CLMitchell grew up in small town New Zealand. Since then she has lived in Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The beaches, the sun, the wildlife—Australia has it all. Australia is regularly listed as one of the best places to live in the world. In fact, for three years in a row, Australia has been rated by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, as the best place to live and work, and as the happiest of the industrialised nations. With all that it has to offer, is this really a surprise?
If you’re considering moving to Australia to retire, work or study, or you're an Australian thinking about moving back home, let these 10 reasons persuade you to make the move.
1. The Wonderfully Warm Climate
Australian climate does vary geographically, but overall the country boasts one of the warmest year-round climates in the world. Expect mild winters and warm to hot summers. It also gets more than its fair share of sunshine—in fact, the state of Queensland refers to itself as the ‘Sunshine State’. The Queensland city of Brisbane averages over 260 days and 2884 hours of sunshine per year!
Because Australia is a small continent and separated from Polar Regions by the Southern Ocean, it’s not subject to the movements of freezing cold polar air that sweep over the Northern Hemisphere continents during winter.
The average temperature in the winter reaches a minimum of 6°C and a maximum of 14°C. In the summer it averages highs of 26°C, but in some areas, it can be much, much hotter. For example in the sub-tropic and tropical regions of the north, the minimum temperatures are between 20°C (Alice Springs) and 23°C (Darwin)!
2. Enjoy a Summer Christmas
The Australian summer runs from December through to February. That means Australia gets to celebrate Christmas in the hottest time of their year. The advantages of a summer Christmas? Instead of being stuck inside with your irritating relatives, you can escape them by going outdoors and enjoying a game of cricket on the lawn or a swim in the pool. Struggle with screaming kids trapped inside due to weather conditions? Those enjoying a summer Christmas in Australia get to send them all outside to play, leaving you in peaceful bliss.
A summer Christmas also gives you the opportunity to enjoy your Christmas meal outside. This means that you don’t have to worry about everyone making a mess inside your house. You can even have a Christmas BBQ—don’t forget the mandatory prawns of course.
A popular way to enjoy Boxing Day in Australia is to head to the beach. Relaxing on the beach, playing in the waves, munching on leftovers and enjoying an ice-cold beer from the esky (that’s ice box or cooler for those uninitiated) is the perfect Australian way to recover after the big day.
3. The Beautiful Beaches
While we’re on the topic of beaches, it goes without saying that Australia has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Expect clear blue waters and thousands of km (36,735 km to be exact) of sand. In fact, Australia has over 10,600 beaches, more than any other nation!
If you enjoy big waves and surfing, then Australia’s got plenty of those. On the other hand, if you prefer to wallow like a dugong in a flat surf beach with no waves, then Australia’s got plenty of those too.
Not only is the water clean and clear, but it’s also warm too. The further north you go, the warmer the water. For example, summer sea temperatures on Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach average 24ºC. North of Bondi, on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, the average summer water temperature is around 27ºC. Hence it’s not uncommon to see tourists swimming there in winter when it only dips as low as 20ºC.
4. The Laid Back Lifestyle
Australians have a reputation for being laid back and friendly and it’s actually true. They don’t like to take themselves too seriously and put a high priority on happiness, family and relaxation.
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The beautiful climate lends itself to an outdoor lifestyle. Even houses are designed and built to make the most of this and include outdoor living areas. Australians are generally active and enjoy sports, socialising, family picnics, parties, and a day at the beach.
When it does cool down in the south during winter, everyone just heads further north to the subtropical and tropical areas of Australia’s. However, if you love the snow, then the southern mountains of Australia provide enough snow to offer skiers and snowboarders a good time. Otherwise, you can hop on a plane for a short flight to New Zealand’s snowy slopes.
Australia also enjoys low air pollution and a low crime rate compared with many parts of the world, making Australia a safe place to raise a family.
5. The Coffee
Did you know that Australia invented the flat white? This popular style of espresso coffee was created in Australia and has gained international fame. You’ll even find it being served in New York and London cafes.
Australians are coffee snobs, so if you’re into coffee, this is the place to be. Interestingly, Starbucks, which dominates markets around the world, could not take hold in Australia. The coffee in the little cafes around Australia was too good, Starbucks charged more and couldn't compete.
To get you prepared for the coffee culture, here is a list of popular types of coffee in Australia:
- Espresso/short black: Straight shot of coffee - nothing added.
- Long black: Espresso with some hot water added to it.
- Macchiato: Shot of espresso with a small amount of foamed milk.
- Flat white: Shot of espresso with steamed milk.
- Latte: Similar to a flat white but topped with frothed milk.
- Cappuccino: Shot of espresso with a small amount of steamed milk added and topped with foamed milk. It is usually served with a sprinkling of cocoa powder.
- Ristretto: A shot of espresso but with less water.
- Piccolo: A ristretto with frothed milk, served in a small glass – so basically a smaller version of the latte.
- Mocha: A shot of espresso, some hot chocolate (which gives it a more chocolaty flavour), topped with steamed milk.
- Flavoured syrups: You can also choose from a range of flavoured syrups to have added to your coffee.
(Note: If you want a double shot of espresso just ask for it. Some places refer to this as a ‘doppio’)
You will usually be able to find dairy—both skim and full cream, soy and rice milk at most cafes. If you prefer coffee with skim milk you can ask for 'skinny' as in 'skinny flat white' or 'skinny latte'.
6. The Delicious Food (and Wine!)
Thanks to Australia’s multicultural population, you can easily get just about any kind of food from around the globe. Thanks to this mix of cultures, the food in Australia is very cosmopolitan. Those with specialised food requirements will find your needs are generally well catered for, with restaurants and cafes offering gluten free, vegetarian and vegan food.
Australia is the world's fourth largest exporter of wine and produces approximately 750 million litres a year. Wine is produced in every state, however Australia's most famous wine regions are mainly in the southern, cooler parts of the country. The wine regions in each of these states produce different wine varieties and including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Semillon, Pinot noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon blanc.
A visit to an Indigenous restaurant or café is definitely recommended for providing you with an opportunity to eat excellent ‘bush tucker’ with a modern twist. Expect native flora and fauna, bush berries, fruits, and honeys of the Australian bush. Meat can include kangaroo, wallaby, crocodile and emu.
Australians love seafood. Australia’s 11 million square kilometre fishing zone is the third largest in the world and significantly influences Australian cuisine. Enjoy crustaceans such as mud crab, Balmainbugs/MoretonBay bugs, yabbies; fish such as whiting, barramundi, red emperor, red snapper, and a fabulous array of oysters. Australia also produces high quality beef and lamb. You can even find kangaroo and emu meat at the supermarket.
Thanks to the mild climate, outside dining is a regular part of the dining experience. Hence BBQ’s are very popular. As well as the usual BBQ fare of sausages, steaks and prawns, Australians cook just about anything and everything on their treasured BBQs. And don’t forget to serve Australia’s much loved Pavlova for dessert. Discover more Australian favourite recipes such as lamingtons, pikelets and damper in The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook.
7. The Great Outdoors
Thanks to Australia’s large areas of wilderness, Australians love the great outdoors. Popular activities include camping, bushwalking, and fishing. For those who enjoy really getting off the beaten track, 4-wheel driving is a popular past time.
Australia protects its natural heritage and has over 500 national parks. Because the winters are so mild, hiking is popular all year round. Some of my personal favourites include the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, the coastal track in Noosa National Park, Queensland, the Dandenong ranges in Victoria, and Freycinet Park in Tasmania.
Ok, I’m now going to address the concerns of those of you who have heard the terrifying stories about the snakes, crocodiles, dingoes, spiders, jellyfish, and so on… Yes, there are plenty of dangerous animals in Australia, but this amazing abundance of wildlife is what makes Australia such a unique and interesting place. Try not to focus on the scary things and instead just focus on the cute stuff like wallabies, wombats, koalas, sea turtles and the cheeky and entertaining parrots.
8. The Sports Obsession
Australians are obsessed with sports, and participation rates are high when compared globally. Australia’s achievements at the Olympic Games are testament to this. Cricket is Australia's beloved summer sport played everywhere from the backyard to the beach. Australian Rules Football (AFL), Rugby League and Rugby Union are widely played in winter. Soccer is becoming increasingly popular and enjoys a high profile.
You don’t have to go far to find a golf course as well as local tennis and netball courts, swimming pools, bowling greens, and athletics clubs. All those beautiful beaches attract keen surfers and water sports enthusiasts. You will find Surf Life Saving Clubs at the heart of the beach community, hosting competitions and events around the country. They become a real family affair with members of all ages competing.
Thanks to the mild climate, there’s never a shortage of events on the sporting calendar throughout the year. Football codes tend to dominate the winter months, followed by the Spring Horse Racing Carnival, the summer of cricket, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Australian Open tennis, Bathurst and the Formula One Grand Prix (Australians are petrol heads, I’m sure you’ve seen Mad Max) and many, many more exciting events.
9. The Employment Opportunities and Conditions
With a strong economy and low unemployment rate of around 6%, Australia is a good place to find a new job. Tourism and agriculture are two of Australia’s largest industries and many graduates backpacking around Australia under the Working Holiday visa scheme find temporary, seasonal or casual work fairly easily. Australia’s other major industries include mining, manufacturing, telecommunications, and the service sector.
Australia has excellent employment conditions and competitive pay levels. Expect 4 weeks of paid annual leave per year as well as 10 public holidays. Australia’s strong ‘Fair Work’ employment laws also ensure an excellent minimum living wage.
Working in Australia will also provide you with personal superannuation savings (funds that support you during your retirement). Employers are required to pay a proportion on top of an employee's salaries and wages. From 2014 the rate is 9.5%, but this is scheduled to gradually increase to 12.5% by 2025. These superannuation contributions are paid into your own personal superannuation fund. You even have the flexibility to choose your own super fund.
10. The Healthcare System
Healthcare in Australia is provided by both private and government institutions. Medicare is the publicly funded universal healthcare system that provides basic health cover for all Australians. Alternately, you can also purchase medical insurance and access private healthcare services.
As well as Medicare, there is also a separate Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, also funded by the federal government, which considerably subsidises a range of prescription medications.
Although it often comes under fire during political debates, Australia has one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world.
Planning your move down under? Living and Working in Australia: A Survival Handbook will provide you with the essential and practical information you need.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2015 C L Mitchell
david on September 27, 2017:
Beginning in the 1950s, Australia had the dubious pleasure of being Great Britain’s nuclear sandpit.
Philosophers and pundits have long discussed the nature of ‘reality’ itself. For convenience and simplicity we might consider two parallel ‘realities’: one a ‘physical reality’ (the limitations of the body, the physical environment, the mechanical activities and necessities of day-to-day survival) and another ‘mental’ or ‘psychic reality’: the lens through which your mind organises, filters and constructs both an internal and external landscape – a worldview (or supposition of ‘how things are’) both tactile and emotional.
It seems reasonable to suggest that while ‘physical reality’ (the acquisition of food, shelter, relationships, physical movement etc.) is doubtlessly of primal immediacy, the role of ‘psychic reality’ cannot be overstated in the human experience. We act (alone or in concert with others) according to our interpretation of events, information and stimuli: we move or react in concordance with a framework subtly (or overtly) instilled (or reinforced) by peers, family, media, social mores and the fabric of ‘history’ (as transmitted to us) – a collection of instincts, prejudices, short-cuts and assumptions navigating the approximation of a world our senses deliver to us each waking moment.
Though somewhat falsely lionised as ‘individuals’ (through a century of aggressive marketing and social engineering), we are actually in essence herd animals – guided by the pack, we take verbal, non-verbal and visual cues from those around us – tribalised into class, socio-economic and other strata through myriad signals, feedback loops and pervasive (yet somehow ostensibly invisible) patterns.
The herd instinct (in humans as in other creatures) is an invaluable tool for the study and organisation of large populations.
Positioned in distant southern climes, far from the perceived centres of human civilisation – the thin coastal belt, broad plains and scorched deserts of Australia offer an enticing laboratory for the sciences of experimentation and herd manipulation.
Wrenched from the hands of its native population through a bloody series of wars and oppression, the modern nation of Australia was established as a British penal colony in 1788. Doubtlessly much has changed and developed since then, but still it’s difficult to shake the image of Australia as contiguous and eternal penal colony.
Since federation in 1901, examples of Australia as anything but felicitous imperial servant are few and far between. The nation cheerfully delivered its young to be blood sacrifices in the imperial territorial jousts of the twentieth century and various Anglo-American imperial intrigues throughout the latter twentieth century and early twenty-first.
Beginning in the 1950s, Australia had the dubious pleasure of being Great Britain’s nuclear sandpit. All manner of outrageous and unforgivable atomic ‘experiments’ were conducted across West and South Australia, as unrelenting clouds of nuclear fallout drifted over the largest populations centres on the eastern Australian seaboard (the effects of which were covertly studied by the ‘mother country’ for decades thereafter). Like a serially abused child, this nation of ‘Larrikins’ and ‘Eureka Rebels’ barely raised a mute whimper.
Among a mere handful of momentary blips (on an otherwise placid radar), one may have been the 1972 Whitlam government’s tepid resistance to the enormous, malevolent and largely secret US military base network that speckles the Australian landscape (like the first signs of approaching disease). Whitlam and his unruly gang were swiftly dispatched in a bloodless coup, and no Australian politician of note has dared rock the boat since.
Another lonely blip may have been the 1985 ‘Australia Card’ – a national identity card that would have linked and collated personal information and mandatory identifying biometrics. A brazen totalitarian gesture (with a patriotic ‘green and gold’ branding and dazzling press launch), the confused populace felt a bovine unease around the proposal and, lest it spook the cattle, the card stumbled onto a slow oblivion two years later. Interestingly, every salient objective of the ‘Australia Card’ has since come to pass through one gladly received ‘initiative/convenience’ or another (many subsumed by the Medicare Card and Centrelink).
While certainly queasily deferential to authority, perhaps the most instructional recent historical trait in the Australian experience has been that half-hearted rejection of the ‘Australia Card’ – a proposal so clumsily introduced as to resemble a deliberate provocation, designed to test the waters (and ultimately perhaps to fail – so as to set a line in the sand, demarcating exactly how far the gullible can ultimately be stretched).
Australia is also a popular testing ground for corporate and consumer technologies. Politely referred to in marketing literature as “early adopters,” most Australians are guileless and enthusiastic proponents of convenient (but potentially sinister) technological innovations. From ATMs, EFTPOS payment systems and microchipped credit cards to mobile phones and wireless networks, Australia has reliably led the world in trialling and adopting these peerless developments in consumer profiling and data capture. Mastercard, Visa, Vodaphone and numerous other corporate behemoths consistently utilise Australia to trial new technologies and techniques.
Unsurprisingly, Australia was an early and enthusiastic member of the Five-Eyes-Network, a globe-straddling post-WWII domestic and international surveillance co-operative that deployed nascent technologies (like ‘Echelon’) to monitor all electronic communications while ostensibly outsourcing the bulk of domestic spying to international partners (thus lending a [largely unnecessary] air of plausible deniability lest accidental public or journalistic exposure occur).
Unmistakably fashioned around the twin primary aims of curbing domestic dissent and international commercial espionage, the Five-Eyes-Network would haughtily justify its existence – on the exceedingly rare occasion it had to – with a casual application of Bogey-Man-Of-The-Week™ lotion (Communism®, Terrorism® or whatnot).
As befits a ‘former’ penal colony, Australia is over-governed and over-regulated (ironically, even a recent government audit decried the overwhelming saturation of legislation and registration). Australian adults are infantilised to the point where they are apparently untrustworthy enough to drink in public places, are sanctioned for riding pushbikes through public parks and must be locked into nightclubs during prescribed ‘volatile’ hours. Supposed private property is regulated behind a wall of incomprehensible bureaucracy, and membership of perfectly legal (but government proscribed) organisations becomes instantly and unquestionably illegal. Physical space in Australia is entirely over-regulated and captured, a timid populace cowered by an unrestrained police force (now empowered to force random fingerprinting), an unchallenged legislature (the Northern Territory has begun ‘paperless’ and therefore incontestable arrests), invincible intelligence agencies (endowed with gargantuan budgets and unaccountable powers) and unassailable rampant corporations.
When it comes to the mental, political, philosophical and psychic landscape – things are even worse.
Public discourse in Australia is incredibly narrow, bewilderingly staid, tediously predictable and heavily media-sedated. It’s essentially impossible to hear a publicly expressed homegrown opinion outside of the stultifying confines of mainstream ‘debate’. Some cleave to the ersatz alternatives of the ABC and SBS (both government funded) where a rigidly controlled and astoundingly toothless ‘opposition’ simply refines the mainstream dialogue through the lens of bourgeois political correctness.
Examples are innumerable, but developments in recent memory will suffice.
Tabloid flagship of the Police State, Melbourne’s Herald Sun, has for many years been a hysterical advocate for the Western imperial adventure branded as the ‘