Australia is a fascinating country, home to a wide mix of different people from all over the world, spread over an enormous landmass. Australia boasts some of the most incredibly diverse landscape in the entire world, from humid tropics to snow capped mountains and beautiful wilderness. It has a unique culture and an amazing array of wildlife, all of which makes it one of the best places in which to live.
If you’re thinking of moving to Australia, there are a few things you’ll need to know about life there. Australia is a lot more than mere hot weather, barbeques and parties, although you will no doubt encounter a lot of these. In this article, we’ll cover some of the incredible things you might not know about life in the Land Down Under.
Australia is huge
The whole of Australia measures more than three million square miles. This may not seem like much, until you place a map of Australia over a map of Europe. You‘ll then realise that Australia covers the whole of Europe and more.
Therefore, if you plan on living in Australia, you’ll need to put this in perspective when deciding on where to stay. You will need a decent amount of time and energy to journey just from Perth to Sydney, given just how large the country is.
When it shines, it really does
Australia is known for having some really hot weather. In fact, there’s a fairly good chance of sunny weather every day of the year in most parts of the country. In some areas, summer temperatures can exceed 40 degrees Celsius. Not so long back, the scorching Australian sun melted tarmac roads and killed hundreds of baby bats in the process.
The hot Australian sun is not only dangerous to bats, but of course to humans as well. This is why the ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ campaign was introduced in the 1980s. So, if you want to stay safe in Australia, ensure you slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat before stepping outdoors.
Walk on the left
It’s public knowledge that Australians drive on the left hand side, but not many people know that they walk on the left as well. In other parts of Europe, people drive on the left, but walk anywhere they feel like, but this is not so in Australia.
Here, there are rules to follow for driving and walking; so much so, the covert rule of walking states that you must walk on the left. Of course, it’s not a crime to walk on the right, but you’ll likely find that you’re the only person doing so and could end up feeling a bit silly.
Jaywalking is a crime
If you plan to live in Australia, you should know that you can’t just cross the road when you feel like. Although you might not be jailed for jaywalking, you’ll still be fined AUD$70. This might not seem like much money, but it’s still something to be avoided. Between 2014 and 2015, more than 10,000 people were fined for jaywalking in Sydney alone.
The rules are simple; look for an approved crossing point such as a zebra crossing if you want to cross the road. If you can’t find one, be ready to walk for as long as necessary until you do. While Australians might be laid back about a lot of things, they are super strict when it comes to walking. If you can’t abide by this rule, then feel free to stay indoors.
Australia is home to the largest number of natural UNESCO sites in the world
Australia is known for being one of the most beautiful countries in the world; it is also home to a large number of natural UNESCO heritage sites. Three of these sites are categorised as cultural sites, while sixteen are categorised as natural wonders.
Altogether, Australia has nineteen UNESCO world heritage sites, making it the country with the most such sites in the world. This means you’ll have a lot of exciting places to visit in your spare time.
Healthcare is free
In Australia, you’ll get to enjoy free healthcare. This is known as Medicare and is available to anyone who is a permanent resident. There have also been a series of agreements between Australia and countries like New Zealand and the UK, which allows temporary visitors to have access to free healthcare.
Of course, permanent residents get to pay for free healthcare via their taxes, which amounts to 2% of their income. However, if you look it more closely, you’ll realise that this is far cheaper than private healthcare.
However, emergency ambulance journeys to hospital have to be paid for, although you can take out ambulance insurance to take care of such fees.
Smoking is expensive
You might need to control your habit of smoking if you plan to live in Australia for a prolonged spell, as the government has made it extremely expensive for smokers. This was done in a bid to discourage Australians from smoking. At the time of writing, smokers pay AUD$0.7 per cigarette in tax – a figure that is expected to increase periodically.
This is one of the highest taxes on smoking in the world. In fact, tax on cigarettes will increase by 12.5% every September until 2020, eventually bringing the cost of a pack of cigarettes to AUD$40. So, if you’re relocating to Australia and have a cigarette habit, you might want to consider kicking it.
Australians have a different sense of humour
When you arrive in Australia, you’ll find out that the locals have a different sense of humour from what you’re used to. However, their relentless insults and ribald jokes don’t mean they dislike you in any way; it’s just what’s known as ‘Aussie humour’. In fact, Australians enjoy having a joke at everyone’s expense – including themselves – and don’t see anything wrong with this.
They have a habit of seeing the funny side of every situation, so what might seem a serious matter to you will likely elicit jokes and laughter from your new Australian friends. When this happens, don’t be offended; just take it in your stride.
Hopefully, the eight points above have given you a better clue of what to expect when you move to Australia.
You will definitely find something that suits you, as Australian is known for having something for everyone. If you’re not put off by the scorching sun and unique humour, you’ll most certainly enjoy your stay in the Land Down Under.
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world.