Moving to Australia: 15 Things You Need to Know Before You Arrive

By Aussie on the Road on  21 Comments
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Moving to Australia?

I’ve written at length before about the reasons I love living in Australia and the reasons I hate living in Australia.

As an Australian citizen, I’m lucky enough to be from one of the best countries in the world.

I had access to free medical care when I needed surgery after breaking my arm in Indonesia.

My university degree (and the one I am currently working on) were both subsidized by Australia’s HELP scheme.

When I’ve been unemployed for any length of time, the government has been there to help out.

Australia certainly isn’t perfect (as my post about hating living there indicates), but it’s easy to understand why so many people want to relocate there.

With that in mind, I thought I’d highlight a few key things to know before moving to Australia.

sydney opera house cityscape
Image courtesy of Michael McDonagh

15 Things You Should Know Before Moving to Australia

It would take a longer article than I am prepared to write to fully cover every aspect and nuance you’ll need to know ahead of moving to Australia, but I’ve highlighted just fifteen of the things I think most prudent when planning a move to the land downunder.

Mobile Phone Plans

There’s no finessing this: Australian internet is the drizzling shits.

Outside of major cities where the NBN (National Broadband Network) has rolled out, you’ll be paying top dollar for an unremarkable connection with limited downloads.

Free WiFi is a luxury you’ll find in startling rarity, so it pays to have a good phone plan.

Both Optus and Telstra offer decent coverage. While Telstra has the largest footprint and the best 4G network, I’ve always been partial to Optus for their cheaper plans.

Their $2 days include unlimited calls and text + 500mb of data per day. That’s one of the best deals you’re likely to find in Australia.

Wear Sunscreen

The stereotype of the bronzed Australian isn’t exactly accurate. Chances are they’ll be more of an angry scarlet.

The Australian sun is intense and you’re going to have a bad time if you aren’t prepared for that.

Slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat if you don’t want to be dealing with some nasty burns.

Sport is a Religion

Australians love their sport.

Whether it’s AFL, rugby, rugby league, cricket, football (soccer), netball, or something a little more obscure, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an Aussie who doesn’t play or at least watch a sport religiously.

Bars and pubs across the country show the various national competitions on Friday and Saturday nights, and entire cities come to a standstill for State of Origin or a particularly juicy AFL fixture.

Pick a sport and pick a club. Your small talk game will thank you.

Learn to Speak Australian

English is the lingua franca in Australia, but Australian English is a distinctly different version of the language than UK or US English.

Thankfully for you, I’ve put together an exhaustive guide on How to Speak Australian to get you started!

As an international student, you should have passed an exam proving your English language proficiency, but it might not be enough to create a compelling application essay. Of course, even native English speakers sometimes need help with admissions and there’s no shame in seeking help from the outside. It is a great idea to find essay writing services like EssayPro that help with essay writing to make sure your English sounds persuasive enough to Australian admission officers.

uluru ayers rock australia
Image courtesy of PAk DocK

Know Your Australian Holidays

Australia is sometimes known as “The Land of the Long Weekend”, and there are certainly plenty of holidays on which you can BBQ, relax on the beach, or head out to the footy.

The major western holidays (Christmas, Easter, and New Year’s) are all celebrated, as are distinctly Australian holidays such as ANZAC Day and Australia Day.

Victorians even get a day off of work for a horse race!

Learn more about Australian holidays.

We Drive on the Left

Otherwise known as the right side of the road.

If you’re coming from the UK, this won’t seem so strange.

twelve apostles great ocean road australia
Image courtesy of PAk DocK

Those Dangerous Animals

You’ve all heard those stories about how Australia has 20 of the top 25 most venomous snakes in the world.

There are sharks and crocodiles.

The funnel web spider is the most dangerous spider in the world.

Hell, we even have octopuses, jellyfish, and platypuses that will try to poison you.

Despite all of this, Australia is a remarkably safe country. Deaths from snakebites are exceedingly rare, and nobody has died from a spider bite since the 60s.

With most of the dangerous animals out in the ocean or out in the desert, you’re perfectly safe as long as you’re in the city.

byron bay lighthouse
Image courtesy of Bernard Spragg

Use Gumtree

Australia’s equivalent to Craigslist, Gumtree is an online personals site which can be used to find apartments, look for work, buy/swap/sell things, and much more.

While eBay is still king when it comes to online buying and selling, Gumtree covers a lot of what Craigslist would in the US.

Kangaroos are the Worst But Taste the Best

They may seem cute, but kangaroos are a hazard when you’re driving.

At dawn and dusk, these bouncing marsupials fling themselves into traffic with reckless abandon. Their size and weight can do serious damage to cars.

My brother had two broken wrists and a broken rib after one threw itself into the side of his motorbike at speed.

The good news? Kangaroo meat is amazing.

Get your sweet revenge on these menaces by frying them up on burgers, in stir-fries, and as remarkably lean steaks.

whitsundays australia
Image courtesy of Richard Rydge

It’s Expensive

Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world.

When you consider the high quality of life and the high minimum wage, it’s totally worth it.

It’s perfectly possible to get by in Australia on a budget, obviously, but you’ll want to cut back on creature comforts like dining out and drinking.

Drinking in Australia

Speaking of drinking, it’s both an Australian pastime and a controversial subject.

Alcohol in Australia is heavily taxed and heavily regulated, meaning you’ll pay a pretty penny for even the lowliest of beers.

You’ll also have to contend with Australia’s stricter ID policy, lock-out laws, and Responsible Service of Alcohol laws.

Despite the country’s reputation as a hedonistic orgy of alcoholism, you’ll find it can be quite difficult to get too drink in an Australian bar, as staff are trained to refuse service and eject overly intoxicated patrons.

Australian Outlets

Australia uses the Type I outlet.

I have nothing more to say about this.

one tree hill queensland
Image courtesy of Lenny K Photography

Get Travel Insurance

Australia has a world class nationlised healthcare system, but you’re not eligible for that until you’ve got residency.

While the country is safe, it still pays to come prepared with appropriate travel insurance.

Check out 457 Visa Compared for the best visitor insurance and travel insurance plans.

Get a Tax File Number (TFN)

You’ll need a tax file number to work legally in Australia.

Thankfully, applying for a TFN is an easy online process.

See as much of Australia as possible

Australia is huge.

I mean, it’s a continent all of its own.

There are so many things to see and do in Australia that many Australian citizens haven’t even begun to scrape the tip of the iceberg.

Thankfully, I’ve put together a handy Australian bucket list to get you inspired!

Your Say

Have you moved to Australia? Where do you wish you’d known ahead of your move?

Moving to Australia? Feel free to shoot me your questions!

Featured image courtesy of Marko Mikkonen

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