In January 2018, I bought a one-way ticket to Australia. I used the working holiday visa to stay in the country for 12 – 24 months and I headed to the land down under with a suitcase and my fear of spiders in tow.
One of the most common subjects which comes up when people learn I’ve spent any amount of time in Australia is, ‘What about the spiders/snakes/deadly creatures’. In truth, I spent eleven months in the country and didn’t encounter anything which wanted to kill me.
Unless you count the magpies, of course. Which any Aussie will tell you, you absolutely should.
But in general, the spiders and snakes keep themselves to themselves. Your most common encounter will be cockroaches, but since they exist in every hot country, from France to the US, roaches shouldn’t put you off the Australian way of life.
And what a way of life it is.
Since experiencing Australia first hand, I can honestly say the lifestyle is unparalleled to anywhere else in the world. From the healthcare, which falls somewhere between the US and UK in coverage and expenses. To the public transport, to the coffee (seriously, it’s known as the best coffee in the world for a reason). Everything in Australia just seems to be a higher quality than that of the other countries I’ve visited.
That’s not to say life is perfect, something all expats should consider before moving to Australia, is the cost of living.
Not only is Australia a notoriously expensive country to live in, (I rented a room in an apartment in central Sydney for $AU1200 a month), but it is also extremely far away from Europe and the Americas, which makes getting home for Western expats, an expensive ordeal.
The cost of flights and emergencies is absolutely something you should consider and budget for, just in case the worst happens and you need to get home quickly. Flights across the world are expensive in the first place, let alone when you need to get home immediately.
However, if you’re working an Australian job for an Australian company, your salary will reflect the higher cost of living.
House hunting in Australia is very similar to the Western market, with homeowners having the option to sell the property themselves or via a real estate agent.
Despite being the sixth-largest country in the world, Australia only has five main cities – six, including the Capital, Canberra. Much like America, Australia is not short of space in the suburbs, which are constantly expanding. The further out you are, the bigger property you’ll find for the lowest prices.
With the exception of Perth, all of these cities are on the Eastern/ Southeastern Australian coast, but vary considerably in terms of climate and culture.
Brisbane is a haven for sun-seekers everywhere. Its proximity to the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Byron Bay makes it extremely popular with tourists on the well-trodden East Coast route. It’s also the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef – so if you’re going to live in Australia, it’s definitely a city to consider.
Sydney was my home for eight months and remains my favourite city in the world. You’re never more than thirty minutes from the beach, but the exemplary public transport means you can be in the incredible Blue Mountains within two hours. Check out our guide on moving to Sydney.
Melbourne is renowned for its art and culture scene. There’s some kind of art or music festival every week and is much more reminiscent of a European city than any of the others in Australia. With a city square, and older architecture than is typical for a ‘new’ country, Melbourne is where all history and art buffs should check off their list.
Adelaide is the fifth most populous city in Australia and is renowned for its placement in the wine industry. It’s also the cheapest of the cities, which makes it extremely popular with those initially moving to Australia.
Perth is renowned for being the most remote city in the world, being closer to Singapore than Sydney, and Jakarta than Canberra, Australia’s capital. However, it is also arguably the most popular Australian city with expats. The city has a unique sense of community and is situated on one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.
There’s certainly a lot to consider when thinking about where in Australia to live – but what about the Aussies themselves?
Well, I’m here to tell you that Australians really do live up to the stereotype. They are mostly blonde, mostly tanned, and mostly ridiculously good looking. Almost everyone has surfed at least once or twice, and they really do shorten every, single, word.
Another stereotype you may not be so familiar with is how some Aussie men live up to being a ‘bloke’. Whilst in the cosmopolitan areas, the majority of people are accepting and very twenty-first century, there is undoubtedly an undercurrent of misogyny.
Domestic violence dominates the conversation, and there’s been a push for change in recent years. This side of Australia is something you’re unlikely to discover unless you’re living in the country for a long period of time via the odd comment or exchange, but in general, is not something experienced by most expats.
Finally, the big question, the question on everybody’s lips when considering moving to Australia.
“But… What about the sharks?!”
Well, Australia has an excellent shark detection system in place on tourist beaches, with either shark nets or shark alarms preventing attacks.
If you use your common sense and don’t go swimming at dawn or dusk, you’ll be just fine.
Australia remains my favourite country in the world, and one of the most idyllic places to bring up children. It’s surrounded by beautiful coastline, has a great arts and festivals scene, and has fantastic weather pretty much year-round.
So, is the lifestyle worth the spiders/snakes/sharks?
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