- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Australia Guide (PDF)
With a number of Australia's cities frequently rated as some of the world’s most desirable destinations, it’s no surprise that many people make the move Down Under. It's all too easy to see a country through rose-tinted glasses, though, so here's a list of the pros and cons of moving to Australia to help expats get a fuller picture of the country.
Accommodation in Australia
As with most developed countries, accommodation in Australia varies with location. Compact apartments and townhouses in the city offer easy access to the hustle and bustle of city life, while suburban dwellings further from the city centre afford more space and a sense of community.
+ PRO: Lots of choices
There is a wide array of real-estate options throughout Australia to suit an expat's requirements and budget. Renting is popular in cities and, in most cases, it is possible to find a reasonably-priced rental.
- CON: Property is expensive
On the other hand, while purchasing a property in an Australian city will offer plenty of choice, home buyers need to be aware that real-estate law in Australia favours the seller, so plenty of research is essential before making an offer on a home. Also, competition against other investors can be fierce, so expats should be prepared to fork out for their perfect Aussie home.
Cost of living in Australia
Gone are the days of Australia being a cheap place to live in comparison with the UK or US. In recent years Sydney has been reported as being significantly pricier than many other popular expat destinations, but it’s not all bad news.
+ PRO: High minimum wage and a great standard of living
The cost of living in Australian cities may be high but so is the standard of living, and many residents feel it is worth paying a bit more to reside in Australia.
- CON: Groceries and utilities are expensive
The price of food and utilities has risen dramatically over recent years and show little sign of slowing.
Lifestyle and culture in Australia
Australia is a friendly and accommodating country. The cities, especially, house a wide diversity of people from all over the globe. The outdoor lifestyle in the country encourages people to come together, whether around a barbecue, at sporting events or just at a gathering of like-minded individuals.
+ PRO: Great climate and lots of sports
Outdoor activities are popular in Australia, making it easy to stay healthy. Australian cities host many sporting events throughout the year with something to suit every sports fan. Running and cycling are especially popular in cities and can be kept up throughout the winter months thanks to the warm climate.
- CON: Lack of activity in small towns
Outside of Sydney or Melbourne, cultural activities such as opera and ballet may be difficult to find. The cinema might be the best option for artsy types, as the main weekend attraction in rural areas is likely to be a football match.
Healthcare in Australia
Healthcare in Australia is a mixture of private and state-provided care. Those eligible for Medicare, either as a resident or a citizen of a country for which there is a reciprocal healthcare agreement, are able to access subsidised essential treatment. For those who cannot access Medicare, private health insurance is recommended.
+ PRO: Good-quality public and private healthcare
The standard of healthcare in Australia is high, and both public and private hospitals are well equipped and provide top-notch service. Both systems can be used by expats and it is easy to get to grips with what is and what isn’t available publicly.
- CON: Private health insurance is expensive
Private health insurance is pricey, and is an expense most expats will have to budget for. In some cases, expats not eligible for Medicare are required to take out private health insurance as a condition of their visa.
Education and schools in Australia
Education in Australia is generally excellent with good services and teaching staff. Schools are a mixture of public and private, with parents being able to choose which suits their situation best.
+ PRO: Some reasonably priced private schools
Private schools have a reputation for being exorbitantly priced. Australian private schools, on the other hand, are mostly Catholic schools that are reasonably priced and offer students a wider range of activities and subjects than most public schools.
- CON: High fees at independent and international schools in Australia
The higher-end, non-Catholic private schools are referred to as independent schools. These are often prohibitively expensive, and so are most international schools. Tuition fees for university-goers without Australian residency are also high.
Driving and transport in Australia
Australia is a massive country and, with the majority of the population living in coastal areas, transportation between states can be expensive. The most popular way to travel between states is by air and there are regular flights between Australian cities. In sparsely populated areas, transport can be problematic, with buses being the main mode of transport.
+ PRO: Great travel opportunities within Australia and good city transportation
Australia offers a diverse climate and a wealth of unique wildlife, meaning that only a short trip can feel like landing in another country. Although cities do vary, urban transport in Australia is generally good, offering trams, trains and buses.
- CON: Travelling to isolated places is difficult and journeys between cities can be long
Domestic flights are often fast and cheap. Any other form of transport between major cities can be time-consuming and can turn out to be expensive. Many isolated areas don’t have airports and only offer bus routes.
Are you an expat living in Australia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Australia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.