11 Crucial Things to Know Before Moving to Australia

As an Englishman, there weren’t many things to know before moving to Australia or so I thought. I didn’t really think it would be that different when I did my Australian working holiday visa. I stupidly thought Australia would be like England but warmer! Well, I was slightly off!

I realised this almost as soon as I got off the plane and was travelling to the Gold Coast via a bus. The picture I had in my head of Australia was different to the reality. Expecting to find something similar to England, I instead found a country that bore more resemblance to America!

As the year wore on I realised there were a few more things I wish I knew before I travelled to Australia. A few that spring to mind is just how big the country is, it’s gigantic! How hot it can get, it often feels like you’re in an oven during summer.

Below are a few tips for relocating to Australia, so you can be prepared for life in this amazing country!

Things to know before moving to Australia

Australia is big, really big!

I knew Australia was a big place before I went there, but I just didn’t realise how big! My first taste of this was when I started my adventure travelling Australia! Once my flight was approaching Darwin, I stupidly assumed it would be another hour, two maximum before we touched down! I was way off!

It was another three and a bit hours before we landed in Sydney! I was dumbstruck, Australia was much, much bigger than I thought! The second time that I realised the size of Australia was travelling in Queensland, going up the East Coast to Cairns!

Looking at the map I didn’t think the journey from Hervey Bay to Cairns would take that long. They were quite close on the map after all! Nope! Wrong again!

The journey from Hervey Bay to Airlie Beach took 10 hours, while the trip onwards to Cairns was a whopping 12 hours! Seriously, look at a map, they don’t look that far apart!

Australia is huge, really, really huge! This is one of the most important things to know before moving to Australia. Travelling around can take a long, long time!

 

Mindil Beach in Darwin

It’s not like England

Before I went travelling in Australia, I had this image of it being like England in many ways. I imagined the streets would be similar, and the people and way of life not too dissimilar.

After all, this was a former British colony! Well, it’s fair to say I was a bit off the mark!

Australia does have similarities with England, such as the love of sports, fish and chips and alcohol! However, apart from these things, the country is quite different to England.

When I first arrived in the Gold Coast, after my flight to Australia, the differences really struck me. The streets bore no resemblance to England, it was more like America in many ways.

As the months wore on, I began to realise that the country was more like America than England. The size of the country, the materialistic nature of some of the people and of course, the weather.

 

Rock formation at Picnic bay

The weather

You might be wondering why I’ve included the weather in a list of things to know before moving to Australia! Well, let me explain:

It’s common knowledge that the weather in Australia is good. I’d go so far to say that it’s great! Summer’s here are fantastic! The temperature is more or less in the 30s every day, you can go to the beach and have barbeques, what’s not to love.

Well, quite simply if you’re not from a hot country, then the heat can be quite intense! Make no mistake, Australia is a hot country. Most places during the summer get exceptionally hot, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to reach 40 degrees! Believe me, that really is too hot!

As Australia is a big country, the weather is quite variable from place to place. The best time to visit Australia is difficult to gauge, as the climates differ! Summer in the south is wet season in the North.

It’s best to research the weather and climate in Australia before you visit to make the most of your trip!

 

Lake in the Grampians

The sun

This may seem like a stupid point, but bear with me:

The sun in Australia is a lot stronger than in other parts of the world. Now you may be thinking why this when the sun is the same sun that appears in all parts of the world.

Well, the reason is that the O-zone layer is a lot thinner over Australia than other parts of the world!

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world as a result. I found out the strength of the sun to my cost when I first arrived in Australia.

I neglected to buy sun cream and burnt like a lobster during my first few days there. My skin was peeling off my whole body for days afterwards, not a good look!

This is one of the most vitally important things to know before moving to Australia. Be prepared for the sun. Pack sun cream, sunglasses and a hat, sunburn isn’t much fun!

 

Sunset on the Adelaide to Darwin Road Trip

The spiders and snakes aren’t that bad

One of the most well-known things about Australia is that it’s home to lots of deadly creatures. This isn’t wrong, there’s just about every deadly creature you could imagine on the continent! Crocodiles, snakes, spiders, hell, even the kangaroos can be dangerous!

It’s fair to say I was a little apprehensive about all this when I went to Australia. I remember waiting to see some of these deadly animals after I arrived. I kept waiting, waiting and waiting.

During my whole year living in Australia, I didn’t see one snake! Not a single one, well I saw a few in the zoo, but that was it.

I saw a few spiders, the eyes of a crocodile and that was it. I had spent a year in the land of venomous animals, where every one of them supposedly wants to kill you and lived to tell the tale! It was a miracle!

In fact, my deadliest encounter was with a kangaroo, that I got a bit too close to. He was keen for fisticuffs, I wasn’t, we left it at that!

This is one of the most important things to know before moving to Australia. Yes, there are deadly animals, but will you see lots and lots of them, probably not!

 

Backpacking in Wilson's Promontory

It’s not as easy-going as you might think!

Australia has a reputation the world over as an easy-going and laid back country. This is certainly the way it’s portrayed in the tourism adverts that I’ve seen, especially in England. So, it was a bit down-heartening to find out this isn’t exactly true while I was living there!

Things that you wouldn’t even think twice about doing back home were punished here. On one of my first few days here I walked across the road, while the red man was still on.

This would never be a problem in England, as everyone does it if there’s no car coming. The next thing I know, two police officers are on the scene asking me why I was J-walking.

They didn’t appreciate my argument that there’s no danger if there are no cars!

This was a bit of a shock, as I wasn’t expecting this at all. I really thought it would be more laid-back than it was. Even the stories on the news were ridiculous. Children advised not to bring cupcakes to school for fear of bringing germs into school. My preconceptions about the country had been shattered fairly quickly!

This is one of the most crucial things to know before moving to Australia. It’s simply not as laid-back as you might think!

 

Coober Pedy mine sign

You can earn a lot of money working in Australia

When I first went abroad to start working in Australia, I’ve never really gave much thought to how much I could earn. This was actually far from my mind, as I was mostly concerned with enjoying myself principally!

It was only when I started working at IKEA and saw my first pay cheque that I realised just how good the pay can be in Australia. I was earning a lot of money, it’s fair to say. I was working 10 hours a day, but even then, it was much more than I ever earned in England.

Australia is an expensive country, there’s no getting away from that. However, if you’re working and earning good money, then it doesn’t really matter. You can easily cover costs and save up a lot of money! It’s fantastic.

Construction is a fantastic industry to be in. If you’re a skilled worker and can operate machinery, then you could potentially earn $50 an hour!

If you were unsure whether working in Australia was for you, I think I may have just convinced you!

 

Skyscrapers in Brisbane

Kangaroos are not as friendly and cute as you might think!

Kangaroos along with koalas are an icon of Australia. They are one of the animals that everyone wants to see up close and personal when they visit Australia. I was no different, I was eager to see a kangaroo up close when I first arrived.

However, this is definitely one of the more interesting things to know before moving to Australia, kangaroos aren’t that friendly and cute. Ok, the ones in the zoos and wildlife parks are, they’re tame after all. The ones in the wild though, they’re dangerous and unpredictable creatures!

I found this out to my cost during my Adelaide to Melbourne road trip. I got wayyyy too close to a pair of Kangaroos in the Grampians, and it nearly resulted in me having a boxing match with the two kangaroos.

They were certainly up for it, as they stood up on their hind legs and shook their fists at me! Moral of the story? Don’t get too close to wild kangaroos!

Kangaroos meat is widely available in supermarkets (it’s very good by the way!), which wouldn’t be the case if they weren’t a pest! It’s funny that kangaroos are generally seen as a pest in Australia and not the national treasure I assumed them to be.

 

Kangaroo in Australia

There’s a lot to see outside the big cities

Think of Australia and most people think of cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. This is just a matter of fact, as they are the two biggest and most popular cities in the country.

Outside of these places, I bet a lot of people would struggle to name many more places to visit in Australia!

Once I actually started to research places to visit in Australia, I became more and more surprised. There were a wealth of great places to visit in the country. A lot of these make up my list of reasons to visit Australia and for good reason!

Places like Coober Pedy and even the state of South Australia are not as well-known as they should be. They are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many off the beaten track places to see in Australia.

There are many reasons to go travelling, but I think that seeing the lesser-known places in a country is one of the best. It allows you to see a different side to the country, which reveals its true heart. If you’re considering travelling to Australia, do yourself a favour and get outside of the big cities! You won’t regret it!

 

Devil's Marbles

A road trip is a must!

When it comes to things to know before going to Australia, I feel it’s important to state the best way to travel around the country! As far as I’m concerned, road trips in Australia are perhaps the best way to see the country!

Let me tell you why:

As I’ve already mentioned, Australia is a big country. If your main mode of transport is by plane, then you’re missing many great places that you could be exploring in between your destinations.

There are so many of these places that you could easily list over 200 of them! This is where travelling around Australia by car comes in. An Adelaide to Darwin road trip, for example, allows you to see a number of these places that you otherwise would never see!

Doing an Australian road trip allows you to see all of these great places that might otherwise miss. It also allows you to do it at your own pace!

 

Ultimate guide to Australian road trips

There are free BBQ’s in Australia!

One of the best things about moving to Australia is that there are municipal BBQ’s everywhere. If you’re still not sure what I mean, then let me explain:

More or less every park in Australia has a BBQ station. This is completely free to use for anyone, just make sure you clean up for the next person!

They’re loads by the beach and at parks, and these are great places to have a meal with friends. They’re also a great place to meet locals as well!

Cooking your own food saves a lot of money, so make sure you these during your time travelling in Australia!

 

Port Campbell beach

Concluding thoughts

These are a just a selection of things to know before moving to Australia. I certainly wish I had known a few of these before I went backpacking Australia. It would have made my life a little easier!

Have you visited Australia? Or are you living there now? Do you agree or disagree with my choices? It would be great to hear from you in the comments section below!

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Tom

Tom is a travel addict who first left England to spend a year Down Under. Not satisfied with this, he then went to New Zealand, about as far away from home as he could get. He is now planning his next adventures in Europe and Canada while maintaining this blog.

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34 Responses

  1. Katy Clarke says:

    Love reading a perspective from someone doing the reverse as me – we have moved to the UK from Australia. You have hit the nail on the head with most of these though unfortunately homemade cakes are not allowed at schools here either. Sign of the times. I think Australia’s culture owes more to its Irish and Scottish heritage than the English sometimes. I miss the sun, free barbies and awesome pay! Sharing widely, thanks Tom

    • Tom says:

      No worries Katy! That’s true, it’s similar in England with the nanny state as well! I remember schools requiring you to wear safety glasses if you wanted to play conkers at one point!! Madness!

  2. We had to cancels trip due to losing our sitter this past summer which was tough. Seems like an incredible destination although very pricey. The one thing I was really concerned about were all the deadly creatures. Happy to hear that you most likely won’t encounter very many if even at all.

    • Tom says:

      Ah that’s a shame! Ye it’s really not bad at all! I didn’t see any snakes and I camped in the outback numerous times! It’s definitely widely overstated how dangerous the animals actually are! The odds of bumping into one aren’t very high!

      • JACQUELINE WALLACE says:

        I lived in QLD for 24 years and you fail to mention the deadly irikandji jellyfish (when it’s the season for them) in the waters off Cairns and Port Douglas. Correct about not ever seeing deadly animals on a daily basis as you go about your business but we treated every spider as deadly – just to be on the safe side. Cane toads in Qld are are a real deadly threat to pets.

        • Tom says:

          Sorry Jacqueline, but if I mentioned every single deadly animal that you could potentially encounter in Australia, the post would be ridiculously long! Perhaps it’s a good idea for a separate post!

  3. Fabio says:

    We haven’t visited Australia yet, but it is somewhere we really want to go. We know quite a few Brits who have moved to Australia and they all say the same as you – it’s very big, it’s very hot but it’s amazing. Hopefully, we will get around to booking a bit trip there soon.

    We would like to do a road trip from Brisbane to Cairns. Heard some great things about it!

    • Tom says:

      Yep, it’s definitely very big and very hot, can’t deny that! A road trip from Brisbane to Cairns, would be epic and very long! However, if you do it with your own vehicle then it’s fine as you can stop where you want!

  4. Heather says:

    Great article, not just for people looking to move to Australia, but also for anyone planning a holiday down under as well. I’ve been itching to get back to Australia after spending some short time in Sydney and Melbourne. Maybe I’ll look into something more long term and taking advantage of snagging a well-paid job in the construction industry 😉

    • Tom says:

      Hahaha if you can drive a digger you’re sorted! Seriously though, most jobs pay well in Australia, even the quite boring ones!

  5. I haven’t been to Australia yet, but I’d love to see Sydney and then take a road trip. Australia is so big and I totally agree that not seeing some of it by car means missing a lot of great things. I wish cupcakes weren’t allowed in U.S. schools. From a teacher’s point of view, they cause such a headache which has nothing to do with germs but more to do with the sugar!

    • Tom says:

      I wasn’t overly impressed by Sydney I must admit! (I actually need to write a post about that!) It felt really old and dirty in parts and I thought it would be better than it was! The Harbour area is great, apart from that I was disappointed. That is a good point! I’m a teacher myself, and no cupcakes and sugary foods would be good actually! Especially here in Spain, where the kids seem to eat sugary everything!

  6. Great tips both for possible expats and holiday travelers. I love Australia and have been there three times. And on our first visit in 1994, we seriously considered moving there. But sadly did not, so I’m resigned to just having to visit.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Debra! I love it too and also considered moving there, but IKEA wouldn’t sponsor me for a visa! I’m resigned to visiting as well!

  7. Australia is definitely on the bucket list though I will be sure not to get to close to any kangaroos.

    • Tom says:

      Definitely don’t get too close to ones in the wild, I learnt that lesson! The ones in nature reserves are tame, so you can as close to them as you want!

  8. Kinga says:

    Wow, some of the things you listed here really surprised me. Do you maybe know why the 0 zone layer is that thin in Australia? Is it because of georgaphy or because of pollution produced there?

    • Tom says:

      I think it’s too do with Geography. It’s thinner at the poles I think. i could be wrong about that, but I’m fairly certain that’s the answer!

  9. Alana says:

    I have always assumed Australia was super laid back too! Who knew? I have big dreams of a great Australian road trip but the size of country is so intimidating. Enjoy your time there (and the BBQs)!

    • Tom says:

      There not as laid-back as you might think! It was certainly a shock to me! The Kiwis are definitely more laid-back, I felt I got on with them better than the Aussies!

  10. Anne says:

    Great post! Australia does look scary from afar, so it’s good to know you survived for an entire year 😉

    • Tom says:

      Ye it’s just a lot of misinformation really! It’s not that scary at all, your more likely to get hit by a car than encounter a deadly animal, as happened to me!

  11. Indrani says:

    Kangaroos are pest there… what a pity. They should export them off to other countries. 🙂 🙂
    One can earn more there sounds so good. Great list of helpful tips.

    • Tom says:

      Exporting animals isn’t the best idea, as cool as that would be! There’s a million wild camels in the outback, as a result of importing the animals into Australia. Cane toads are another foreign species that cause havoc! Foreign animals often upset the ecosystem in different countries!

  12. Amanda says:

    Wow, I didn’t realize that Australia was so strict. That sign cracks me up.

  13. Joe says:

    Yep, definitely agree with a lot of these, but I must admit that I hadn’t twigged that it wasn’t an easy going place when I was there. Admittedly, I haven’t jaywalked though 😉

    • Tom says:

      It was just a bit of a shock really! I wouldn’t even think twice about crossing the road when it’s red and there’s no cars in England! Baffles me why they’re super strict about it! Guess the more fines, the more money for their Christmas parties!

  14. Tami says:

    I had no idea the ozone layer was thinner over Australia, that kangaroos were considered a national pest, or that they’d be so strict about something like jay walking when there aren’t any cars! You learn something new every day. You’ve shared some valuable information for anyone planning to travel to Australia!

    • Tom says:

      Thanks Tami, those things were a shock to me as well, especially the Jay walking part, couldn’t believe when they pulled me up on that!

  15. Kelsi AW says:

    I have yet to visit Oz but my husband lived there for a year after university and he agrees with most of your points! Thanks for sharing your experiences and photos – I could really use a beach right now 🙂

  16. Max says:

    I enjoyed reading this! I am planning on moving to AUS in the next few months, I am deciding between Brisbane and Melbourne, I am undecided though. Brisbane sounds really nice though, is it easy to find an room? Could you tell me what budget one needs for one year? I would work there obviously but I’d like to save money and still make the most out of this experience.

    • Tom says:

      Ah great! If I were you, I would live in Melbourne! I spent 5 months there and it was fantastic, there’s lots to see and do and there’s always something happening. Brisbane is good, but it’s a bit less lively than other cities such as Melbourne and Sydney. I only stayed in hostels when I was in Brisbane, so I’m not sure how easy it is to find a room, but I don’t think you would have too much trouble. If you’re working in Australia then it’s easy to save money. The wages are very good, especially if you work in construction, so you can save a lot of money!

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