5 shocking things you'll discover if you're an Australian in the U.S.

21.02.17
3 minute read
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Thinking of moving to America? You’re not alone. In fact, there are over 130,000 Australians currently living in the U.S.

But while the language may stay the same, there are tons of differences between American and Australian culture.

TransferWise customers who’ve already made the move shared five valuable lessons that you’ll learn when you move to the U.S.


The minimum wage is..wait, how much?

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In Australia, if you’re over twenty years old, the national minimum wage is $17.70. In America, it’s $7.25 per hour.

Ian, an Australian emigrant from Sydney, shared his initial thoughts:

“I would say good luck to anyone who moves to America and accepts a job that only pays minimum wage. In Australia, the cost of living in major cities is very high and the minimum wage reflects that. Restaurant servers, as well as anyone, make minimum wage. So I was absolutely shocked to find out that in America, servers who make more than $30 a month in tips only make a minimum wage of only $2.13 per hour. Back home, that would be unheard of.”

In the U.S., a lot of those who work in the restaurant and service industry depend on tips for a living, as it can make up most of their salary. Standard tipping etiquette can be useful to learn when making the move to the U.S.


Fahren-what?

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If your American friend says it's 30 degrees out, you might want to think twice before grabbing your favorite pair of shades and thongs.

While almost everyone else abides by the metric system, America’s one of three countries in the world that doesn’t.

They use feet, yards, miles, pounds and Fahrenheit instead of meters, kilometers, kilograms, tonnes and Celsius. This can make for a lot of confusion communicating things like the temperature, the distance between two points or how much something weighs.


Their higher education comes with a much higher price tag

colleges

Australians know that their country has a pretty sweet deal for higher education.

In Australia, it's standard that if you can afford to pay your own tuition, you’ll receive a discount on the cost. Or, if you need to take out a student loan, you can apply for one that’s interest-free. When you finish your education, your loan gets deducted automatically through your salary (this can only happen if you’re able to clear a minimum annual salary.) If you never hit the minimum, then you simply don’t have to pay back the loan.

However, in America, a lot of higher education hopefuls need to apply for student loans that carry interest, as well as pay higher tuition fees. Additionally, that they have to pay back their loans no matter how much money they make later down the line. This unfortunately has led to student debt being the leading type of debt amongst Americans.


Watch out...they drive on the wrong side of the road

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Even though it's on the right, does that make it right?

Americans drive on the right side of the road, but that doesn’t mean that it’s an easy transition to make when you move there.

Especially since freeways, turnpikes and driving in general in any major U.S. city can be overwhelming (think Los Angeles or New York City.) Learning how to navigate the chaos while driving on the opposite side of the road won't seem to help.


Machines that dry your clothes for you?

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From taking long showers to using electric dryers to dry their clothes, most Americans might, at first glance, seem to be less punctual in trying to save water and electricity as drought-ridden Australians.

Emma, an Australian living in the U.S., explains:

“Because of the great weather year-round in Cairns, we tend to leave our clothing out to dry on the line or have drying racks in the house. So I was really surprised when I moved to America to see almost everyone had their own dryer. I was also quite surprised by how liberally they use water. In Australia, we have a lot of bush fires so you’re taught at a young age to try to preserve water.”


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Your bank might say it's "free" or offer a "fixed fee" to send money home but they hit you with as much as 3% or more on the exchange rate mark-up they use.

TransferWise charges just 1% or 0.7% over $5,000 with no mark-up - that means you get a far better exchange rate.

What do we mean by a mark-up? Take a look:

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