Moving to Australia from the US

by Mark Benson on January 8, 2010

in Australia Immigration

Moving to Australia from the US

With more and more people looking at moving to Australia from the US there are many aspects to consider before you take the plunge and move lock, stock and barrel to a new homeland. We hereby cover a number of aspects which the average expat will need to consider before deciding whether Australia really is the place for them.

The Weather

The weather in Australia has been a massive attraction for many people around the world such as those in the UK where the weather can be varied to say the least. However, the attractions of Australia purely and simply because of the weather and lifestyle do diminish somewhat for those looking to move from the US where a similar lifestyle, with sandy beaches and warm weather, can be obtained in various areas of the country.

So while the weather can attract many expats looking to move to Australia it is perhaps not as prominent for those looking to move from the US.

Culture

The subject of culture is one which often arises when discussing Australia and is one which is worth considering if you are moving from the US. The lifestyle and culture of the stereotypical traditional Australian would appear to be more relaxed than that of their US counterparts although sometimes this impression, often given by Australian television programmes, can be misleading.

However, there is no doubt that the relaxed culture in Australia, coupled with a willingness to welcome and interact with expats moving to the country, is very beneficial and a big attraction for many people. The culture of Australia has evolved and changed many times over the years and European influences are more evident today than ever before although Australians are very proud of their history and their original culture.

The Australian economy

If there is one area of life in Australia which is becoming more and more attractive to expats it has to be the Australian economy and the outlook for the future. Many people have pinpointed the 2000 Olympic Games as the catalyst for a significant increase in the Australian economy although in reality it may well have focused the world upon Australia but ground work done prior to the Olympics is now coming to fruition.

After being something of an outcast in the worldwide economy, Australia is now a prominent trading partner with many of the world’s leading economies. Political stability has allowed the authorities to focus upon the strengths of Australia and use these to increase the base of the Australian economy, thereby giving stability and a firm base from which to grow in the future. It is also evident that despite a quadrupling of the Australian population since World War I, predominantly because of the proactive immigration policy, there are still many skilled working positions remaining vacant and in need of overseas assistance.

Language

When moving to any country around the world the ability to integrate into the local community, local employment market and local culture is vital. This task can be made significantly more difficult if there are language difficulties but the fact that 80% of Australians have English as their first and only language, with the remaining 20% fluent in English, will assist those moving from an English-based language, such as America, to Australia. It is easy to underestimate the potential problems that a different language can bring about so the ability to move to a country where your mother tongue is the first language is vital.

Cost of living in Australia

Prior to the ongoing growth in the Australian economy the difference between the cost of living in Australia and the cost of living in America was nowhere near as large as it is today. On the whole, there are very few countries in the world which can compare favourably with the cost of living in America and Australia is no different to this ever-growing group.

However, it is dangerous to compare like-for-like prices such as food, property, taxes and other everyday issues without taking account of the difference in income and the difference in prospects for the future. Many of the surveys which you read regarding the cost of living around the world will show the US in a very favourable light although when compared to Australia, and local spending power, they are pretty much like for like at the moment.

Whether we will see an ongoing increase in the cost of living in Australia, as the economy continues to grow, expats continue to flock to the country and the skilled workforce push the cost of property higher and higher remains to be seen. There are issues arising regarding the significant influx of immigrant workers to Australia and there may well be problems in the future for the Australian authorities.

Conclusion

On the whole it has to be said that the US compares favourably, regarding the cost of living, to Australia and many other countries around the world. However we need to take account of local spending power which considers the cost of items and services in Australia, compared to the US, and salaries available in the employment market.

It would be wrong to suggest that all employment positions in Australia are “well-paid” compared to other countries but there is no doubt that the influx of a new skilled workforce has given many immigrants the opportunity to increase their income significantly. Even though the Australian economy has grown substantially over the last 20 years it would be wrong to suggest that this period of growth is coming to an end with many suggesting there is much more to come. As a consequence, so long as salaries increase at a higher rate than the cost of living then the comparison between the cost of living in Australia and living in the US will narrow.

It is very dangerous to compare the cost of living like for like between two different countries without taking into account the prospects for the future and the standard of living. Great strides have been made in Australia over the last 20 years regarding the standard of living although an improvement in prospect and economic growth has also seen an increase in the cost of living. It is vital that you take into account all aspects of life in Australia before deciding whether a relatively cheaper lifestyle in America (at the moment) has more attractions than the prospects for the future in Australia.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

LaoWAI November 17, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Bring a lot of money with you, guys, and also bring as much furniture, clothes with you as possible. Hell, if I can, I will even bring my electrical appliances and gasoline. It's a very expensive place to live in Australia. Take a look of your income AFTER tax before you go, as you maybe surprised. Australia in general, is much more expensive than the US.

If you have kids, bring as much stuff as possible from the US as children items are so expensive in OZ

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Blair April 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm

I’ve been to Australia before on vacation and have always wanted to return. I would like to live there for 3 to 6 months and rent a furnished apartment. This will give me a base to explore the country in greater depth than the 3 weeks I spent there. I don’t know what do about a car though should I buy one or rent?

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