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Do you come from a land down under? Where women glow and men plunder? Let’s face it, the answer is probably a “no”. You’re probably from the grey UK but at least, by reading this blog in the first place, you’re contemplating creating a new life for yourself on shores more exotic than these. And where better to start than with moving to Australia?

Australia is further away than most other popular destinations for Brits. In fact it’s further away than most destinations full stop, at least until Elon Musk gets his rocket programme up and running. A typical flight between London and Canberra takes 23 and a half hours – that’s almost an entire day in the air, and god knows what time it’ll be when you land. Knowing your luck, probably breakfast!

How to Know If Oz is Right For You

If you can hack the flight and the initial jet lag, then there’s plenty of good stuff awaiting you on the other side. While we Brits tend to give pride of place to the rat run – working 10 hours a day to cover rent on something the size of a luxury dog kennel – Australians embrace a fundamentally different way of life.

Aussies love the great outdoors in all its forms: walking, sporting, swimming, barbecuing. And given the breath-taking natural landscapes, beachscapes and seascapes right on their doorstep, it’s hard, for once to disagree with them …

Sights and Sounds of Australia

Australia is home to 19 UNESCO World Heritage sites including:

  • Sydney Opera House: Situated on the tip of Sydney harbour and opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II, the opera house is one of the great architectural works of the 20th century. A feat of creativity and structural design all in one, it was also one of the first buildings designed with the help of computers.
  • Uluru-Kata Tjuta National park: Dominating the plains of central Australia, this is home to spectacular geological formations such as Uluru, the world-famous red mound, and Kata Tjuta, a series of rock domes located further West. Both these sites, and many more, hold enormous spiritual and religious significance for the native Anangu Aboriginal people.
  • Great Barrier Reef: Covering an area of 348,000 km2, this is the world’s largest coral reefs. And it’s a remarkable ecosystem, thronged with over 400 types of coral, 1500 fishes, thousands of mollusc species, dugongs and large green turtles.

Wining and Dining in Oz

When it comes to food, we Brits are in luck. Because Australian cuisine typically resembles its British cousin. So, while it might be 35 degrees outside, yes, you will be getting that Sunday roast!

But you will have some healthier, more climate-appropriate options as well. Aussies are known to eat plenty of fish and plenty of seafood. And as we all know: if it has (had) a pulse, it goes on the barbie.

One of Australia’s more surprising facets is its coffee and cake culture, which sprang up in the years following the Second World War as the continent experienced a wave of multicultural immigration. Believe it or not, the flat white originated in 1980s Sydney. And what does an Aussie eat with their coffee? The answer: lamingtons, splice, tim tams, and fairy bread.

Aussies and their Sport

Australians are sports-mad. Rugby is huge, with the Australian national team twice having carried home the Rugby World Cup. Cricket is another national obsession, and the rivalry with England over the Ashes is perhaps the longest-lived sporting rivalry of all time. The Ashes have thrown up some phenomenal series, in particular England’s hard-fought victory in the 2005 home Ashes. But recent tours of Australia (barring a 3-1 triumph in 2010-11) have, alas, been tales of woe and unremitting Pom-bashing.

Most of the time, the trouble with playing sport in the UK is finding somewhere dry enough to play. But the Aussies see great potential in the wet, and have created a whole raft of sports (pardon the pun) to take advantage of their prolific coastlines. So, if you’re moving to Australia, you can look forward to all manner of water sports, sailing, kayaking and surfing.

And Last but Not Least… The Australian Weather

With it being such a large land mass, straddling the Indian and Pacific Oceans, it’s difficult to talk about a singular Australian climate.

Much of Australia has a monsoon climate (tropical summer rainfall ). The southwestern corner has a Mediterranean climate (similar to what you’ll find in Spain for example). And southeastern parts like the south-east coast and Tasmania have subpolar oceanic climates. If you head inland (which you’ll have to do, if you’re wanting to check out Uluru), you’ll find a semi-arid to arid environment. Be sure to take plenty of bottled water if you’re planning on exploring!

In key with the climactic variance, Australia exhibits a wide range of habitats, from Alpine heaths to tropical rainforests. And these habitats in turn sport a mad spectrum of animal species, from koalas and kangaroos to quokkas (google it – it’s adorable!) and platypuses (or platypi?). It won’t be any surprise to learn that Australia has been separate from the Earth’s other continents the longest – creating an evolutionary story all of its own.

Cost of Living in Australia

As with most places, when it comes to living costs, a lot depends exactly where you base yourself. After all, Australia has six states (New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia), and two territories (The Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory), covering a grand total of 7.692 million km² …

The largest cities (Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney) form a crescent on the South East coast, and in many ways these resemble European and American cities. The outback though is vast, minimally populated and, all in all, a different proposition entirely.

As far as the overall stats go, Transferwise estimates that Australians earn 25% more on average than their British opposites. At the same time though, the cost of living is higher. Here are a few measures from Numbeo:

  • Consumer prices are 11% higher than UK
  • Rent prices are 25% higher than UK
  • Grocery prices are 30% higher than UK

Comparing Sydney (Australia’s most expensive city) to London (the UK’s most expensive city), we find that:

  • Consumer prices are 3% lower
  • Rent prices are 15% lower
  • Groceries prices are 14% higher

While local purchasing power is generally reckoned to be lower for Australia as a whole than for the UK, it is substantially better than local purchasing power in London. At the end of March 2018, the average house price was AUD$ 1 million for Sydney, AUD$ 829,000 for Melbourne and AUD$ 488,000 for Perth, roughly £550,000, £450,000 and £270,000 respectively – somewhere between London and the UK’s regional cities.

Unlike if you’re moving to the USA, one cost category you won’t have to worry about moving to Australia is healthcare. The Australia version of the NHS is called Medicare, and it’s one of the most efficient, well-liked healthcare systems in the world.

All residents have access to state healthcare. And while it doesn’t everything, it is reckoned to cover 75% of primary care charges. As a UK citizen, Medicare automatically covers you during any duration-approved visit (the same applies with the NHS for Aussies visiting us).

Top Picks for Brits Moving to Australia

In 2017, Australia broke their tourism record for the sixth consecutive year, with 8.8 million international visitors – with Brits ranked fourth at 732,000 visitors. The top three locations visited were Sydney (55%), Melbourne (32%) and Perth (21%).

There are over 1.2m Brits living in Australia, and it comes as no surprise that a majority live in these three cities. But what are the unique appeals of each?

  • Sydney: today one of Asia-Pacific’s main finance and commerce hubs, it is also one of the oldest cities in Australia. Sydney is vibrant and boasts a strong job economy, beautiful cityscapes and landmarks. And, with its mix of sports, culture, music and history, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
  • Melbourne: A city filled with fashion, festivals and sports, which are a strong draw for younger generations. Over 50% of the residents aren’t from Australia and 30% are bilingual, so this is definitely the place to be for internationals. Most streets have a European aesthetic, with a strong selection of historic buildings and parks on offer for sightseers.
  • Perth: Over on the west coast, Perth gives you a different perspective on the quirks of Australian life. Googled a quokka and now fancy meeting one in person? Then head down to nearby Rottnest Island (pictured below).

Logistics of Moving to Australia

Brits moving to Australia need to have a visa. Getting this as a tourist is easy, but relocating permanently can be more difficult. Much depends on whether you’re moving for work or studying.

The three most common visas that Brits get are when looking to relocate for work are:

  • Skilled Independent Visa: for skilled workers under 50 who are in high demand but not sponsored by state or family.
  • Skilled Nominated Visa: similar to the independent visa, but you need to be nominated by a state or territorial governing agency. A state/territory can open nominations in a given field based on shortages in the local economy. However, you have to live in that state/territory for the first two years of residency.
  • 457 Visa: a employer-sponsored visa allowing for temporary work in Australia for up to four years. Although it does not guarantee permanent residency, you can bring your family and leave as you please. To qualify for this, your job musts be on the Australian government’s Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL).

As a student, there are two types of visas:

  • Student visa (500): gives you up to 5 years residency in line provided you enrol on an eligible course of study.
  • Training visa (407): gives you up to 2 years to complete workplace-based training to improve existing skills. This is the more complex of the visas for studying in Australia, as it requires you to nominate a sponsor (if your sponsor isn’t a Commonwealth Government agency) or to be invited (if they are).

Others visas include spouse visas, distinguished talent visas and business innovation & investment visas. You can find more information on the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website.

And, should you want to, you can apply for Australian citizenship once you’ve lived in Australia for four years – a nice option to have up your sleeve if you’re planning to “go full Oz”.


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