The dim amidst the sparkling Australian dream

Despite all the lure and promises of better lives, not everything seems to be glittery for those headed for Australia

The tales of an alluring metropolitan life bolstered by a hefty pay check have driven most Bhutanese to migrate to Australia. However, there are a few downsides to this otherwise promising narrative. 

While those already settled for longer durations are comparatively faring better, life can be quite difficult and overwhelming for those new arrivals and who step into the country for the very first time.

A former corporate worker who is in Perth, but did not want to be named, said that currently, Bhutanese are facing challenges to get a rented apartment while living in a hotel is beyond their financial means.

He said it has now become very important to have a host who is willing to help and accommodate Bhutanese friends and strangers who are increasingly migrating to different parts of Australia.

Similarly, a former college lecturer said that if life is tolerable in Bhutan without any financial obligations, it is better to be in our own country as the reality in a foreign land is totally different from what we see on social media platforms.

He said living in Australia is not an easy reality, especially for an aging person like him. Had it not been for his wife and his four-year-old daughter, he wishes to return to Bhutan at the earliest and live a content life back home.

He said that being a Dzongkha lecturer he is facing difficulties coping with life in an English-speaking country. However, he shared that the opportunities to earn in Australia are far better except for the daily grind which can sometimes often drive you to depression and anxiety.

While incidences of depression and stress amongst Bhutanese living in Australia is an unheard story for many, Pema Zangmo (name changed) said she even got admitted in a hospital for depression.

Pema shared that she came to Australia with her husband leaving behind her steady job back in the country with high hopes until reality struck while her jobless and abusive husband also added to her stress.

She added that today she is comparatively faring better after they decided to relocate to Canberra where they have steady jobs and earn a decent livelihood.

Meanwhile, an education consultancy firm who wished to remain anonymous said that the firm and counsellors brief their migrating clients on the situational updates of the host countries chiefly Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US.

An official from the firm said that since a majority were headed for Australia, they ensure that the individual has scored a minimum overall band of 6.5 in IELTS.    

He added that their firm also briefs their clients on the realities of life in a distant land where finding decent accommodation and balancing studies and part-time jobs can be a daunting task at times.

“For those who have been living in Australia for more than a year are comfortable, but for those new arrivals it can be quite a task to make a decent start,” the official said, adding that it has become very important to have a trustworthy friend or relative who can host you as getting apartments on rent has become very challenging.

He added that other important aspects include a valid driving license and some cash in hand, of about 11,000 to 12,000 AUD as second-hand cars cost up to AUD 7,000 – 8.000.

 “We also advise them to procure an Australia SIM card which is very important while opening bank accounts and other related works. In addition, they have to file documents such as criminal records, police clearance and obtain a TPN amongst others while applying for jobs as getting a job has also become very challenging,” he said.

Meanwhile, many consultancy firms claim that universities in Australia take at least two to three months or even more to issue an offer letter. They said that with the number of applicants soaring, the situation will only aggravate in the years to come.

Nonetheless, despite all the flak and challenges and the growing insecurities back home, there seems to be no dearth of Bhutanese dreaming.

Sherab Dorji from Thimphu