:36:190:36:21

I did spend a little bit of time out here on my hammock.

0:36:210:36:25

One of the things just missing from this backyard is having Karie here,

0:36:250:36:28

and Pickle, because I know both of them would absolutely love

0:36:280:36:31

having this space around them.

0:36:310:36:33

But less than a week after moving in,

0:36:330:36:36

Shari was hit with more disappointment.

0:36:360:36:39

The first weekend I was here, I went down to Melbourne for the day

0:36:390:36:43

and when I returned I'd been broken into.

0:36:430:36:45

So that was just devastating for me.

0:36:450:36:48

Yeah, it was...

0:36:480:36:50

It almost sent me home.

0:36:500:36:53

I couldn't take any more and it was so much pressure on me.

0:36:530:36:56

I felt like the world was at me and I was trying so hard to make a go of

0:36:560:37:00

something and to make it all right, to make it all good,

0:37:000:37:04

and just everything was against me.

0:37:040:37:07

Karie was devastated when Shari called to say what had happened.

0:37:090:37:14

'Hearing about that was just horrendous.'

0:37:140:37:17

It just was really not nice to hear

0:37:170:37:20

and obviously I was really feeling for her and I couldn't help.

0:37:200:37:23

All I could do was be on the end of the phone, really.

0:37:230:37:26

So that was really horrible.

0:37:260:37:29

I love you and I hope you have a lot better night's sleep

0:37:290:37:32

and get back on track.

0:37:320:37:34

Shari didn't give up.

0:37:340:37:36

But not bowled over by Ballarat,

0:37:360:37:38

the couple decided Karie should stay in the UK until Shari's contract

0:37:380:37:42

ended and set their sights on being reunited in Perth.

0:37:420:37:45

It would have been nice to have Karie out here,

0:37:450:37:47

but it wouldn't have been how I would want him to move to Australia.

0:37:470:37:51

I don't think he would have liked Ballarat.

0:37:510:37:55

And I wasn't prepared to have him give up his job and make the move

0:37:550:37:59

if it wasn't 100% right and, for me, it didn't feel 100% right.

0:37:590:38:03

So, for him, it wouldn't have felt 100% right.

0:38:030:38:06

Fortunately, Shari has found a way to vent her frustration

0:38:060:38:10

when things aren't working out.

0:38:100:38:12

I put a boxing bag in purely for some exercise

0:38:120:38:15

and because I was getting pretty frustrated

0:38:150:38:18

with everything that was going on.

0:38:180:38:20

Shari's contract has since been extended by another few months

0:38:240:38:28

and things have started to get easier.

0:38:280:38:30

'I have been in Ballarat now for approximately nine months.

0:38:300:38:34

'I think the first two months I cried every night.'

0:38:340:38:36

But then that changed and I got sick of crying and, yeah...

0:38:380:38:44

I just kind of got on with it.

0:38:440:38:46

'I've got to know the town'

0:38:480:38:50

a little bit better. I've started to make some friends.

0:38:500:38:53

A selection of sweet and savoury.

0:38:530:38:55

And some traditional scones with jam.

0:38:550:38:58

INDISTINCT CONVERSATION

0:38:580:39:01

And summer came along.

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So, summer makes everything better.

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-BOTH:

-ID!

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Karie has found a routine to fill his time apart from Shari, too.

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Working, walking the dog, you know,

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and trying to fit a few other things in.

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Friends, family and things like that. That keeps me busy.

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And realising they were going to be apart for longer than first thought,

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Shari has been back to the UK twice.

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I went back for Easter and that was great being back in the UK.

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I felt at home.

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I remember driving over Severn Bridge crying my eyes out,

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going, "I'm home!"

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I was excited to be back.

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It was great, obviously, just to

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be back together for a little while.

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Unfortunately, the visits passed too quickly and with Shari back in

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Ballarat once again,

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the couple admit living on the other side of the world from each other

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hasn't been easy on their marriage.

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-How's things since you got back?

-OK, yeah.

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-So, are you feeling a bit tired?

-Knackered.

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Yeah. He's having a cuddle here, isn't he? Bless him!

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Jealous.

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'I think just being apart, you know, and the whole strain of'

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that is really...

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It has had some impact on our relationship, definitely.

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I've been fortunate enough to have too many other things to think about

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so I don't generally have time to think about our relationship

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and what my move here has done to it, but it's definitely...

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it's definitely put a lot of pressure on it, yeah.

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What are you doing now? Are you just chilling?

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-Watching a bit of TV and stuff?

-I'm going to go to bed

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because I'm pretty tired.

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'It's been a long time, you know,'

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a long time apart.

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You know, that's been pretty stressful, pretty,

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you know, lonely at times.

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Shari still thinks Karie should stay in the UK until she's found

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alternative employment, hopefully in Perth.

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But almost a year down the line,

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they know they can't continue as they are.

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'It's very much in limbo at the moment. It's just, yeah...'

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It's just uncomfortable really. It's a bit...a bit, yeah,

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like we've taken one step forwards and two steps back.

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Once Shari's contract comes to an end,

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the couple plan to reunite for a holiday in Asia

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before returning to the UK.

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But where they go from there is still up for discussion.

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I think that if Shari comes back and things perhaps don't go

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towards what she would like and what I would like,

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which is really to kind of get to Perth or somewhere in that vicinity,

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then, you know, there's a chance there could be some time in the UK.

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Whether that's a long time or whether that's a short period,

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I don't know, but there's always that outside chance.

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I know that I've doubted Australia,

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only because of the rubbish start I had with it all.

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So I think my doubts have projected onto Karie quite significantly.

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I think I've made him doubt the whole Australia move,

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so I genuinely don't know whether or not we're going to be out here

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and live happily ever after.

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And I just hope that we can be, finally, really happy together.

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It's been a challenging few months for Shari and Karie

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and it looks like where they finally call home is still far from certain.

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We hope it won't be too long before they are reunited once and for all

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and wish them both a very happy future together,

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whether that be in the UK or Australia.

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In 2015, Australia-born Shari was desperate to return to her home country. When she met her husband Karie while travelling in the UK eight years previously, she had been upfront about her desire to return down under - and he had agreed they would one day make the country their home. The big question was when that would happen.

Happy with their life in the UK, Karie was questioning his work prospects in Australia and worried about living on the other side of the world from his family and friends. Frustrated at waiting for Karie to fulfil his promise, Shari had run out of patience and was considering making the move without him. A trial week in Perth revealed the country had plenty of potential for both Karie and Shari, but one year on was it enough to keep the couple united on the same side of the world?