Larner Wanted Down Under Revisited


Larner

Nicki Chapman meets the Larner family, who sampled life in Australia in 2006 and made the move to Perth. But has their dream of making a new life down under come true?


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Transcript


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Moving to the other side of the world is a massive decision for anyone.

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But could you make the choice to go thousands of miles away, if it meant leaving everything you knew behind?

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This was the dilemma faced by the Larner family,

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when we gave them the chance to sample life in Perth, Western Australia.

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We're meeting up with them to find out where they are now and how their lives have changed.

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In 2006, the Larner family risked everything to put their emigration dreams to the ultimate test.

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We gave them just one week to make the life-changing decision -

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living in the UK or Australia?

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I don't know what hurdles we're going to come across until we're there.

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Leaving everyone was almost too much to bear.

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Talking about family and stuff now. It will be hard.

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Affording the dream home became a nightmare.

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If you were happy to be contented in a rented accommodation...

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-Not here, not in a slum.

-I'm not saying in a slum!

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And just when they thought things were bad enough, they got much worse!

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We will miss you. Have a wonderful life. Keep in touch.

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In 2006,

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the Larners from Berkshire were facing a life-changing decision -

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whether to stay in the UK or uproot their family and move to Australia.

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We gave them a week to experience the highs and lows of life down under.

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But what happened next?

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Paul and Gemma Larner had lived in the Reading suburb

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of Tilehurst all their lives.

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Paul was an electrician, working long hours with early starts,

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commuting to London to hold down his job.

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I've been working in London now, solid, for ten years.

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Up, out the door at 5.30am to beat the rush.

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Mum Gemma works long hours, too, keeping their home life together.

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I do everything with the children, everything to do with the house,

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and then he'll get in the door and I'll say, "Hello, husband.

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"Children in bed, children bathed, children fed, done this, done that, done that,"

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then I go to do a ten-hour night shift.

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The strains of juggling life and work were beginning to take their toll.

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Something clicked in my life a couple of months ago, and I just decided life was a bit too short.

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I believe there's a better quality of life. I want to see what that quality of life is.

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Hopefully, it's out there. I don't know till we're there.

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Leaving the UK also meant leaving behind their close family and friends.

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We live ten doors apart from my parents.

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I have a brother who lives two minutes in the car.

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Gemma's got a nan and grandad that's still married, and they live in Reading.

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And my main thing, probably, at the moment is...

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taking the children away from their grandparents,

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cos not a lot of people have got their grandparents and great-grandparents so close.

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I've got one in a million.

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Moving would have been a huge wrench for the family.

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Gemma and Paul were worried it would be the wrong decision for their parents and their children.

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The older generation in the family are pleased for us in front of our faces,

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but then we also know that they are devastated behind our backs.

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I'm sorry.

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Talking about family and stuff, it will be hard.

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But these children are my family now

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and I need to see what I can do for them.

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To help Paul and Gemma consider the enormity of their decision,

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we sent them and their two young children to Perth for a week,

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to road-test the Australian way of life.

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The Larners travelled over 9,000 miles to reach their dream location.

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But, being 24 hours away from their home in the UK would be the real test.

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Landing in Perth, the Larners were jetlagged but enthusiastic.

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They wasted no time and went straight to their rented accommodation.

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It was the type of property they dreamt of buying - a modern, open-plan four-bedroomed bungalow.

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Look at the size of that!

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Isn't it modern?

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In 2006, this property was worth 530,000 which, at the time, was just over £210,000.

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Moving to Australia would be a huge financial commitment.

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Oh!

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Look up through there, Cobey. The lounge. Let's go and have a look.

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The space. Innit light?

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Oh, Paul, look. Kids. Kids, kids, look!

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-My God. Oh, look, Paul!

-Oh, look!

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-A dolphin.

-A beer.

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"To the Larner family. Welcome to Australia. Have a drink on us."

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-Cobey, you can't.

-I am.

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"Lindsay and Ralph and get settled in Perth." Isn't that lovely? My God!

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Shall we look round?

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I see a swimming pool. Look.

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Look at that.

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They were ready to jump straight in to their week down under,

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but Gemma needed lots of convincing

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and proof of a better life before she would consider leaving her loved ones back in the UK.

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I don't think I can make a decision. I need time.

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There's positives at the moment, but I've still got a little bit...

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A bit reserved.

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The Larners' home in Tilehurst was a three-bedroom semi-detached,

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worth about £300,000 in 2006.

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A good sale would have provided them with around £200,000 of equity.

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After that, it all depended on finding the right house in Australia.

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The first potential home on the Larners' property tour was in the nearby suburb of Connolly -

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a three-bedroomed townhouse in a residential development,

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on the market at 450,000 - just over £180,000 in 2006.

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-Beautiful. How are you?

-Very well.

-Come on through.

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You've got a kitchen, which is...

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Nothing too fancy but very nice and functional.

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-So, this is classed as a lounge-diner, yes?

-That's correct. That's correct.

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I like modern houses and this is quite dated to me. So, it needs maintenance.

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-If you know my husband, maintenance isn't his forte.

-Yeah.

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As far as the space goes already, this is actually less than what we've got at home.

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It was older than the Larners were looking for and, although affordable,

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it failed to get them really excited.

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-I can hear traffic. Are we close to a main road?

-Yes. This is Hodges Drive.

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-It's quite a busy road.

-Right.

-But it's all price reflective.

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This wasn't going to convince Gemma to swap her home in the UK.

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Bit shocked at how much the house is worth, considering the main road behind it.

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I want a bit more space, and I'd like a detached if I possibly can.

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-This particular venue, nice.

-Maybe a swimming pool.

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-Maybe a swimming pool.

-I think reality has hit.

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BOTH: We're not getting one!

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There was, potentially, more to get excited over with property number two.

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In Ashby, at that time a new residential development on the edge of North Perth.

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It fulfilled much more of the Larners' expectations.

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-Oh, my Lord.

-That's more like it.

-That's more modern, isn't it?

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-That's better.

-That's lovely.

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Suppose you'd have your lounge there.

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We've got a lounge through here, sweet.

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This is the posh lounge! Look at the size! That's the bee's knees.

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Go and have a look, then.

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-That's a nice-size garden, Paul.

-A lot bigger than I imagined.

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You could have a swimming pool there, couldn't you?

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-This is lovely, Paul. It's just what I actually had in mind, to be honest.

-This is more the dream, isn't it?

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-If you're going to do an upheaval from the UK, you want something like this, don't you?

-Yeah.

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You might have sold me now, Paul. THEY LAUGH

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It's nice to know that now we can move from the UK to Australia and not downgrade.

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-That's important.

-Yeah.

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It was reassuring to find out there were homes for the kind of money Paul and Gemma could afford.

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Going a little further with their budget might have meant so much more,

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as they found with the next house.

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Property number three was in the new estate of Stirling, 10 minutes from the centre of Perth.

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Here you could buy your plot of land then choose from one of the latest prefabs on the market.

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Prefabs Aussie style, of course!

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-God! God...

-Oh, my Lord.

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It is really plush, isn't it?

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Look at the garden, Gemma.

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Posh lounge, Paul.

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-I'm almost at home already.

-I know!

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If two lounges aren't enough...

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That is awesome.

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I'll call this the play area.

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It's too big for a play area.

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Here you are, look.

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I take it this is the master. Wow, look at the size!

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And they've got a big bed in here.

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What a beautiful, beautiful house.

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This would be my dream home. Big time.

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Property three overwhelmed them, but they needed to know what the real cost of this place was,

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including the land.

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This house is absolutely amazing and beautiful. How much would something like this set us back?

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To build this house it's about 350,000 as a base price.

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To finish it, as you see it here today, about 500,000.

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You put this house wherever you wanted to?

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The land values range from, probably, 200,000 up to, perhaps, 1 million.

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How long would the build process take?

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Somewhere between six to nine months

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-to get the house to the construction stage.

-Right.

-The construction, approximately 12 months.

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-Yeah. But it's worth waiting for a house like this, Paul.

-It is.

-Yeah. Just a big. It's fab.

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So, was Gemma impressed enough by what she'd seen to vote for homes in Australia over the UK?

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We've seen three very different homes.

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From the first home, I'd probably get on the plane and go back home

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because I'm happy with what I've got.

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To this display home, which is phenomenal. Which is out of my expectation.

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-And there is no way we can actually afford this house at home, could we?

-No.

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So, the vote, for this,

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would definitely, definitely, homes compared to UK,

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it would have be...

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Australia.

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To afford their dream home, Paul would need a dream wage.

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His job back in the UK was to maintain the heating controls at the Houses of Parliament.

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I've been working in London now, solid, for ten years.

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Up, out the door at 5.30am to beat the rush.

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He wanted a similar job in Australia with better conditions, better hours and, of course, better pay.

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Luckily for Paul, there had been changes to the entry rules, meaning that, for the first time,

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anyone with Paul's skills who is under 45

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had a great change of qualifying for a skills-based visa.

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At that time, there was plenty of work for him to do.

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Got my pliers, got my tape.

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-Let's get started.

-Ready to go?

-Yeah.

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But to get a visa, he'd have to begin by working for someone else and that was the catch.

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He hadn't been a jobbing electrician for eight years.

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-All coming back to you?

-It's flowing back now, yeah.

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Ooh, I need a cup of tea already.

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I think I'm a natural, Paul.

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Shall I move straight on to brain surgery now?

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Paul was keen to know if his earnings would be enough to kickstart their new life.

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What sort of salary would I be looking at?

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Currently, electricians, in the paper they're asking for upwards of 25 an hour.

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Which works out to about 50,000, 52,000 a year.

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Self-employed, anywhere from maybe 100,000 - 200,000 a year,

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depending on how hard you want to work.

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-So it'll double.

-Quite easily, yeah.

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Paul was earning £40,000 a year, so he'd start with a 50% pay cut.

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But it was Gemma he was worried about.

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My days at work are going to be pretty full and long, I would have thought, to start with.

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So, it's got to be a top priority to get Gemma up and mobile so she's not going to be isolated.

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While Paul got to grips with the realities of working down under,

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Gemma tried out the beach life in Iluka.

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She knew that, for the first few months at least, if they moved to Australia,

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she'd be without her entire support network.

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With two young children to entertain, she had her work cut out.

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SHE LAUGHS

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It seems quite new. I don't know how new it is.

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It's got everything for the children.

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If I meet some people and get some groups of friends up, it'll be nice

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for mums to sit on the beach and the kids to play in the water.

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It's shallow, and I do believe there's a reef to stop any sharks coming near us.

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So I'm quite happy.

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After a day at work and on the beach, there was plenty of food for thought.

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It was tough for Paul to find out that, although there was plenty of work,

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he could only earn £20,000 - half of what he got in the UK -

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and going back to the shop floor wasn't what he had in mind.

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Did he decide work was better in Australia or in the UK?

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I'm going to give this vote to the UK.

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Paul and Gemma were starting to realise it might not be quite so easy to choose

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between the UK and Australia.

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The stresses were beginning to show.

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If you would be happy to live in rented accommodation for a year...

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-I would be. But not in a slum.

-I'm not saying a slum.

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But that's a massive step to leave my house at home

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just to live a dream that might not happen.

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It's not a dream. It's quality of life for the kids.

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But, what we've got to see is how much disposable income is left.

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After you've got your salary in, how much food, how much rent, how much disposable income?

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We've got a lot of disposable income that we didn't manage very well at home.

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-If we don't manage it here, then I'll be in catch 22 and back to work.

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

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-Deal.

-What?

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What deal?

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-Are you going to give it a go?

-No, I'm not saying yes yet.

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With difficult decisions still left to be made,

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the Larners decided to get a real taste of the Aussie outdoors.

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If they were to live in Australia,

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getting to know their scaly and furry neighbours would be the polite thing to do.

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Jordan was especially thrilled to meet some of the continent's cutest creatures.

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And, of course, Mum couldn't resist a nice cuddle.

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Ooh, you are heavy!

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Aww, I've got a big bear.

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It's like a giant teddy bear.

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He's very happy. You're doing a good job there, Gem.

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Has he gone asleep? Yeah.

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-This is extraordinary. It's lovely. Beautiful place, friendly staff.

-Not expensive either.

-Non-expensive.

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Yeah, quality day out.

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One of their biggest worries about living in Australia was the relative cost of living.

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If they were to afford a house like the ones they'd seen, they knew counting every penny was essential.

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They needed to find out how far their money could really go.

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We've been to the beach and you can park on the beach for free.

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You can go into the town centres and park for free.

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At the moment, we're converting. So, we're probably a little bit more well-off.

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When we went for steak the other night, the steak didn't seem expensive.

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But if you was earning the dollar, then it probably would have been expensive-ish.

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Petrol is the one commodity which is a big difference.

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I would say, give or take a couple of pence, it's half the price of English fuel.

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So, I'm filling a whole car up for £25,

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where at home we're paying £50 for the same amount of fuel.

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That's about the only thing which is a big difference.

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It's a big shock, but then you do need your cars.

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This gave them another tricky vote.

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So, the cost of living, weather, taking the kids out,

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not costing an arm and a leg.

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I suppose we've got to award this to...

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..Australia!

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On the Larners' last day in Australia and, with decision time nearly upon them,

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they were invited for an old-fashioned Aussie barbie,

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with Paul's workmate Paul and his wife Tracey.

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It was their last chance to discuss what it's like to live here, with some real Australians.

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And for Gemma to discuss her fears with another woman for the first time.

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How are you going, Paul? On the stakes? Think we've sold her on it yet?

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-I don't know about her...

-You're sold and sealed, aren't you?

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He got off the plane and was like, "Ooh, look at the weather!"

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Just one thing - how many redbacks do you get a year?

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Check your chair!

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I suppose the question is for Gemma - when are you coming?

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Now, Tracey has put me at rest because...

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You feel...

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Gone again?!

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You've already got one friend.

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Gemma was making friends, but missing the ones back home was the real problem.

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In 2006, we showed the Larner family some heartfelt messages from their closest friends and family,

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to remind them just what they'd be leaving behind if they made the move down under.

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Hi, kids.

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I understand you've made a decision

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to finally leave home.

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I'm glad about that because you won't be bothering me for any more cash.

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No, but seriously, we will miss you.

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We have a good relationship.

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We do fall out, like most mother and daughter,

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but then, a daughter's a daughter all her life so I'll never lose her.

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The hardest thing they'll find

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is leaving family behind.

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It'll take a lot for friends and family to go and visit them.

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It's not just the distance, it's money-wise.

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I just want to see them happy.

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They're happy at the moment.

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I want to see them happy. If they feel that's what they need to do, then fine.

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Gemma and Paul and Cobey and Jordan, we love you very much.

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We will miss you.

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Have a wonderful life, keep in touch.

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Oh, I can't do that.

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Ooh.

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Mummy?

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Why is she crying?

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You don't actually get down to the nitty gritty when you're speaking to them personally at home.

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-Dennis does.

-Which is nice, because he's behind us.

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-But he also doesn't... want you to go.

-Yeah.

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The gruelling week down under had taken its toll on the Larners.

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How would they cast their final votes? A new life in Australia or return to the UK?

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Australia!

0:19:250:19:27

Australia!

0:19:270:19:29

Despite potential problems, the Larners had chosen Australia over the UK.

0:19:290:19:33

And without wasting any time, Paul immediately switched his sporting loyalties.

0:19:330:19:39

In 2008, we met up with the Larners again,

0:19:420:19:47

to find out if they HAD packed up and made the move down under.

0:19:470:19:51

So where were the Larners two years later?

0:19:510:19:53

ALL: Australia!

0:19:530:19:55

I went to Joondalup, north of Perth,

0:19:580:20:00

to find out how they'd settled into their rental home.

0:20:000:20:03

-Hello!

-Hello, Larner family! You've done it - you've moved to Australia. Lovely to meet you.

0:20:060:20:11

-Hi, Gemma.

-Hiya, Nicki.

-Hi, Paul.

-Hi, Nicki, how you doing?

0:20:110:20:14

-Loving the shorts!

-Yes!

-Very proud.

-Very proud.

0:20:140:20:20

-So, do I get a guided tour?

-Yep.

-Oh, yes.

0:20:200:20:23

-Kids, do you want to go out and play?

-Yeah!

-Go on, then.

0:20:230:20:26

See you later.

0:20:260:20:27

They had been in Perth for seven months,

0:20:270:20:30

where their home was a three-bedroomed detached house in the northern suburbs.

0:20:300:20:34

Falling prices and an economic downturn had meant that the Reading house had not sold.

0:20:340:20:40

Paul and Gemma's dream of a new house in Australia

0:20:400:20:42

depended on the UK property market recovering quickly, or they'd have to seriously rethink their plans.

0:20:420:20:48

So how long have you signed up to rent this house for?

0:20:480:20:51

We've got a 12-month rental here and, so far, we've been in it for four months.

0:20:510:20:56

So we've got another eight months to go and then, all being well, we'll sign another 12 months.

0:20:560:21:03

At the moment, we're living the dream.

0:21:030:21:05

Is that to give you time to find a property that you like,

0:21:050:21:08

or are you looking to actually build?

0:21:080:21:10

We're in the process of purchasing a bit of land at the moment,

0:21:100:21:14

subject to sale of our house in the UK.

0:21:140:21:16

And that will be to build our house - our dream home.

0:21:160:21:21

For a rental property, this, to me, looks like it's got really high spec.

0:21:210:21:26

-Was it brand-new when you moved in?

-Yeah.

-It's probably more the top end of the rental.

0:21:260:21:30

We were very lucky to get a new build.

0:21:300:21:32

That was my main criteria. If I was going to live in a rental,

0:21:320:21:36

I had this horrible vision of a rental being dark and dingy and needing a lot of maintenance.

0:21:360:21:40

You know what I'm like with maintenance.

0:21:400:21:43

There's a natural warmth to this house. As soon as we walked in, we knew this was the one for us.

0:21:430:21:48

So we went for it.

0:21:480:21:51

So your house in Reading, how difficult has it been to sell?

0:21:510:21:55

We've accepted an offer on it this week, so it's very early stages. We've been there three times before.

0:21:550:22:02

Once again, economic crisis, we've had to take a big dip on the asking price.

0:22:030:22:10

But for us to continue our venture or our life in Australia,

0:22:100:22:14

then we need to sell the house so we can move on here.

0:22:140:22:18

-The situation in the UK in 2006 was really rosy.

-Yeah!

0:22:180:22:23

-You didn't even consider having problems.

-It was really rosy in the UK, house prices in Perth were low.

0:22:230:22:30

So back in 2006, you could sell your house in the UK, move to Australia,

0:22:300:22:36

have a brand-new house and half a mortgage. Those days are gone.

0:22:360:22:41

It's apples for apples now. If not, it's more expensive in Perth to live than it is in the UK.

0:22:410:22:46

'Even with those changes in house prices, and their UK home still on the market,

0:22:460:22:51

'they had risked everything and gone for it in Australia.'

0:22:510:22:55

This meant having to pay £900 a month for their rented house.

0:22:550:22:58

Oh, this is beautiful!

0:22:580:23:00

The master, bit bigger than what we had in the UK.

0:23:000:23:02

-So we're made up. And this is most important for a lady, as well.

-Space saver.

0:23:020:23:07

-Perfect. This is what every woman wants.

-Mm!

0:23:070:23:10

-Walk-in wardrobe.

-Have you got the small area at the back for your clothes?

-Yeah, it's a drawer.

0:23:100:23:14

Bottom one over there.

0:23:140:23:16

-This is my daughter's bedroom.

-This is nice.

-She loves it.

0:23:160:23:19

She's got a walk-in wardrobe, bless her.

0:23:190:23:21

-Oh! Look at... How tidy!

-Yeah, bless her.

0:23:210:23:24

Have they settled in?

0:23:240:23:26

In the first programme, they're racing around, they looked so happy, playing the whole time.

0:23:260:23:31

-Has it been easy?

-I think I've had one day where I had tears off Jordan, didn't I?

0:23:310:23:37

They have not looked back. We haven't had time to sit still.

0:23:370:23:40

Every weekend - by Wednesday, we've worked out what we'll do at the weekend.

0:23:400:23:44

The kids then have a couple of days to be excited about it.

0:23:440:23:48

We go and do it and it just, you know...

0:23:480:23:50

Jordan's already fluent in the national anthem, isn't she?

0:23:500:23:54

-She's good, yeah.

-The Aussie national anthem. I'm impressed!

0:23:540:23:58

Let's see Cobey's room, see if it's as tidy.

0:23:580:24:01

Did you bring much furniture out with you?

0:24:010:24:04

We brought everything over, which we found to be the best way.

0:24:040:24:08

If you buy a crate, you might as well fill it.

0:24:080:24:11

That's the way we went about it, so there was six to eight weeks.

0:24:110:24:14

That's a long time without your possessions.

0:24:140:24:17

-So you were waiting.

-Yeah, you wait, but when you finally get your boxes, it's like, "Ohh!"

0:24:170:24:21

-Financially, did it make sense to do it that way?

-Big time, yeah.

0:24:210:24:24

One thing we've definitely done that's good was bring all our stuff out here.

0:24:240:24:29

We haven't paid for anything. Because of the house not selling, we have no money to spend anyway.

0:24:290:24:36

'I was really pleased. The Larners seemed to have landed on their feet in 2008,

0:24:360:24:41

'but was life down under really as rosy as it seemed?'

0:24:410:24:44

Disappointed by the potential drop in salary, Paul was not impressed with work in Australia in 2006.

0:24:480:24:55

But not being the type to give up easily,

0:24:550:24:57

he went job hunting when he returned to the UK.

0:24:570:25:00

After months of searching the internet, he found a job in Perth.

0:25:000:25:03

I had a contract to work with a controls company when I first came over.

0:25:030:25:08

I was in communications with this firm for three months.

0:25:080:25:12

A lot of pressure was put on me to come out, then the house didn't sell so I had to remortgage,

0:25:120:25:18

put my house up for rent so I could come out as quickly as possible

0:25:180:25:21

to fulfil the contract which I'd signed several months earlier.

0:25:210:25:24

And when I came out here, there wasn't even a uniform ready for me, let alone a toolbox,

0:25:240:25:29

a vehicle, you know?

0:25:290:25:33

It just didn't work out and, literally, I left that company on the Thursday,

0:25:330:25:38

had a bit of a scary moment the second week in - you move 12,000 miles,

0:25:380:25:43

find yourself homeless and with 200 in your pocket and you're thinking, "Oh! The non-believers were right."

0:25:430:25:51

Fortunately, as quickly as I was in that position, I was out of it

0:25:520:25:57

and we're doing all right now, thank you very much.

0:25:570:26:00

Paul's job was working for a large company

0:26:020:26:03

which was contracted to maintain the air conditioning systems for some of the largest buildings

0:26:030:26:08

in Perth's business district.

0:26:080:26:10

Work in Australia wasn't quite what he was used to in the UK.

0:26:100:26:15

Since coming to Australia, I'm not in the same line of work as I was in the UK.

0:26:150:26:20

I'm now more hands-on, doing mechanical, back to my roots, back to my electrical work.

0:26:200:26:25

That takes time, going back to night school. But I haven't come out here for promotion.

0:26:250:26:29

I've come out here to give my family a better quality of life, so as long as I'm working, I'm happy.

0:26:290:26:35

Having moved to the other side of the world, Gemma noticed

0:26:350:26:39

the pace of her own life had slowed considerably.

0:26:390:26:41

Once the kids were settled, I found myself,

0:26:410:26:44

I hate to admit it, getting bored

0:26:440:26:46

and I needed to get myself out for friendship reasons.

0:26:460:26:49

So I wanted to try and find some work.

0:26:490:26:53

So I thought, "Oh, I've got nothing to lose," so I put my CV in to the local hospital

0:26:530:26:58

and got a tinkle from one of the clinical midwives

0:26:580:27:02

and invited me in for an interview.

0:27:020:27:04

They've just employed me and another member of staff to assist the midwives, so I'm made up.

0:27:040:27:10

I'm getting to know people now, so people say, "Hello, Gemma," and it's so nice

0:27:100:27:14

and in the UK, you didn't often get a doctor

0:27:140:27:17

or a consultant or whatever saying hello to you, they'd just walk past you.

0:27:170:27:22

But doesn't matter what grade you are over here everyone says g'day to you, so it's cool.

0:27:220:27:26

Most of the Larners' dreams had become a reality,

0:27:310:27:34

and the quality of life was high on the family agenda.

0:27:340:27:39

A favourite day out was to visit the marina nearby for a spot of fishing with the children.

0:27:390:27:44

-Dolphin! There's a dolphin! Where you gone?

-She's down there.

-There she is!

0:27:440:27:47

She's there.

0:27:470:27:49

When we first came out we so wanted to be here and yet

0:27:530:27:55

we had another two years to wait but it's been well worth the wait.

0:27:550:27:58

Life in Australia is a lot better for us as a family

0:27:580:28:00

because we spend a lot of time together and we can plan things

0:28:000:28:04

which means we get the kids excited so they're part of it.

0:28:040:28:07

They tell us what they want to do and we actually go out... Obviously, the sun helps immensely.

0:28:070:28:13

-I got SpongeBob!

-SpongeBob!

0:28:130:28:16

We've been here, so far, during their winter.

0:28:160:28:19

It's been better than the UK's summer.

0:28:190:28:22

So on Wednesday, we sit down and talk about what we want to do.

0:28:220:28:25

The kids chirp up, "We haven't been fishing for two weeks!"

0:28:250:28:28

Or have a go bodyboarding on Sunday.

0:28:280:28:32

So on Wednesday, we make a decision

0:28:320:28:34

and then me and Gemma's job is to keep the excitement till then.

0:28:340:28:38

The opportunities are just so there.

0:28:380:28:40

The positives outweigh the homesickness a million to one.

0:28:400:28:47

I cannot envisage going back to the UK

0:28:470:28:49

other than for family reunions or something like that.

0:28:490:28:52

Back in 2008, I also had a surprise for the family.

0:28:560:28:59

We've actually got some new ones for you,

0:28:590:29:02

-so Paul, if I can give that to you.

-I've got goose pimples already.

-Ooh!

0:29:020:29:07

Let's see what they've got to say.

0:29:070:29:09

-Oh, no!

-Hi, Paul, Gemma, Cobey, Jordan.

0:29:150:29:19

Missing you,

0:29:190:29:20

but by golly, we're so proud of you.

0:29:200:29:23

We are missing you so, so much, we still miss you every single day.

0:29:230:29:28

Paul's mad. He's never grown up.

0:29:280:29:31

He is my best friend.

0:29:320:29:34

You don't get many best friends,

0:29:340:29:36

but Paul is definitely my best friend in my life, and I really do miss him.

0:29:360:29:41

Gemma's amazing, she is what you would class as a true friend.

0:29:410:29:45

She's definitely missed big time, she's an absolute cracking person, genuine person.

0:29:450:29:50

When Paul and Gemma first come to tell us that they might be going to Australia,

0:29:500:29:55

it is earth-shattering.

0:29:550:29:59

We are upset that Paul and Gemma aren't going to be around for the birth of our first child together,

0:29:590:30:04

it would be lovely to have Cobey and Jordan there,

0:30:040:30:07

growing up with our child, so we're all friends together.

0:30:070:30:11

I genuinely wish that they hadn't gone to the other side of the world to be happy,

0:30:110:30:18

but I understand fully why they've done it,

0:30:180:30:22

and I couldn't say, come back here.

0:30:220:30:27

They've definitely left a hole in my life, all of them,

0:30:280:30:32

Paul, Gemma, Cobey, Jordan.

0:30:320:30:34

I really do miss them,

0:30:360:30:38

it's like a big part of my life has just disappeared.

0:30:380:30:42

You can't not like the whole family. They're just lovable people.

0:30:420:30:46

Certainly your dad is very proud of you, very proud of what you're doing,

0:30:460:30:52

misses you, obviously, as we both do,

0:30:520:30:56

but I can say that honestly from your dad and from your nans and your grandad,

0:30:560:31:01

they all think you've made a very good move

0:31:010:31:04

and they're pleased that you're happy.

0:31:040:31:06

Well, you know that I miss you and I miss you all, from the bottom of my heart,

0:31:060:31:11

and I really will be counting the days till we can come and see you,

0:31:110:31:14

and I really wish you was here for the little 'un, I really do.

0:31:140:31:19

I love you, you know I love you all.

0:31:190:31:22

We're surely missing you folkies, but we're so very proud,

0:31:220:31:27

but hopefully see you all soon.

0:31:270:31:30

Lots of love from Dad, myself and a big lick from Fozzie.

0:31:300:31:35

Bye.

0:31:350:31:36

SHE SOBS

0:31:390:31:41

Three and a half years and the first tear.

0:31:570:32:00

Paul, I can see this time those messages really hit home.

0:32:000:32:04

It's weird, I've never stopped...

0:32:060:32:10

to think about other people other than my family before.

0:32:100:32:14

I think about have I done the right thing for my family, so I'm in this little circle.

0:32:140:32:19

I think I've done that on purpose, or else you would never have done it in the first place.

0:32:190:32:24

-It's an eye-opener.

-The reality's kicking in a little bit.

-The reality's kicking in, yeah.

0:32:240:32:30

After a two-year adventure, how did they vote on their future in Australia?

0:32:310:32:36

It's not all plain sailing, a move like this, it's never going to be,

0:32:360:32:40

but we are loving our life and our family vote is going to...

0:32:400:32:45

ALL: AUSTRALIA!

0:32:450:32:47

-Ozzy! Ozzy! Ozzy!

-Oi! Oi! Oi!

0:32:470:32:51

It's two years on and we've caught up with the Larners again.

0:32:540:32:58

Are they still living the Australian dream?

0:32:580:33:02

So, where are they in 2010?

0:33:020:33:05

-ALL: UK!

-No! Hang on a minute...

0:33:050:33:09

ALL: Australia!

0:33:090:33:12

-THEY LAUGH

-BLEEP

-I knew it was coming!

0:33:120:33:17

Of course! The Larners are still in Australia and having lots of fun by the look of it.

0:33:170:33:23

They're still in Perth - the same street, but a different house.

0:33:230:33:26

It looks like they were finally able to build their dream home.

0:33:260:33:30

Building the house was my main selling point in getting Gemma over here -

0:33:300:33:34

the thought that she could actually design her own house

0:33:340:33:37

and furnish it how she wants to and all the rest of it.

0:33:370:33:41

Which is so different from where we're from in the UK.

0:33:410:33:44

That was the bargaining tool I used,

0:33:440:33:48

and this land was up for sale and it was land which was good for us

0:33:480:33:54

because it was only two doors up from where we'd made our home.

0:33:540:33:57

So, although we moved, we haven't moved.

0:33:570:34:02

We knew it was going to be a 12-month build.

0:34:020:34:05

What we didn't plan for is the six months to get to build.

0:34:050:34:08

so then you're up to 18 months.

0:34:080:34:11

Fortunately, the way the staffing levels have changed with time,

0:34:110:34:18

they're much more efficient and the actual build only took three months.

0:34:180:34:22

At a total cost of 560,000 for the house and the land,

0:34:220:34:27

it's made them all very happy.

0:34:270:34:30

It's a beautiful house, it's got a pool, which... It was so important to us for so many reasons.

0:34:300:34:36

For myself, being a father, I've been able to say I've actually done it,

0:34:360:34:41

actually getting the settled enjoyment out of the kids when they are in the pool.

0:34:410:34:48

It seems to have gone really well for the Larners,

0:34:480:34:51

but it has taken a lot of hard work to get there.

0:34:510:34:54

Paul has even managed to get himself a new job,

0:34:540:34:57

but before we find out what's been happening,

0:34:570:34:59

let's have a look around their brand-new Aussie home,

0:34:590:35:02

guided through by Gemma, the proud designer of the house.

0:35:020:35:06

This is our bedroom. We've just finished it.

0:35:060:35:10

We just need some more furniture and lights,

0:35:100:35:12

but the budget is a bit limited at the moment.

0:35:120:35:16

This is probably the size of my lounge in the UK.

0:35:160:35:20

The idea is Paul and I have some nice, comfy chairs and a telly

0:35:200:35:23

and chill out in the evening and leave the kids in the other part of the house.

0:35:230:35:27

And the fact that we've got an en suite and double wardrobes!

0:35:270:35:30

Bit spoilt, really.

0:35:300:35:32

So, I've actually got a wardrobe for myself

0:35:320:35:35

and a wardrobe for my husband.

0:35:350:35:36

This is our double shower, and we've got a toilet at the end.

0:35:360:35:39

So this is probably bigger than the family bathroom I had for four of us

0:35:420:35:46

back in the UK.

0:35:460:35:47

Well, Gemma seems more than pleased with her new home,

0:35:470:35:50

and Paul, who's fortunate to have this drive to work in the morning,

0:35:500:35:54

seems also to have found a new standard of living.

0:35:540:35:58

When you was last with us, I was working for a company

0:35:580:36:01

in the same area of work, but not in the same industry,

0:36:010:36:05

so it was more mechanical, where before I come from controls.

0:36:050:36:08

And then the opportunity to get back into controls came along

0:36:080:36:11

15 months ago, so I grabbed it with both hands

0:36:110:36:15

and settled in very well.

0:36:150:36:17

And it's no different in the UK, what I was doing, to out here.

0:36:170:36:20

The only difference being is that the plant's totally reversed.

0:36:200:36:24

I used to have four boilers and one very small chiller,

0:36:240:36:27

and now I've got four massive chillers and one very small boiler.

0:36:270:36:31

So, that's my day-to-day job as a service engineer,

0:36:310:36:35

to go on site to make sure all this equipment is running as it should be.

0:36:350:36:39

So, this is the kitchen. So far, so good.

0:36:390:36:43

I haven't found anything I don't like about the kitchen,

0:36:430:36:45

which is a bonus...

0:36:450:36:46

But it's just, um... Yeah, you never thought it'd be so hard,

0:36:460:36:51

but to have the choice of having a plain bit of paper

0:36:510:36:54

and starting from scratch was quite stressful, actually.

0:36:540:36:58

But, you know, we've moved in now.

0:36:580:37:00

We feel it was home as soon as we opened the front door.

0:37:000:37:02

There's things that we'd still like,

0:37:020:37:04

which will come in time, but obviously,

0:37:040:37:08

just have to sit and wait and be patient.

0:37:080:37:10

But it's funny, we're not about material any more.

0:37:100:37:13

We've lost that since we've been here. We're just not that bothered.

0:37:130:37:17

We feel like, because we've moved 10,000 miles,

0:37:170:37:20

doesn't really matter what your house, surroundings, is.

0:37:200:37:24

I mean, this is beautiful, don't get me wrong,

0:37:240:37:26

and I'm very grateful that I've had the chance to build my house -

0:37:260:37:29

my husband would have my head on the chopping board otherwise -

0:37:290:37:33

but it's having your family round you, i.e. Paul and my kids.

0:37:330:37:36

That makes me feel like a unit, so this is lovely.

0:37:360:37:39

This makes it a lot easier. This is our family area,

0:37:390:37:42

but again, the final touches haven't been finished

0:37:420:37:46

like your photographs. We haven't put any photographs up yet.

0:37:460:37:49

They're all the things I want to do. I want to enjoy it slowly.

0:37:490:37:53

I don't want to rush things.

0:37:530:37:54

I love this view, though, because we get the winter sun coming in

0:37:540:37:58

and also the summer sun, but I'm going to enjoy it as a mum, definitely,

0:37:580:38:02

because I can see the children out on the al fresco,

0:38:020:38:05

and I can see in the swimming pool, which is great.

0:38:050:38:07

And Paul's new job has brought some unexpected benefits.

0:38:070:38:10

What I've found over here in Australia is the team morale

0:38:100:38:14

and team bonding is one of the major factors.

0:38:140:38:18

So, socialising Friday after work,

0:38:180:38:20

you'll find that's...almost...

0:38:200:38:25

put upon you by your management, you know.

0:38:250:38:29

"We was disappointed not to see you on Friday having a drink," you know?

0:38:290:38:32

Where in the UK, because it takes so long to get home

0:38:320:38:37

and you want to see your family as well...

0:38:370:38:40

I can have a drink and still be home in time for tea here,

0:38:400:38:42

where I couldn't do that. I even missed tea in the UK.

0:38:420:38:45

You get out of bed in the morning, you go to the vehicle,

0:38:450:38:48

the sun is shining. I take a road which is possibly one of the best roads in the world.

0:38:480:38:53

It's a feel-good factor.

0:38:530:38:56

You get to work. You've got good communication with people,

0:38:560:39:00

and then at the end of the day, taking the same drive home,

0:39:000:39:06

taking that aura back into the family at home.

0:39:060:39:09

It's plusses all round.

0:39:090:39:12

The Larners have succeeded in living out their dream,

0:39:120:39:16

but earlier in the year, Paul and Gemma were devastated

0:39:160:39:19

by some very sad family news from the UK.

0:39:190:39:22

Now... I never thought I'd say it, eh?

0:39:260:39:29

I was being good up to now.

0:39:290:39:31

We lost...both nans.

0:39:310:39:36

And my dog.

0:39:360:39:37

Losing family members when you're this far away

0:39:370:39:41

is the worst possible scenario.

0:39:410:39:43

Made a little bit more difficult, not so much difficult for myself,

0:39:430:39:47

but I haven't had that much loss in my family,

0:39:470:39:50

so very difficult to deal with.

0:39:500:39:53

Both nans were very positive,

0:39:530:39:58

even though they were quite older ladies, if you like.

0:39:580:40:02

They actually could see why we was doing it,

0:40:040:40:06

and when we both all said goodbye to them,

0:40:060:40:09

they said, you know, "Please don't come back for the funeral."

0:40:090:40:13

Deep down, we felt, you know, we were settled,

0:40:130:40:17

that we didn't feel compelled to go back to the UK.

0:40:170:40:21

Both nans would turn over. They would just NOT want us to go back.

0:40:210:40:25

On the flip side of that, when your mum or your mother-in-law,

0:40:250:40:32

at their most needy time,

0:40:320:40:35

you can't offer that arm and a hug and all the rest of it,

0:40:350:40:38

so that's very sad.

0:40:380:40:40

What I done is, my nan... I sent my grandad a little card

0:40:400:40:45

and then I wrote a little verse

0:40:450:40:48

and I got my dad to say it at the funeral.

0:40:480:40:50

And then, when the funeral was happening,

0:40:500:40:54

I sat with a drink and a picture of my nan

0:40:540:41:00

and put some music on mega loud.

0:41:000:41:03

As much as they want to hug you and be with you at the point of time,

0:41:030:41:08

it is that expensive and they'd rather it go on the kids

0:41:080:41:13

rather than on an air fare back to the UK.

0:41:130:41:16

The children were always Paul and Gemma's main concern,

0:41:190:41:23

and if they hadn't settled into their new home,

0:41:230:41:26

all their efforts may have gone to waste.

0:41:260:41:28

Since we've been over here, the kids have really fitted in.

0:41:280:41:32

They've not been unsettled at all.

0:41:320:41:35

There's not been five minutes where they've wished for anything

0:41:350:41:40

other than what they've got,

0:41:400:41:41

so I think if you're going to be making this journey over here

0:41:410:41:44

and you're worried about your kids, it's possibly the last thing you need to worry about.

0:41:440:41:49

As for Gemma, it was a little bit rocky at the start.

0:41:490:41:54

I think anyone and everyone goes through it. I went through it a bit,

0:41:540:41:58

but you tend, as a man, to try and hide it, to keep the family strong.

0:41:580:42:03

And what about the future?

0:42:030:42:06

Now we've just gone past two years, we don't talk about it any more.

0:42:060:42:10

Our life now is in Australia.

0:42:100:42:12

There isn't... And sometimes, when you go out and you socialise,

0:42:120:42:17

people talk about "how long have you been here now, when are you going back?"

0:42:170:42:20

I'm sort of over all that.

0:42:200:42:22

My life's here. I'll go back when I'm good and ready.

0:42:220:42:25

I don't feel like I'm attracted to go back or magnetised to go back

0:42:250:42:30

or... This sounds bad, even an element of responsibility to go back.

0:42:300:42:35

You know, my responsibility is my family.

0:42:350:42:38

You can see what we've done here. We've built a home and now we're living our life.

0:42:380:42:43

ALL: Goodbye, UK!

0:42:430:42:45

The Larners have become a true Australian family.

0:42:450:42:49

Having built their own house, could this mean they're staying down under

0:42:490:42:54

for life?

0:42:540:42:55

Join us again, when we catch up with another family

0:42:550:42:59

on Wanted Down Under Revisited.

0:42:590:43:01

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:120:43:16

E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

0:43:160:43:20

In 2006, the Larner family visited Australia to put their dreams of emigration to the ultimate test. Leaving their friends and family was almost too much to bear, but in 2008 they had made the move and were living near Perth. Two years on, has their dream of making a new life down under come true?