What is Australia like?

by Mark Benson on April 25, 2010

in General Information

With many people looking to widen their horizons and widen their lifetime experiences, more and more people are now looking to emigrate overseas with countries such as Australia proving very popular. However, there are many questions to ask such as what to expect in Australia, what is Australia like and is a move to Australia actually for you?

We will attempt to dissect the Australian way of life, the Australian economy and the problems you may encounter if you choose Australia as your new homeland.

The Australian way of life

Many people still have the stereotypical view of the Australian way of life with the BBQ, pub and your stereo typical Australian male who can be forthright in his opinions and often confrontational. Unfortunately, for those looking to encounter this particular environment the Australia of today is very much different to the Australia of yesterday and even though the national identity is still very prominent there have been many changes to the Australian way of life over the last few years.

The Australian economy

Australia was for some time both geographically and operationally isolated from many of the worldwide trading markets which have fed the worldwide economy for many years. However, a long period of relative political stability has allowed the authorities to invest into the Australian economy and this has attracted more and more overseas companies to the country which has in turn attracted more and more skilled workers.

It is also interesting to see that Australia was one of the first countries to emerge from the worldwide economic downturn and indeed the economy has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. This is an area of the world which many people have looked upon favourably as a place to retire but very often not so favourably as a place to work. There is no doubt that the Australia of today is very much different to the Australia of yesterday and the Australia of tomorrow is set to grow and become a more prominent element of the worldwide international trading market. So what does this mean for you?

Employment in Australia

Many people question what Australia is like with regards to employment and whether in fact there are enough opportunities to fund a new lifestyle and to fund a new career. The truth is that employment in Australia has been very buoyant for many years and the ongoing influx of skilled overseas workers continues to this day. However, the list of required employment skills will vary from time to time, from state to state and from city to city. Even though the immigration policy of Australia is still fairly loose and fairly lax, there is a belief it will be tightened in due course as friction between the domestic workforce and the influx of overseas skilled workers continues to build.

Australia offers employment opportunities in so many different fields which include support services, retail, import, export, defence, technology, pharmaceuticals and every other area of new and old employment you can think of. The country also has massive commodity reserves and mining has been and continues to be one of the main industries. It is no coincidence that some of the largest mining companies in the world are Australian and many of the largest mining companies around the world operate in Australia.

The weather in Australia

If there’s one element about Australia which seems to attract the attention of more and more expats it has to be the weather which many people automatically assume will be hot for long periods of the year. However, when you consider the size of Australia it will come as no surprise to learn that there are some very different weather patterns in different areas of the country and while on the whole they appear to have very long hot dry summers, many areas of Australia do get more than their fair share of rain.

In general the weather in Australia is far hotter than that in the UK but it is also far more unpredictable. There are certain areas of the country which will offer different characteristics regarding climate, landscape and ultimately the style of living. So if you are looking to move to Australia do not blind yourself with the idea that it is sun, sea and beach parties, because Australia does have a lot to offer and a lot of variation.

Education in Australia

As more and more people look to move to Australia with young families, education is something many people need to consider when looking at which area of Australia offers the best standard of living for their budget and their requirements. However, for those concerned about the Australian education system there should be no fears because both at government level and state level there has been massive investment into the Australian education system which continues to bear fruit to this day.

Some of the largest cities such as Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and the other employment centres of Australia also offer very impressive high-quality education facilities both for traditional schooling and also higher education. University life in Australia is also another element of new Australia which is attracting more and more people from overseas and increasing the number of students and potential employees of the future for the Australian economy. If your fear is the standard of education in Australia, then you can put aside those fears straightaway because the Australian education system is more than capable of matching any other education system around the world.

Tourism in Australia

Historically and to this very day tourism continues to grab the headlines with regards to Australia even though the economy and the country as a whole have so much more to offer. Many people still have the image of Bondi Beach, eating Christmas dinner in the baking sun while enjoying something of a party on the beach. While there’s no doubt that this stereotypical view of life in Australia is still prevalent today, there are many new up-and-coming tourist attractions both around the coastal areas of Australia and more inland.

It is easy to forget that Australia has a history which few other countries around the world can match and a culture which takes in every element of the worldwide population while also maintaining the traditional Australian way of life. Tourism numbers to Australia continue to rise as more and more of the culture is open to the public, more and more tourist attractions are built and ultimately the services offered to tourists continue to improve in standard. This is another area of the Australian economy and the Australian way of life which the government has invested heavily into and is again bearing the fruits of this investment.

It is also worth remembering that the Australian tourist industry employs a significant number of the domestic Australian workforce as well as overseas visitors on short term or medium term visas.

Crime in Australia

For many years tourists and expats have expressed concern about the crime rate in Australia which is often sensationalised in the worldwide media. While it would be foolish to suggest that crime has been obliterated in Australia, there is no doubt that a crackdown by the government and local authorities has impacted upon the level of crime throughout the country and Australia is now a safer place than many people seem to give it credit for.

Those from the UK will be well aware of the sensationalised stories in the press regarding various attacks and crimes against expats but ultimately the UK does not have the best record on crime in the world. There was a time when it did appear as though crime, at least in some areas of Australia, was out of control but the facts are that progress has been made, is being made and the authorities are very keen to distance themselves from the historic reputation of “crime-ridden Australia”. Life in Australia is very different to what it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago and 50 years ago and the multicultural society evident in many areas of the country is one of the main reasons why life seems to have settled down for many people in Australia.

Sport in Australia

Sports is a very important part of everyday Australian life with Australian rules football, rugby, cricket and now Australian soccer now more appreciated on the worldwide stage. There is no doubt that significant friction and competitiveness exists between the UK and Australian citizens, especially with regards to cricket and the Ashes. However, this healthy rivalry has been ongoing for decades and the special relationship between the Australian population and the British population is still there for all to see.

It is interesting to see that Australia has now taken on board a love of football (also known as soccer in Australia) which is obviously a major pastime in the UK. We now see a number of UK footballers making their way to the Australian football arena which has improved dramatically over the last few years. Indeed in many ways Australia is now a force on the worldwide football stage which complements the long standing ability in the fields of crickets and rugby. For those moving to Australia with a love of sport there will be many opportunities to participate and integrate themselves with the local sporting community.

Banking in Australia

If you’re looking to move to Australia one area you need to address sooner rather than later is your banking arrangements and your financial situation. Even though it is very easy to open a bank account in Australia, with similar paperwork to that required in the UK, the cost of banking in Australia compared to the UK can in many cases be very different. Even though many in the UK will complain about the lack of “free banking”, they will soon learn what free banking is when they encounter the numerous banking charges evident across the Australian banking system.

Do not automatically assume that you’re moving from a like for like banking situation when moving from the UK to Australia because predominantly you will be hit by a number of new charges. These charges can add up but it is up to you to do your homework and ensure that you do not leave yourself short and do not leave yourself in a situation where you could incur excessive charges. However, for those moving to Australia there will be many people from the banking arena ready and willing to offer you assistance, which is something you should make the most of in your early days in Australia.

Conclusion

The stereotypical image of life in Australia is very different today compared to 10 years ago, 20 years ago or 50 years ago. Australia is a country which has grown in size, economically speaking, has grown its worldwide presence and is ultimately now part of the international arena. The country has an economy which has been unbelievably strong over the last few years and it was actually one of the first to exit the ongoing recession and move back onto the growth path. This, in many ways, opened the eyes of international investors, international companies and expats to the attractions of Australia and the potential for the future.

The employment market in Australia is centred round a relatively small number of large cities which include the likes of Brisbane, Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, etc, with these cities in particular attracting major numbers of overseas skilled workers. The vast majority of new entrants to the country will initially look to converge upon these major employment markets although Australia does have so much more to offer.

A relatively long period of political stability in Australia has allowed significant investment into the economy, transport network, employment market and other areas of Australia which are now paying major dividends for the government. The growth in the Australian economy continues unabated and there has been a real turnaround in the employment market. So if you’re wondering what Australia is like? What to expect in Australia? We suggest doing your homework and you will likely find a number of pleasant surprises!

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