The positives and negatives of living on Earth’s biggest island
It’s no secret that Australia is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries on the planet, and a bucket list destination for travellers of all ages.
The world’s largest island is ranked among the safest, happiest and best overall countries to live by the United Nations, Wall Street Journal and Australian residents themselves.
While life in Australia is well beyond the global standard, make sure to read up on the positives and negatives of life in Australia to make sure it’s right for you.
The negatives of living in Australia:
International travel costs
For Australians, the most difficult part of leaving the country is usually how far home is from the rest of the world. Being so remote, international travel from Australia can cost a lot of time and money, so overseas holidays are a luxury not everyone can afford.
As most expats in Australia are so far from their home countries, it can often be too expensive, physically draining or time consuming for them to return home regularly. While this can be a deterrent for some, many people who visit Australia never want to leave, so the distance isn’t really a problem.
Local and domestic travel times
Not only is travelling to and from Australia both difficult and expensive, moving around inside can be a nightmare too.
Australian cities are so large and most have such low population density that even travelling locally can take a long time. On top of this, many cities have slow or unreliable public transport networks so most residents are unable to live comfortably without a vehicle.
Travelling between cities can also be a slow process as they are all spread out over great distances, however, Australian airlines provide a high quality service and are well known for customer satisfaction.
A dark history
Predating the arrival of the first European settlers, there were an estimated 700,00 indigenous residents living in tribal colonies.
From 1788 to 1868, Australia was invaded by over 160,000 convicts from the UK and during this time, most of the country’s original owners were massacred by the Europeans, who then tried to breed out the 100,000 indigenous survivors throughout the 1900s.
Immediately proceeding the federation of Australia in 1901, laws were introduced which barred the migration of anyone who was not a white European. Mixed race couples were also prohibited and the Australian government soon began kidnapping aboriginal children from their families in an effort to stop the regrowth of the indigenous population, a story told through the film, the Rabbit Proof Fence.
It was not until 1973 that the White Australia Policy was definitively renounced and replaced by a lifelong policy of multiculturalism. The Australian population is made up of migrants from nearly 200 different countries and 270 different ancestries.
While some parts of Australia’s history are dark and shameful, others are told with pride and much lighter spirits. My favourite Australian stories are of an outlaw bushranger, told through the spectacular films Ned Kelly and the True History of the Kelly Gang, as well as the true story of a legendary red kelpie, named Red Dog.
See if you can get through Red Dog or any of these Aussie history lessons without crying.
High living expenses
It’s no secret that living so far from the rest of the world comes at a high price. Imported supermarket products and every day household items can be surprisingly costly in Australia, while alcohol and tobacco products are more expensive than anywhere else in the world.
Thankfully, rental properties are still reasonably priced in most populated parts of Australia so residents are still able to live comfortably with a basic salary.
The local police
It’s expensive enough to live in Australia while obeying the law, but it will cost you even more if you step out of line.
Politely known as the Boys in Blue or Australia’s biggest gang, local police are constantly on the lookout for anyone to arrest and fine on misdemeanour charges.
The videos below detail numerous cases where police have acted unlawfully or severely abused their power, including a high profile case where a professional footballer was handcuffed, pepper sprayed and tasered, all while sleeping under a tree. He was then arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer.
While these events are uncommon and the actions of the arresting officers were condemned, this particular event has only fuelled the anti-law enforcement mentality that is growing in Australia.
As much as the citizens criticise the police for their revenue raising tactics, the Australian authorities do a fantastic job of keeping the country safe.
Mother Nature on Steroids
Most people I’ve met throughout my European travels say it’s a dream to one day visit Australia, while others say that the thought of ever setting foot in such a barren wasteland is absolutely terrifying and never going to happen.
Although Australia is ranked among the world’s safest countries to live, between the creepy crawlies and mother nature herself, there is plenty to watch out for.
From crocodiles, sharks, and deadly jellyfish, to snakes, jumping spiders and boxing kangaroos, Australia has it all. Residents and holidaymakers also have to watch out for cyclones in the north, bushfires in the south, and the sun’s lethal UV rays.
The thought of facing the Australian elements can be daunting, but you really are safe if you know what to look out for. The country is home to some of the most magnificent and diverse landscapes and wildlife worldwide, so it’s only fitting that it has some of the most terrifying and dangerous as well.
The positives of living in Australia:
Good salaries and many opportunities
Australia’s average wage sits 30% above the global average, and ninth on the list of the world’s highest, above Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
Prior to 2020, the unemployment rate had been fairly stable at 5.3%, but became more volatile due to changing labour requirements. This being said, Australia is still developing at a rapid pace and there are always opportunities available for those who are willing to work.
The Australian government also provides generous salaries to those who are looking for work, unable to work, and many who just don’t want to work, so most citizens comfortably have everything they need to get by.
Fairness and safety
Australia is governed by numerous legislations in place to protect its residents from business malpractice.
Employees are protected by the Fair Work Act, which guarantees a safe workplace and minimum requirements from all employers, and buyers are protected by Consumer Law, which guarantees a form of compensation for any faulty products or services offered by a business.
These regulations ensure that Australian businesses must operate in an ethical manner towards both their customers and staff, or risk serious penalties, which provides a comforting sense of security for most residents.
Thanks to the strength and efficiency of the police forces, resulting in very low levels of crime, Australia is considered one of the safest countries on the planet. Citizens are proud of the society in which they live and this feeling, coupled with a sense of safety and security, makes Australia one of the happiest countries in the world to live in.
Australia is so close to the equator that northern regions experience a year-round tropical climate. While the temperatures can soar to some pretty extreme highs, southern parts of Australia receive snowfall over the Winter months and most regions enjoy comfortable weather year round.
Basically, the North is tropical, the South has seasons and Winters are mild compared to North America and Europe, making Australia’s unique climate ideal for enjoying the showcase of natural beauty throughout the national parks, aquatic playgrounds and the world famous beaches.
The natural environment
Australia is home to the world’s most diverse range of flora and fauna which can be witnessed when visiting some of its 600 national parks, which cover more than 275,000 square kilometers of protected land.
Aside from the 10,000 pristine beaches along the 35,800 kilometer coastline, there are also 60 marine parks which cover more than 3.3 million square kilometers of Australian ocean. The most famous is the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral ecosystem.
Here is a list of my all-time favourite Australian destinations.
While most Australians love to get out and explore the wilderness, in all cities you are able to feed kangaroos, cuddle koalas and get up close and personal with all of Australia’s unique wildlife.
An international and culturally diverse environment
Australia was federated by immigrants and today, residents identify with more than 270 different ancestries.
In 2019 there were over 7.5 million migrants living in Australia and 29.7% of the more than 25 million residents were born overseas.
Since the abolishment of the White Australia Policy in 1973, the nation has embraced the beauty of multiculturalism and taken a hard stance against racial discrimination, making it a pleasant place for people of all colours and religions to live.
The people in general
Although Australia is a tropical island paradise, it’s biggest selling point has to be its citizens. Australian’s are said to be strong, loyal, diverse and most of all, good hearted.
While the country is so large, and both people and vibes differ from state to state, the general good natured characteristics of the Australian people remain consistent countrywide.
There isn’t a more commonly used phrase than no worries mate, which epitomises the Australian culture and laid back attitude of its citizens. Our humour is something you have to get used to, but there is no doubt about the kindness, generosity, happiness and caring natures exhibited by the Australian people.
All in all
Life in Australia is amazing and nowhere else on Earth can you find such a diverse mix of lands and people, with such a high quality of life on offer for both citizens and residents alike.
If you get the opportunity to experience life in Australia, you will only regret not going.
For more on my island home, check out everything you need to know before visiting Australia & unique Australian wildlife.
About the Author: Harrison was born in Queensland, Australia, and got the taste for adventure from a young age. Since then, he has embarked on countless journeys around the east coast of Australia and believes that at least once in a lifetime, everyone should start their own all-Aussie adventure and experience the great Australian hospitality.
Get in touch if you would like to find out more.