Thinking about moving to Australia on a working holiday visa? I know how scary it can be to take that plunge. But without a doubt, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. It forced me to be independent, to really face my fears and to take on the world. While I can’t promise the same transformation for you I just know whatever happens you’re going to have the best time.
So without further ado (or maybe a little drumroll or something) here are the 33 things you should know before moving to Australia.
1. Less than 200 years old
In 1901 six independent democratic states combined as a federation to create Australia as we know it today. The continent is only 119 years old, which means Literally Australia could be someone’s Great Grandma.
2. Aboriginal culture
The Aboriginal culture is over 50,000 years old making it one of the old civilisations IN THE WORLD. Many parts of Australia are protected as sacred land so if you do go to visit places such as Uluru be respectful even if it doesn’t make sense to you. If you’d like to learn more about the history of Australia I really recommend visiting The Immigration Museum in Melbourne. It’s equal parts shocking and fascinating.
3. Australia is huge
Coming from the UK where Glasgow to London is considered long distance it’s a stark reminder that the world is SO much bigger than your back yard when it takes HOURS to fly from one side of the country to the other.
4. Internet speeds are questionable
There are a lot of great things about moving to Australia, but internet speeds leave a lot to be desired. Maybe it’s to do with the country essentially being one giant desert or great grammy Australia not entirely getting the hang of all things 21st century but yeah… it’s a thing.
5. Music scene
The music scene in Australia is super diverse with new artists up and coming all the time. You can thank Australia for the likes of Tame Impala, Sticky Fingers and Tash Sultana. Some of the best exports from Australia have made a name for themselves by busking. So who knows you might just get to see the rise of the next ‘big’ thing!
6. Wine tours
If you love wine even a fraction as much as I do you’re in for a treat. Australia is home to some of the best wine valleys in the world and going for a wine tour with the sun beating down on you while the hazy alcohol fog sets in is just the dream. Truly.
7. Christmas in july
In my opinion, one Christmas is more than enough, but over in the Upside Down they have other plans. As actual Christmas is hot af and also because Australians love any excuse to party many people celebrate A WHOLE ASS SECOND CHRISTMAS in July. Complete with hideous jumpers and a shit tonne of food.
8. Drool-worthy food scene
Speaking of food. Urgh. The food in Australia is amazing. From the $1 oysters to the weird avocado obsession that politicians are claiming is the reasons millennials can’t afford housing (lol) there are a lot of tasty dishes to get stuck in to. Also some weird ones – chicken parma I’m looking at you.
9. Aussie slang
It takes some getting used to but you’ll soon begrudgingly find yourself adding weird Australianisms to words. McDonald’s becomes Maccas. The smoke break becomes smoko. And the noble Chicken Parma is affectionally shortened to parmy. None of it makes sense so just smile and nod and pretend you get it. It’s easier that way.
10. Winter actually exists
Imagine my surprise as over a number of months the temperature in Melbourne dropped to even lower than the UK. Honestly, I’d always believed that winter was just a lie the Australians told to outsiders to stop them coming over but nope it’s really real. I had hats, puffer jackets and everything.
11. There is snow
Do you want to come with us to the snow? Err what. Affectionately known to my Australian friends as “the snow” there are actually SKI RESORTS mere hours away from Melbourne. Despite my horror, it was actually an amazing weekend away and after I worked through my initial fear of face-planting in the snow I successfully snowploughed down a number of hills. 10/10 would recommend.
If you do go I recommend renting your ski gear when you actually get to the resort because driving up a mountain with skis and snowboards piled on our laps jutting out the window as the cold air clipped our ears was fun for no one. Not to mention probably also highly illegal, oops.
12. Goon is not the one
In order to combat the expense of, well, most things in Australia backpackers have become synonymous with the drink you’ll love to hate – Goon. Goon is boxed wine packed with additives sold for as low as $5 for a couple of litres. On my first day in Australia, I drank the devil liquid for an entire evening. In the hours that followed I was treated to my first ever two-day hangover and a day spent crying into the depths of a hostel toilet. If you do dare drink it make sure to also drink A LOT of water throughout the night because oh that hangover, I still get nightmares about it now.
13. You’ll find your friend group is other expats
I really thought I’d move to Australia and have loads of Australian friends but as it turns out the majority of the friends I’ve made have also been from the UK. In some ways, the ‘backpacker culture’ can be insular. If you want to diversify your friend group you have to make a conscious effort to put yourself out there and meet others from outside that circle whether it’s through the workplace or friendships fostered through social media.
14. The cost of living is high
You’ll have heard people say the cost of living in Australia is high and truthfully when you’re travelling the country with no money you can burn through your money pretty quickly.
15. Wages are high
On the flip side though, wages are also high and match if not exceed the cost of living. Once I landed my first jobs in Australia I was only working part-time hours and could still afford to live and eat. When you have full-time money coming in you’ll easily be able to do more than just exist and a lot of people manage to save a considerable amount too. The trick is to live within your means – as you get more money you have a tendency to spend more.
If you don’t want to see your dollars dwindle away before your eyes, spend your money like you’re getting paid 25% less than you actually are. The reason why many lottery winners go broke is that they immediately go to living outwith their means once money comes in and don’t plan for their future. Get a step ahead and set up savings accounts for at least 10% of your earnings if not more.
16. Sense of humour
To some, the Aussie sense of humour can be pretty crude. It’s not uncommon to drop a C bomb and at this point, fuck is just another way to punctuate a sentence. Sarcasm is pretty much my first language so personally, I love it. People aren’t afraid to make fun of themselves and as long as you can understand things aren’t being said in a malicious way you’ll get along just fine. A hilarious example of Aussie humour in full force is the number of ridiculous Facebook events over the past few years. Lest we forget when HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE turned up to Federation Square to say wow like Owen Wilson. I kid you not.
17. World’s best music festivals
I could write a whole blog post about this alone. Oh, wait… I already did (check out: 7 things you should know before your first Australian music festival). Having been introduced to the festival scene at the ripe old age of 14 I quickly became obsessed with the lifestyle. Since then I’ve taken it upon myself to attend at least one wherever I am in the world every year. Without a doubt, Australia is home to some of my favourite music festivals in the world and there are few feelings that compare to being surround by good friends, with no phone signal in the middle of a desert.
18. Love to party
If you haven’t already gathered from the fact that there are actually public holidays so people can celebrate sport and Christmas in July just, well, because – Australian’s love to party.
19. Life beyond the east coast
While most people who come to Australia start their adventure by travelling either up or down the East Coast there are SO many beautiful places to see in Australia beyond this. I kind of feel like a bit of a hypocrite saying this when I’ve only seen the East Coast so far myself, but trust me the other states are on my to-do list and they should be on yours too!
20. Huge sports scene
From the Australian Open to the Grand Prix there is always a tonne of sporting events happening in Australia. In fact, the Aussies take their sports so seriously that some states even have PUBLIC HOLIDAYS so people can watch them and get involved.
21. Kangaroos are mean
One of the things I was surprised to learn about when I moved to Australia was that kangaroos actually aren’t very nice. In fact so much so that many buses in rural Australia have built-in “kangaroo shields” to protect their windows from unwanted attackers.
22. Snakes and spiders are rare
In two years of living in Australia, I only ever saw two snakes. There was one time when a GIANT huntsman spider crawled on my arm *shivers*, but really they’re not something you’re going to bump into in your everyday life unless you’re in the outback.
23. Adventure sports
You can also take part in a number of adventure sports like skydiving, diving with sharks and bungee jumping. If you’re looking for a thrill Australia’s got plenty.
Diving in the Great Barrier Reef is hands down one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. Although I’m not a strong or confident swimmer as I clutched on to my guide’s hand I was so glad I’d forced myself to do it. I could have cried at how beautiful everything was. In fact maybe I did, but tears, ocean it’s all the same right? It really puts into perspective just how small we humans are in the grand scheme of things and makes you appreciate your life. I know this is getting super deep, but just yeah – you have to try it.
25. Brb, lottsa love from the ozone layer
You know the thing that works so hard to protect us from the sun’s harmful rays? Well, one downside of moving to Australia is that there is a huge gaping hole in it. The ozone layer is pretty much non-existent. That means even when it may not feel that hot the sun is still beating down on you frying up your skin like a piece of human bacon. Even though it feels like overkill at the very least wear a moisturiser with an SPF on your face, but I would highly recommend wearing SPF on your body also.
26. Home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches
Get ready for some of the most jaw-dropping powdery white sand beaches and silvery waters. If you get the chance you HAVE TO visit the Whitsundays and Fraser Island. Although both trips are kinda expensive they really are made from that ‘once in a lifetime’ stuff that people harp on about.
27. Solo and lift
Remember how I mentioned that Australia was home to some pretty awesome food? Well, the drinks are up there too. Solo and Lift are the ultimate lemony thirst quenchers of your hungover dreams. Protect them at all costs.
28. Moving to Australia means you’re far from everything
Uh, so Australia’s kinda far from you know, the rest of the world. Please don’t let that stop you from moving there. You’ll soon become accustomed to friends and acquaintances messaging you telling you they’re going to move there only for no one ever to actually materialise. But as you’re reading this I know you’re not going to be one of those people.
29. Cheap flights to South-East Asia and Hawaii
An upside of being on the other side of the world is that you can get super cheap flights to SE Asia and Hawaii! And hello… who doesn’t dream of holidaying it up on an island paradise? While living in Australia I also visited Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, The Philippines and Hawaii and I know if I was living in the UK there’s no way I’d have been able to take trips like that.
30. Melbourne really is one of the best cities in the world
Consistently voted as one of the most liveable cities in the world I can confirm having spent two years living there that it’s true. Melbourne really is the dream. Okay sure it doesn’t have pristine beaches like Sydney, but what it does have is culture and people and those make up for the beaches in spades.
31. It’s hard to stay
Staying in Australia beyond your Working Holiday Visa can be… a challenge. Unless you get sponsored or fall in love with an Australian citizen then your options are pretty limited but don’t give up hope. Where there’s a will and a shit tonne of determination there’s always a way. For starters, you can extend your one year stay a further year by completing 88 days of farmwork and beyond that, you can speak to an immigration lawyer to learn more about your options.
32. It’s hard to watch friends go
Remember how I mentioned earlier that expats attract expats? The downside of making friends who are on the same visa as you is that not everybody will be at the beginning of their journey. You’ll grow close to people only for months to pass and to have to wave goodbye as they return to their respective countries. It doesn’t get easier but you begin to accept that it’s something that just… happens.
33. You’ll never want to leave
At first, it seems so far away and you may spend a lot of time missing home and pining after your friends. But then the unthinkable happens. You slowly begin to realise that although you miss the places and the people, you’ve fallen in love for a second time. So before you get on that plane I hope you’ll accept this welcome card and potted plant (virtual darling bare with me) for Australia, your brand new home.
What about you? Have you ever thought about moving to Australia?
Let me know in the comments!
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