How to adjust to life as an expat in Australia

TransferWise content team
3 minute read

Plenty of people dream about moving to Australia. Congratulations on being on the lucky few that have actually gone and done it!

You’re not alone. More than a quarter of Australia’s population is foreign-born. That includes over a million Brits.

Moving country is an amazing challenge - and there are always a few things the guide books won't tell you.

Here are the things to look out for as you settle in:

Life’s a beach

sydney beach

Welcome to Australia! Come in and kick off your shoes.

It’s pretty common to see people wandering barefoot in public. Probably beach lifestyle is at the heart of Australian culture.

80% of Australians live near the beach. And they never really leave.

Walking barefoot in public may seem strange, but you weren’t born wearing shoes either. Try it.

A lot of things want to kill you


There’s great food in Australia. Unfortunately, that includes you.

Some of the world’s deadliest animals live here, just above humans in the food chain.

Don’t be too scared of big creatures like sharks and crocodiles though. Tiny creepy-crawlies can be far more dangerous. In fact, one could be hiding behind your toilet right now.

Hopefully that’s reassured you.

Oh, and don’t try to befriend any of those cute little koala bears. They attack people too.

Everything sounds like a question?

question mark

Have you noticed Australians ask a lot of questions?

They also end sentences with a rising intonation that makes it sound like a question.

It’s confusing at first. But you don’t actually need to answer questions like ‘how good is this weather’.

It’s Australia. We all know the weather is good.

Don’t mix up your thongs

flip flops

It’s perfectly normal for men in Australia to wear thongs.

They’re virtually part of the national dress. You can wear them anywhere, from the beach to the pub (and even some workplaces).

Before you reveal too much though, remember that thongs are what Australians call flip-flops.

Swearing is pretty f***ing common

The rest of the world swears in anger.

Australians use swear words as terms of endearment.

Do try to pick up social cues from others before casually dropping the f-bomb yourself though.

We're not responsible for any consequences of you swearing in front of your new boss or potential mother-in-law.

Don’t be a bludger at the bar

australian bar

Australians like to drink together.

They don’t wait until Friday night to get a few drinks with their colleagues. You could be invited for drinks anywhere, at any time.

It’s absolutely vital then that understand the rules.

Everyone will take turns to buy rounds or ‘shouts’. If you need to leave soon then make it’s your shout next. There is nothing worse in Australia than a ‘bludger’ who doesn’t buy rounds.

Christmas isn’t Christmassy

beach bbq australia

Australians dream of a white christmas too, except they're imagining the sand under their BBQs.

Temperatures can rise above 40 degrees here in December. Yet Australians still put up snowflake decorations and give each other cards with wintery scenes.

A summer Christmas can be disorientating if you’re coming from the Northern Hemisphere. But you can make your friends jealous by posting Christmas Day beach pics on Facebook (#sorrynotsorry).

Everyone deserves a ‘fair go’

Australia is the land of the ‘fair go’. That includes not being ripped off by hidden bank charges when you send money home.

You've bagged a great new place to live, but you still have bills or a mortgage to pay.
Using the banks or PayPal to send money can cost you up to 5%. That's expensive.

TransferWise is the fast, fair new way - this is how it works:

Download the App for iOS & Android.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more

Tips, news and updates for your location