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Updated 11 Aug 2011

Moving abroad is an intensely personal experience, often charged with the strong emotions attached to the excitement of a new expat lifestyle and the simultaneous loss of the life left behind. In navigating this experience one needs objective, factual information upon which to base concrete decisions, as well as telling personal accounts that can provide grounds for connection. This balanced offering is the chief strength of Iain Ayres’ Jump Down Under – True Stories of Relocating to Australia, his primer for those considering moving to Australia.

The book contains six narratives gleaned from in-depth interviews with those who’ve made the move, interspersed with concise guide chapters containing objective information on taxes, visas, choosing where to live and even snakes and spiders. The section on visas is noteworthy because it addresses the seldom mentioned issue what it takes to keep a hard-won visa.

Australia is certainly a destination that holds a powerful attraction for British expats seeking warmer weather, a balanced lifestyle and fresh opportunities. However, the allure of Australia tends to obscure some of its gritty realities, and those jumping down under without being forewarned are liable to suffer as reality re-asserts itself, tarnishing the glittery idealism that inspired their move in the first place.

The six interviews in Ayres’s book relay the experience of a diverse bunch of people – and their unsentimental accounts are full of valuable, practical information, and insightful details.

Furthermore, the real value of these narratives is in the various trials and triumphs the interviewees recount – dealing with a visa set-back, deciding on whether to relocate a loved pet, the thrill and trepidation of finally stepping on the plane bound for a new life. These are the anguishes and rewards of the expat experience, all powerfully instructive for anyone considering a move to Australia.

Jump Down Under by Iain Ayres is, quite simply, essential reading for anyone curious about expat life in Australia and the process it takes to get there.