Best and Worst Things About Living in Australia

An eastern water dragons posing

An eastern water dragon posing

A quick run down on the advantages and disadvantages of living in Australia. I’d love it if you can help me out and pitch in some of your ideas by leaving a comment.

The Best Things About Living in Australia

  • Great weather
  • Interesting birds and wildlife
  • Good schools
  • Friendly, funny people
  • Safe and politically stable
  • Great and diverse scenery
  • Swimming in warm ocean and excellent public pools
  • Outdoor Lifestyle,  lots of bike and walking tracks
  • Sporting opportunities
  • Camping galore
  • Beaut beaches
  • Surfing all year round
  • $4 clean skin wines from Dan Murphy

The Worst Things About Living in Australia

  • Very suburban
  • Skin cancer rates, highest in the world
  • Complicated tax system and high taxes
  • Dangerous wildlife like snakes and spiders
  • Droughts, water shortages and forest fires
  • Cockroaches, in every Queensland rental house apparently
  • Surf Rage incidents and crowded surf breaks
  • Hideous crows cawing at all hours and raiding bins

Well, the good things far outweigh the drawbacks so that seems to be the right balance for a happy lifestyle.

Good luck with your computer and your Internet dreams!

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Related articles

>> New to Noosa
>> Noosa Festival of Surfing

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Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

Me and the Kids, Antigua, Guatemala

My article, Live Your Dream in a Material World, struck a chord with many of you. In it, I described how we sold most of our belongings in order to make our dream come true and move to Central America.

Now I want to share the first page of my book about our experiences. It tells how we followed our hearts, ignored other people, took a risk, and put up with hardships to follow our dream. I hope that our story will inspire other people to be brave and follow their dream. Here are the first 900 words:

Our First Day in Guatemala

As I looked around the tiny hotel room, now stuffed to capacity with a family of five and our eleven bags, I wondered if we’d done the right thing. It was hard to believe that we’d sold our large, comfy home in New Zealand and most of our belongings in exchange for this. Outside the streets of Antigua, Guatemala’s best known colonial city, beckoned, but I wasn’t sure I could handle the kids here by myself. My husband Rich, my faithful travel companion for sixteen years, had gone on strike suffering from exhaustion and jet lag. My only ally in a 10,000 kilometre radius lay prone on the bed and refused to budge.

Meanwhile my youngest child, Kiara, aged two, was whining. With unfortunate timing, she’d broken her arm and developed a terrible tummy bug about ten days before our departure so a once happy and energetic girl had been replaced by a miserable, lethargic cry-baby. At the opposite end of the emotional scale her brothers, Max, five, and Luke, eight, were running round the minute hotel courtyard laughing uproariously. The colonial hotel with its inner courtyards and fountains, its tiled floors and decorative touches just hadn’t been designed for a large, noisy family. These small spaces were created for smaller, slower and quieter people than us.

Where We Came From

Our children were born and raised on Waiheke Island, just off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, a thirty minute ferry ride from Auckland City. Waiheke’s a serene and beautiful place, well known for its perfect beaches and famous vineyards. Up until this point the Candy kids had spent the majority of their time running and playing barefoot in a place with only 8000 residents, little traffic and no traffic lights.

Waiheke Island is the perfect place to raise young kids, and the Candy kids had enjoyed a sheltered existence with the security of living and growing up in a familiar place, surrounded by people they’d known since birth. Now we’d turned their world upside down, immersing them in a foreign culture with an unknown and incomprehensible language. The only familiar objects were the ones we’d brought with us. Exhausted after our 27 hour journey, I needed to remind myself why we’d done it.

Our Journey Started in the UK. Where Would it End?

Both me and my husband were born in the UK, but Rich was raised in Kenya. We both love travelling and we met in the Sinai in Egypt, so that’s where our adventures together began. For years we travelled, worked or studied in Africa, South East Asia, the USA, France and the UK, before finally deciding that enough was enough. It wasn’t that we wanted to settle down and stop travelling, just that we wanted a base, a place where we could keep our stuff, a home where we could one day live forever and raise a family.

Neither of us wanted to settle in Britain, but New Zealand fitted the bill: safe, unspoilt, and under populated. After a long, arduous process involving endless application forms, medical exams, and procuring certified copies of every official document that ever crossed our paths, we managed to get New Zealand residency. Our friends in England were horrified, especially our Australian friends who seemed to take it as a personal slur. The typical response from family and friends when we told them the news was disbelief:

“New Zealand? What do you want to go there for?”

But we were used to this. It seemed as if every time we packed our bags and went to a new place we got that same reaction of horror, combined with total incomprehension. Ten years later when we left New Zealand and told people we were moving to Panama the reaction was the same again:

“Panama? What do you want to go there for?”

I’d love to know what you think of this opening to my book. Would you like to read the whole story of how we moved from New Zealand to Panama, then ended up living in Costa Rica for a year, before finally moving to Australia? I’m excited about this chance to get feedback from my readers now as I complete my manuscript ready for publication.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below, and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out on the next installment.

Good luck with all your plans!

For More Inspiration Read

>> Live Your Dream in a Material World.

>> What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

Racism in Australia

Stereotypical Aussie Koala

Stereotypical Aussie Koala


Cultural Insights on Life in Australia

Before I get to the meaty part I’d like to say a quick gidday to all my lovely Aussie readers. Please don’t take these notes about my perceptions on Australian culture and racism in Australia personally. Just think of me a whinging Pom and a backwards Kiwi reporting on cultural differences that I’ve noticed during the six months I’ve been living here in Australia.

I just want to give people who may be thinking of moving to, or visiting the lucky country a balanced view of what it’s like here, because some of them think life in Australia is all beach time, hunky lifesavers and sunny days. Then they get here and they don’t like it.

Is Australia a Racist Country?

Now for the juicy stuff, the cultural insights which I fear may incite the rage of my new, friendly and often funny Australian hosts. A month or two ago there was a big furore in Australia when the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, said “adios” to the news that Sol Trujillo, a Mexican, and a bigwig in a major Australian telecommunications company, had been fired. You could call Rudd racist. Or you could call Trujillo humourless and a bad loser, because he then launched into a diatribe about how racist Australia is, and claimed that living here is “like stepping back in time.”

Some Australians were upset, even shocked, at being accused of racism, but none-the-less, the fact that Aboriginal people have a statistically lower life expectancy and literacy rate just looks bad. Of course, statistics can lie, but somehow the fact that there are loads of Aboriginals living here would have passed me by if I didn’t read about them suffering from alcoholism, child abuse and poor health care in the Australian newspapers. But then again, I live in Noosa, Queensland, a mostly middle-class enclave populated by lucky white folk, and there seem to be a few pre-conceptions about Noosa residents too, namely that we are all rich, stuck up ex-hippies. But I digress.

Racist Pre-conceptions About Australians

I’m sure that all Aussies aren’t racist any more than all Kiwis are sheep shaggers, or all Brits are football hooligans, and many of them may be racist sheep shaggers or hooligans too. However, I should mention that when I moved to Australia one British friend asked how I was liking it here in “the new land of apartheid.” Ouch.

I think I’ve been quite controversial enough now in my bid to expose a little bit about Australian culture, so rather than irritate my generous hosts any more, and risk being deported to the chilly shores I’ve escaped from, I’ll end here. I think I’ll save my thoughts on Queensland anti-hooning measures and street brawling until next time.

Thanks for having me Australia, I love you really, especially the hunky lifesavers, great beaches, sunny days and amazing Aboriginal culture.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

What We Can Happily Live Without

Our Wheels in Costa Rica

Our Wheels in Costa Rica: not flash but they went round

Flash Cars
We have an old no-name type car. Who gives a flying fart anyway? However, don’t let your kids use your car as a climbing frame like we did in Costa Rica or the roof rack will fall off one day while you’re driving along. Ooops.

Fancy Clothes
This year I’m attempting to spend 12 months without buying any clothes for myself. I’ve had to get slippers and a dressing gown to cope with the winter here and a wetsuit for surfing in the cooler climes, but apart from that, nothing for myself, just a few odds and ends for the kids. I swear I’m not dressing in rags either and most of the time I even look quite presentable, at least by my standards. Come November I’ll be splashing out on a couple of new dresses and t-shirts for the summer. Roll on summer.

Fine Food
In order to maximise my writing time we rotate our meals more or less according to a fortnightly menu of family favorites which are quick to make and enjoyed by all. I think this is the biggest sacrifice actually as I love food and would enjoy having more time to cook it. But something has to give and when it comes down to it, I’d prefer to be writing, walking, surfing or spending time with the hubby or kids than cooking.

A Home of Our Own
We’re renting a house and will do so for a year of more. It’s comfy but it doesn’t have all the finishing touches and personality we had in our own home. My dream home’s on hold.

Beauty Treats
Expensive face creams, facials, pedicures, massages, spa treatments are now just the subject of the odd fantasy. Cheaper products and diy pedicures seem to be just as good anyway.

I’d love to hear what you could or couldn’t live without.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

More Travel Inspiration

How we used our savings to fund a dream trip to Central America: Live your dream in material world.

>> Follow your dream: you only live once.

Live Your Dream in a Material World

The sum total of our possessions: three kids and 11 bags (not all pictured.)

2007: The sum total of our possessions: three kids and 11 bags (not all pictured.)

Things I’ve Given Up To Live My Dream

Giving things up sounds like such miserable, hair shirt stuff, but even the thought of writing this article makes me happy. Somehow downsizing my life so that I can achieve my life goals isn’t much of a sacrifice at all. In fact, it’s liberated me. Granted I’ve had some practice in this area over the last year or two and gone to extremes that some people couldn’t. Here’s the story.

Dream of Travel: the Perfect Excuse to Declutter Our Lives

In 2007 my husband and I sold our lovely home on beautiful Waiheke Island, New Zealand, in order to finance a trip to Central America. We got rid of most of our other belongings too and broke our kids’ little hearts by selling, giving away or simply binning most of their toys. The Candy kids were just two, five and eight at the time, so they got over it. We did put some personal stuff like photos, baby books and a few favourite toys, into storage in New Zealand, but during our time in Central America and Costa Rica, where we lived for a year, we had very little compared to what we had in New Zealand.

Coati in our garden, Costa Rica

Coati in our garden, Costa Rica

Although we ended up spending 18 months in Central America, there wasn’t much we missed in the way of creature comforts apart from a comfy sofa. Books and clothes came to us by swapping, borrowing or second hand. We had minimal furniture and our walls were bare but there was plenty to entertain us. Every house we lived in had spectacular views and a swimming pool. Toucans visited our garden daily, occasionally monkeys or coatis popped by and a plethora of amazing outsized insects diverted us on a regular basis.

Work Out What Really Makes You Happy in Life

Now we live in Queensland, Australia and I’m pursuing writing full-time. I’m more or less resigned to a life of less since writing isn’t usually well paid, but somehow that doesn’t bother me any more. I’d prefer to be happy and fulfilled than have all the mod cons some people work long hours for, often in jobs they don’t even enjoy.

We’re blessed to live in a good house in a gorgeous area, surrounded by clean, safe beaches and with plenty of free activities on tap to keep us busy. But we’ve definitely made sacrifices and will continue to do so happily ~ unless an unexpected and extremely large windfall comes our way in which case we’d probably get rid of everything again and spend a year in Africa.

Thanks for reading, please add your comments below and don’t forget to subscribe by email now if you haven’t already so you don’t miss out.

Good luck with all your plans!

For More Inspiration Read

>> Follow Your Dream: You Only Live Once.

>> What Can You Give Up To Live Your Dream?

Daylight Robbery, Little Cove, Noosa

Watch Out Watch Out! There’s a Thief About In Noosa

I’ve been feeling a bit lonesome this week. I’m now six months into my new life in Australia and I think anyone who’s moved overseas will know this feeling: the newness of being in a foreign country has passed and it’s still too early to have made good friends so there’s a gap that needs to be filled.

A surf with my surfer chick buddies-in-the-making was just what the doctor ordered. So when the rain cleared up to reveal sunny blue skies, the famous Noosa surf points were pumping and the surfer chicks were up for it, life looked good.

I have to confess I was a bit out of kilter. For example, I thought it was Wednesday when it was Thursday, but there’s nothing too unusual about that is there? After racing through my work and finding an elusive parking spot close to Little Cove where we’d arranged to meet, I realised I’d forgotten my board shorts. But nothing was going to stop me from surfing. At this point I should clarify that I was wearing a bikini and had my wetsuit top with me but the bikini bottoms are absolutely tiny and normally I wouldn’t be seen out in them unless they were under my board shorts. Basically, they’re completely unsuitable for surfing and the two tiny triangles of material barely covered my ample writer’s bottom.

The Show Must Go On

Still, undeterred, I knotted them on as tightly as possible, grabbed my board and headed out into the surf at Little Cove. There was no sign of my friends but I thought they might already be out in the surf so I left my bag carefully on a rock well above the high tide mark. This is a bag I got free with a magazine. Inside it was a t-shirt, a rash top, a dweeby surf hat that buckles under the chin, a pair of super cheap sunglasses from Costa Rica and my keys. That’s right, my car keys and my house keys which are both those new-fangled remote control keys that are fiendishly expensive to replace, all coupled together with one of my most prized possessions: a gorgeous wooden key ring with a painted toucan and the inscription Costa Rica. A lot of happy memories are tied up in that keyring and I truly love it.

Now, I count myself as being fairly savvy and would never leave any valuables unattended on the beach. As proof of how streetwise I like to think I am I should add that I recently spent 18 months traveling round Central America with 11 bags and not a thing was stolen from me during that time. 11 bags? I know, it sounds ridiculous but it was minimalist traveling for a famly of five and included a complete homeschool kit for three children as well as enough books to keep them all on track with their reading goals for a year.

You Little Ripper

But back to the Noosa surf. Down at Little Cove there was an flood of surfers walking, running and sprinting up the beach to get into the sea further north.

“Gosh.” I thought.
“I wonder where they’re all going.”

But being a complete novice I didn’t study the conditions much, apart from checking that the waves weren’t too big, and I didn’t notice the fierce rip that was pulling surfers south around the rocks to Noosa Main Beach. Until I got waist deep into the sea that is.

Suddenly, the rip was so strong that I was unable to stand in one place so I hopped on my board and caught the first wave that came my way. My pop up was slow and clumsy but hey, I was standing up and surfing, rushing in towards the beach. When the wave petered out I started paddling back towards the breaking waves to try again. At first I noticed I was just paddling on the spot and no sooner had that dawned on me than I realised I was being pulled backwards and quickly towards some rocks where bigger waves were breaking, and then around the corner to First Point where approximately 200 surfers were all milling around. This all happened exceedingly fast and probably less than five minutes had passed since I got into the sea.

“I’m being swept away.” I shouted to a bearded surfer nearby. He just shrugged and ignored me, too busy trying to save his own bacon I suppose.
“I’m trying to get to the shore.” I said to another.
“You’ll be right.” he said. Australians always say this and it’s very reassuring. Sure enough, he was right.

If At First You Don’t Suceed Try, Try, Try Again

Although I thought I was about to die I put on a paddling spurt and got to the shore, overjoyed to be alive. Now I joined the surfers climbing back over the rocks and walking back up the beach for another go. Yes, I’ve been taught that if you fall off your horse the best thing to do is get back on it and have another go.

So I did and I had a few nice rides too despite the dodgy conditions. At some point I noticed I’d forgotten to take my earrings out and one was missing but nothing was going to get me down after my near-death experience. My friends turned up and we had a surf together before heading back to the beach.

It was then that I realised my bag was missing, along with one of my shoes which I’d placed on top of the bag on top of a rock. So annoying. Why would a thief steal one shoe? And, presuming the culprit was male, what would he want with a few well-used pieces of ladies clothing? Perhaps most annoying of all was that I was now stranded at the beach with no car keys and clad only, in the world’s most revealing bikini.

Super Sleuth

Despite this I’m proud to say that I kept my cool and drew on my knowledge gleaned from over 20 years of reading trashy crime thrillers. Yes, thanks to a love of literature of all kinds, I am well-versed in many aspects of criminal profiling and criminal psychology. My expert analysis told me that this was a crime of opportunity committed by a young, and possilby itinerant, person who was hoping to get their grubby mitts on some cash, credit cards, a decent camera, an ipod or at the very least a complete pair of shoes, not just one beaten up sandal that’s been roughed up all over Central America.

In view of the fact that the loot held limited value for the crim (unless s/he was a one-legged tootsie with size ten feet) my guess was that the robber would be feeling pretty annoyed with the pile of crap they’d risked their clean record for and would probably chuck the entire contents of the bag in the nearest rubbish bin or bush.

Another young lady had also had her bag stolen so I left her to look after my surf board and went on a bin trawl. Now, despite being a country bumpkin, I’ve lived in big cities before and I’ve seen people, mainly bearded and ragged men, rifling through bins for sustenance. The middle-class demograhic means there aren’t many people doing it in the Noosa area though, and either my strange behaviour coupled, my scanty attire or a combination of those things attracted a fair bit if attention.

To make things even more pitiful Noosa has these really posh bins with a roof on so in order to see what’s inside you have to poke your head under the roof and over to the middle to even get a peep inside. If you actually wanted to get something out you’d have a hard job. Hmmm, maybe that’s why people don’t bother doing it.

There’s a Moral Here Somewhere

I wish I could say that there was happy ending to this story and that my bag and its contents, or at least my keys, turned up in a bin or under a bush but sadly that’s not the case. I came away feeling slightly nauseaous from the fumes of cigarette butts and fish and chips wrappers but alas empty handed.

So if you ever see a strange semi-clad lady rifling through the bins in an upmarket location don’t avert your eyes and cross the street, take pity and offer her a lift home. It could be me.

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!

Why do so many people move to, or want to move to, Australia?

Sunshine Coast Hinterland: Run darling before a leech gets you

Sunshine Coast Hinterland: Run darling before a leech gets you

The Advantages of Living in Australia

I think most people move to Australia for the weather, especially Brits and Kiwis. Well, I did anyway!

I enjoy the healthy outdoorsy lifestyle. I think what’s great is the diversity here – you can choose to live in a big cosmopolitan city or out in the hippy hills depending on what suits you. Ditto the climate – there’s tropical north Queensland for hot weather fans, and plenty of places with a more temperate climate similar to the south of France. The food is great here too, both raw ingredients and restaurant meals, and the level of schooling for the kids seems to be good too.

The Disadvantages of Living in Australia

So what’s not to like? There aren’t enough black people here which is a shame and one of my British friends even calls Australia ‘the new land of apartheid’ which is a shocking and a grim thought.  Also, the sprawling suburbs could get you down along with the flies, snakes and leeches! But I just like to tell it like it is because nowhere is ideal. Australia’s not a perfect Utopian society and it’s sad to hear about people moving here unprepared and not liking it.

What it’s like to be sucked by a leech

I didn’t know about the leeches at all. I naively imagined they hung out in deserted swamps but no, you can find them in any bit of wet grass over here. We went for a walk in the hinterland at the weekend. Suddenly our oldest child started screaming and hopping around trying to brush a black wiggling thing off his foot. The entire valley was echoing with his shrieks which didn’t end even when the hubby finally pulled it off. I’ve been to some wet, slimy places in my time but never encountered a leech before. Large may never fully recover from his first leech encounter and sobbed for half an hour after wards.

“Hey, someone else might have one.” I mentioned, scanning my legs before I too started shrieking and begging the brave hubby to pull the leech off. Yuch!

Youngest child was quite traumatised too that she may have one or get one, but Middle child was highly disappointed and wants to go back so he can experience what it’s like to have a blood sucking leech attached to his leg. He’s an unusual child.

Anyway, if this hasn’t put you off totally, I’d love to hear why you’d like to move to Australia or why you already have!

Thanks for reading, feel free to add your comments below.

Good luck with all your travel plans!