When I first meet someone in the UK, the first words out of their mouth are always the same: “What the hell are you doing here?”
It’s a valid question. I am from Perth in Western Australia and lived there until I came to the UK at the age of 24. British people seem to be particularly drawn to my home city, making up over 12% of the one and a half million inhabitants.
I can understand the appeal. Perth is warmer than than the eastern cities of Melbourne and Sydney and less tropical than some of the more northern cities like Brisbane. It has stunning beaches that could easily compete with any in the Mediterranean and is clean and spacious.
But I think it is more than these physicalities that draws so many people in the opposite direction to myself. Despite it’s reasonable population size, Perth remains a very chilled out place to live. It still feels like a big country town, rather than a city; a place where people say hello when they pass on the street and know their neighbours.
If you’re young, single and on a holiday, I would bypass it altogether. The nightlife is pretty diabolical and its isolation from the other cities in Australia make going there a substantial commitment. But for people who are looking to raise a family, retire or find their own version of “Home and Away”, you couldn’t ask for more than what Perth has to offer.
Which leads me to the answer of what the hell I’m doing here (apart from the fact that I’m young-ish and single). Let’s be honest – the weather is terrible, the traffic is a nightmare, customer service is a foreign concept and house prices are astronomical. It can be grey and dirty, loud and yobbish, ostentatious and elitist. But it is Britain’s faults that make it endearing. I want to live somewhere a little like me: complex, dichotomous, flawed.