Archives for February 2015

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Australia – You Are Missed

A bit. A lot. Somewhat. Varying over time. Strong on holidays like Australia Day.

Another Australia Day down from cold, slight snowy Chicago. During my time in Chicago, intermittently during 2000 to 2002, and permanently from 2002 onwards, I think I’ve managed just 1 Australia Day actually in Australia. And yes, I definitely miss it. It would really be nice today to be on the beach or outside in a warm park, BBQ, beers, family etc. I have though, come to realise after many years that there are always good and bad things of every situation  and definitely, everywhere you live.

The taxi driver I talked to in Las Vegas at CES 2015 recently had just moved from Hawaii to Las Vegas! CRAZY right? But cost of living and more work opportunities drove him to abandon what a lot of people think of as an ideal place to live with seemingly relaxed life cycle, great weather, amazing beaches – the list goes on! So, there are good and bad aspects of everywhere. The same is true of Australia I am sure.

I have now watched Australia from afar for more than a decade and slowly, it has eroded a bit in my head as ‘the ideal’, the ‘perfect’ place to be. I expect there are a few reasons for this. As you get older, you start realising that some of the ‘truths’ your brain tries to feed you may not be completely true. In particular, I have finally learned that nothing is ideal, or perfect. I may gain some positives from moving back to Australia, family and friends being at the top of that list. But I would quite possibly lose some things too. Work opportunities being a big one and now thanks to the OBSCENE cost of living and real estate prices, lifestyle could be another.

Earlier in life I used to very much live by the ‘grass is greener’ theory. That is, there is always something better out there. Somewhere better to live, some better job, some better house or possessions etc etc. I have heard this also called ‘if only’ thinking. It is a completely false and unhappy way to think and live. The sooner you learn this (it took me a LONG while!), the happier you will be. The opposite of this thinking is simply to feel grateful for what you have, where you are, who you are and who you are with. In line with this, I have come to both learn and also train myself to realise that where I am is actually a pretty nice place. I am in a town a bit out of Chicago – 40 miles or so. And really, the town is great. Small enough, nice main street with restaurants and bars, nice parks, great schools, nice community feel etc.

In short -> Be grateful for what and who you have and where you are. There is no better life than the life you have right at this moment.

That doesn’t mean you can’t plan and hope to build an even better life, but being grateful is an absolutely crucial aspect of finding happiness. I’ll go into it more in another post. For now, here’s some things I have noted on the US and Australia

Australia

Great

  • Family, friends
  • Weather (although there are some extremes that aren’t so great)
  • Cafe and pub culture
  • Unique, individual towns, businesses and architecture
  • Food
  • Beaches, nature, outdoors
  • Sports – Aussie Rules!
  • Accessibility – in city 1 minute, in the country with farms and nature 1 hour later
  • Slower lifestyle
  • Remote so isolated from ‘world worries’ somewhat

Not So Great

  • Cost of Living – UNBELIEVABLE – Particularly Real Estate – I don’t think sustainable -> Crash coming?
  • Isolation – Listed as great point above – But can and has led to ignorance on the part of some of public – Australia is part of the world!
  • Conveniences – Australia simply has not got I guess either the population density or money to create some conveniences that you can take for granted in the US – Take Away food options, dry cleaners, drive through coffee/banks etc etc.
  • Technology – Australia has always been behind the US and I guess more in line with Europe regarding technology. Great services that we take for granted in the US like Amazon or Netflix etc often take a long time to get to Australia or simply never make it. Likewise there are some great start ups in the US offering cool new services but these are likely never getting to Australia.

US

Great

  • Job opportunities in the technology sector.
  • Very diverse country with soaring cities, wide landscapes and incredible national parks (not that I have seen many yet!).
  • Great conveniences from drive through banks/coffee to just simple things like easy to get take away food, dry cleaning, shops being open all the time etc.
  • The internet -> Enough said.

Not So Great

  • The not so ‘United’ States -> As an outsider it still amazes me a bit that this country actually decided to unite. I wonder if it simply should have become two countries? There are such polar opposite views on politics and religion always present in the same geographical areas that there never seems to be forward moving progress in a lot of areas -> Particularly social and humanitarian areas like poverty levels, life expectancy, school performance, minority causes, gun control, military spending vs social supports etc. With the amount of money and resources the US has, it is tragic that it has not made as much headway in these areas as it could have.
  • The conveniences -> While often a good thing. The constant notion of lights and shops always open is also not relaxing and does not seem to allow ‘down’ time.
  • Population density. Not an issue in some areas I am sure but ultimately I think the US is now well over 300 million with roughly the same geographical size of Australia which barely has over 20 million! Number of people, traffic jams, lines at shops and restaurants drive me crazy sometimes. Particularly after growing up in a country town with a population of 80!
  • The media. They suck! In general. There is a lot of great new media outlets coming online from startups that offer good, intelligent, unbiased (or minimally biased) news and opinions. There is a huge amount though of traditional media, newspapers, TV and radio that are blatantly and completely biased to particular religions and/or political parties. This combined with the excruciatingly sensationalistic and over the top reporting styles make for ‘mass media’ that is stress inducing rather than helpful or informative.

So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed my perspectives. As always, your thoughts are welcome. I definitely miss Australia. It will always be home and I know I will get back there permanently at some point. For now though, life is to enjoy the moments and situations I have and we’ll see what happens down the track.