Whingeing Poms – a load of hot air?

After watching the news here in Perth one evening, I have been inspired to write about whingeing Poms.  Apparently 7,000 returned back to the UK last year. This entertaining and enlightening news report is well worth watching ….  The MacMillian family moved from Lancashire to Queensland (for my American friends, think Ohio to Florida). After five years, they were returning to the UK because they “weren’t beach people” amongst other whinges cited in the report…

http://au.news.yahoo.com/sunday-night/features/article/-/14207625/ping-pong-poms/

Generally, British accents are common in Australia, and there is a standing joke with Australians that English immigrants are “whinging Poms”, or Pommies.  Australia is of course an immigrant nation, and as part of the British Commonwealth, many Australians are of British decent and/or still have a British accent. Perth in particular has attracted many new immigrants in recent years, fuelled by the mining and gas extraction boom, and the diversity of nationalities is expanding. 

Origin of the expression Pom, or Pommies

The origin of expression Pom is debatable. From my research, it either originated in the 1920’s when newly arrived Brits were easily identifiable with their sun burnt faces which were compared to Pomegranates. The other explanation that is more common is that it is an acronym for Prisoner of Mother England (POME). Whatever the origin of Pom, it is more often than not prefixed with “whingeing” because many complain as they settle into their new life.

This stereotype is very much alive and well in Australia, with businesses even using it to target their markets.  For example, whingeing Poms can buy cheap phone cards to whinge to their friends and family back home:

The Facts

In the interests of objectivity and fair analysis, I chose a selection of everyday things which are generally of interest to all, comparing Perth to Edinburgh – where my last home in the UK was. Both are comparable as both are generally considered more expensive and desirable cities (for different reasons). I have inserted hyperlinks to quoted sources.

All costs quoted and exchange comparisons used were researched on 8 January 2013. This figure will obviously change with currency fluctuations, and therein lies the main contributing factor to increased costs to Pommies coming to Australia – the strong AUS$.

Housing – Rent and mortgage interest rates:

Monthly rent for a one bedroomed city centre apartment:

  £875 (approx AUS$1,400)
 
  AUS$2,500 (approx £1,630)
  

Georgian Edinburgh New Town
Perth CBD off St Georges Terrace
 

Monthly rent for a three bedroom suburban detached house (15 – 20 minute drive to city centre):

  £1,300 (approx AUS$2,090)
 
  AUS$ 2,800 (approx £1,830)
  

Blackhall, Edinburgh
Duncraig, Perth, WA

Mortgage interest rates:

4.00% variable

 

 

6.51% variable

 

  

 
Royal Bank of Scotland Offset Mortgage

 

Whingeing Pom win. Housing in the UK is generally cheaper than Western Australia.  It is likely however that other parts of Australia housing is cheaper.

Everyday Groceries and sundries

 

£1.69
$2.00

 

£1.98
$4.11

 

£2.79
$4.70

 

50p for 800g
$1 for 650g

 

£1.50
$2.49

 

£2.95
$4.98

 
 

 

 

Edinburgh
Perth
 

 

£4.50 (average)
$10.50

 

 
£2.20 (Starbucks)
 
 
$3.90 (Gloria Jeans)

 

£12
$25
 

 

£1.97
$4.98

  

Groceries
2L carton of fresh milk
2L bottle Coca Cola
Dozen large free range eggs
Loaf of sliced bread – value range
Kilo of loose washed potatoes
Kilo of Pink Lady apples
 
Miscellaneous
Pint of beer
 
Small cappuccino
Dry cleaning one suit
Cadbury Fruit and Nut chocolate bar 200g

Whingeing Pom win. Food and beer is generally cheaper in the UK.

Transportation

Edinburgh, Scotland
Perth, WA

 

 

£11,600 Mileage: 14,804 km 2011 3-door 1.8 i-VTEC SGT
$21,999 Mileage: 18,720km   2011 3-door 8th Gen MY11 SI

 

 

Plus FREE buses between Perth, Freemantle, Joondalup and some suburbs.

 

£19 for 6 – 9 hours             NCP Castle Terrace
$20.45 for 10 hours at venue Perth Convention Centre

  

 
1 litre unleaded petrol
Honda Civic hatchback
Single bus/train fare to city centre
Day rider – unlimited journeys
City Centre parking

Whingeing Pom marginal fail.  Petrol and parking is cheaper and cars are about the same, depending on the spec and your negotiating powers!).  Public transport however is more expensive in Western Australia.

Weather (this one is a no brainer…)

 

1,384
3,211

 

3.8
8.8

 

1C
31C

 

18C
18C

 

8.7C
18.65

 

676 mm
867mm

  

 
Annual hours of sunshine
Average daily sunshine
Average highest temperature January
Average highest temperature July
Average temperature
Average annual rainfall

Whingeing Pom fail – 8.8 hours of sunshine a day, with average winter highs in Perth are the same as average summer highs in Edinburgh.

Interesting rainfall is higher in Perth though.

Pay

Most recent comparable statistics are from April and May 2012.

The UK April 2012 median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees was £506
The Australian Average weekly trend estimate for May 2012 is $1,058

Taking a personal assistant as an example, here is a comparisons of earnings:

UK median PA’s income:  £24,317
Australian median PA’s income:  $50,702

For readers wanting to compare incomes for their respective professions, this is the site I used for my research

 http://www.payscale.com/

 Whingeing Pom loss.  Statistically the average pay is greater in Australia.

The list of what to compare is non-exhaustive and its relevance is as individual as your circumstances, so I am drawing a line now.  Typically however, other “basics” would also include taxation thresholds, insurance, schooling, health care, utilities etc. More subjective things such as food, politics, manners – I am not going to even going to go there.

A case to answer?

So do whingeing Poms actually have a case to answer for, or is it a load of hot air? I have already mentioned the other major contributing factor to this comparison – exchange  rate fluctuations.  The growth of Australia’s economy over the last 10 years has significantly strengthened  the AUS$, thus weakening £’s brought over from the UK.  This is a major whinge for Poms of course. The trade off is that there are more job opportunities being introduced to fuel this economic growth, and pay reflects this too.  So this has to be factored in.

Aside from economic and meteorological comparisons, whingeing Poms also talk about the distance from “home”/separation from their support networks, lack of history vs Europe, driving habits and cultural difference between the two nations. Australia is definitely different to the UK in this respect, but it is a comparatively new nation built by “give it a go” pioneers who came during much harder times. From what I have observed talking to recent and more seasoned immigrants (now resident Australian citizens),  this remains the prevailing spirit with “new” Australians. 

So are “Whingeing Poms” a load of hot air?  Well, my philosophy is life is what you make of it, and having lived in a number of other countries now, it is natural to compare where you are to “back home” – invariably you will find good and bad in that comparison.  My personal assessment is that Australia has all you need to live well, and if in Perth when the hot air bothers you, just go to the gorgeous beaches – where it will be blown away by the lovely trademark off shore breezes the city is famous for – but of course, you have to be beach people. 

P.S.  Apologies for the lack of pictures – I have been unable to upload them.  I don’t think blogger likes mixing tables with photographs.

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