Hey! My name is Natasha and I’ve been living in Sydney, Australia for 5 years already. Here, I work as a marketer, I have my own Instagram page and program on the radio and I also organize picnics for Russian immigrants just like my husband and me. The life on this continent is full of interesting discoveries and I continue to be amazed by many of them.
The question I get asked more often than any other is how I decided to move to Australia. I moved here thanks to my husband who got a job offer. We tried living in this country and once we moved here we haven’t regretted the decision! Just like in any other country, there are a lot of good and bad sides of living in Australia.
In order to facilitate the process of making this decision, I invite you to learn more about the life of regular Australian people.
1. It’s not always summer in Australia.
Before, I used to think it was always warm in Australia, sunny, and that it was possible to swim in the warm ocean all year round. This is really a very sunny continent (about 250 sunny days a year) but the weather can be different and even unpredictable at times. In Sydney, even in summer, the ocean is rarely warm enough to swim: it is rarely more than 68º F, and Australians themselves prefer going to Bali, Fiji, and Thailand to swim.
The country is huge, so there are several climatic zones in it: from the tropical climate to colder weather with rainy winters in the south. If you want to, you can even ski in Australia. There are several ski resorts here with real snow, but they are extremely expensive.
Also, Australia is often called the Green Continent but it’s not exactly true because the biggest part of the continent is taken up by the desert and the tropical forests are located along only one shore.
2. In winter, it may be warmer outside than inside.
Here is the paradox: despite the fact that the winters here are not very cold, the absence of central heating and thin walls always makes me feel freezing. So, the first thing I bought was furry slippers.
Usually, in winter, it’s warmer inside than outside. Once, a guy I knew had a home at 48º F while the weather outside was about 55º F. This is how I spend the 3 months in summer. Australians do everything they can to protect themselves from the cold: they use heaters and wear warm clothes. Uggs that people all around the world wear outside, people in Australia wear inside their homes.
3. Australians love the ocean and nature.
A typical road here is aligned with cars and many families with children park their boats (sometimes more than one) here. In Sydney, there are more than 100 beaches (just imagine, they can go to a new one every weekend) and people try to spend their time in a useful way. Many people love surfing and have small boards, while others just swim and rest in the shade.
4. People are relaxed, never rush, and have an unbearable accent.
There’s a reason why there are so many legends about the Australian accent: it can really confuse a person who isn’t used to it. The locals speak fast, they don’t pronounce all the sounds, and they use a lot of short versions of words like arvo for afternoon, brekky for breakfast and so on. And there are many people of Indian and Asian descent that have other accents: in the beginning, it’s really hard to understand what the people here say.
Here are some things I noticed about the mentality of the locals:
- Australians don’t do their best at work, they think it’s best to do 80% and go surfing. And it doesn’t matter if you are expecting 100% from them. It is actually really convenient sometimes: you can do something faster and be done with it and then finish it later. Also, you might have to make some adjustments: the users will test a product, find some mistakes and you will fix them. “I work for life, but I don’t live for work” is a sentiment many Australians believe.
- Nobody here worries. Why would they when they have a cup of coffee and the ocean in front of them? They can wear anything outside: pajamas, sportswear, or even go barefoot! Nobody cares. People here might seem a little childish and they usually are before they are 30-35: at this age, Australians form families and have children (usually 2-3).
- It is strange but despite their relaxed attitude toward life, Australians love planning things in advance. They buy plane tickets 8-9 months before a trip, plan their vacations a year in advance, and they agree to meet their friends a month beforehand.
- Australians are always polite and distant, trying to avoid inconvenient topics. Of course, there is racism in Australian society, but in general, such immigrants like us are treated very well here.
5. Here, they don’t worry about their clothes.
Fun fact: statistically, 50% of Australians never use irons. Nobody will treat you badly if you come to work wearing crumpled pants or a shirt: if you feel comfortable like this, why not?
More than that, if you want to wear pajamas to buy groceries — you are welcome to do so! If you want to walk barefoot to the closest supermarket, it’s totally okay! In my neighborhood, every other person does that. Once, in a supermarket, I saw a guy who was wearing only one towel and nothing else. How do you like that?
By the way, Australians have another habit: they love driving cars barefoot. Before, I didn’t think it was a good idea when my friends told me that they did it, but several years ago, I started doing this myself. It really is comfortable.
6. Australia is an upside-down country.
The seasons here are “reversed”. When it’s summer in the Northern hemisphere, it’s winter in Australia. So June, July, and August are winter months here. That means that The New Year and Christmas are some of the hottest times of summer which took some getting used to. A traditional way of celebrating these 2 holidays in Australia is by having a barbecue on the beach. And we get a Christmas tree here and make snowmen out of sand.
Australians spend $400—$550 on presents on average because they buy presents for all of their relatives and even their children have big families. So, once a colleague of mine had to buy as many as 40 presents.
Also, they have a holiday called Christmas in July. It is celebrated in June, in the middle of winter when it becomes cold. Australians sit in front of the fireplace and give their relatives presents.
By the way, the school year in Australia is also “upside-down”: it starts at the end of January and ends before Christmas, in the middle of December. The financial year is also different and starts on June 1.
7. Is it true that everything is trying to kill you in Australia?
If everything were really so bad, then Australians wouldn’t be in the top 10 of the happiest nations in the world. Here, there are sharks, poisonous snakes, cockroaches as big as a matchbox, and spiders the size of a palm, but the people here managed to adjust to living with the flora and fauna. Every animal has its territory. Simple rules help to reduce the risks and be safe: shaking your boots before putting them on (in case there is something inside), watching your things when resting in nature, and being careful when swimming in the ocean are all normal. Being careful won’t hurt you!
Once, we found a huge spider in our house that we managed to catch. When we discussed this problem with friends, we found out that in many Australian houses, there is a special glass for catching spiders. Australians don’t kill them: they catch them and take them outside.
I am often asked, “Is it true that in Australia, sharks eat people near the shore?” It can really happen here but according to statistics, more people in Australia die when they fall off their beds than when they are bitten by sharks.
Once, I was near a shark but I didn’t even notice it. We were on one of the southern beaches in Sydney: we were swimming and surfing near the shore. And then, all of a sudden, a siren turned on, the rescue teams were telling people to get out of the water: 2-3 sharks swam from the ocean. They were bigger than boats.
I asked a rescue team member if they met sharks often. It turned out that they saw them every day, but all of them are the species that are not dangerous for people. Big sharks from the ocean rarely come close to the shore (that season, they were seen only 3 times): when this happens, the beach closes.
8. There are more kangaroos than people.
In 2011, there were 34 million kangaroos in Australia. If you compare this number to the number of people in 2011: there were 23 million people which means that there are really more kangaroos in Australia than people.
Of course, you won’t see a kangaroo in the streets of Sydney but if you go deeper into the continent, closer to the national parks, the chance of seeing these animals grows. In fact, they are a little silly: they regularly run on the roads and get hit by cars.
9. In Australia, people are taught to be careful in the sun.
Bad news: there is an ozone layer hole above Australia. Good news: according to experts, the ozone layer will get restored in about 30-50 years. Australia has one of the highest numbers of skin cancer cases, so locals try to follow the safety rules when they are exposed to the sunlight. They teach children these rules as well. For example, a hat is a necessary item of a school uniform: a child won’t go outside without wearing a hat. And if a child forgot their hat at home, they can’t walk outside during breaks between lessons. Here, nobody sunbathes, and people buy special tents for the beach because umbrellas are quickly blown away by the wind.
In Australia, the law is very strict, so the sun protection products are very effective. There are even smartphone apps that can tell you how active the sun is and what level of protection you need that day.If you follow all the recommendations, your health will not be in danger.
10. My own list of reasons why Australia is an awesome country
- Nature. As a person who grew up in the concrete jungle, I’m very happy with Austrailian nature and its amazing animal world. To see it, you don’t even need to leave the city. For example, national parks and nature reserves that are located in Sydney take around 188 hectares, and most of the time, they are pieces of pristine wild nature. And it’s all inside the city! And of course, I love the ocean a lot.
- Weather. The weather in Australia is great. In Sydney, it is never below zero, there is no snow, and on a regular winter day, we can even walk in a jacket. So, there is really nothing to complain about.
- Comfort. Australian cities are very good for a comfortable and calm life. Here, there are elevators for people in wheelchairs, which I think is great. Driving on the roads here is a different kind of fun and most road signs consist of a picture and an explanation. If you don’t remember the sign, at least you can read what it means. You always know where to take the turn you need.
- People. I like Australians: they are kind, open, happy and are always willing to help and never ignore anyone. They don’t worry about little things which means that there isn’t a lot of stress and pressure. People here enjoy their lives, they spend a lot of time with friends and family, and I love this very much.
Images source: brightside.me