5 Things British Expats in Melbourne Miss About the UK

A pile of 3 vintage suitcases.
5 Things British Expats in Melbourne Miss About the UK.

Having sworn to myself that I would not be mentioning anything relating to Covid-19 on this website, I can’t help noticing that lots of ex-pat Brits in Melbourne are talking about the things they miss about the UK, and the reality is that some are even talking of moving back there permanently, seemingly as a result of the global pandemic.

Some people that have been here for just a couple of years and haven’t had the chance to explore and settle before lockdowns hit are feeling very isolated and wondering if they have made a mistake in emigrating to Australia, not knowing when they will see their families in the UK again.  

Others, that have been in Australia for 10, 15, 20 years are feeling somewhat trapped in this gilded cage, where international borders have been closed for the last 18 months.  Seeing the UK have its own Freedom Day, despite the continuing high case numbers and deaths from Covid, has given a lot of us a feeling of being left behind with our so-called freedoms. 

5 Things British Expats in Melbourne Miss About the UK
A plane flying in amongst clouds.

For some people who have been unable to return to the UK to attend the last living moments of a parent, or the funeral of a loved one, there is very deep grief and a feeling of helplessness. 

On a shallower level, seeing social media posts of friends visiting Spain, Greece, or Cornwall for holidays brings on a real feeling of homesickness and, dare I say it, some degree of envy.

Melbourne has endured more than 200 cumulative days of strict lockdowns, including 5K travel limits and nighttime curfews, not to mention varying degrees of restrictions in between.  All Australian states have been constantly closing off and re-opening their borders to each other, in response to varying outbreaks, so any kind of travel in and out of the state in which you live has been extremely difficult, if not impossible.

Have a look at some ideas on how to tackle homesickness here.

St Ives Harbour, Cornwall, UK.  Fishing boats in the water, colourful houses on the jetty, a small church on a green hill in the background.
5 Things British Expats in Melbourne Miss About the UK.

For some ex-pats, emotions are running so high and the notion of just dropping everything and moving back to live in the UK is very much to the forefront.  For others, there is a kind of numb resignation to the fact that we won’t be able to get on a flight to see our loved ones until at least sometime next year, at best.  On the other hand, plenty of ex-pats here in Australia are saying, ‘no thanks’, they have absolutely no desire to ever move back to the UK.  

Personally, I oscillate between ‘I love it here and I’m very happy’ and ‘I want to get on the first available flight back to the UK’.   But it is ok to feel both ways right?  From the conversations I’ve been part of, the dilemma of having a piece of your heart in two countries (or more) is ongoing and never disappears.  So what do we do to help us process these feelings?  We talk about what we are missing.

Expats in Melbourne miss a lot about the UK, here’s what everyone is talking about right now.

1. Family and friends. 

This is the big one. If we could just pick them up and move them all here I think the problem would be solved. For me, when I signed up for ‘the big move’ to Australia, part of the deal was that I would be able to get back to the UK whenever I wanted to visit family. Covid has put a stop to that and this continues to be very hard to bear.

2. Proximity to Europe with its history and culture. 

When you live in the UK it’s quite easy to take for granted how easy it is to ‘pop’ to France or Spain for example.  Here in Australia, you can fly for 4 or 5 hours and still be in the same country, speaking the same language and eating the same food. Gone are the days when we could just nip to France for a bit of wine and cheese shopping or a weekend getaway in Paris. For comparison, an 8-10 hour drive from our front door in the UK would get us a long way down into the centre of France. Here, it takes a similar amount of time to drive from Melbourne to Sydney.

A map of central Europe, showing mountain ranges.
5 Things British Expats in Melbourne Miss About the UK.

3. Central heating and double glazing. 

Whilst most Aussie houses have air-conditioning, which is wonderful in the summer, they are not so well set-up when it comes to heating or retaining heat.  See my blog post on the Melbourne weather to understand why this is a problem for us in a Melbourne winter.

4. Fish and chips and other British delicacies. 

Yes, you can get fish in Australia. And yes you can get chips in Australia.  In fact, a beautiful, lightly battered barramundi with hand-cut chips at a restaurant by the seaside can be just exquisite. But chippy tea fish and chips?  It’s just not the same! 

A close up view of a dinner plate with battered cod, chips and mushy peas.
5 Things British Expats in Melbourne Miss About the UK.

Other important (but not life-limiting) items include Walkers Cheese and Onion crisps, Sainsbury’s meal deals, a full English breakfast, Yorkshire puddings, Hula Hoops, Tesco mini pork-pies, Greggs sausage rolls, and a proper good Indian curry (yes, I know, Indian restaurants are available in Australia but, ‘it’s just not the same …’).  But all is not lost, help is at hand, see here for how to find some of your favourite foods in Melbourne.

5.  British TV. 

It’s just not the BBC daaahling!  TV here is highly commercialised, so we do get all those long and annoying ad breaks that interrupt programmes at crucial points (a bit like the USA I’m told).  There are one or two decent channels such as the ABC or SBS.  The UKTV channel is ok if you like to watch aged episodes of Midsummer Murders (who’d want to live there?) or Mash but it is a bit like being stuck in a time warp.  For anything else, you have to pay (Foxtel, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Stan, etc).  Personally, I do really miss being able to watch such programmes as Countryfile, Sunday Brunch, The One Show, Loose Women and, most of all, Strictly!  

A 1960's vintage TV set, with a blue and grey and white stripy wall in the background.
5 Things British Expats in Melbourne Miss About the UK.

We are hoping that there is a solution on the horizon in the form of a VPN – I’m told that Nord VPN is particularly good (not a sponsored post, just a recommendation from various ex-pat chat groups).  I will keep you posted.

Of course, Australia is an amazing place to live and Melbourne is such a wonderful city.  I can’t wait to get back out there and see it properly again.  In the meantime, I will continue to look longingly at the calendar and my dusty passport, as well as airline websites, whilst planning my next trip to the UK in my head.  And if I shed a tear of hope at the latest Qantas advert, I make no apology.

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The Melbourne Mum

Thinking of emigrating to Australia? Already moved to Melbourne? Find out what it's really like to make the big move Down Under.

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2 Responses

  1. Russell says:

    I’ll need to work on my full English Breakfast so that I can alleviate your feelings of homesickness then!

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