Expensive Isolation: Why You Shouldn’t Move to Australia
Look, life Down Under is pretty damn good. Most of the time that is, as there are some reasons why you shouldn’t move to Australia.
When people aggressively try to tell me that it’s “the best damn country in the world!! Why would you ever want to leave, etc, etc”, I raise an eyebrow. Partly because it isn’t, but also because I don’t think any country deserves that title. Nowhere is perfect, after all.
That being said, Oz is one of my favourite countries in the world and I’m not just saying that because I am from there and therefore biased. Although, clearly that is a factor. I just see a lot of potential for it to be truly wonderful and so am making a few small suggestions. You may not necessarily regret moving to Australia but you should know what you’re signing up for, well in advance.
Please understand that I am very happy to be Australian and I do like living here. These are ideas for improvement, that come from a place of love. Mostly.
The Internet is the utter worse
I am Australian. I know our internet is terrible. Yet, it never bothered me so much, as I didn’t know any better.
Then I travelled to places like Svalbard and Iceland and lived in the UK – all three have really great internet speeds. And I realised – we Aussies have been seriously let down when it comes to the internet. We’re currently ranked 51 in the world – behind countries like Kenya, Siberia and Thailand. For a developed country, that’s pretty bad.
YES the government are FINALLY rolling out the National Broadband Network. YES it is hard to service a country as large as Oz, particularly when a percentage of the population live in rural isolation.
But I personally live fifteen minutes from the centre of the second largest city in the country and my Internet is crap town. It makes me angry that in this day and age, we have to put up with this rubbish.
It’s harder to travel to just about anywhere
I didn’t step foot outside Australia until I was 20 years old and I’m not alone in this. Most of my friends were in the same boat, unless they went on exchange, saved up to travel during University breaks, went to Bali for their end of school celebrations, or had their families take them abroad on holiday. And those who did go overseas, mostly had just travelled to cheap destinations in Asia or New Zealand.
Many of my European friends, who flit through countries and languages on the regular, are surprised by this. But whilst you can travel from say, London to Rome for £9 return trip, you’re not going to see the same for Sydney to Bangkok. Plus, an eight hour flight to a destination from Australia is considered to be on the short side. Unlike Europe, it’s not like you can just jet off to Singapore for the weekend (well, you could but it would be a waste of time and money).
Travelling within the country is also quite expensive
So, why not stick to travelling within the country, then? This is what many Australians tend to do. In my youth we travelled all over Queensland, Queensland and Queensland (I am now slightly sick of the place and haven’t been there since I was 21) and saw a lot of my home state of New South Wales. Yet, this was in the 90s when Australia was considered a budget destination for backpackers and people who were my age now could actually afford housing in the city.
Times have changed and travel within the country is now as or more expensive than travel overseas. I’ve seen flights to Auckland from Sydney that have been cheaper than flights to Perth. Truth.
And if you’re wondering about costs for visitors, here is a breakdown of the cost of a month’s travel in Australia.
It’s isolated, both geographically and metaphorically
While I was away from Australia, I forgot just how isolated the place is. It’s sort of like that neighbour from Home Improvement, peering over the fence to watch what’s happening globally, but not really being that involved. If I remember the show correctly, that is.
Coupled with this is the fact that people just don’t care about much that is going on outside the country. This is two-fold, when it comes to one’s own emotions on the subject matter. On the one hand, I feel quite safe living here, which is something that should not be taken for granted. On the other, we should care about what’s happening in the world, quite simply because we are a part of it.
Good luck getting around without a car
Here’s my biggest pet peeve! Life in Australia without a car is… challenging, to say the least.
Even the bigger cities have notoriously bad public transport and in the smaller ones, it’s near non-existent. I am so far coping with getting around Melbourne without a car, but it takes me ten times longer to get to places, particularly as one of the buses I have to catch often likes to arrive and leave five minutes before its due.
Most upsetting is having the inability to leave the city whenever I want, without having to hire a car, which can be stupidly expensive.
I know being vehicle-less is better for both the environment and my bank account, but it frazzles my nerves, I’ll tell you that much for free.
The cost of living doesn’t quite correspond with wages
When I moved away from Australia three years ago, I’d say the country was on the cusp of getting really expensive. As in – yes, things were pricey, but the median wage in the cities wasn’t unachievable and you could have a pretty comfortable life there.
I don’t know if I can say the same now. I looked vaguely at moving back to Sydney, THE CITY FROM WHICH I AM FROM and had to rule it out as I didn’t think I could afford it anymore. You can live a bit better in Melbourne, but that’s a fact that is rapidly changing.
I don’t know how else to put it – this is really, really frightening. Even Australians are struggling to live in Australia now and it’s wrong on so many levels.
If you’re here on a visa, you can get treated like a second class citizen
With all that being said, I really can’t imagine how the backpackers do it. The Working Holiday Visa plain sucks. It’s restrictive (you can only work a full-time job for six months at a time), you get heavily taxed for the little work you do do, it’s near impossible to get sponsored and you have to leave after a year, anyway. It can take up to twelve months to settle into a new country, at least in my experience.
Yet, tonnes of the English, Irish, Scottish, Americans, Canadians, etc, flock to the country each year, to have the adventure of a lifetime. I take my akubra off to these troopers, but I wish we made it easier for them. Especially when Australians and Kiwis can live in the UK at least, with relative ease (and work any job they like to get booted out after two years, which seems much fairer).
And don’t get me started on displaced people from war-torn countries, who journey to Australia to try to make a life here. Our asylum seeker policies abuse basic human rights, left right and centre.
It’s quite ironic to be honest, as a line in our NATIONAL ANTHEM states: For those who’ve come across the seas, We’ve boundless plains to share…
Maybe it is finally time to change the anthem to Waltzing Matilda. Just a suggestion.
The treatment of the Indigenous population is appalling
This is a point that can’t be ignored. Despite the illusion of having the same rights as everyone else, Australia’s First Peoples are still treated like second rate citizens… in their own country.
It’s well-known knowledge that the treatment of the Indigenous population by the British was horrendous. Families were ripped apart, through attempts of assimilation, which led to the Stolen Generations. Culture was decimated. The Tasmanian Aborigines were completely wiped out, an act of genocide that as a friend of mine pointed out, rarely gets talked about.
Even now, there is a taboo in being an Indigenous Australian. They are often victims of typecasting (for a recent example, see this cartoon by artist Bill Leak). Each Australia Day (January 26th) ignites debates over changing the date (it commemorates the landing of the British on Aussie shores and is considered offensive by Indigenous Australians – if you’re interested, I elaborate further in the article linked below).
And for other Australians, interaction with our Indigenous population can be limited. I consider myself somewhat well-travelled and lived next to the suburb of Sydney that has traditionally had a strong Aboriginal population (Redfern, for all of you playing at home). Yet my first proper interactions with Aboriginal people and culture came at the age of 24, when I visited Darwin for work.
Indigenous Australians are also more likely to experience some form of mental illness, commit suicide or die in infancy, amongst other sad facts.
I believe the issue of isolation is once again to blame – we are often so far removed from our Indigenous population, that it is a case of: “out of sight, out of mind.”
The weather can be really quite upsetting
Australia is a land of extremes.
In some parts of the country, the seasons can be described as such: hot, really hot, bloody boiling, really hot. This summer just gone was one of the worst I have ever experienced. Extreme humidity, with the temperatures going over 40°C every third day or so. My bedroom had no air conditioning, which made the nights really fun.
Yet, it does get properly cold in the winter, especially down south and particularly in Tasmania, where the climate is more European. Or, more like New Zealand’s.
In the northern parts of the country, they have just two seasons – the wet and the dry. The dry is during wintertime, when the temperatures are manageable (think mid-late twenties, early thirties). Yet in the summer, storms routinely roll in (and sometimes cyclones) and the humidity is over 100. You will feel like a little human sausage getting squeezed out of your skin, the moment you step outside your door.
We’re routinely denied access to things
Around 2014, Australia was making headlines for being a country full of pirates. We were illegally downloading, like it was going out of fashion. It was an outrage, how dare we, blah blah blah. But coming from the country, I understood why this was the case.
Australian’s were illegally downloading television shows, because it was the only way we could watch them, without paying out the nose for the “privilege”. Game of Thrones provides one such example.
It was a time before Netflix and Stan. You used to be able to buy the show episode by episode off iTunes, but then Rupert Murdoch’s company Foxtel bought the rights. So, if you wanted to watch it, you had to sign up for the service, paying hundreds of dollars for access to just one television show.
“Screw you Murdoch!” The country declared, collectively choosing to download it instead. Not just the young’uns – parents were asking their kids to share their Internet knowledge, so that they could watch their favourite show week by week, without encountering any spoilers online.
I had never, ever been as proud of being Australian as I was on hearing about this.
Downloading in Australia is now quite difficult to do, but it’s not really like things have improved. We have streaming services (trying to use them on our internet is lol), but we often have to wait a millennia to get access to the content we wish to watch. Films are released at a later date now, as well. As they’re not having to spend six weeks at sea being shipped to the country, there really is no excuse.
You may not want to leave
Look, this is the worst point on this list. Because, for all its faults, Australia is also a pretty darn fabulous place. It’s undeniably beautiful. It feels safe. The food is fresh. The air is less polluted than in other parts of the world (Tassie has the cleanest air of ANYWHERE). It’s relatively clean. The people are among the friendliest that I’ve at least met anywhere in the world.
There’s something about Oz. It grips your heart and it will never let you go.
Enjoy this post? You may like some of these:
Here are some tips on what NOT to do when visiting Australia, like littering and aggravating the local wildlife.
Want to get further off the beaten path? Here are 10 alternative places to visit in New South Wales.
Summer is the worst time to visit Australia. Here’s why.
Want to blend in seamlessly with Aussie locals? I have some tips on how to do just that.
Australian slang can be mega confusing. Here’s an introduction to some popular words and phrases.
Australia is pretty amazing to live in, at times. Here’s why.
But… it’s also pretty weird, as these facts will demonstrate.
Here are a few reasons why Sydney is a better city than Melbourne. Team Syd fo’ lyfe.
Can you think of any other reasons why you shouldn’t move to Australia? Please share them in the comments below!
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