Living in Australia
Australia is a unique continent-country where you can choose from a wide variety of lifestyles and landscapes to make your home. Whether you choose one of the large cities in Australia, a spot next to the beach or the outback, you still need to plan your move carefully.
Situated in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia is made up of the mainland in addition to several small islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It was originally settled by Europeans in the 18th century and is the sixth largest country in the world. Australia also ranks very high for quality of life, health care, life expectancy and public education.
Many Britons choose to move to Australia for the climate, outdoor life and laidback attitude - and the fact that Australians also speak English. Although there are similarities to Britain and an awareness of shared heritage, there are also many different ways of doing things which may surprise you. It is important to make yourself aware of the differences in culture to help you ease into Australian life and minimise culture shock. Don’t go with rigid preconceptions of how to do things. Keep an open mind and do some research in advance.
What to expect when you arrive in Australia
Of course you know that the climate is different but don’t forget to prepare for the many differences you will encounter. Even if the locals often speak English, they may have different customs and practices. The Australian love of Vegemite (a spread similar to Marmite) sandwiches can be hard to understand as is Australian Rules Football which is very different from football in the UK.
Get support for your settlement in Australia
Various social clubs and playgroups designed for expats are available to help you to acclimatise to your new country successfully. Do get in touch with some of these. Members can provide invaluable advice and support as you are bound to find some aspects of your new life confusing.
You may even wish to pay for professional advice from a company which provides help for families who are thinking of beginning a new life in Australia.
Driving - the same, yet different
On the roads, speeds and distances are measured in kilometres, not miles. Keep in mind that speed limits and the rules of the road are also different. Prepare yourself by studying the rules of the road before you leave. Individual states have websites giving you vital information. Australia recognises the UK driving licence so you can drive using this for the first three months. After that you will need to convert your licence to an Australian one. To apply you must be an Australian resident. If you have had your licence for more than two years, you probably won’t need to take another test but you will need to complete the necessary formalities. Remember that regulations may vary from state to state.
Prepare ahead for your banking needs
Opening a bank account prior to moving to Australia is a good move which will help establish your credit rating and, of course, make life simpler for paying bills and when your employer pays in your wages. Once you arrive in Australia, you will want access to funds in Australian dollars and having a bank account already set up will greatly simplify any financial transactions.
Choosing the right schools for your children is crucial to ensure that they settle quickly and easily into their new environment. If the children are happy and doing well at school it goes a long way to contribute to the overall happiness of the family. Your children will make friends, and the adults may also develop a social circle with other parents.
Many Australians send their children to state funded schools which are considered good, and you may be pleased to see that your child benefits from smaller class sizes than the UK. Private schools are very expensive so before choosing this option do plenty of research. Visit the schools that you think may be suitable and speak to the teachers and other parents. This will give you a flavour of what to expect.
The Australian Schools Directory lists all state and private schools in Australia.
Housing in Australia
The housing market also differs from the UK. A highly competitive rental market means that many Aussies can find a home in decent commuting distance but also close enough to a natural beauty spot which will provide that all important work/life balance. It is important to plan your potential commute, shopping trips and school runs when considering where to live as waiting forty five minutes in downtown traffic just to get to the supermarket can be a stressful and time consuming endeavour.
It may appear to be wonderful - and less expensive - to live in a remote area, but unless you are used to that sort of lifestyle, consider carefully. It can be very comforting to have neighbours in the event of an emergency or just to socialise.
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