It seems like everyone at some point considers moving to Australia. With its lure of thousands of miles of beaches and its laid back, ‘throw a shrimp on the barbie’ approach to life, what’s not to like, right!
Well, in 2011 we packed up and sold our house in the UK to move to Australia. It was our first big international move and, in hindsight, we had a lot to learn!
Moving to Australia
We were approached by a company in early 2011 who headhunted Rich for their office in Perth, Western Australia. We moved out in December 2011 and started the biggest adventure of our lives. We started out living in the bustling district of Subiaco but later purchased a camper van and moved into the norther suburbs of Carramar.
By 2012 we were looking for another adventure and in 2013 we headed east to Brisbane. Sticking close to the city we spent a year in Indooroopilly before moving to Milton. We exchanged our camper van for a monster sized 4×4 and headed off to explore the east coast.
There’s not a day goes past when we don’t think or miss Australia in some way and we’re forever grateful for the opportunity we had to live there.
If you have the opportunity to move to Australia, seize it with both hands and don’t look back!
Here’s our ten things we think you should know before moving to Australia.
- I’ve heard people compare Australia to England but with sunshine. Australia is very definitely not England with sunshine! It has its own culture and language and even though the language is English there are noticeable differences. Each state is remarkably different and has a different culture – although if I’m honest “The Barbie” is everything in every state lol. Moving to Australia was the best thing we ever did so if you have this chance, embrace it fully.
- Aboriginal people have suffered and continue to suffer horrendously. Racism towards Aborigines is high and becomes more evident and vocal the further west you travel. These people have been stripped of their ability to live and hunt, communities suffer from poverty that you’ll not see outside Africa and alcoholism and drug use has destroyed their way of life. Please take the time to learn about Australia’s history and understand how detrimental white invasion has been for them. Australia Day is a source of discontent and its labelled Invasion Day with widespread protests. Police brutality remains high towards Aborigines and at least one Aborigine dies a month in police custody. These atrocities are seldom investigated and Australia is happy to white-wash its history.
- Australia is enormous and the reality is you won’t get to see most of Australia but do try. The country is so diverse it’ll blow your mind. Western Australia’s coast line is spectacular with its white sand beaches and WA ranges from rocky, dry desert in the north, to arable farming crops in the centre, lush green forests in the south and barron desert in the east. Queensland is hot and tropical whilst Uluru (Northern Territories) is scorching hot during the day and freezing cold at night. Tasmania’s weather is not dissimilar to the UK’s but the Northern Terrorities with it’s two season weather system couldn’t be further from it. It is a truly amazing country that has a lot to teach us.
- Sharks are really not a problem but toxicity amongst men can be. Just be aware that domestic violence is incredibly high and the view of traditional masculinity is the norm. Sexism is rampant across all states. Sharks don’t need to be killed because the reality is they don’t pose a risk to humans. Humans just need to stay out of their habitat and the Politicians need to be held accountable for their actions. The politics in Australia may drive you insane but find your tribe and invest in the community.
- Don’t fall into the trap of sticking with ‘expats’ and becoming a whingy pom. We fell into this negative trap and it made the first eighteen months much harder than was necessary. Fortunately we were able to move away, start again and break that cycle and our next eighteen months was a delight.
- Finding a house can be very challenging and because of the high renter to low properties available, you might find yourself along with fifty other couples looking around houses. This draws people into offering three months worth of rent up front which can be very costly. It’s always a good idea to have accommodation sorted prior to arrival but if you can’t just be aware it can be daunting.
- Australians are very proud to tell you that everyone has access to healthcare. This is not exactly true, at least not in the sense of the NHS. Medicare is available to everyone but if you’re working, or an immigrant on a temporary visa, you must contribute and sometimes pay upfront. A typical visit to the doctors would cost us between $60-80 which you need to pay for immediately although Medicare reimburses you automatically for half of it. It’s a weird system and it does mean you need $80 to start with, however Australian medics seem to be much more open minded to alternative & holistic treatments and it’s common to include sports massage, chiropractic care, pilates and other meditative and natural treatments into health assessments and treatment plans. Naturopaths and natural medicine definitely compliments traditional medicines and it’s a much better system than the UK but only if you can afford it.
- Sports are a big thing in Australia and we were able to do everything from football to gymnastics, swimming to tennis, yoga to running. If sports are your thing (they are ours) then you’ll be very happy. My monthly yoga subscription was disproportionately cheap in comparison to cost of living and the kids did sports nearly every night for a fraction of the cost in the UK. Little Dippers and Life Saving beach programs are a right of passage in Australia and I’d definitely suggest you consider either enrolling your child in them or volunteering in some way. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people and families.
- Australia is so very big that people tend not to walk anywhere. Unless they’re in a big city with access to trains, nearly everybody drives. In the northern suburbs of Western Australia we found there were very limited pavements and no where to walk to anyway. Living in Brisbane we had access to the city and its trains but we’d still drive to markets and beaches. There is no real escape from needing a car.
- If people want to give their furniture or possessions away, they often leave it by the side of the road and it’s free for you to take away. I love a bargain and some people move regularly and give away lots. Just keep an eye out.
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Other posts on Australia
We left Australia in 2015, before we started this blog, but check out some of our other posts from this beautiful country-continent.