The first known landing in Australia by European explorers happened in 1606 when Willem Janszoon made his way to the continent. A Spanish explorer, Luis Vaz de Torres, sailed through the strait which would eventually bear his name later that year. Almost 30 other Dutch navigators made their way down south to explore the coasts in the 17th century, calling it New Holland.
It wouldn’t be until 1770 when Lieutenant James Cook charted the eastern coast for Great Britain with a report that favored colonizing Botany Bay that a serious effort to settle in Australia began to take hold. That region would eventually become Sydney.
The first fleet of ships to arrive from Great Britain settled at Botany Bay in 1788 to establish a penal colony. Over the next 100 years, the British would establish several other colonies along the coast of Australia, while explorers began to journey toward the interior to see what was waiting for them there. Prosperity would eventually happen because of the agricultural opportunities and a gold rush.
If you are thinking about making a big move in life, then these are the pros and cons of living in Australia that you will want to consider.
List of the Pros of Living in Australia
1. There are high living standards to enjoy when you are in Australia.
The wages which are available in Australia are notably high when you have a particular skill set, especially if you settle in one of the cities along the eastern coast. It is not unusual for immigrants to find themselves earning significantly more when they move to Australia than they were at home, even with the lower value of the Australian dollar compared to the other currencies of the world. When you add in the social protection programs and other financial safeguards that are in place here, you’ll find that it can be a very lovely place to live.
2. The healthcare system in Australia is of a high quality.
Australia boasts one of the best healthcare systems in the world in terms of quality and quantity of care. There is a mix of private and public institutions available here, with the hospitals equipped with modern technologies. If your country offers a reciprocal healthcare agreement upon your arrival, then you can access the expenses system which is run by the government so that your costs are manageable.
The average cost of public health insurance per person is 2% of their income, which is taken through a tax withholding from their paycheck. Private health insurance is about $2,000 per year. There are about 1,300 hospitals and 5,000 pharmacies which are part of the system.
3. The hospitality in Australia is usually warm and welcoming.
Most Australians are a welcoming people, so you won’t need to worry about the glares that you might get in other countries as an immigrant. There is a strong tradition of ex-pats making their way here that dates back more than a century, so the only expectation is that you have a willingness to embrace the local culture. If you receive a hand in friendship, then there is an expectation to return it. Although it might take some time to learn the local jargon even if your English is excellent, you’ll find that it won’t take much time to start feeling like you fit in with everyone.
4. The educational system in Australia is world class.
When you start living in Australia, then the public school options for your family are free up to grade 12. The textbooks are generally provided as part of the educational opportunity as well. The system ranks fourth in the world today for its effectiveness, which places it above France, Switzerland, and the United States. Although it can be expensive to send a child to private school here, sometimes as much as $40,000 per year, you can still rest assured that the public system will provide your family with a high-quality education.
5. The citizenship process is fairly simple if you qualify for it.
When you start living in Australia, then you must become a permanent resident if your goal is to pursue citizenship. The processes that you must follow are more straightforward than what you will encounter in other countries with a similar standard of living. You will need to prove that you are fluent in English, and there is a requirement that you must have lived in the country for the past 48 months. Then you will need to pay the fees, which are under $500, and then pass the citizenship test.
6. There are several different types of work visas for which you can apply.
Instead of following just one work visa program, the Australian government offer several different paths for you to follow if you want to start living in the country. Navigating through the paperwork requirements can be challenging, but this advantage makes it possible for almost anyone who wants to move here to find a way to do so. The skilled immigration path tends to be the most lucrative, but there are also temporary, investment, and business visas for which you may qualify.
Family visas are also possible if you are married to, plan to marry, or have a “committed relationship” with a permanent resident or Australian citizen. This person will become your sponsor for the next two years, supporting your accommodations and financial assistance needs.
7. Many of Australia’s cities rank as a top livable destination.
You will have lots of choices to consider when you start living in Australia because many of the cities are ranked as one of the top livable destinations in the world. Many of them play host to several sporting events throughout the year, and cycling or running our popular activities where there are dedicated trails and lanes for you to enjoy. Although there can be a lack of activity in some of the smaller towns, living in Sydney or Melbourne will allow you to enjoy entertainment options that are similar to what you will find throughout the world.
8. The beaches in Australia are fantastic.
It is a challenge to beat the experience that you will have when visiting a beach in Australia. Even the people who have traveled the world say that the best beaches are here in this country. Since it is the world’s largest island nation, there are more than 10,000 different beaches for you to explore when you start living here. Many of them are undeveloped, allowing you to enjoy the rustic, natural experience that has been present there for thousands of years. There are glowing white or golden sands, clear waters to enjoy, and plenty of surf for water activities.
You will discover that even the city beaches in Australia are quite beautiful. There is nothing like taking a warm, summer day off to spend time in the cool waters that surround the country.
9. You can go exploring in the Outback.
Although there are challenges to manage when traveling through Australia’s Outback, it is arguably the most untouched natural environment that you will find on our planet today. It is a calm, beautiful land where the unique landscapes can take your breath away. From the boab trees to the red dust, you will find large expanses of nothingness, big blue skies, and unique rock formations to see. There is also the opportunity to explore the Aboriginal culture that lived here for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. It is one of those places that does an excellent job of getting under your skin.
10. The animal life in Australia is unique compared to the rest of the world.
If you live in the United States, then you might run into a deer when driving down the road. When you start living in Australia, it might be a kangaroo that you find yourself driving by. You can visit a koala preserve, get to know some wombats, and let’s not forget about the Tasmanian devil. With the exception of opossums and wallabies, Australia is the only country in the world where you can run into marsupials almost every day.
List of the Cons of Living in Australia
1. Australian law allows creditors to force you into bankruptcy.
If you have more than $5,000 worth of debt in Australia and your creditors are unable to make payments, then they can force you into bankruptcy. During this court proceeding, you will lose numerous assets to help pay back the debt you owe including your house, land that you own, antiques, luxury electronics, tax refunds, and money in your bank account that exceeds $1,000. There are also particular jobs that you cannot work while the bankruptcy is active, which lasts for three years. You will even have limits on the income that you can earn.
2. The housing market in Australia can be challenging to navigate.
The housing market in Australia is one of the hottest in the world, climbing at one of the fastest rates of any other country since 2008. This country survived the financial crisis without much difficulty, so the value of the economy never really suffered like it did in Europe and the United States. Even if you move to one of the rural areas of the country, you will find that it may take a significant investment to get a down payment ready.
3. You may need to pass a medical exam to qualify for a visa.
Australia will not allow you to immigrate through the skilled worker visa program if you have tuberculosis, HIV, Hepatitis, or AIDS. You must also be under the age of 45 when you submit your paperwork for this immigration opportunity. Children under the age of 11 are not required to take chest x-rays, but you would need to supply local doctors with the immunization records for your kids before a visa would be approved. Women who are pregnant usually cannot finalize their visa application until after giving birth because of these requirements.
4. There are character requirements that you must pass to live in Australia.
If you are thinking about a move to Australia, then the visa requirements include a need to prove that you are of “good character.” There are five points of emphasis that a professional will review with you if you decide to take the skilled migration route or become a temporary migrant.
- You must declare your criminal record as part of the application.
- You cannot have an association with others who have been or are involved in criminal conduct.
- An unwillingness to change from criminal ways, mannerisms, or decisions.
- Your general conduct must be reflective of excellent character decisions.
- There is a risk of stalking, harassment, or intimidation as determined by the assessor.
Australia determines that a “substantial criminal record” means that you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment for 12 months or more, received two or more terms of imprisonment, or were acquitted from charges because of a lack of mental capacity.
5. The cost of living in Australia is rather high.
There are specific variables, such as the size of your family, that can impact what your overall cost of living will be in Australia, but your expenses will be higher than in most other countries. When you consider all of your expenses, you may need to budget for about $600.per person, per week when you move here. It can be even higher if you are moving to Melbourne or Sydney. The rates are comparable to what you would experience in the UK or the United States, but that means someone immigrating from India would see their costs rise by more than 500%. You’ll want to research the various communities on the continent, including the more isolated communities in the west, to see if there are options available that fit with your budgetary needs.
6. Australia offers a remote living experience that can be challenging to manage.
Australia serves as its own country and continent thanks to its unique geographical position, so there are no formal land-based borders to manage when you start living here. There are a handful of nations which share a maritime border with the country, including New Zealand, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands, but there is more isolation to manage here than in other parts of the world.
You’ll experience this issue due to the distance that exists between many of the cities in Australia as well. Perth, which sits along the western coast of the country, is over 1,000 miles away from the other significant cities in the country. There are time zone differences to manage like there are in the United States as well, but you also have their location time to consider too. You might be 17 hours ahead of the rest of your family.
7. You may not be able to get a mortgage in Australia right away.
Australia is one of the most difficult countries in the world when your desire is to obtain a mortgage to own a house. If you are immigrating to this country, then the standards which are in place for citizens become even tougher for you. The first step that you must follow is to seek approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board. Then you will need to find a bank that will offer a lending product to a foreign investor, which most of the larger banks in the country will not do.
If you are successful in finding a mortgage, then you can expect an interest rate of up to 8%. Most lenders want to see an LTV of 70% or less, which means you’ll need to come up with a substantial down payment. Unless you have a nest egg already in place, renting is probably the best option to consider for the first few years you start living in Australia.
8. If you travel between states, then expect to fly to reach your destination.
Australia is roughly the same size as the United States when you measure the country from coast-to-coast. Whereas the classic American road trip can take you through a variety of cities and cultures for an enjoyable experience, the interior of Australia is a void of nothingness. There is only one primary road that will take you from Darwin to Adelaide through the interior of the country, with only a handful of communities to help you with supplies along the way. If you want to travel to Western Australia, then you might follow the northern or southern coast because there are zero significant east-west roads otherwise.
That’s why most Australians choose to fly when they need to travel from one side of the country to the other. If you find yourself in a position where this action becomes necessary, then your cost-of-living expenses will begin to dramatically rise.
Verdict on the Pros and Cons of Living in Australia
There is a lot to love about living in Australia. The beaches in this country are fantastic, you’ll have access to a modern way of life, and the high standard of living can be quite appealing. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world to explore. If you already speak English, then it won’t take long to integrate into their society.
The primary challenges of living here involve the time difference, the geographic location of the country, and the interactions you may have with local wildlife.
Many of the expats who consider the pros and cons of living in Australia find that it is a favorable decision of their themselves and their family. After considering these key points and applying them to your life, there is an excellent chance that you’ll come to a similar conclusion.
Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.