Monday, December 8, 2014

Moving to Sydney? - Work life balance in Australia - what to expect

Work life balance.

A nice term, something I heard when I moved  to Sydney and started working. nice concept....

I had hopes my new company was different, cared, had some nirvana culture...I mean, a new country, I migrated to Sydney, Australia! surely it could be true...

5 years later...

What does it mean? I have never seen it in practice.

I work in IT, I sit near the business, but they treat us like a call-center. IT aren't spoken to unless needed.

Expected to turn up at 7:30 leave at 6pm or 7pm or later - commute an hour each way.

See family one hour - work life balance. more like work work work - eff your life - balance this! 

Is this your life in Sydney? Let us know, leave your experiences below in the comment section.

Later people - grab some of that life balance, before you know it you're old and have never seen your family.

its a cliché, but take the time to smell the roses.


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The crazy big company work culture in Sydney, Australia

Wow, I work in a crazy place. 5 years and seven managers!

Is this weird culture just endemic to Australian employers?

My company expects me to work 11 hour days and weekends. We never get a thank you.

My team does 100 things right, works under continual stress, makes miracles, but only the one thing that goes wrong in 100 right things gets remembered. And gets remembered for ages.

Why is it that only the outspoken, confident or good looking people get promoted? Its not like they are doing a good job.

Its crazy, these upwardly mobile managers are such good bull-shitters, that they do more harm than good, they last a few years and when their teams crash and burn, they move to another company and do the same thing again.

Every time something goes wrong, all the upper management polish their daggers and stab each other in the back.

New managers come in, who know nothing about our workload, processes and challenges and make suggestions and changes which just makes it worse. Then, when things go wrong they blame the team at the bottom. Not one manager tries to spend 6 months understanding the systems and issues.

A couple of conversations and they are on-board, Experts! my ass.

In some cases workers are reporting to multiple managers, why is this, this causes time contention, stress and task thrashing. Please one manager and the other manager is annoyed. In the end you have to lie to both managers to fake that you are working for both of them. Escalate to both the issue and no-one does anything.

Please escalate issues they say, please innovate. Hah, Escalation is always ignored..Always.

Why don't they promote from within, so that those people that know the issues can fix them?

Anyone that speaks the truth or tries to fix things get cut.

Business are increasing profits by cutting staff (aka not really making more revenue) and then firing and hiring because the left over staff cannot cope with the work.

The cycle continues. I mean really.... 7 managers in 5 years!

I have watched teams be consolidated and a year later being broken apart to the same as they were.

If is wasn't so painful it would be funny. but its not.

I work in the Financial industry, is it the same in yours?


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Saturday, December 6, 2014

What not to do when buying a car in Australia

I had a rather unfortunate incident recently.

I had just arrived back in Sydney in Australia and needed to buy a car quick.

After driving to a few second hand and new car dealerships we settled on the type of car we wanted - compact SUV - and started to shops around.

I had also acquired some approved finance from Macquarie vehicle finance who were quite good and very helpful, especially as I had just arrived in the country.

Anyway, so once I decided on the exact car (Holden Captiva 5 LT), I called a few dealerships to try and get the best price possible. One of the dealers said he would only go to his manager if I gave him my credit card details as his manager would not want to play a bidding game. He assured me it was not a deal but he needed it to show his manager I was serious. He also assured me no deposit would be taken. I also had some queries for him regarding if he could source the right color car(ie did he have the car in stock).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, he did not have the color car I wanted and I went with another dealer.

I informed the original dealer courteously by email that I had found the car elsewhere and that's when the s h i t  hit the fan. I got about 20 phone calls and follow up messages in the space of about an hour! Numerous texts and also very aggressive, condescending voice mail messages.

1) they tried to tell me that giving them a credit card constituted a contract.
2) they then sent me a invoice and contract and informed me that as they had emailed me a contract it meant it was also a deal (I had not even seen it I my email...not to mention signing it)
3) the car dealer, had taken $500.00 off my credit card even though he assured me he would not. This happened directly after he got of the call.
4) I was threatened with 5% contract value of the full value of the new car!
5) I was threatened with legal action

When the guy saw I was not going to roll over and put my legs in the air for him, he started to realize I knew my rights.

He then tried to get me to write him an email explaining that I had agreed to buy the car but now had changed my mind, and in the email it should ask to be let out the agreement.

This really got my back up as I had not entered into any agreement to actually buy a car as we were still at the "do you have stock stage". I believe he was trying to trick me into writing written proof that I had agreed to buy the car. needless to say - I did not write any email.

Watch out, car dealers are super friendly when selling a car! they are not your friends! They want you to believe this. In reality they only want your money. Once you have signed, the super gracious treatment will stop and they will move on to the next possible client.

Treat them hard, shop around, get prices from multiple car dealers and phone back telling them all the lower prices, make them drop their prices.

Do not feel guilty, this is their job, they do this for years every day. Turn the tables on them, they will make you believe you have just robbed them but in reality you probably could have got a better price.

Amazingly, the more dealers I phoned, the lower the price went. Some dealers even told me they were selling me the car at a loss. (yeah I believe that...not)

Anyway good luck with your move to Sydney



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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Can I drive in Sydney, NSW if I have a Philippines drivers license ?

If you are on any temporary or provisional visa, you can drive on your Philippines licence as long as it is still valid.

If your licence is not in English, you must also have an International Driving Permit (IDP) and must carry it and your licence at all times when you are driving - IDPs can only be obtained in the country in which you obtained your license.

http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/licensing/visi... Information for visitors and temporary residents

If you have a permanent residence Australian visa, you then have 3 months in which to obtain a NSW license - after that, you will be considered to be driving unlicensed.

Because your licence was obtained in the Philippines which is not a recognised country for licensing purposes, you will be required to undergo a driving and a driver knowledge test.

http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/licensing/newt... NSW licence for international drivers

http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/licensing/newt... Recognised countries


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Can a Philippines drivers license be swapped for an Australian drivers license?


Hi guys and gals, if you are moving to Australia and are from the Philippines, you will unfortunately not be getting an Australian drivers license off the bat,

Short answer is NO. Unfortunately due to the fact that you can literally(under the counter) buy a Philippines drivers license, it is not recognized by Australian authorities.

For Sydney, NSW,  if you have a Philippines drivers license, and are a permanent residence (PR visa) it is NOT recognized in NSW Australia for a straight swap.

You need to do all the tests and it varies by age group.

For over 25's you only have to do the Australian theory and practical test in order to get the license.

BUT!!!

If you fail any of the test's, you will only be allowed to apply for a learners license! So don't fail it.

Probably worth getting some driving lessons. The Filipino way of driving will not pass an Australian test.


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Sunday, November 9, 2014

South Africans in Sydney, Australia - part 2



..continued from South Africans in Sydney - Part 1


Hi, I am a South African living in Sydney. I have been here for some years. Here are some facts as I see it.


Q. What do I like about Sydney?

Well, it reminds me of home - wide roads, parks, sea and beaches and the lifestyle is similar to my home town of Cape Town. Good weather, blue sky (I lived in the UK for a bit ). There are large amounts of forests, beaches and mountain ranges to drive to on the weekend.

Q. What are the negatives of Sydney.

Number 1 - its very expensive.
It can be boring - especially in the established, non eclectic suburbs, neighbors are strangers. Nothing is familiar. Sydney is huge, takes about 5 hours to drive around it.
Australia can have a lot of rules and regulations. If you are not working - it can be very lonely.
See the posts on this blog - why do people leave Australia


Q. Is Sydney Safe?
Well, compared to South Africa its totally safe, although one needs to be wary as there is a seedy side. There are large amounts of youths that seem to be affiliated to gangs and drugs.

Q. What about the cost of Living?

House rentals are extremely expensive, finding something reasonably prices for rental entails a lot of searching, living further out from Sydney and perhaps not being in the best location.
Food prices are high - its wierd as I would have expected it to be lower. Electronics are similar to Asian countries and in some cases lower  - e.g. mobile phones are not exorbitant.

Q. How have you found the locals to be?

On the whole Australians are friendly and probably friendlier than the UK. I think they are less pretentious than South Africans, as South Africans seem to put a lot of emphasis on image - large cars, houses etc. etc.

Q. What was the first thing you did when you arrived in Australia?

Rented a car, bought a mobile Sim card and also a dongle for internet access. I bought chunks if 3 gig at a time.
I think I treated myself to a spanky new laptop. You have to have this, to do your research for home rentals etc.
Within a few days I  bought a car with finance, you need one I think, especially if you have family. Transport is great, but walking 10 minutes to a bus stop etc. etc. is not my idea of fun.
Also figured out where to do my shopping.
Then I reported in for work and started the house hunt.

Q. How did you get to work?

Used the train, I drove to the nearest station and parked there.


Q. Where did you stay at first?

Well I actually moved to Sydney twice now. the first time I went a month ahead of my family and rented a room in someone's house in Baulkham hills. Was cheap and that's all I needed while I set things up fro my wife and kids. The good part was that there were other people who were staying in the house from whom I extracted a lot of information.

The second time I found a nice furnished house near Narabeen lakes - cheaper and better than the expensive 3 bedroom short stay apartments which hit you for AUD $1500 a week. I was lucky I looked for weeks and then we chanced upon it, we also did some haggling to get the price down.


Q. What is the transport like in Sydney

Sydney has a large network of bus routes that get you from anywhere to anywhere!
There is also a mature rail way network with modern spacious trains that don't seem to get anywhere as crowded as other places. Its not like South Africa where you have to have a car.
Taxi's are available but not all over the place, a last resort and can turn up late!
Of course the road system is totally first world. Very annoying is the large number of toll roads!

Q. Do you miss South Africa ?

Yes and no. As a family we long to return to South Africa and sometimes make plans to do it. Finances or circumstances always seem to get in the way. Sometimes we miss it so much that we don't even care about the negatives in South Africa. On the other hand I have lost most of my ties to South Africa now and I am not too fussed. I miss feeling like I am "home". I think I am always more daunted by Australia. - when getting work, applying for anything etc. I seems to stress more in Australia at work as I feel lightly less confident, I am losing this sort of inferiority complex though.















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South Africans in Sydney



Hi everyone,

as I am a South African who has moved to Sydney(and has a blog about living in Sydney), I thought I would try and do some research on South Africans in Sydney as of right now, end 2014.


I am personally an English speaking South African(my Afrikaans is not too bad - depending on who you ask!). I was born and bred in Hillbrow, Johannesburg and believe it or not, I can remember green parks and waterslides and swimming pools in that area... Not so much the same now unless things have changed radically since I left.

I am well qualified in talking about Sydney as I have migrated there TWICE now and its been an up and down roller coaster ride with highs and some very dark lows. (very effing lonely and very effing expensive living there.. did I mention how expensive Sydney is...?)

Personally I think almost all white South Africans in Sydney, especially the adults will have left South Africa due to social ills and fear. -Fear about South Africa's future, fear about infrastructure and I guess fears about crimes and job availability. (in a nutshell (lets call it as it is)).

Please note - no blame here. Apartheid in South Africa over the last 80 years has basically ruined the country. (some people wont like that..anyway that's my opinion, no use blaming the current government without blaming the existing government) Just imagine what could have happened if the old gov. had skilled up the whole population and not just 10% of the population. Very very very short sighted.

OK so on to South Africans in Sydney


So, how do I categorize it. There are a RICH bunch of South Africans that moved to Sydney, and there are the working class that moved, and then there are the rest, who are either youngsters with enough points to get a visa or Kids of South African immigrants.

These are further divided into English speaking and Afrikaans speaking South Africans.

There is a very large and seemingly very affluent South African Jewish Community in St Ives and the surrounding areas. They have a Jewish school and synagogue there. I know because I drive past it often and there are security guards.

There are some very active online forums - SA Australia being one. I am trying to start a forum, but its very difficult as the big boy forums are already out there. And its getting spammed a lot.  (Please join up and help me get it running!!)

When I lived in St Ives - about 20 minutes by train north of Sydney (very upper class) I bumped into South African mothers all the time as kids came to visit our kids etc. I must admit, they were very friendly on the whole.

The pool guy in St Ives was also a very old fashioned, old afrikaaner(about 60) who cleaned our pool once a week. I think he had problems being a "laborer" his attitude was very bad and in the end we swopped him out for another service. You have to be a south African to understand this. Most White South Africans do not do "manual labor", they get people to do it for them. I know this is a generalization, but in the past this was how it was, it may have changed a bit. No maids in Sydney ne people! minimum wage is AUD $16 per hour, not so affordable to have a house keeper..


Where do South Africans live in Sydney?

Firstly, there are about 50000 South Africans living in Sydney which is only about half a percent of the Australian population. (Actually that's quite big)

Of course South Africans don't move to Sydney to be with other South Africans but if you are interested here are some breakdowns.

Here is a breakdown within Sydney.
Eastern suburbs - 6398 (2.6%)
North Sydney - 7728 (2.1%)
Baulkham Hills - 3168 (1.5%)
North Beach - 3017 (1.3%)
Central Coast - 1369 (0.4%)

Lets focus on Eastern Sydney
Dover Heights - 555 (14.1%) --- So many, and such a high percentage?
Rose Bay - 868 (9.2%)
Vaucluse - 563 (4.7%)

A few of the prominent Suburbs in North Sydney with South Africans
St Ives - 1742 (11.2%)
Cherry brook - 565 (3%)

Latest statistics put South Africans as new comers to Australia with an average stay of 10 years so far compared to others who have averages of 40 to 50 years.
South Africans are only 8th on the list of migrants coming to Australia though.

Dover heights is very expensive, you would need a couple million to buy up there. So not for the average Sydney migrator?



The density of migrants within Sydney suburbs by percentage (not just south Africans though)



Image of Where do migrants live in Sydney, Australia




























see part 2 of South Africans living and moving to Sydney



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