HAVING never been to Warrnambool, Polish-born Lukasz Chomentowski didn’t know what sort of reception to expect from the locals.
The pub manager need not have worried, with community members embracing and welcoming the new resident and offering to help him and his young family settle in.
Mr Chomentowski had locals recommending him for hospitality jobs and giving the young family furniture for their new home and their support has not wavered 16 months later.
Mr Chomentowski and his wife Renee Tuck, who is originally from Warrnambool, met in London while working as chef and waitress respectively, and lived together in Surrey.
The couple decided to move to the south-west from the UK with their young son George, despite Mr Chomentowski never having been to Australia.
“When I started chefing I met a guy from Australia, from Adelaide, and he told me about Australia, and I said one day I’ll move there, which happened to be honest,” Mr Chomentowski said.
“It was very simple. Because we lived together in London, I knew I don’t want to live there with a young family because I would have to work 70 hours a week.
“Everything is expensive. The wages are not great. The lifestyle is different,” he said
George, now aged two, was four months old when Ms Tuck moved to Australia in October 2011 and Mr Chomentowski followed in June 2012, once he had the appropriate visa. The couple are pleased they chose to move to the south-west and Mr Chomentowski has met lots of the locals in his role as manager of Warrnambool’s Last Coach pub/ winebar.
Ms Tuck said the local’s hospitality surprised her husband at first.
“He was saying ‘They’re trying to help me, why are they trying to help me?’ Even people were giving us furniture when we moved into our house,” Ms Tuck recalled.
“I was very surprised. They’re very supportive which is why I love it here so much,” Mr Chomentowski said.
“When we were moving here I didn’t hesitate because obviously I wanted to move to Australia and live in Warrnambool. Coming from England, being a Polish man and not many other Polish people here, it’s very different. But people are very supportive. I was very surprised. I thought I would be an outsider and people would say ‘you speak a different language’. But they love the accent in Australia and everyone wants to have a guess (where it’s from)”.
The young family has embraced the city and all it has to offer, taking trips to Port Campbell and other nearby tourist spots.
The cost of living and lifestyle, as well as Ms Tuck’s parents living nearby, made it an easy decision and the couple have not looked back.
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else now ... I don’t see us going anywhere anytime soon,” Ms Tuck said.
“It’s perfect. Warrnambool I think is the best place for a family ... Everything would make me come to Warrnambool because if you compare the rent, wages, obviously you’re going to get paid a bit more in Melbourne but the rent is so much cheaper and you can walk everywhere. I don’t drive.
“In Warrnambool you can walk. If you live not far away from the town centre you can walk. You don’t need a car.
“You don’t spend 45 minutes to commute to work and another 30 minutes to come back. If you were living in Melbourne or London, you would lose two hours every day or an hour-and-a-half. You’d lose half a day a week (commuting),” he said.
“I always said when I had kids I’d move back here for them to go to school. I think the primary schools, secondary schools and kinders are as good as anywhere,” Ms Tuck said.
“It’s as simple as that. I love it and I think it’s the place to be. Especially for a young family, there’s enough going on,” Mr Chomentowski said.