Just like in any other country, new immigrants in Australia are expected to feel surprised as the adjust to their new environment. Change in weather patterns perhaps, how people interact or cost of living are among those that new settlers often observe immediately.
While there are things to attend to such as familiarizing public transport, getting to know where are suitable schools for your children or nearby church or place of worship, there are also those that help you get used to how living in Australia works.
Practice rubbish segregation
Maybe you come from a country where garbage segregation is a common practice. But if not, be prepared to carry out extra effort to segregate rubbish. Bins are provided for every household and are distinctly colored according to type of garbage: yellow for recyclables such as paper and plastic bottles, green for garden waste, and red for those destined for landfill.
It is a good practice to get used to this as Australians are generally passionate about keeping the rubbish segregated and likely frown upon those who fail to do so.
Explore driving and road networks
Public transport is available in cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane — buses and railway links serve the public especially on areas where parking is limited and therefore expensive. However, frequency of service are likely curtailed on weekends such as during trackworks (repairs and upgrade of rail facilities).
That brings us to the necessity of driving especially if you live in a suburb that’s quite a distance from train stations or bus stops. Having a car brings more flexibility going around: bringing children to school, going for weekend grocery and others.
Adapt to cost of living
There are commodities that are quite cheap to buy — milk and steak for example. But it’s again relative to where you come from. Among those things that are expensive in Australia is fresh produce because Australians are highly supportive of their local farmers and would rather pay a premium and help their mates than import cheap goods.
Housing is also a point of contention when it comes to cost of living. Among all cities in Australia, Sydney has the most expensive housing market so be aware of how much it costs to buy or rent a one-, two-bedroom housing units or apartments before coming over. Websites like realestate.com.au or domain.com.au helps you get the idea.
Some people arrive first on their own and share flats with other to save costs while they settle in and familiarize their surroundings. After a few months, they can then move to a suitable neighborhood and bring their family over.
Learn more about Aussie culture
Australia is relatively isolated in the world map, and that might explain why it has some of the unique, endemic creatures, great weather and lifestyles. As newcomers, we all want to adopt the Australian way in our daily life. Locals may introduce us to the slangs (mozzies for mosquitoes, recos for recommendations, Maccas for McDonald’s or arvo for afternoon, among others), the TimTam slam, going to gyms during lunch breaks in office, and other things that sound so foreign to us.
Simple things such as keeping left while walking or even taking the escalator might be different from what you’re used to. But as you get to adjust to life in Australia, it’s best done by observing how people do things and asking them if there’s anything unclear.
Get sunblock handy
The great sunshine weather is one thing Australians love the most. They go out to the beach or play outdoor sports. But a bit of a damper to that is that Australia also has one of the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. Perhaps the overexposure to the sun has led to this, but for your protection, apply a generous amount of sunscreen lotion before heading to the beach or going for an afternoon run.
Familiarize public transport system
Even if you own a car, you may still use the public transport system to get around. Be mindful that buses travel at a certain time and often stop by bus stops at designated time. Therefore it makes a lot of sense to be familiar with their scheduled stops; you’ll get used to them in no time. Also, be mindful about the amount of time it takes from point A to point B. It may require one or more connections to get there.
Get to know more about public transport cards
There are distinct payment systems cities used in public transport: Opal card in Sydney, myki in Melbourne, Transperth in Perth and go card in Brisbane. Each has its own set of features and knowing them eases you through your daily commute, and provides fare discounts and rewards. For example, users of Opal card will avail of discounted fares once they reach eight trips using the same card.
Apply for a local bank account
To facilitate payment of your salary and easier handling of daily expenses, having a local Australian bank account is essential when you come over. There are four main banks that operate in Australia: Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, National Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation.
These banks have extensive network of branches and offer wealth of accessibility options such as mobile and online banking. In case you haven’t arrived in Australia, book an appointment with the bank online. When you arrive in Australia, visit the bank’s branch with your documents such as passport copy, printed visa or employment contract.
There is little or no reason why you shouldn’t embrace the great outback experience now that you are in Australia. Take time to visit known landmarks and major attractions. Ride the public transport, inspect the shelves and fresh produce at supermarkets, and interact with locals along the way. Or explore its great outdoors and go for bushwalking, visit fine beaches, go camping or fishing. Along the way meet new friends who will be more than happy to show you around and introduce to the Aussie way of life.