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With a number of Australia's cities frequently rated as some of the world’s most desirable destinations, it’s no surprise that many people make the move down under. However, it's all too easy to see a country through rose-tinted glasses. To help expats get a fuller picture of the country, here's a round-up of the pros and cons of moving to Australia.
Accommodation in Australia
As with most developed countries, accommodation varies with location. Compact apartments and townhouses in the city offer easy access to the hustle and bustle, while suburban dwellings a little further away from the city centre afford more space and a sense of community.
+ PRO: Lots of choice
There is a wide array of real-estate options throughout Australia depending on an expat's requirements and budget. Renting is popular in cities and, in most cases, it is possible to find a reasonably-priced place to rent.
- CON: Property is expensive
On the other hand, while purchasing a property in an Australian city will offer plenty of choice, home buyers need to be aware that real estate law in Australia favours the seller, so plenty of research is essential before making an offer on a home. Competition against local and overseas investors can be fierce, so expats should be prepared to dig deep into their pockets for their perfect Aussie home.
Cost of living in Australia
Gone are the days of Australia being a cheap place to live in comparison with the UK or US. In recent years Sydney has been reported as being significantly more expensive than many other notoriously pricey global destinations, but it’s not all bad news.
+ PRO: High minimum wage and great standard of living
Australian cities are undeniably expensive places to live, but salaries are also comparatively high. The cost of living may be high but so is the standard of living, and many residents feel it is worth paying that bit more to reside in Australia.
- CON: Groceries and utilities are expensive
The price of food and utilities has risen dramatically over recent years and shows little sign of slowing. The price of everyday goods can certainly be a shock to those fresh off the plane.
Lifestyle and culture in Australia
Australia is first and foremost a friendly and accommodating country. The cities especially house a wide range of people from all over the globe. The outdoor lifestyle encourages people to come together, whether around a barbeque, at sporting events or just at a gathering of like-minded individuals.
+ PRO: Great climate and lots of sporting events
Australian cities play host to many sporting events throughout the year with something to suit every sports fan. Outdoor activities are also popular, so it is easy to stay healthy in Australia. Running and cycling are especially popular in cities and can be kept up throughout the winter months thanks to the warm climate.
- CON: Lack of activity in small towns
Outside of Sydney or Melbourne, cultural activities such as opera and ballet may be more difficult to find. The cinema might be the best option for artsy types as the main weekend attraction in rural areas is likely to be a football match.
Healthcare in Australia
Healthcare in Australia is a mixture of private- and state-provided care. Those eligible for Medicare, either as a resident or a citizen of a country for which there is a reciprocal healthcare agreement, are able to access subsidised necessary treatment. For those who cannot access Medicare, or for treatment which is not deemed necessary, private health insurance is recommended.
+ PRO: Good-quality public and private healthcare
The healthcare system in Australia is of a high standard. Both public and private hospitals are well equipped and provide top-notch service. Both systems can be used by expats and it is easy to get to grips with what is and what isn’t available publicly.
- CON: Private health insurance is expensive
Private health insurance is generally expensive and is a cost most expats will have to factor in. For some visa categories, expats ineligible for Medicare are required to take out private health insurance as a condition of their visa.
Education and schools in Australia
Education in Australia is generally excellent with good services and teaching staff. Schools are a mixture of public and private, with parents being able to choose which suits their situation best.
+ PRO: Some reasonably priced private schools
Private schools have a reputation that often casts them as exorbitantly priced same-sex boarding schools, and although these exist, there is far more choice on offer throughout Australia. Some private schools are very reasonably priced and offer students a wider range of activities and subjects than may be offered at a public school.
- CON: High fees at private and international schools in Australia
Private schooling can be expensive for families and competition can be fierce. Similarly, university-goers without Australian residency and international students can be hit with high tuition fees.
Driving and transport in Australia
Australia is a massive country and, with the majority of the population living in coastal areas, transportation between states can be expensive. The most popular way to travel between states is by air and there are regular flights between Australian cities. However, in areas that are more sparsely populated, even buses and trains can be less frequent or non-existent.
+ PRO: Great travel opportunities within Australia and good city transportation
Australia offers a diverse climate and a wealth of unique wildlife, meaning that only a short plane trip can feel like landing in another country. Although cities do vary, urban transport in Australia is generally good, offering trams, trains and buses, although this varies from city to city.
- CON: Travelling to isolated places is difficult and journeys between cities can be long
If one is not travelling by plane, getting between states can be time-consuming and costly. Any other forms of transport will tend to take many hours.
Are you an expat living in Australia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Australia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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