Family in Perth: ‘We have no plan for the future yet, we’re just enjoying life’

Case study: The McDonnells

Maria and Tony McDonnell in Perth with their children Isabella, Eva and Billy

Maria and Tony McDonnell in Perth with their children Isabella, Eva and Billy

Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 01:00

Maria McDonnell’s husband Tony was still employed as a quantity surveyor in Dublin when the couple decided to move to Perth, Western Australia, in June 2012 with their three children, now aged seven, four and three.

“Work was beginning to dry up and we decided if we were to make the move, that was the best time, while the kids were still young,” she says.

He secured a job with a large construction company in Perth, which sponsored the family on a four-year visa.

“The first month was the hardest. We had to find schools for the kids and a place to live. Even just finding your way around was a challenge. But since then, everything has gone great.”

Both Maria and Tony have since started their own businesses – she imports beauty products from the UK, while he runs his own consultancy firm with two other Irish men.

“We’ve been really blessed with the opportunities we’ve been granted out here, and we’ve embraced them. It is a great country if you’re prepared to work hard,” she says.

Circle of friends

Maria has made a new circle of friends through the Irish Families in Perth Facebook group, which has almost 7,000 followers.

“As a mother, the weather makes things much easier, even for simple things like doing laundry. The kids love the outdoors lifestyle, and the parks are fantastic.

“There’s a great social life for us also; people are more open to making friends here – as we are all in the same boat everyone makes more of an effort, as your friends become your family away from home.

“I have a niece at home who I haven’t met yet, so things like that are hard. Skype is great, but for big family events you can feel very far away. We came out with no timeline, saying we’d stay if we liked it and go back if not.

“We have no plan for the future yet, we’re just enjoying life.”