Australia has a large population of foreign residents and continues to draw expats to its shores every year. It is a country rich in natural beauty and its major cities rank among the top twenty in the world when it comes to quality of life. But moving to any country has its ups and downs and the best thing new expats can do is to learn as much as they can about the place that will soon become their new home. Here are a few things you can expect when moving to Australia.
Cost of living
Australia used to be a far more affordable destination than countries like the US or UK. However, the cost of living has gone up in recent times especially in the major cities.
The upside is that salaries are known to be higher and so is the minimum wage. But expats should be prepared to shell out a fair sum for their expenses including property, utilities, food and clothes.
Many choose to rent in the big cities of Australia and not only are the rates reasonable, but there is also a varied choice of properties to suit every budget. Major cities are also seeing many large-scale developments, which many first time buyers find attractive. You can choose from having an apartment right in the middle of a lively city or settle down a few kilometers away in a suburban home where the focus is on family and a slower pace of life. An important point to remember is that Australia’s real estate law favors the seller.
Residents can avail of free medical treatment as part of the publicly funded universal healthcare system in Australia called Medicare. This is also applicable to citizens of countries that hold reciprocal healthcare agreements with Australia. But this is usually limited access healthcare and restricted to only those treatments that are deemed ‘medically necessary’ as per the agreement. Medicare does not pay for ambulance costs and also does not cover dental costs. Private health insurance is available for such services. The public and private hospitals in the country are of high quality and well equipped. But private health insurance can be expensive and has to be paid yearly.
Parents have a choice of public or private schools and Australia’s education system is known to be quite good with a well-trained teaching staff. Private schooling may be expensive and there is also considerable competition to get in. The country’s higher learning system is internationally reputed and seven of the top 100 universities in the world are located in Australia.
Australia has an extensive bus network, which is affordable and serves as a convenient way to travel. Most major cities have a bus service that operates through the day. The main rail network in Australia is the Great Southern Railway, which covers nearly the entire country. The system is mainly used for travelling long distances rather than quick transport within the cities. The cities have their own rail systems, for instance Sydney has the City Circle located in the city’s central business district. The city of Melbourne has the largest tram network in the world with about 500 trams. You can use a reusable card that can be recharged or the MetCard, which can also be used on buses and trains in Melbourne.
Australia’s population consists of residents from different parts of the globe resulting in an open and friendly culture. Australians are known for their love of the outdoors and sports activities and barbeques are regularly held. It’s also easy to stay healthy here and many people enjoy running or cycling even during winters since the climate stays warm. Due to the favorable climate, there are also many sporting events held annually. Australia is known for its spectacular beaches such as Mission Beach in Queensland and Cottesloe Beach in Perth among many others. A hugely popular activity in the country is hiking or bushwalking. Some of the popular hiking sites include Kakadu where you can take a day-walk or a more adventurous off-track or overnight bushwalk; and the Larapinta trail, which covers 223 kilometers and features many popular attractions like the Finke River and the Ochre Pits.