Mike Cheeseman, 47, is a British surveyor who moved to Australia two-and-a-half years ago
Moving to Australia took nearly a year of hard work but has been the best thing that I have done. Three years ago, back in the UK, my wife and I were worried that our three children were not realising their full potential. We also saw that Australia had grown rapidly in the previous five years and we started to think about emigrating. We used a private Australian migration consultant to help us with the move, and to choose where to live. We narrowed it down to Brisbane and Perth and settled on Perth because its weather is less tropical, plus there was a plentiful supply of work opportunities.
In early 2006, my wife and I travelled to Perth for a three-week reconnaissance mission. We went for interviews and visited schools, hit the beach and went sightseeing. By the time we got home, we realised that the decision had been made. I would strongly advise anybody emigrating to do a recce as we did.
We had sold our property a few months earlier, so the final decision was not that hard to make as the equity was there to fund the move. A week after returning home I had three offers of work in Australia and took a job as contracts administrator/project manager with a Perth main contractor, Emco Building.
The next thing was to finalise our permanent visas, a gruelling process that took almost a year and includes taking a medical involving blood tests and a chest x-ray.
My wife and I travelled to Perth for a three-week reconnaissance mission. By the time we got home, we realised that the decision had been made
Then it was time to book the flights, sell our cars, finalise bills and pack. We used a container service to transfer our furniture and goods. The containers left two weeks before our flights and so during our final days in the UK we slept on makeshift beds!
We booked a temporary home north of Perth for a month to settle us into the way of life, and soon looked around at properties that we would consider buying. We initially hired a car for a fortnight and in that time bought two cars, put a deposit on a new house and booked our children into college and school. You have to be organised and put an extreme amount of work into rebuilding your life. The initial month is the hardest, due to all the changes; for instance, the children missed their friends and familiar surroundings. But overall they liked the change.
After a couple of weeks I started my new job. My first project was an A$8m new build in Northbridge (an up-and-coming area of Perth). It involved precast-panel external walls and steel framing with a metal roof.
They do construction differently in Australia. Precast panels and tilt-panel construction are both heavily used. And teams are smaller. On this first job, for instance, there were just a site manager and me as project manager. I soon got into the swing of things, though - it’s surprising how quickly you adapt - and as summer was approaching I was put on a A$20m school scheme.
You have to be organised and put an extreme amount of work into rebuilding your life. The initial month is the hardest, due to all the changes
I worked on other similar project around Perth, and last year took a new role as senior project manager with Diploma Construction, where my projects have included a A$100m high-rise building in the central business district of Perth.
It’s amazing to be here now, because Perth has never seen this pace of construction before. There’s a major drive to totally modernise the city.
My current job involves complex engineering: installing ground anchors under a heritage building and surrounding hotels to form a basement, then constructing a 24-storey, high-rise tower with an internal 12-storey car stacker - the first in Perth!
I have certainly come a long way and would recommend the move to anybody who wants a change in lifestyle and the opportunities Australia has to offer.