Living in Australia

An Insight into Living in Australia from a British Expat

Australia, known for its diverse culture and welcoming people, has become a popular destination for expats around the world. This country is an attractive location for starting a new life, as it offers a growing economy, exciting new opportunities, and a healthy, active lifestyle.

In our comprehensive guide, we will explore the various aspects of living in Australia, providing insights into the advantages and disadvantages, reasons to move to Australia and other useful information.

What we’ll cover:

Why Move to Australia?

There are many reasons someone might want to move to Australia. You could be moving for new employment opportunities, to be closer to family, or to soak up the Australian lifestyle. 

There are many benefits for those looking to make the move including:

Better Quality of Life

Australia always gets a very good rank in terms of quality of life surveys because the country has excellent health care and education systems, as well as overall living conditions. Also, the country is comparatively clean and possesses a low pollution level, along with ample green spaces, which support a healthy lifestyle.

Vibrant Culture and Lifestyle

Australian culture is a diverse mix of Indigenous Traditions, Colonial roots with British influence, and contributions from Australia’s countries of Residence. This creates an active and integrated community with cultural festivals, arts, and eating experiences of many types. Towns like Sydney and Melbourne have an art scene with galleries, theatres, and live music performances. Places like Melbourne are also known for their cafe culture, with endless eateries to try.

Safety and Security

Australia is one of the safest countries in the world, with a sound political system and minimal crime rates, providing residents with the peace of mind they deserve. This can help those moving to the country feel at home more quickly, allowing them to feel secure, especially if moving with children.

Advantages of Living in Australia

There are many reasons to move to Australia but when you’re actually living in the country, what are some of the other benefits you can expect?

Beautiful Landscapes and Outdoor Lifestyle

Australia is famous for its natural beauty; from the famous Outback to clean beaches, and even rainforests. This makes it paradise for those who like to spend time in the great outdoors. Whether you’re a keen hiker, surfer, climber or camping enthusiast, there is something for everyone in this varied landscape. 

Not to mention, the good weather means people have more opportunities to get outside. Temperatures tend to be mild all year round meaning outdoor activities continue for longer.

Australia is also home to a large number of World Heritage Sites, including the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru, making Australia the ideal place for nature lovers.

Diverse and Inclusive Society

Australia is a multicultural country that welcomes people from various backgrounds. This is clearly reflected in the national food, festivals, and community events where various cultural groups are in attendance. It is relatively easy to move around in the country, with good transport links, so you can experience all there is on offer. 

The laws in Australia are designed to protect people from discrimination, with attitudes across the country reflecting this in the majority. Known for their sociability, Australians are usually open and welcoming making it easier for those moving to Australia to make friends and meet people.

Strong Economy and Employment Opportunities

Australia has a strong economy with low unemployment rates leading to strong employment opportunities, specifically in healthcare, education, engineering and IT.

The minimum wage rate in Australia is among the highest in the world, meaning that workers earn a good income. Australia is a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship where startups and businesses can flourish.

One of the reasons for this is the world-class education system in Australia, as well as skills-based immigration policies designed to fill skills gaps in the economy to help drive it forward.

Disadvantages of Living in Australia

Of course, each country has some disadvantages. We explore some of the potential downfalls of living down under.

Cost of Living

Though the quality of life is above average, the cost of living is higher than in the UK. 

Cities like Melbourne and Sydney are among the most costly cities globally. 

Housing costs can be very high, although regional areas are cheaper than cities. The cost of day to day living can also be more expensive, such as grocery prices, utilities and transport costs, compared to other countries.

Much of this is offset by the higher wages however, contributing to higher levels of disposable income amongst Australian residents than UK residents.

Geographical Location

With a flight time of around 22 hours from the UK to Australia, for some it’s geographical location can be a problem. It’s not exactly a short hop over to visit friends or family. To travel internationally it can be time-consuming and expensive.

For some, this is just an excuse for longer visits!

If you’re living in Australia and are looking to take a holiday, some of its closest neighbours are New Zealand, Bali and Fiji.

The location of Australia and its distance from other countries can sometimes also impact the price of imports, as well as the availability of certain goods. However, as mentioned above, increased wages mean that quality of life is not impacted by increased prices for the most part.

Wildlife and Natural Hazards

Australia has a diverse range of unique wildlife, some of which can be dangerous such as snakes. However, it is worth noting there are very few fatalities related to animals in Australia each year, so this should not be a major concern for those moving there. In fact, in 2023 there were just 32 animal-related deaths, with horses accounting for almost a third (First Aid Pro).

Alongside animals, Australia also tends to have more natural hazards than the UK. This includes bushfires, floods, and cyclones. However, once again, these events account for very few fatalities each year, but newcomers to the country should adequately inform themselves of the risks to better safeguard themselves.

Helpful Information for New Residents

Numbers for emergencies

If you need help during your time in Australia, you will want to keep the following numbers handy:

  • Emergency services for storms and floods: 132 500
  • Police assistance: 131 444 (all states except Victoria)
  • International incident helpline: 1300 555 135 within Australia and +61 2 6261 3305 outside Australia.

Public Holidays

Australia has several public holidays, including:

  • Australia Day (January 26): Commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.
  • ANZAC Day (April 25): Honours members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who have served and died in wars.
  • King’s Birthday: Celebrated at different times of the year in the various states of Australia; however, it is usually in June.
  • Christmas Day (December 25) and Boxing Day (December 26): Celebrating Christmas and the following day. Both represent excellent opportunities to get to know first-hand   the culture and traditions of the country. Read more about Christmas in Australia

Tax System

Australia operates on a progressive income tax system. This means that the more you earn, the higher the rate of tax you pay. The tax-free threshold is $18,200, which means you can earn up to this amount in a financial year without paying tax. Beyond this threshold, tax rates apply.

For the 2024-25 financial year, the tax rates for Australian residents are as follows:

  • 0 – $18,200: Nil
  • $18,201 – $45,000: 16c for each $1 over $18,200
  • $45,001 – $135,000: $4,288 plus 30c for each $1 over $45,000
  • $135,001 – $190,000: $31,288 plus 37c for each $1 over $135,000
  • $190,001 and over: $51,638 plus 45c for each $1 over $190,000

These rates do not include the Medicare levy of 2%.

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a broad-based tax of 10% on most goods, services, and other items sold or consumed in Australia. GST revenue is collected by the Federal government and then distributed to the states under a formula determined by the Commonwealth Grants Commission.

Other Taxes

Australia also imposes taxes on capital gains, corporate income, and property. There are also excise duties on certain goods such as alcohol, tobacco, and fuel. Payroll taxes are levied by each state and territory on businesses, based on the amount of wages they pay to employees.

Tax Collection

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is responsible for administering and collecting tax revenues for the federal government. This includes income tax from individuals and businesses, as well as indirect taxes like the GST.

Australia’s tax system is designed to be fair and equitable, ensuring that everyone contributes their share to the nation’s finances. It plays a crucial role in funding public services and infrastructure that benefit all Australians.

Culture and Social Etiquette

Australia’s culture is made up of indigenous heritage, British colonial influence, and multicultural contributions; hence, there arises a dynamic amalgamation and mix in the cultural festivals, arts, and dining experiences. 

Social etiquette in the country is friendly, straightforward, and relaxed. It is usual to address people by their first names and maintain a casual manner in most social interactions. The Australian norm is for punctuality, honesty, and a good sense of humour.

For more information, read our blog on Customs and Etiquette: Navigating Social Norms in a New Culture

Driving in Australia

If you’re planning to explore the vast landscapes of Australia, particularly the more secluded areas, having a driving licence is a must. Some of Australia’s most beautiful spots can only be reached by car.

The legal age to drive in Australia isn’t consistent across the country. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), you can get a learner’s permit at 15 years and nine months, while in other regions, the age is 16. The age to drive without supervision varies too – it’s 18 in Victoria, 16 years and six months in the Northern Territory, and 17 in all other regions.

Driving Rules in Australia

When you’re behind the wheel in Australia, always have your driving licence and necessary documents on hand. Remember, Australians drive on the left side of the road. Seatbelts are mandatory for everyone in the vehicle, and children under seven must be secured in a suitable car seat.

Driving under the influence is taken very seriously in Australia. If your blood alcohol level is 0.05% or higher, you’re not allowed to drive. Using your mobile phone while driving, including texting, is also illegal.

In residential areas, the speed limit is typically 50 km/hour (31 mph), except in the Northern Territory where it’s 60 km/hour (35 mph). Outside these areas, the speed limit is usually 100 km/hour (62 mph), but in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, it’s 110 km/hour (68 mph).

Smoking in a car with a child under 18 (or under 17 in Western Australia) is prohibited. Also, turning left on a red light is generally not allowed unless there’s a sign indicating otherwise. If such a sign is present, treat the red light like a stop sign.

Public Transportation in Australia

The public transportation system is reliable and secure. Ride sharing services such as Uber are also widely used across the country. Trains, buses and trams tend to be the most common and affordable transportation methods for getting around Australia, though you can also fly domestically which is a lot quicker. 

In terms of bus transportation, Greyhound Australia offers great deals and may be the cheapest option. Premier is another bus company, but they don’t service as many locations. The train is a more scenic way of getting around with Rail Australia, Ghan, and Indian Pacific all popular options for getting around the country.

As mentioned, the fastest way to get across Australia is by plane, but it is generally not the cheapest option. The main airlines that fly in Australia are Qantas, Jetstar, Rex, and Virgin. 


One of the best regarded education systems in the world, if you are moving to Australia with children, they can benefit from the above average learning environment.

Learn more about Choosing the Best School in Australia

The education system is categorised into three stages: primary, secondary, and tertiary, and education is compulsory for children between 6 and 16 years of age.

Australian schools are highly commendable on the grounds of education quality as well as a friendly environment for learning. The nation even holds a vast sports and extracurricular activity structure, which develops general skills in students.

Primary and Secondary Education

A complete Australian school education spans 13 years. It begins with Foundation, also known as preschool, for children aged 3-5 years. This is followed by primary school, which runs from grades 1-6, and secondary school, from grades 7-10. 

Both primary and secondary education are compulsory. 

Government schools educate approximately 60% of Australian students, with the remaining 40% attending non-government schools.

Tertiary Education

Tertiary education in Australia includes higher education (universities and other higher education providers), and Vocational Education and Training (VET)

The majority of Australia’s universities are public, and student fees are subsidised through a student loan program where payment becomes due when debtors reach a certain income level, just as in the UK.

VET is taught by Australian Government-owned Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes and private registered training organisations (RTOs). Designed to provide students with practical knowledge in industries including engineering, IT, agriculture and more.


Just as in the UK, Australia has a national health service known as Medicare. However, this does not cover all treatments. Along with Medicare, most citizens also buy health insurance to pay for added services that are not covered through the public system. 

The country also focuses on prevention with many schemes and messaging to ensure the population is at its peak well being; something helped by the outdoor lifestyle. 

Medicare and Public Health

Medicare has been Australia’s universal health care scheme since 1984. It provides free or low-cost access to most healthcare services, including services provided by general practitioners (GPs), medical specialists, physiotherapy, community nurses, and basic dental services for children.

State and territory governments operate public health facilities where eligible patients receive care free of charge. Medicare covers all of the cost of public hospital services and also covers some or all of the costs of other health services.

Private Health Insurance

Many Australians have private health insurance cover. Individuals are encouraged through tax surcharges to purchase health insurance to cover services offered in the private sector, and further fund healthcare. Private health insurance also gives you additional choice outside the public system such as which doctor you see and which facility you visit.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)

The PBS is another important part of Medicare. It makes some prescription medicines cheaper. The PBS lists brand name, generic, biologic, and biosimilar medicines. You only pay some of the cost of most PBS medicines if you are enrolled in Medicare.

Read more about Healthcare in Australia.

The Difference Between the UK and Australia

WeatherThe UK experiences cooler weather and regular rainfallAustralia is known for its warm weather and unique landscapes.
LifestyleLife in the UK can be more crowded and stressful, especially in major cities. People also tend to spend more time indoors and work longer hoursAustralia offers a more relaxed lifestyle, with plenty of sunshine, beaches, and outdoor activities.
Work-Life BalanceThe UK ranks 10th in terms of work-life balance among OECD countriesAustralia ranks 6th, indicating a slightly better work-life balance
HealthcareThe UK has the National Health Service (NHS), which provides free healthcare to all residentsMedicare provides a range of services however you must also have private health insurance or pay a levy
Cost of LivingThe cost of living in the UK can be high, especially in major citiesAustralia also has a high cost of living, but it is often balanced by higher wages.
EducationBoth countries have excellent education systemsBoth countries have excellent education systems
Job opportunitiesThe UK offers diverse job opportunities.Australia also provides a wide range of job opportunities.


Hopefully our guide has shown you what it could be like living in Australia. As a country, it offers numerous benefits including an improved quality of life, a developed economy, beautiful landscapes, and an inclusive society.

Though Australia may be somewhat isolated from other countries, there is so much to explore within the country itself, making it one of the most common destinations people move to from the UK.

Not only does it boast an amazing education and healthcare systems, but it also has a vibrant cultural scene, warm weather and stunning beaches. 

What more could you want? Hear directly from someone who’s done it with our expat account of living in Australia.

So, if you’re thinking about a move to Australia get in touch to find out how we could help.


The salary needed to live comfortably in Australia can vary greatly depending on your lifestyle and the city you live in. 

Larger cities such as Melbourne and Sydney tend to be more expensive to live in, but as with any place there are more affordable areas and options for any budget.
Read more about our Top Professions to Work in When Moving to Australia

Yes, Australia is often regarded as one of the best places to live in the world. It offers a high standard of living, an outstanding healthcare system, and a multicultural environment.

The country is known for its natural beauty, diverse climate, and wildlife. However, like any place, it has its pros and cons, and the decision to live there should be based on individual preferences.

Yes, living in Australia can be expensive however, disposable income tends to be higher due to higher wages. The cost of living in Australia is currently ranked 12th highest in the world. The cost of food, utilities, and housing has risen significantly over the years, as it has in the UK.

The average rent in Australia can vary depending on the location and type of property. As of the latest reports, the median weekly rents across Australia’s capital cities increased to reach $491 per week. At this rate, the typical monthly rental payment would be about $2,120, but this can vary greatly depending on your location. Expect to pay more in bigger cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, especially if you want to be near the centre or the beach.

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