Australia – A review of living down under one year on

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Australia - A review of living in Australia one year onIt’s been a while since I’ve written a decent sized blog entry so I thought I’d spend a little time writing this one.

It was the 25 November 2006 when we landed in Australia and over one year on we still call this place down under home.

Although I’ve written a lot about life in Australia during the past year I didn’t think I would be right to give an ‘informed’ view about living here in Oz until I had at least got a full year under our belt.

We still have so much to learn about this country, its culture and its people. After all, although I’ve travelled to all the Aussie states on business in the last 12 months, we decided to call Perth our home and the majority of our Aussie experiences are based on our time here in Western Australia.

Having said all that and in no particular order.

Weather

One word – Hot! The temperatures here in Australia are like something I have never experienced before. Travelling to work when its 30 degrees before 9 am takes a little getting used to although it’s not like that all the time!

Perth is apparently the sunniest city in the world and every morning you can pretty much guarantee that you’ll be waking up to perfect blue sky’s and bright sunshine.

In the middle of summer after three or 4 days of 40 degree heat the brickwork in the houses starts to retain the heat and radiate the heat back into the house at night time. Air conditioning is a must, if you can; go for ducted reverse cycle air conditioning.

Like the rest of the planet; winter time here in Australia, not surprisingly is a completely different experience weather wise. for some reason the coldest time of the day is not at 1am in the morning but more like 6 – 7am (when your getting up for work).

Those beautiful tiles or nice shiny wooden floors which provide cooling relief during the summer time are not as welcome during this time of year so don’t forget to bring your slippers :-)

Thankfully, the temperatures rise quite quickly during the winter time so by mid morning to early lunchtime you can have a comfortable stroll in temperatures reaching the mid to high teens or early twenties Celsius.

As for rain, this is something that seems to differ from state to state. In Perth for example when it rains it really rains. We’re talking torrential rainfall here, heavier than I have ever seen before however it’ll rain like this for 10 – 20 minutes and then stop leaving behind more beautiful blue sky’s and streaming sunshine.

Rain in Sydney on the other hand is a little more….well, miserable. The kind of rain that goes on for hours and hours. Sure, Sydney gets the heavy rain to but it doesn’t seem to get it in the short bursts like in Perth. You seem to get a lot of really fine drizzle in Sydney to. This is only during the winter time though.

During the summer rain is pretty sparse in all states and if suns your thing then you’re guaranteed a good serving of the stuff where ever you decide to settle.

Before I move off from the weather onto something else I just want to say one last thing about the sun. It’s dangerous stuff. Don’t think about packing your factor 4 sun tan cream as you would if you were going for a quick jaunt to southern Spain, think more on the lines of factor 30 plus+

Sitting in the Aussie sun, even if you have quite dark skin will leave you burnt to a crisp in less than 15 minutes.

Moving to Aus means you’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun so respect it. You might end up living a lot longer to!

Housing

I’ve written a lot about the Perth housing market in the last year.

The reality is that house prices are now pretty high in Perth by Aussie standards.

If you were to sell your house in the UK you might not really be able to upsize as you might have been able to do a couple of years ago.

Having said that if you picked up your house and stuck it within a couple of miles of the Indian Ocean it wouldn’t be that bad would it. :-)

Everywhere isn’t like Perth though. If you were thinking of moving to Adelaide for example you really could upsize and upsize to a pretty big pad as the housing market by UK standards in Adelaide is still very attractive.

These talk that Adelaide may well be the next Perth from a housing boom perspective and it seems to be attracting the interest of quite a few investors who are looking to make a quick buck!

Have a peek at Blog entries made in our Australian Real Estate section for more info on housing.

Wildlife

Deadly creatures do exist here in Australia but you will not find them hiding around every corner.

It took me nearly a year to see my first red back spider and I’ve not seen another one since.

A healthy dose of common sense prevails when it comes to avoiding the nasties in Australia.

Wear decent gloves when you’re gardening. Respect the warning signs detailing where snakes are present when you pop out to nature parks etc.

The most important thing though is take the time to enjoy the wildlife to.

The flora and fauna in Australia is quite breathtaking so get to know what you’re looking at and enjoy it! There are plenty of good books available on the subject if you look hard enough. They may not be good enough to help you appreciate the flies though!

People

Aussie people that I’ve met come in a number of different categories and it really depends where in the Australia you are.

To generalise though, Aussies are probably the friendliest and most generous people you will ever meet.

The support and help we were given by Aussies that have since become good friends when we had our baby in Australia was amazing. One of the Kindi mums even went as far as to offer to look after our little boy should the missus go into labour at 3 in the morning.

Thankfully we didn’t need to take up this offer (it was 6:30 am instead) but the offer was made with no expectation that we should ever need to give anything back in return and the generosity of the offer blew us away!

I also remember last Christmas when we had only been in the country for 4 weeks and my Aussie boss invited myself, the missus and Junior to their house for Christmas day with their family.

For me, this isn’t something you’d do everyday and the friendliness of the gesture was really appreciated!

On the flip side it’s not all friendliness and generosity all the time.

I’ve noticed a nasty streak of racism in some Australians towards the indigenous population (Aborigines) which I don’t quite understand.

‘Abbos’ are still unfortunately viewed as a second class civilisation by many Aussies but hopefully over time (and with the help of government schemes to help integrate the Aboriginal community with that of mainstream Australia) things will improve.

Being a Pom I’ve had my fair share of verbal but most of the time it’s only ever banter and nothing nasty is meant by it. It’s also easily quashed as most of the time the people doing the pom bashing have parents or grandparents who were poms not so long ago! It also helps when we beat the Aussies in the Rugby :-)

Crime

Unfortunately Australia is not a crime free oasis. Certainly it’s so much better than the UK but like the UK there are areas where crime is more prevalent than others.

Hoons are still a big issue here in Australia, burglaries and Murders also hit the news from time to time.

In the year we have been here though I’ve seen no trouble at all!

We’ve not been burgled and no one I know has been murdered! It’s all relative I guess.

You’ll see stuff on the news but you’ll always see stuff on the news wherever you live.

For me I feel safe walking down the street at night, I feel safe when my missus is walking to the park with the kids and I’ll still feel its safe when my little boy is old enough to play out with his mates when he’s a little older.

In the UK I never felt like that so in this sense all the vibes are good!

Schooling

Although junior has only been at Kindi during the last 12 months and has therefore not experienced the delights of ‘big boy’ school, what I have seen so far has been extremely encouraging.

The curriculum here in Australia seems to be quite similar to the UK but the way in which it is taught seems so very different.

Kids seem to be encouraged to use their creativity more instead of just reading things from text books and being lectured at all the time!

Junior was already a pretty confident little boy when he first started Kindi due in part I think to his time in ‘nursery’ in the UK. Since joining Kindi his confidence has grown even more.

Kids are encouraged to speak and communicate openly with their peers. One thing that seems to be very popular over here with the younger children is ‘news’ which basically entails all the kids taking their turn every other week to stand up in front of their class and tell their little buddy’s or teachers something of interest about their weekend. This ‘public speaking’ is designed to improve confidence when speaking to large groups of people. It seems to do the trick to.

Medical

The standard of the medical services here in Australia is extremely high however it comes at a price.

Although the Australia healthcare system ‘Medicare’ covers a decent proportion of your medical costs, in most cases you still have to pay first and claim back later.

If you can afford it, get yourself some decent medical insurance cover as soon as you arrive in Australia.

Hopefully you won’t need it but it still makes sense to have it just in case.

Most medical insurance policy’s have qualifying periods which means you can’t claim for certain things until you have had the policy for a certain amount of time.

Pregnancy related claims for example have a qualifying period of 12 months (as we found out after falling pregnant in the first month we arrived here in Australia!

It kinda sucks but it makes sense to. At the end of the day if you could just take out private medical cover and then claim all the medical costs associated with having a baby the day after, everyone else’s premiums would need to be higher.

How much did our pregnancy costs? Well… We heard horror stories about having to pay $10,000 if we needed an emergency C-Section.

We needed an emergency C-Section in the end and have still to see a bill!

For us I recon all the tests, ultra sounds, and birth bills came to about $700 and we got some of this back through Medicare.

I’ve already raved enough about the quality of the hospitals and care so I’ll refer you to these other entries   if you want to view some associated posts.

Recreation

A change in lifestyle is often one of the big draws to Australia and the great stuff you can do in your own relaxation time is a big part of that.

I recon we’ve only discovered about 1% of this wonderful country of ours but what we have seen so far has been fantastic.

Think on the lines of beautiful golden sandy beaches with the turquoise blue waters of the Indian Ocean gently lapping up onto the shore

Think on the lines of clean, safe, graffiti free parks for the kids to play on.

Think on the lines of sitting under the stars, watching a movie outside on a beautifully warm sunny night.

Think on the lines of wide open green spaces to have picnics or a barbeque (which are provided for free).

Come on people! From a recreation point of view this place rocks. I won’t even mention the wineries, the reefs for diving or the wonderful restaurants and bars that you’ll find in and around every major city.

Transport

I’ve already written a bit about Perth’s public transport system and the quality of the system seems indicative of that which I’ve experienced in places like Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney inside the last 12 months.

Capacity for some places is going to be an issue as the rate of population growth outstrips a cities ability to build a transport infrastructure to support it.

Sydney as a case in point can be a crazy place at times. Anyone who has attempted to get in, out or through the city during rush hour traffic will know what I’m on about.

Even Perth has peak times of travel which you’d really like to avoid. Times when traffic on the Mitchell freeways is nose to tail and you find yourself getting closely acquainted with the armpit of your neighbour on the train.

Having said that, it works (most of the time), the trains are clean, efficient and in my opinion pretty good value for money.

Similarly, the roads are wide and well maintained.

Summary

Phew! So there we go. One year on my family and I have truly fallen in love with the wonderful country we now call home.

Making the decision to move to Australia was probably one of the bravest and greatest decisions we have ever made in our lives.

Our first year in Australia has been a busy one but now we are in our own home we can really start to get to grips to just living in and enjoying this country and what it has to offer our family.

If you’re thinking about making the move down under than just do it. One year later we are so happy that we did!

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Showing 15 comments

  • Tom
    Reply

    This is 3rd world country in my opinion. Too many good opinions and real life is different.

    • Mark
      Reply

      Meh! It’s how I feel Tom :) Compared to some countries, Australia really isn’t that bad a place at all.

  • Matt Numrich
    Reply

    Hello!

    My name is Matt Numrich. You don’t know me but I saw you were active
    in the expat community. I am planning on bringing my family to Australia
    this year and I have a few questions about living there.
    I would really appreciate it if you take the time to answer
    some of my questions. If you would agree to be point of contact there,
    thank you in advance!

  • Bucky
    Reply

    Don’t go to Perth. It’s not even part of Australia. Haha kidding. Despite the millions of jokes I’d say Adelaide because it is laid back and that is what you need after you leave school.

  • anon
    Reply

    hello,
    your article helped me a ton !
    i am going into my 2nd year in high school, and was thinking about what i wanted to do after i graduate in a year !
    i thought about travailing around the world, but that would be to much,
    then i stopped n the idea of living somewhere for a year, as i’ve always loved the country of australia i thought it would be great !

    my question would be,
    would city would you recommend for someone who is new new to this country ?

    • Mark
      Reply

      Hi, I’d say Perth or the surrounding suburbs (because thats where I am) or if your just looking to experience Australia as you may imagine it then go to Sydney and do the touristy thing (Christmas on Bondi etc). If your going to do it, you may as well do it properly! :D

      Good luck!

      Regards

      Mark

  • JORDAN COWAN
    Reply

    AWESOME ARTICLE. I AM MOVING AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER.GOT MY WORK/HOLIDAY VISA,PACKING MY BAGS AND GOING SOLO.GOT MONEY SAVED AND WANNA WORK,WORK,SWIM…YOUR ARTICLE WAS VERY USEFULL TO ME.AS I AM MOVING TO SYDNEY IN A MONTH….MY BROTHER AND HIS WIFE DID TEACHERS COLLEGE IN PERTH FOR A YEAR EACH AND FELL IN LOVE WITH THE PLACE….IM THINKING O GOING THERE INSTEAD OF SYDNEY…ANY INFO YOU HAVE TO SEND MY WAY WOULD BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED…THANK YOU…JORDAN COWAN

  • Anthony
    Reply

    Perth is greatly overpriced in the housing and rentals which does to a large degree limit other advantages.
    Also not a great place for a single person as somewhat hard to connect with others.
    Isolation is another issue to factor in.Perth is far from everywhere and expensive to leave.
    Weather ideal for most of the year and beaches good,but find a lot of locals seldom frequent as much as one might expect,with a fair number never going.
    High rate of conservatism amoung the population and though the population is becoming quite diverse,especially in the recent past few years,there is still an insular feel about the place.

  • yve
    Reply

    great site! your very laid back writing style is easy to read.
    If you were to do the move again, would you take your cats? We’re in two minds about taking ours. A. very expensive! B. the length of flight and quarantine times seem a bit mean … she would surely settle into another household here in that time frame. C. The weather difference. It’s almost never over 30 here and got to -13 this Christmas … while she hates the snow – would she like the sun?
    I’m originally from Perth and 95% of my family are located there. I left 10 years ago and am returning in 6 months with the hubby. I’ve been worrying a lot that maybe he won’t enjoy it. (god forbid he can’t watch Arsenal play soccer!) 10 years is a long time for changes to happen. I know that there is a massive population growth boosting it, but except for the ridiculous housing prices in Perth now still bugging me, your blog reassures me that Perth is still the beautiful place it used to be. And a bonus of the population growth is that there should be loads of other people wanting to meet new people like us!

    • Mark
      Reply

      Hi there Yve and thanks for your comment. It’s comments like these that motivate me to keep on churning out this stuff :)

      As for your cat, I’d say she’s love it but your also right, cats are cats, they adapt very well to new surroundings so this could either help or hinder your decision making process. Personally, I’d always make the same decision. Our ‘boys’ are members of the family so we’d have to bring them with us every time. ;)

      As for your hubby, be rest assured that he will still be able to watch his beloved Arsenal play soccer. Foxtel (and some terrestrial channels) broadcast all the big games live so there goes another excuse out of the window. Be rest assured your home town is still a beautiful place to live. Your right.. House prices have gone a little silly but in retrospect you’ll probably be arriving just in time as another ‘boom’ could well be on the horizon.

      Good luck

      Regards

      Mark

  • Sheila
    Reply

    Thinking of moving next year for a 12 month working holiday. We have some family in Perth but don’t want to outstay our welcome so would like to rent. What are the price like in Perth.

  • Mike
    Reply

    Great post. I’m from the US and starting an internship in Sydney in August. I’m hoping to move somewhere down under when I finish school. Perth sounds amazing.

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