Moving to Australia? Everything You Need to Know
If you’re planning on moving to Australia, here are some things you should know, from the practicalities, to what life in Australia is really like
Are you thinking of moving to Australia?
It’s not a terrible idea at all. Consider what you’ll get out of it.
An abundance of sunshine, laidback lifestyle, friendly people, fresh food and nature, nature everywhere… why wouldn’t you want to live in the Land Down Under?
The numbers certainly support this statement. Around 800,000 people move to Australia every year, some on temporary student or working visas – others hoping to set up a life here, permanently.
Don’t get me wrong – Australia isn’t perfect. There’s a lot about Oz that I wish would change.
Yet, as far as world countries go, Australia isn’t really that bad. We have the highest minimum wage in the world, an excellent healthcare system, plenty of fresh produce and a heck-tonne of space.
Reasons Why You Should Consider Moving to Australia
So, is Australia a good place to live? I believe the answer is a resounding YES. Here are the reasons why if you’re thinking of moving to Australia, you should follow through on that thought process.
It is breathtakingly beautiful with unspoilt nature
This is a very obvious number one. Australia is gorgeous. Like, the kind of views which make your jaw drop and your heart palpitate in your chest so hard that it threatens to burst out of your ribcage.
From ragged coastlines, to lush green rain forests. Hills blanketed in golden grass and desert as far as the eye can see. Australia is home to nearly every type of landscape imaginable.
Better yet, so long as you avoid the gaping coal mines, the land seems wonderfully unspoilt. Modern man has only had 200-odd years to wreak havoc on the land of this country. He’s throwing everything he has at it, but there’s still a long way to go.
Read more: What NOT to Do When Visiting Australia
There are over 10,000 beaches countrywide
Moving to Australia for the beaches? I can’t really say I blame you.
We have over ten thousand beaches stretching around our extensive coastline (ah, the joys of being an island continent).
Due to our extremely low population density, you’ll often find yourself in situations where you’re completely alone, on a long stretch of sand. This is bliss.
Our beaches are worth visiting all year round. Some parts of the country are far more pleasant to visit during the cooler months.
Even if it’s too cold to go swimming, it’s nice to go for a walk along the beach, or simply sit and stare out at the ocean. It’s so calming and peaceful – large bodies of water are truly good for the soul.
You can easily get up close (sometimes more than you’d like) to the local wildlife
You can’t escape nature in Australia (and in most cases, why would you ever want to?).
You exit your house and nature is right there, staring you in the face in the form of birds, snakes, kangaroos, koalas if you’re lucky, various creepy crawlies if you’re less lucky – it’s EVERYWHERE.Fresh air, good food, friendly people. Here's what makes #Australia such a great country to live in. Click To Tweet
Hell, you can’t even escape it in your house. It’s not uncommon for critters in Australia to crawl into your house – I’ve seen everything from geckos, to mice and even some poisonous spiders… gulp.
Then there’s the flora, which grows wild across Australia, given the opportunity. If there’s a way, nature will find it.
Read more: Fun Things to Do in Perth, Australia
The pollution level is still quite low
As far as air pollution goes, Australia rates pretty low. This is quite surprising to be honest, when you consider how into coal mining we are as a country (gross). However, we usually rate within the top twenty of cleanest countries in the world.
Look at Australia on this handy map. Lots of nice, calming green squares are littered across it, indicating that our air quality is pretty damn good.
If you want a comparison, scroll up and check out Asia and try not to feel upset or stressed out.
Australia has Tasmania
Tasmania is wonderful and I refuse to stop gushing about it. If I were moving to Australia, I would probably consider heading straight there, particularly if I were on a working visa.
It is probably the prettiest place I’ve ever been to and that’s saying a lot.
I can’t quite believe it belongs to us, even though it sometimes makes threats to break off and become a part of New Zealand, if we don’t start treating it better and remembering that it exists.
If you get the chance, you should take a road trip in Tasmania. You’ll see some pretty spectacular (and odd) sights.
It’s a country that is embracing sustainability
As a whole, Australia is starting to embrace sustainability with great enthusiasm.
It’s hoped that after the next federal election, the ban will be implemented nationally.
Australia has traditionally been a clean and beautiful place and there are plenty of community groups across the country, working to keep things this way.
Conservation efforts are being made to protect endangered species of plants and animals, communities are rallying against unpopular government decisions and businesses around the country are embracing greener practices.
It’s an exciting time to be a greenie in Australia, that’s for sure.
Read more: 30+ Eco-Friendly Travel Products You’ll Love
Australia has a very multicultural society
I love how multicultural our society is.
It’s a joy to be able to walk down the streets of our cities and see people of all colours, races and religions. To hear hundreds of languages being spoken at once.
To meet people like myself whose background is made up of places all over the world, who may speak more than one language and recognise multiple cultures, but ultimately call themselves Australian.
And most important of all, it makes for a truly excellent food scene. Whatever you’re in the mood for, you can find it in the cities at least.
If you’re wanting something exotic in a small country town – um Chinese for tea, anyone?
It’s a good place to perfect your English
Australia’s native language is of course, English (British English that has developed somewhat into its own strain which we can happily call Australian English, or simply “S’trine”).
Students can come to Australia on a visa which allows you to work 20 hours a week, so that you can get mingling with native English speakers and earn some cash to pay for your abhorrently expensive rent!
Okay, enough on that as we’re supposed to be focusing on the positives in this article.
They may not teach Australian slang in the classroom, but you’ll definitely pick it up on the street.
We have the highest minimum wage in the world
Workers in Australia are paid a minimum wage that is the highest in the world.
It may not be as high as it should be, especially considering the cost of living in Australia. Yet, it’s a relief to know that many in Australia don’t have to rely on tips to make a living (although businesses and the Government are doing their best to change this, which is nonsensical).
And one of the best healthcare systems
Our healthcare system is currently ranked second in the world (behind the NHS in the UK).
It’s not perfect – our publicly funded universal healthcare program Medicare has been the target of cuts from a conservative government and I’ve been on a waiting list for a year to see a particular specialist, which isn’t entirely impressive.
However, attending the doctor is pretty inexpensive, certainly compared to the USA model and I can’t think of a single incident where anyone I know who has been sick hasn’t been able to receive some sort of treatment.
It’s a wonderful place to live if you’re into sport
Australia is sports mad and the city of Melbourne in particular is considered the sports capital of the country, with events such as the Australian Open and Formula 1 Grand Prix taking place there.
The most popular sport in Australia is known as “Australian Rules” (or Aussie Rules). The official league consists of 18 teams, whose players get lauded like heroes. I’ll admit it’s a fun game to watch, although I more of a soccer fan myself.
Beyond the AFL (and AFLW, the popular women’s league), there’s Rugby League, Rugby, Cricket, Netball, Tennis, Soccer, Sailing… you name it and there’s undoubtably be somewhere you can go watch it.
As well as art
Thank god for the arts. Although not as popular (nor receiving as much funding) as the sports, Australia is a very creative country, where art is permanent feature in many people’s day to day lives.
Cities are adorned in public art and our art galleries are popular, with many receiving world class exhibitions. Out in the countryside, art events and festivals are bringing in tourism, such as the Benalla Street Art Festival in Victoria and the painted silo art popping up across the country.
Indigenous culture was heavily geared around art too – you can find ancient cave art all over Australia and see modern Aboriginal art at many public spaces and galleries.
Although our film industry is largely laughable, there’s plenty of good music coming out of Oz and our literature scene is off the hook. If someone said to me “You’re only allowed to read Australian literature for the rest of your life” I’d happily say “Okay!” and only feel sad when a new book by JK Rowling hit the shelves.
There’s a festival for nearly everything
Australian’s love any excuse to celebrate, so much so that they’ll often just make one up.
Our capital cities all have various festivals going on, from comedy to food, to fringe, to fashion.
Head out to the countryside and you’ll find festivals for sport, literature and art. There’s a group that travel around regional NSW for example, holding a show in various towns and small cities, big annual hits amongst teenagers living in the countryside (I should know, as I was one myself!).
Some of the ideas for festivals are so ridiculous that they’re amazing. I’ve seen annual camel races, tributes to Elvis and Abba, even one where town members make go karts out of wheelie bins and race against each other.
You could travel around Australia just for its festivals and feel very content indeed.
The people can be incredibly friendly
I am incredibly blown away by the friendliness of people that I encounter in this country. Dickheads can be found worldwide, but on the whole, people are quite nice and easy to get along with.
They’ll smile at you on the street in the cities and have whole conversations with you if you’re out in the countryside. I still think a real sense of community exists in Australia, which is precious, certainly something to hold onto.
And have a weird, yet endearing sense of humour
Australians have traditionally had a pretty dry and twisted sense of humour. We’re traditionally self deprecating like the Brits and our neighbours in New Zealand.
I’d say sadly people take themselves more seriously than they used to, but you’ll still see evidence of Aussie humour, wherever you go.
One of my favourite example is based on a passed Prime Minister, Harold Holt, who presumably drowned in the ocean whilst in office. His body was never found.
So what do they people of Melbourne do? They name a swimming pool after him.
Yep, the Harold Holt Swim Centre is located in the suburb of Glen Iris, in Victoria. Told you us Aussies are a twisted lot.
The country is weirdly quirky
If you’re moving to Australia, you should know it’s an odd place. And you’ll find examples of this wherever you look.
From strange public art, to our funny looking animals and whacky politicians – there’s humour to be found everywhere in Oz.
And sometimes (particularly where politics are concerned) you just have to laugh, particularly when the only other option is crying.
Read more: 40+ Weird Facts About Australia
You can have a very relaxed lifestyle
Here’s what is probably the biggest drawcard.
You can have a very good life in Australia, due to most of the factors discussed in this post.
Imagine a day where you get up, have a healthy breakfast derived of local produce, head off to work, take a walk in the sunshine during your break, head to the beach when you clock off to have a dip in the ocean, have a nice meal out for dinner or catch a flick at the cinema and are in bed by 10pm.
On the weekends you can make quick trips out of the city and find yourself immersed in nature in under an hour. You can go camping, bushwalking, horse riding.
You can drive around vineyards. You can eat all the locally made cheese that you desire. You can spend the day at the beach.
I just described to you exactly what my life in Sydney and Newcastle was like. Not bad, hey?
It feels very safe
At the time of writing, the world feels like it’s going a bit mad.
Previously living in London for two years, I felt far more in the thick of it than I do in Australia.
As a result, I feel very, very safe here.
People hurt and kill each other, sometimes by mistake and often on purpose on a daily basis across the world.
Yet, when our politicians start talking about measures to “keep the country safe”, I do tend to roll my eyes a bit (and wonder why they don’t allocate more money to mental health services as a viable solution, but that’s a different topic for a different blog post).
We’re not really big players on the world stage and as a quite isolated country, you get the distinct feeling that people elsewhere simply don’t give a single crap about us.
All things considered, this is something to be grateful for and definitely a reason you should consider moving to Australia.
There’s a heckload of space
Australia has one of the lowest population densities in the world, as there is less than 24 million of us knocking about the country and an abundance of space.
Our density sits at 3 people per square kilometre.
Pretty good when you consider that in the USA it’s 35, in the UK it’s 269 and in India it’s 441. Yikes.
It’s quite easy to find yourself alone in Oz. This is a wonderful thing that is to be cherished, particularly considering the rate of growth of the human population worldwide.
There are plenty of study options
One popular reason for moving to Australia is for further study at our educational institutions.
International education is an important part of our economy, so it’s an excellent thing that the numbers are rising.
With decent educational institutions (we have 5 in the top fifty worldwide, which is pretty good when you consider how young they are), relatively inexpensive fees and a range of programs available, students worldwide regularly choose Australia as the place to continue on with their tertiary education.
The food industry is predominantly local
It comforts me to head to the supermarket and see produce that is grown locally. I was very concerned about the health implications of eating carrots that were shipped in from New Zealand, when I was living in Qatar a few years ago.
There’s a big emphasis on Australian grown and made in the food industry at least. It’s good on two counts – you’re supporting local industries and the food is generally fresh, so that’s a win for your overall health.
If you’re moving to Australia, you’ll find the food will be one thing to be grateful for.
The climate is mostly excellent
It’s pretty easy to forget that Australia is actually a continent, with a varied climate.
It is winter at the time of writing and I’m sitting in grey Melbourne, wrapped in a blanket.
In Queensland however, it is currently sunny and 23 degrees. It will hit around 5 degrees Celsius for me tonight, but my brother who is almost 1000 kilometres away will be rugging up in order to combat temperatures dropping below zero.
On the whole however, our weather is generally warm, sunny and decidedly mild (unless you’re in the peak of summer).
I guess I’ll take three to five months of searing heat, if the weather is more than manageable for the rest of year.
The diverse landscape makes it a great place to travel in
Travelling FROM Australia to pretty much everywhere else in the world takes both time and money. Luckily, travel in Australia is fairly easy and ultimately rewarding.
You can head to the outback to marvel at the natural wonder that is Uluru, or go hiking on one of Queenland’s many gorgeous islands.
Journey to Melbourne for a city break, or jump in a car to road trip to a typical Aussie town.
Travel up the time-honoured backpackers trail from Sydney to Cairns, or head to the splendour of our remote West Coast instead.
Party it up in Darwin, or have a chilled out holiday in Adelaide Hills.
There’s so much to do, so much to see. It would take a lifetime to experience it all, but if you’re moving to Australia for one or two years, you can have a crack at it!
It’s an excellent landing platform to Southeast Asia
But hey, if you ever tire of the Australian landscape or don’t want to have to sell a kidney to fund more travel, it’s comforting to know that the entire region of Southeast Asia is only a short, seven hour flight away.
So, that’s just a few of the reasons why you should consider moving to Australia. If it’s something you’re definitely planning on doing, here are some thing you need to know before you go.
27 Tips for Consideration Before Moving to Australia
1. Australia is very expensive
Australia has fast become one of the most expensive countries in the world to travel and live in. It’s very upsetting for everyone, trust me.
As such, the rent in some cities will seem truly exorbitant, especially in Sydney. What I pay for a small flat in Melbourne’s inner west is less than a hundred more than what I paid to live in a cockroach infested town house in inner-city Sydney… five years ago.
2. Have a moving fund ready to go
As such, you’d do well to save your pennies before heading to Oz. Have an emergency back up fund, in case you can’t find a job immediately. This way, you won’t be too far up the creek if finding employment turns out to be tricky or the expense of living here is more than you originally bargained for.
3. Read up on the tax system before you go
If you’re moving to Australia to work on a visa, you’ll still have to pay tax.
You’ll be required to apply for a tax file number and the first $37,000 AUD you make will be taxed at 15%.
Read more about what will be expected of you here.
4. Don’t forget to claim your superannuation back
Your employer is legally obligated to pay super for you, which is your pension.
Obviously, you won’t be needing a pension in Australia if you’re not staying, but you can claim it back after you leave the country.
5. Get travel insurance before you go
Make sure you’re covered by travel insurance before moving to Australia. As mentioned, Australian healthcare prices aren’t unreasonable, but you’ll still want to be covered.
Many travel insurance companies have yearly policies, so take some time to look into a few and pick one that’s right for you.
6. Don’t pack too much
Pretty much anything that you can get at home can be found in Australia, so don’t worry about taking everything you own. If there’s something you’ve forgotten, you’ll easily be able to find it here.
7. Be aware that we have our own power plugs
Australia has its own plug socket, featuring two flat metal pins shaped like a “V”. This can also be used in NZ, Taiwan and China.
It’s worth investing in a travel adaptor, which’ll save you from scrambling through your collection of plugs for each country you visit.
8. Think about which city you want to start in when moving to Australia
There are plenty of choices of cities in Australia and I strongly recommend considering which city you want to start in.
Many head straight to Sydney, which is fair enough – it’s a truly remarkably, beautiful place. However, I would argue that you can have much the same experience in terms of lifestyle in Perth, for a fraction of the price.
Many of our smaller capital and bigger regional cities are good options as well. Adelaide and Hobart are both lovely choices and Darwin can be a bit of a party town.
All being said, I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to move to Melbourne – it’s probably the most interesting city in the country.
Read more: 11 of the Best Cities in Australia to Visit
9. But don’t be afraid to move on
If you do make a decision that doesn’t end up working for you, don’t be afraid to leave!
Pick yourself up and try out an option elsewhere.
10. Organise somewhere to stay whilst you’re looking for a place to live
Before you do arrive in your city of choice, book at a hostel, or organise to stay at a friend’s place, whilst you look for somewhere to live. It’s not always easy or straightforward and this will give you some wriggle room.
11. Look for a job as soon as you can
Similarly, hit the ground running by looking for work immediately upon moving to Australia. Even something like a hospitality job or bar work will help tide you over.
Timing is everything and I would say it’s best not to move to Australia at the beginning of summer, as you’ll be competing with University students for those kind of jobs.
12. You’ll need a qualification for bar work
Bar work is an easy and available option, but in Australia you require what’s known as your Responsible Service of Alcohol or RSA, to work behind the counter.
Similarly, if a place has pokie machines, you’ll also need a Responsible Conduct of Gambling (RCG) to obtain a job there.
13. Get a simcard with Telstra if you’re travelling Outback
Mobile service in Australia can be patchy when you go regional. Telstra is our national service operator and they’re the best option if you plan to travel to remoter parts of Australia.
Shop around for a plan that’s best for you. And keep in mind, we call them “mobile phones” here, not cell phones!
14. Sign up for airline sales
Unfortunately due to its size, air travel is often the best option for getting around Australia, although I’d recommend busing or training where you can.
Subscribe to their email lists to be notified about sales and watch out for the weekly “Happy Hour” discounts.
15. Check whether you can drive on your foreign licence
Australia is a bit stupid in that we don’t have one licence body for the entire country – instead it’s handled by the separate states and territories.
So, driving rules differ state to state – you may need to transfer your licence over or have an International permit. See here for more details.
Something worth mentioning as well, is that we drive on the left hand side of the road in Australia. If it’s something you don’t feel comfortable with… maybe just avoid it!
16. Join groups on Facebook to save money on travel
There are many backpacker groups on Facebook that organise trips from capital cities, to see some of the most popular sights. I regularly see shoutouts for example, for shared bus trips along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, something that is otherwise quite exy to do on your own.
Look for some groups you can join. It’ll be a great way to meet new people as well.
17. Be aware that cars, insurance and petrol are all pricey
If you want to buy your own car (for which I won’t blame you), be aware that the whole thing is very pricey, which is quite annoying when our public transport is as a rule, quite unimpressive.
Petrol prices can be astonishingly expensive and cars require some kind of insurance, whether you go for Comprehensive where you’re fully covered, or Third Party, which will cover the damage to anyone who you may hit.
Shop around for the best option before you make your decision.
18. We have stringent rules for drink driving and speeding
When you are on the roads, be careful not to speed, as there are always cops about,
looking for their next target… I mean, policing our roads.
We have really strict drink driving laws, where someone on a full licence cannot have a blood alcohol reading of more than 0.05. Keep to this, as the consequences can be financially and emotionally devastating.
Once again, driving laws change state to state, so read up on what is expected of you before you drive.
19. Get used to the Aussie lexicon
Australians seem to almost have their own language – slang is a part of every day life here. We call it “Straylian” and are proud to be fluent in it.
You’ll pick some up eventually, but it doesn’t hurt to read up on some of our more popular words and phrases before you arrive.
Read more: An Introduction to Australian Slang
20. Be sun smart
The Aussie sun has a nasty bite and as such, be careful of how much time you spend in the sun.
Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen and be sure to stay in the shade as much as possible.
PLEASE buy a brand that is non-toxic and reef safe, like this one.
21. Avoid swimming on unattended beaches
Likewise, our beaches are deadly due to the presence of riptides, ocean currents that will happily pull you out to see.
Also, our oceans are teeming with dangerous creatures, from tiny, poisonous jellyfish to giant sharks.
It’s best to only swim on patrolled beaches, where lifeguards are positioned to keep an eye on proceedings.
22. Don’t harass the local wildlife
Our wildlife is special and unique and best left alone.
This is partly because much of Australia’s fauna has inbuilt defence mechanisms and won’t hesitate to strike, if they feel threatened.
Admire them, but leave them to do their own thing and don’t feed them, please.
23. Shake out towels and check your boots
Although some critters do get a little bit enthusiastic when it comes to crawling into your personal items.
It’s best to always check clothes and shoes for spiders and other creepy crawlies. Shake ’em out and shake ’em off.
24. Drink all the coffee
We looooove our coffee here in Oz and will happily profess to having the best in the world.
I’m not sure if this is true (plus I’m a tea drinker, myself) but it’s certainly up there.
Do your best to sample all the beans whilst you’re here and do your bit for the environment, by bringing your own, resusable coffee cup.
25. Pick up your litter
Australia is quite a clean country in some ways (it’s sadly changed a lot in recent years). Please don’t litter, rather dispose of your trash thoughtfully in bins provided.
26. Traditionally, we don’t tip
We don’t really have a tipping culture in Australia, although this has changed in recent times, I think due to the influx of visitors from countries who do tip and changes to wages (for the worse, of course).
If a meal is good and I have cash on me, I tend to leave a few dollars. If it’s crap, then I don’t!
It’s quite uncommon for bills to be split when dining in groups, which is lazy and annoying. Be prepared for this by bringing cash, or accepting that one person will have to foot the bill and be sent everyone else’s contributions via electronic means.
27. Alcohol is really expensive
Aussies love a drink, but they certainly pay for it.
Alcohol in Australia is not cheap. There are taxes on alco-pops bought in stores and the average price of beer is probably around $8.80 for a schooner, depending on where you are.
Despite this, Australia has a fantastic wine and craft beer scene and you can at least get some quality booze for the prices you’ll find yourself paying.
Woot! That’s about everything you need to know before moving to Australia – it’s quite a list!
All in all, I hope you love your time spent living in Australia. It’s a wonderful country – I know I feel very lucky to call it home.
Other posts about Australia
Are you planning on moving to Australia? If there’s anything else you’d like to know which isn’t addressed in the list post, let me know in the comments!