5 things you should know before moving to Australia
Two centuries since it was colonised, Australia continues to attract people from all over the world who are eager to make their way in the ‘lucky country’. It is a land of breathtaking beauty, offering a relaxed lifestyle and great opportunity.
Whether you’re dreaming of living Down Under or are ready to book your flights, our blog will help you get started on the big move.
Australia is the world’s sixth largest country by area, spanning a whopping 7.6 million square kilometres (2.9 square miles). The mainland is divided into six regions with the addition of the Australian Capital Territory (home of Canberra, the national capital).
The vast majority of Australia’s 23 million residents live in capital cities, Sydney being the most populous. The cost of living is highest in these places while regional areas, such as Wagga Wagga or Orange in New South Wales, offer a cheaper lifestyle.
Because of Australia’s harsh climate, living is most comfortable in the major cities that are all located along the coast. Rural areas, known as the ‘outback’, have few inhabitants.
Australia’s climate is one of extremes and varies between the regions. The southern states, including New South Wales and Victoria, experience cold temperatures and occasional snow in winter (June-August) and warm to very hot weather in summer (December-February). In the northern states you can expect warm to very hot weather for most of the year combined with a rainy season in the tropics.
Australia is one of the driest continents in the world and the sun is very powerful. During the warmer months the temperature can soar above 40 degrees Celsius. It is essential to carry bottled water and wear sunscreen while outdoors. Australian’s follow the ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ rule – slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat – in order to protect themselves from the harsh effects of the sun.
Extreme weather events including bushfires, severe flooding and cyclones are common in Australia. During these periods all residents and visitors must heed safety warnings.
Australia is a diverse country and people from all over the world populate its cities.
Despite Australia’s historical ties to Britain, its citizens are very proud of their own identity. Australians consider themselves to be relaxed and easy-going though hard working people. They enjoy a liberal society and live in relative peace.
Christianity is the main religion, though all the world’s religions are welcome and practiced.
Sport is a national pastime with cricket and various codes of football among the most popular team games. On the international stage, Australia enjoys a fierce rivalry with England and New Zealand.
Australia has a proud though tumultuous indigenous history. The Aboriginal flag is flown at government buildings and Aboriginal artwork, characterised by patterns of coloured dots, is highly sought after. Despite the celebration of indigenous culture significant challenges continue to face the nation in the areas of Aboriginal life expectancy, health, education and employment.
English is Australia’s national language. Fluency in English is essential to undertake study or employment.
The federal government operates an Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) for new residents, which may entitle you to up to 510 hours of free language tuition. Visit the official website and register to access the service.
Australia’s large ethnic population means that many of the world’s languages are also spoken. The main cities – particularly Sydney and Melbourne – are very international, with large Asian, European and Middle Eastern communities.
The Food & Drink
Australia’s migrant heritage means it is home to cuisines from all over the world. In city areas it is possible to find almost any international food you desire. What would be considered ‘modern Australian cuisine’ is a fusion of these influences and often features meat, fresh vegetables and fruit.
The country’s excellent agricultural standards mean high quality beef, lamb, pork and seafood is widely available together with home grown produce. It is not uncommon to find kangaroo on the menu in a restaurant and it can be purchased from many supermarkets.
Australia has a large drinking culture and Aussies are particularly fond of beer and wine. In fact, the country has a reputation for producing some of the world’s best wine in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales and the Barossa Valley in South Australia.