An ex-pat review of life in Australia

An ex-pat review of life in Australia

LIFE IN AUSTRALIA

Are you planning a life in Australia? Have you been dreaming of sunshine and beautiful beaches and a life in a country famous for its laid back way of life?

If so there must be a million questions you have about Aussie life such as: ” What is the cost of living in Australia?” “Is moving to the other side of the world really worth it?” as well as the obvious “Are all Australian animals deadly??”

Well after 6 months living in Queensland (we spent 3 months in Mackay in Northern Queensland and moved to Brisbane 3 months ago) I can sum up our experiences of life here and hopefully it will answer some of the questions you may have! If not come back for my soon to be updated “Australia Travel Guide” which will cover things more in-depth.

I think the best way to give you a flavour of the last 6 months is to look at what our experiences have been in terms of pros and cons. There were many times in the UK prior to our move when I totally panicked and didn’t want to leave the UK. It was a roller coaster of emotion and to be honest some days it is still like that! So as I like lists I decided to look at the pros and the cons of moving to the other side of the world (as they love to say on Wanted Down Under!!!) for us.


CONS


MISSING FAMILY AND FRIENDS


I think this will be the number one concern for most of you and I admit it is at times difficult. Missing Christmas for the first time with my daughter was hard. Missing being there for elderly family members is hard. We have a sim only deal with Telstra which gives us unlimited calls to a number of countries including the UK which helps as many elderly people don’t have Skype/Facetime etc.

However calls/Facetime/Skype don’t make up for not being there.

I also don’t speak to friends as much as I had hoped to either (time difference and everyone is getting on with their lives) but we are expecting our first visitors later this year which will be great!


MISSING MY DOG


We made the decision to leave our elderly dog in the UK and that has been very difficult. We miss her very much and although she is settled and being well loved and cared for my heart still hurts when I think about her. I would bring your pets if they are well enough to come. It may be a little more difficult to get a rental to begin with but not impossible.

sally the daschund


THE TIME DIFFERENCE


It is just basically a pain in the neck and you have to factor it in whenever you want to make that call back home. (And it is not easy to watch English football matches but to be honest that is a pro for me!!!!)


THE WEATHER


So featuring on both lists is the weather! Well basically in Queensland the humidity! It can be extremely humid and it isn’t pleasant. I saw a joke the other day about Queenslanders drowning in their own sweat in the summer and it is totally true! It is essential to put on sunscreen and a hat too or you will end up looking like a lobster or worse. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world so taking precautions to stay safe in the sun is a no-brainer.

hot weather in australia


DARK EVENINGS


Queensland doesn’t have daylight savings so prepare for darker evenings than you maybe used to particularly if you are from the UK!


COST OF LIVING


This does balance with higher wages but be prepared for some crazy food prices! A big tip is to buy fruit and vegetables when they are in season as they will be far cheaper. Also if you like cut flowers in your house prepare to buy plastic ones if you live in Queensland!! Coles and Woolworths basically dominate the grocery shopping side of things though there are Aldi stores in Brisbane! I buy a lot of our fruit and veg from the local market which can be cheaper too.

Meat is excellent quality here (not bacon though or sausages) and I have found a local butcher too which is helpful. (North Lakes shopping centre if you live in Brisbane’s northern suburbs)

Books cost a fortune here too and if you love any particular magazines I find a subscription the best option if it is available to Australia (it works out cheaper than trying to buy them here – if you can find them!)

money money money - piles of coins


THE WILDLIFE


OK not all of Australian wildlife is cute – there are plenty of other critters out there that are not quite as appealing as a koala or wallaby.

So snakes, insects and bugs and yes blooming huge spiders are not on everyones “can’t wait to see that” list!! I have met 2 snakes so far in 6 months which is 2 too many in my view. We did expect to see them in Northern Queensland but I did rather jump when one crossed my path at the Botanical Gardens in Brisbane city last week!!!!

It is useful to learn a little about snakes in my view but to be honest I just assume every one I see is deadly and get out of its way.

scary animals in Australia include snakes spiders and crocs


PROS


WE ARE LIVING IN AUSTRALIA!!


Yes I know thats obvious but seriously sometimes I pinch myself that I am living in such a beautiful country – so much to see and do. It would be impossible to see all of this magnificent country even in a lifetime I think – there are so many incredible beaches, amazing cities, the Great Barrier Reef, natural geographical marvels, islands that are paradise on earth and some of the most weird but wonderful wildlife you could ever possibly see anywhere! (More on those later)


THE WEATHER


I do not miss a northern hemisphere winter that is for sure!! The weather is beautiful and I know that winter here will be amazing – warm days, cool nights and blue skies! I can only speak for Queensland here as I know my friends in Melbourne have a very different experience of weather (sometimes all in one day!)


THE WILDLIFE


I love the wildlife in Australia. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a wild koala or kangaroo! You will be woken up to a cacophany of birdsong every morning too.

cape hillsborough wallaby


HIGHER WAGES


This may not apply to everyone depending on their job but some professions such as nurses earn more than in the UK.


THE GREAT OUTDOORS


There is so much to do at a weekend here and inevitably it will be outdoors! The parks have free BBQ facilities and you will see families equipped with awnings, chairs, sports equipment, tents and all sorts of other “essentials” at parks/the beach at weekends. That is why so many people have SUV’s here I am sure – to be able to fit it all in!!!

You can be guaranteed great weather most of the time and eating outdoors is something we love.

breakfast at pethers on tambourine mountain


MAKING NEW FRIENDS


I love meeting new people and it has been great making friends here both with fellow Brits but also with Australians!! There are many Facebook groups which you can join to help you to settle in and you can go along to events organised by the groups too. I have started photography classes and my husband a tennis club so we are meeting new people that way too.


COST OF LIVING


This makes it into both columns! Petrol is a lot cheaper than the UK though it does vary wildly from day-to-day here.

You can get some great second had deals too from Gumtree and if we decide to furnish a place (we rent furnished at the moment) we will buy most of it off there!)

K-Mart is also fantastic for kitchenware, outdoor supplies, clothes etc. I was told to pack coat hangers (?!) into our boxes as they are expensive here. I bought 24 for $2 at K-Mart so don’t bother putting any in your packing because that is as cheap as chips!

Flowers are expensive but I like this picture!

pretty pink roses


BREAKFAST!!


Yes you read that right! Breakfast is one meal the Australian’s excel at! And you can eat it outside…by the beach…in the sunshine!

breakfast in Oz


IT OPENS UP NEW PLACES TO VISIT


We are quite far from Europe (yep an understatement I know) but we are so much closer to SE Asia, New Zealand, Japan, Fiji, Tahiti as well as the wonderful places to visit in Australia I am not complaining!

We are off to Uluru at Easter! What a privilege!

uluru


BEAUTIFUL SUNSETS


We have absolutely stunning sunsets in Australia – this one was taken overlooking Sydney but I have millions more photographs!

sydney skyline life in australia


SWIMMING IN THE EVENING


I absolutely love having a swim after dinner. Although we are in an apartment there is a pool in the complex so we head there nearly every evening for a dip. It means no suncream or hat is needed as it is dark. It is a great way to relax and cool off after a day at work.


SOUTH BANK IN BRISBANE


One of the most amazing places to spend a day in any city in the world. The only city in Australia with a man-made beach in the city Brisbane is fabulous! Read more about Brisbane’s South Bank in my post “20 things to do at South Bank.”

south bank in Brisbane Australia has a man made beach - life in australia



CONCLUSION!!


Ok so some of my pros and cons wouldn’t be your pros and cons – this is my experience of life in Queensland Australia over the past 6 months. And some of my pros and cons are quite little things while some of them are BIG like missing family and friends.

However the pros certainly outweigh the cons and when my daughter moves here later in the year there will be hefty swing in the PRO’S direction!

We love living in Australia and while some days I yearn for the familiarity of my old life we are starting to settle into life here.

If you want to read more about our experiences of life in Australia over the last 6 months check out my other posts in my expat diary series (including my popular “What I learnt this month” section!)

Living in Mackay Part 1

and

Living in Mackay Part 2Β 

Living in Mackay Part 3

as well as

Living in Brisbane Part 1

and

Living in Brisbane Part 2

Living in Brisbane Part 3

If you are in the stages of planning your move to Australia you may like to read my posts

“15 things to know before moving to Australia”

and

“10 movies to watch before you move to Australia”

PIN FOR LATER

LIVING IN AUSTRALIA

LIFE IN AUSTRALIA

50 Comments

    • TracyJane
      Author
      February 28, 2018 / 10:34 am

      Thank-you Shelley πŸ™‚

  1. Linda Tallett
    February 28, 2018 / 1:11 pm

    Great post Tracy. Good tips for those planning to move there. Looking forward to next one!

  2. Darlene Hamer
    February 28, 2018 / 10:10 pm

    Thanks for your insight Tracy! We have just started our life in Australia and I’ve found this article helpful!

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 1, 2018 / 10:05 am

      Thanks Delene – hope you are settling in!

  3. March 1, 2018 / 10:44 am

    I love seeing my country through fresh eyes. Missing family and friends is the hardest part about living abroad isnt it?

    I agree 100% about the general quality of pork products but we always buy from the produce markets instead of supermarkets and it is vastly superior.
    I missed produce markets and the need to eat seasonally when we lived in the UK. I found it quite shocking how much convenience and price drives eating decisions but I guess we are spoilt a bit here.

    You need to come to Melbourne one day. Let me know when you do! As you mentioned, it’s not so humid and we have GREAT coffee!

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 1, 2018 / 10:46 am

      Hi Katy i was in Melbourne in January and loved it! Hope to be back in June – will let you know!

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 11:11 pm

      It is – I miss my family and friends a lot. Yes we go to a butcher and far better than the supermarkets. And as I mentioned in the other reply would be great to meet up!

  4. March 1, 2018 / 4:35 pm

    This was interesting for me to read as Australia is one of the locations available for overseas assignments with my husband’s company. I’m not going to lie, all the weird, creepy wildlife like spiders and snakes really scare me. But I’m sure the weather and outdoorsy things would make up for it. I’m definitely open to moving there. #FarawayFiles
    Allison recently posted…San Diego with Kids on a BudgetMy Profile

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 11:09 pm

      It definitely would Allison!

  5. March 1, 2018 / 8:58 pm

    I can imagine that there are so many more things to love and dislike about life in Australia! When I think of the country, I certainly picture warm weather and sunshine all the time but I know that that’s not the case in reality, depending on where you actually live. So interesting to hear about the lack of daylight saving time – I certainly appreciate the long summer nights we have in Norway πŸ™‚

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 11:08 pm

      True Vanessa there are so many more things – I could have written forever on it! It is only Queensland that doesn’t have it which means we are time wise behind NSW and Victoria which is bizarre!

  6. March 2, 2018 / 3:12 am

    I agree with so many of these things! It’s interesting to read your point of view, seeing as you arrived here at a similar time to me. You’re so right about the dark evenings, I really noticed that vs our nice long summer evenings in the UK. Even in the summer here, it’s still dark relatively early. It must be even worse up north where you are!

    I’m quite jealous of your apartment swimming pool, that would be such a great bonus. We have shops around the corner instead – you win some, you lose some!
    Rachel recently posted…6 apps to add to your listMy Profile

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 11:12 pm

      We love having the swimming pool it really is an essential up here. The dark nights take some getting used to!

  7. March 2, 2018 / 7:58 am

    I really look forward to your Aussie-based posts. It’s so interesting to hear an outside view of my home country. Being an expat, it also reminds me how fortunate I was to grow up there.
    I must admit, not having huntsmen & snakes in my expat life is one of my pros. πŸ˜‰

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 11:12 pm

      I bet!! They are a bit scary! And yes what a fantastic country to grow up in!

  8. March 2, 2018 / 8:28 am

    That’s interesting about the petrol. I’d heard that the cost of living was much higher these days, and that’s why a lot of UK expats are moving home, but didn’t know some things were cheaper. I can imagine the time difference is a right pain. It was bad enough in Vietnam and Thailand!
    Kate and Kris recently posted…What to eat and drink in MarrakeshMy Profile

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 11:13 pm

      It is a pain trying to call home etc! Yes some things are cheaper but not many it is an expensive country to live in for sure!

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 2, 2018 / 11:14 pm

      Oh no – that is the hardest thing πŸ™ It is what I dread….

  9. Sarah
    March 3, 2018 / 9:51 am

    What an excellent list of showing what it’s like to be an expat in Australia. That photo of the sunset in Sydney is stunning… I might move there just for that!

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 3, 2018 / 10:25 am

      I agree but as you say it is expensive if you aren’t earning Aussie dollars!

  10. March 3, 2018 / 12:28 pm

    Awesome post, I find it really interesting seeing it from an expat’s POV, the things we take for granted, or just learn to live with that we don’t even give a second thought to.
    Sarah recently posted…Top things to do in Western Australia.My Profile

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 4:58 am

      Thanks Sarah πŸ™‚

  11. March 3, 2018 / 1:03 pm

    This is a wonderfully open and honest evaluation (glad I’m not the only one who watches Wanted Down Under!), and it looks absolutely beautiful – I’m sure that all the things you miss about the UK will get easier in time!

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 4:57 am

      I think so – just starting to settle though I miss my dog a lot!

  12. March 3, 2018 / 2:09 pm

    What a timely post as my youngest daughter has arrived for a year of expat life in Sydney today! She has spent the last two years living in Korea and is now moving on to Australia – luckily she knows several people who live there so she has had some help in paving the way. And even though it’s difficult having her so far away, I am excited to make my first trip to Australia to see her and experience her world there.

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 4:57 am

      Oh that is fab! I am sure she will settle fast and it will be great that you can visit!

  13. Christina
    March 3, 2018 / 3:55 pm

    I’ve always wanted to live in Australia so thank you for this awesome post! I’m still super terrified of all the critters (I mean blooming spiders, who even knew those were a thing??) but I’d say all the beautiful cities/scenery would make it worth it πŸ˜‰

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 4:56 am

      I agree – plus you don’t see them too often (I haven’t seen a huntsman yet for example) and it is a beautiful place to live!

  14. March 3, 2018 / 4:44 pm

    I hope you’re enjoying your time in Australia! The time difference massively sucks, we found that when moving to this side of the world! It is so hard to remember when family and friends will be around to Skype! The weather here in China is so extreme too! I don’t envy your wildlife, spiders freak me out! But yay a massive PRO is that you are living in awesome Australia! πŸ™‚
    Katie recently posted…IS LAS VEGAS EXPENSIVE?My Profile

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 4:55 am

      It takes some adjusting to – and the bugs are a bit yuck but yep we are in Australia and feel very lucky!

  15. March 3, 2018 / 10:46 pm

    It’s nice to see my home country through someone else’s eyes! It can be a pretty expensive place to live but it sounds like you’re making a good go of it πŸ™‚

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 4:55 am

      It sure is more expensive for a lot of things – I only buy seasonal produce here for example whereas in the UK you can get it any time. Don;t think that is a bad thing as it has to be better for the environment and sustainability in the long run.

  16. Rachel
    March 4, 2018 / 8:12 am

    Hi Tracy, enjoyed reading your post. So many pros and cons to balance but life in Australia looks great for you overall. Rachel

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 10:28 pm

      Thanks Rachel yes at the moment it is in Australia’s favour!

  17. March 4, 2018 / 9:06 am

    We’ve moved many times, I totaly understand how all this goes. It’s always a mixed blessing isn’t it? I missed so much of Canada when I lived in Japan, then I returned back to Canada only to miss Japan. Great story

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 4, 2018 / 10:28 pm

      It totally is isn’t it – I sometimes wonder what life would have been like if I had settled and stayed in one place (probably easier in some ways) but then I think what I would have missed out on!

  18. Jenn | By Land and Sea
    March 4, 2018 / 2:30 pm

    I love the different points you raise here – both good and bad. There’s a lot to consider when becoming an expat. It’s interesting about meat being expensive because Australia and New Zealand are huge exporters, so you think the prices locally would be less.

  19. March 5, 2018 / 12:45 pm

    So happy to hear the pros are outweighing the cons for you Tracy. Such a big adventure. I’m sure this post will be very helpful for anyone moving or deciding whether to move to Australia. #farawayfiles
    Phoebe | Lou Messugo recently posted…All About France #36My Profile

  20. March 5, 2018 / 3:02 pm

    I have always been too scared of the wildlife I always see on TV that is said to be found in Australia but it’s still a country on my bucket list. I’m not sure if I would want to live there though. Anyhow, I’m glad you’re loving your life there, Tracy! Thanks for this post!

    xx Myrra, http://www.myrrazenkate.com

  21. March 5, 2018 / 4:52 pm

    Great article on an expat’s perspective of a life in Australia. I agree the hardest is missing family, friends, and pets but the excitement of exploring is so much fun. Looking forward to your Uluru Easter trip and travel tips. Good point on buying fruits and vegetables in season to help keep the cost down. Thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel

    • TracyJane
      Author
      March 5, 2018 / 8:43 pm

      We are really looking forward to Uluru! Should be amazing πŸ™‚

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