An American Down Under: 20 Ways Your Life Changes When You Move to Australia

      Within the first 10 months of living down under,  I have been able to compile a reasonable amount of changes that have accompanied my life since my move from Los Angeles. Moving to a different country is going to bring plenty of additions, revisions, and variations to one’s life, some for the good, and some well… for the bad. Though obviously not everyone will relate to everything on this list, I think this list paints a clear enough picture.

Here are 20 ways your life changes when you move to Australia:

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The working environment in Australia is something I cannot compare to any atmosphere I have worked in at home. Here, I do not worry that my boss is going to freak out if I am running 10 minutes late. They do not care if you are taking a bit longer on your lunch break. No one is there standing at the door waiting to bug you that you are 5 minutes past your break time.  Many aspects of the job seem to be on the honor system,  which I think is an amazing idea.  In a nutshell, the more trust an employer gives to their employees, the better the employee wants to perform and give back to the company. Some days I do not take a lunch, some days I don’t even return to work from lunch. No one is giving strikes, no one is getting in trouble.

Just do your work and life is easy – NO WORRIES 🙂

Drinking at Lunch

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It is quite the norm for people to have wine or beer with their lunch.  It is a regular occurrence to have some employees show up a little bit too happy after their lunch break.  At home, I can think of at least 3 bosses that would have canned me on the spot if I came to work with the smell of Strawberry margaritas on my breath. Drinking is more socially acceptable in this country, unlike America where instead it is called alcoholism 🙂

 Cash, Money Money!

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No that is not money from the game Monopoly, this is the Australian dollar, and we get plenty of it! The way people get paid here is great but with a bad twist. On the good side,  entry-level positions start at 40,000 and minimum wage anywhere between 17 and 25 dollars depending on your industry. More cash means more freedom to travel, have a life, pay for Tinder dates, etc etc etc etc!  Most people can save enough money to take a small trip every month. I make more than double than what I was making at home, with bonuses and perks to accompany it. The only problem I find with making all this money money money, is that most people only get paid once a month! NOT THE WHOLE COUNTRY, not every company,  but most everyone I know. So that’s right, one large sum getting dropped in your account every 30 days. I live like a king the first week of the month, and then like a starving peasant the last three.  I go from Lobster dinners and buying rounds at the bar, to instant noodles and putting booze in a plastic bag and sticking it in my bra. Budgeting is key my friends…

That cost HOW MUCH!?!

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Well as you might think! Since we make more we pay more 🙂 Your average meal will always be around 20 dollars, with your average drink around 15 dollars.The cheapest I have found to buy a “cheap” bottle of vodka/rum was 45 dollars.  A decent dress is 50 dollars, a pedicure 35 dollars, and a cup of coffee 4 bucks. Those numbers on tags will come to you as a shock at first, but within a few months, you won’t even notice the difference.  Prices can be pretty harsh, but if you do not enjoy shopping like myself, it’s not too hard on your wallet.

Tea Time

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Tea Time!! OMG do they love their tea here! Even though people drink tea in the states, we do not exactly dedicate times of the day for it.  In Australia, we have morning tea, afternoon tea, and late tea. Every morning around 10 am many people go down to get their “morning tea”. This usually consists of tea and a muffin, or coffee and pastry.  They then repeat this act at least twice a day (usually 10 and 3).  There are many places all over that are specific for tea times. Tea rooms are everywhere and always busy. When I used to think of tea time I would think of old ladies having a glass of gross tea wearing silly hats, but that is totally not the case. Tea time is for everyone, especially those with a wonderful sweet touch.  I have to say Australia has some of the best pastries I have ever had, so tea time is 100 percent in order, right???

You Must Look for Cars

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Oh, yah! So you guys already know this.  Cars just fly at you like from nowhere, well not quite, but they sure do come at you from all the wrong directions. Be prepared to look left right left right left right a thousand times before trying to cross the road. And then don’t be surprised if you somehow still end up getting hit. Spending your entire life conditioned to look for cars in one direction and drive on a particular side of the road causes major issues when trying to live abroad.  I now no longer get hit by cars (regularly),  but I am a very long ways from being cured of this car hitting syndrome.

Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls

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Whether you like it or not, these will become part of the steady diet that you wish you didn’t have.  They are so unbelievably delicious, and when you are in the mood for one –  you must get one. Nothing like it at home, NOTHING!  It’s no longer Del Taco runs at 3 am, but meat pie runs to help sooth your drunken tummy.

Vegamite

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I am sure many Americans who live in Australia still refuse to touch this tangy stuff, but for me, I like it! I do have rules, though. 1.  Must be on toast, lightly 2. Must be covered with avocado mash 3. Must also have cayenne pepper 4. Only eat it on Saturday morning.  Even if you don’t eat this, it is everywhere and on every breakfast menu you see. Just remember DO NOT SPREAD IT ON THICK – IT IS NOOOO PEANUT BUTTER!

 THE LINGO MATE!

Get ready to start to hear some weird things! Australians definitely speak Australian, not English (I am going to get shot for saying that).  Once living here, you slowly begin to start saying “Are you keen?” “How are you going?” “Do you reckon”  and “Heaps“, as they start creeping into your everyday talk.  It is at the point where I have such a weird combination of American English and Australian English coming out of my mouth, the shit I say sometimes even surprises me!

No More Driving

Unless you are some type of magical unicorn you most likely will not drive in Australia.  Only if you move to the outer outer cities will not driving be an issue for you. Public transportation and those ugly things in your shoes will become your new best friend. How much are gas prices now???? Oh, that’s right, I DO NOT CARE 🙂 It has been almost a year now since the last time I put the world at risk with my awful driving and I certainly do not miss it one bit.

 Loose Contact With Friends

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Sadly one of the downfalls of moving across the world is the lack of communication you keep with everyone from home. 59 percent of the people who say they will stay in touch, DO NOT.  90 percent of the time when someone says “Lets Facetime this weekend”, – DOES NOT. You can only contact people at certain times due to the time difference and different work schedules. Relationships change, people change.. It takes two to keep relationships going and it has become a sad one way street with me for many.

Shops Close Early

Every day is a race to get to retail stores after work. Everything closes around 6 during the week, 7 at the latest. Which doesn’t leave any time to get anywhere. They have late night Thursday, which is the one day of the week everything stays open laterrrrr- ish.  Sunday, oh my don’t even bother! Many places are closed and those that are not closed will be by the time you realize they weren’t closed.

 No Microwave/dryer

Welcome to the land of hang drying. This is something I have never done, nor is it something anyone I know does at home. We use this machine, it’s called a dryer, it dries shit. I have never lived without one, I didn’t even know life could exist without the powerful awesome drying gods.  Balconies, front yards, and backyards are filled with cloth-lines instead of an extra box in the laundry room.  Even the people who do own a dryer will choose to hang dry due to high electricity cost. In addition, many people, not all, live without microwaves! I think it’s amazing! Americans couldn’t do it at home. How would we reheat our cheeseburgers?

 Cafes At Every Corner

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Imagine having a Starbucks, Panera Bread, Sprinkles and Sees Candy all combined in one and located at every corner. The cafes here are amazingly delicious with new types of sandwiches and salads to try weekly.  Fresh produce, amazing coffee roasts, and rich yummy lollies and treats all there for your consumption. Moderation is key for this one.

 Less Television

You will find yourself watching less TV and doing more of everything else. American Netflix, Hulu and other American streaming services are not available in Australia (though people find their ways).  You can watch the Australian Netflix which is completely influenced by the UK but it is not the same. This limits the inventory to watch extremely.  Plus, AUS cable is quite horrible with on 4 major networks – people need to get outdoors just keep sane.

Compulsive Jaywalking Disorder

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This one could just be me buuttt I don’t think so. I jaywalk here more than I have ever in my life. There is not a morning that goes by that I do not see at least 2 dozen people randomly walking the streets at any point in the intersection. As my coworker, Andrea said, “Traffic lights in Australia are SHIT! It leaves people no choice”.  I agree with that, but I also follow the crowds, and most just have no patience to wait.

The Travel Bug

You cannot move to Australia without developing the urge to travel.  Traveling is a large part of the culture here. From all the backpackers and working holiday, to the 4 to 6 weeks paid vacation Australians get each year. You will get the travel bug.  And if you don’t, you really should go to the doctor and get it checked out.

Tip at Your Own Expense

No Tipping!!!! At first you are confused, very confused on how this is even possible, and most likely will still continue to tip the first month or so. Then you start LOVING the fact you get to save this 2 to 10 dollars every time you go out. And then you realize that even though you are no longer paying for the tip, you ARE paying for it.  No tip = no service. You will have to develop your own tipping rules, as you start measuring out the level of service to money paid.

Well there you have it. Alterations to ones life when moving down under. And I would say the good completely out ways the bad 🙂

If you enjoyed reading this post, you might enjoy the sequel! 15 MORE ways your life changes

38 thoughts

  1. For the most part all of these changes sound awesome!!! Love using public transportation over driving (not really a possibility in Florida ugh), TEA TIMEEEE, and the cafes! How fun! But man, I’d REALLY have to get used to not having a dryer. At my old job I only got paid once a month, which is almost unheard of in the States, and it’s HARD to get used to! But I guess the bright side is that it helps teach you budgeting? Haha! Great post! I’d love to go to Australia some day.

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    1. Thank you for all your positive feedback! You could get a dryer here, people have them, but many just try to save on electricity as you can imagine it is not cheap 🙂 You should come visit and check out the country! I would be more than happy to show you around:)

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      1. I remember when I visited Italy, dryers weren’t really something people utilized, either. Initially I was surprised by it, but like you said, it really does help to save on the bills! I’d love to visit Australia some day!! If my book gets published and I make money from it, it’s the first place on my list. I’ll have to let you know if I ever go! For now I’ll just live vicariously through your posts. 🙂

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  2. Most of this is true especially if you live in Sydney or Melbourne but you actually need a car in many parts of Australia outside of Sydney and Melbourne and the local lingo is used more by bogans aka Aussie rednecks.

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    1. Thanks for your feedback! I agree, if living outside the major cities learning to drive on the other side of the road will be necessary. That’s why I think many Americans choice to live where they do not have to 🙂 As for the lingo, I was talking more about just normal every day talk as “Reckon”, “How you Going” “No Worries” that gets in my vocab, not the really bogan stuff. That would just be weird 🙂

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    1. Aww I could not imagine just visiting this place, I would want to stay longer as well 🙂 Come back again! I am sure there is much more for you to experience 🙂

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  3. As an ‘Aussie’ for my entire life, some of this is spot on! But other things like no driers and microwaves is not true. Every person I know has a microwave and most people have driers but tend not to use them because of the prices of electricity. And as for wages, most people I know are either payed weekly or fortnightly, it actually was the first I’d ever heard of that to be honest. And I haven’t tipped a day in my life, it’s just not something you do, but the business may have a tip jar which people put small change in. Other than them it’s damn well spot on! :p

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    1. Hi Thank you for your feedback! 🙂 Many Aussies I know do not have a microwave, which is something to acknowledge on this list only because EVERYONE will have one back in the States. It’s nice to see that at least some people will choice to live with out it. As for the wages, this is something I took a poll (population 200) on and 80 percent of the people came back saying they get paid monthly. I do know some people who get paid bi weekly, but for the majority, I found it’s monthly for many companies. Other than it is cheaper for the company, I am not sure why this is, but am trying to find out 🙂 As for the tipping, I agree Aussies do not tip! That’s what I said 🙂 But Americans do, and moving to a country where tipping is not part of the culture can be confusing, and many of us will still do it from time to time. I know I do when I am drunk and feeling rich 🙂 Once again thanks for your comments! I always love hearing others perspectives.

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      1. That’s awesome! Huh. You learn something new everyday! :p But I totally get the tipping. I would be the EXACT same. Hard to break old habits. But I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself. Welcome to our beautiful country! 🙂

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  4. Shopping hours ! One of the first questions I asked myself when I arrived in LA was, ‘Why do so many shops open so LATE?’
    In Santa Monica, anyhow. It might be different elsewhere, but most stores had an opening time of 10am. Here, pretty much everything is open by 9. Coles, IGA and the like are ready for business at 7 or 8. Wandering around in search of something to do until the little hand was on the 10 seemed weird.
    I did notice that most of those stores opening late closed later too. Maybe it’s a cultural thing. Over here, there’s heavy business at the supermarkets between 5:30 and 6:30, maybe to about 7 – but that’s for food. Folks wouldn’t usually think about shopping for clothes or furniture during the week. Bookstores usually stay open late, especially if there’s a cafe nearby.
    Weekend trading didn’t become widespread until the early 1980s in Australia. That puts it back in the days of the Pyramids to younger people, I know. But growing up in the 60s and 70s you lived with it. All shopping had to be done by 12 noon on Saturday and that was the way it was. Late night shopping one night a week seemed a daring innovation! Later on I discovered that it had been commonplace up to the 1930s.

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  5. I agree, if you live in Manly, you do not need a car. You were wise to choose a place where there’s sufficient public transport. The inner city area of Sydney is the most expensive. But not needing a car does help quite a bit. Unfortunately for most people in Australia a car is a must. Also for the majority of people Sydney properties have become far too expensive.
    Of course, left hand driving is a bit of an oddity and takes a bit of time to get used to.
    I too am all for tea time or coffee breaks. I love all you pictures. The show how you appreciate the good life in a beautiful city like Sydney. You’ll probably have to tell about some more interesting things about other places in Australia when you have the chance to do some travelling to explore the country site as well as other Australian cities.
    I’ve lived in Australia since 1959 and I’ve come to like it very much. 🙂

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  6. Sounds like you are having a great time and learning a lot in Australia! Experiencing all the different customs and habits (and food, dress, entertainment, language…..) from country to country is why travel/living in new places is so challenging. It helps you keep an open mind and understand the realities of life around the world. Keep it up!
    Our son temporarily lives in Gladstone, Queensland, and is currently on a trip to Tasmania.

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  7. Great observations here. I’d like to add in that people do have air con there but tend not to use it either. Once again, the high electricity cost makes it prohibitive like the dryer. You also won’t find many dishwashers and when you do, once again, they won’t use it. There’s nothing I hate more than doing dishes by hand! I’m sort of used to the hanging of the clothes on the line although I don’t enjoy it and you don’t realize how much time it takes vs. throwing it in the dryer. They also tend to smell weird if they’ve been out for a while which I don’t quite get. You’d think it’d have that nice outdoorsy smell…not so. I’ve also found that Aussies are VERY blunt to people they don’t even know as far as cursing goes…not something Americans do unless we know someone fairly well. Lastly, the whole ‘positive reinforcement’ we Americans have become grossly dependent upon just doesn’t happen on this side of the world. If we’re not thanked or pat on the back for our efforts a few times a day we wonder what we’ve done wrong. Get used to it…it takes a while!

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