If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I passionately love living in Australia! If I had to choose between living in England vs living in Australia, Australia would win every time (sorry England but the blue sky, incredible beaches and stunning wildlife in Australia win me over every time).
A lot of people think that Australia is going to be very similar to the UK. They’d be wrong. It’s not just the time difference between the UK and Australia that is different (although that really does take some getting used to – especially when you like to call your family regularly!), or the seasonal differences (getting used to a hot and sunny Christmas also messes with your mind when you arrive!)
There are so many little differences between the UK and Australia.
Living in England vs Australia: Here are some of the differences
In England, our letterboxes were in our front door. In Australia, we have mailboxes at the end of our driveway meaning you need to go outside to collect your mail.
Firstly, don’t call it a bin lorry over here as you’ll get laughed at. It’s a bin truck in Australia, and instead of a team of people running up the street emptying your bin, it’s done with a mechanical arm that comes out of the back of the truck and grabs your bin and empties it!
I’m not a big drinker, but it still feels strange that in Queensland you can’t buy alcohol from the supermarket. There are bottle shops next door to the supermarket. Also, some of them are drive-through bottle shops so you can pull up and have your wine brought out to your car without even needing to get out!
When you order chips (known as ‘hot chips’ in Australia because chips are crisps here) at a takeaway, you’ll be asked if you want chicken salt on your chips. Even the MacDonald’s app defaults to chicken salt for your fries here, so if you don’t want it you need to ask for regular salt. Don’t ask me what chicken salt is – I have no interest in figuring out how they make salt from a chicken!
Closing time and public holidays
Shops close early in Australia. You won’t find many 24-hour supermarkets around. Shops tend to close on public holidays as well, and they often close early on Sundays. Takeaways charge you a surcharge on Sundays and public holidays.
Washing up bowls
You don’t generally get washing up bowls here – there’s a double sink instead meaning you can wash up in one and pour things away in the other (whereas in the UK bowls were more common with single sinks so you could still pour things down the side). I don’t miss them but I know a lot of expats who do.
No ice on your car windscreen
It’s an obvious one, but one which I never get bored of – I love never having to de-ice my car! Of course, there are colder parts of Australia, but in South East Queensland, I’m safe from ever having to do this.
Hot steering wheels!
But on the flipside, in Australia, you can burn your hands on your steering wheel if you leave your car outside on a hot day! You can also melt things in your car by accident (as my husband found out when he left a CD case on his dashboard one summer and it turned to mush!)
In the UK, you could park on the side of the road facing in either direction. In Australia, you can only park in the direction of the traffic. It takes a bit of getting used to but seems way more logical when you’ve been here a while!
Traffic lanes ending
When a traffic lane ends in the UK, it’s the outside lane that merges in. Here, it’s the inside lane that ends.
Different road rules for different states and territories
There are different road rules for things like doing U-turns depending on which state or territory you are in. Whereas you could drive from England to Scotland or Wales without needing to brush up on different road rules.
The UK is all on the same time zone. Australia has three different time zones, and you need to remember this when driving across state lines, or when arranging Zoom meetings with people in different states or territories!
When you’re paying in cash for an item that is 99c in Australia, you get charged $1 as there are no 1 cent or 2 cent coins and the amount gets rounded up.
Here postmen/women are known as a ‘postie’ and they ride a motorcycle on the grass in front of houses to deliver the mail to the mailboxes in the driveways. Also, there’s no post on a Saturday in Australia – even after all these years I still sometimes forget that.
In Australia, the land in front of your home is called the nature strip, and you don’t own it (even though it just looks like your front garden) and you aren’t allowed to park on it (not fully, or even a couple of wheels to park half on/half off the road). If you do, you can get a ticket. You’re expected to cut the grass on it though. It’s there for the postie to ride their bike on, and as a ‘footpath’ so people can walk/ride or push a pram/wheelchair without needing to be on the road (although really it’s not very accessible given it is uneven grass).
They don’t do pints of beer here. In Queensland at least, they have a ‘pot’ (similar to a half pint) or a schooner (a little less than a pint). While writing this post, I’ve just discovered that they actually use different words and different sizes for drinks all around Australia so have a read of this Wikipedia post for more info, but either way, don’t go to a bar and order a pint of you’ll get a funny look!
Central heating, double glazing and cavity walls
Even though Australia can get cool in winter, houses here don’t have central heating, double glazing or cavity walls and they often don’t have loft insulation. The air conditioning system can usually heat the house but it’s certainly not like central heating. Houses tend to feel like they’re built out of cardboard so it does feel cold inside when winter comes (often it feels warmer outside than inside!). In the UK, central heating was amazing in winter and you never needed to feel cold inside because houses were built to keep you warm.
In the UK, we barely ever cooked on a BBQ. Here it’s something we do every week, plus there are heaps of free, clean BBQ points all over the place. They’re cared for and well-maintained. It makes it so easy to go out and cook meals at the beach. And breakfast always tastes better when cook on the barbie!
Tipping isn’t expected in Australia unless the service goes above and beyond. Sometimes it can even offend people (I once tried to tip a hairdresser who did an amazing cut and she refused to take it!)
No more carpets or lino in the bathrooms, here in Australia you’ll find plenty of tiled floors. It keeps things cool and makes cleaning up easy.
Walking into town
In the UK, I used to walk everywhere and used to love walking into town. Here, everything is much further apart and suburbs are their own little towns. Walking isn’t such a great idea as the weather can be really extreme at times, so we drive a lot more.
Bathroom plug sockets
My electrician husband found it shocking (no pun intended!) to find that bathrooms in Australia have plug sockets next to the sink. And they don’t have pull cord light switches…Don’t get him started about house wiring safety here…
Water is scarce here so you take a lot more care of it and do what you can not to waste it. Also, because of the heat, you carry a bottle of water everywhere you go here (I find myself having a mini-panic if I go on the school run and forget my water bottle!). I didn’t even own a water bottle in the UK.
You no longer need to have a washing machine or dryer in your kitchen – in Australia, you have a separate laundry room. It makes life so much easier.
In Australia, you can go to any doctor you like – you don’t need to stick with the same one every time. GP surgeries open longer hours here (sometimes on Saturdays and Sundays too), and you can usually get an appointment the same day where I live. Back in Hampshire, I’d have to wait outside the surgery for 30 minutes before it opened in order to book an appointment in two weeks! Now I just ring up at any time and get one. (And our doctors bulk bills with no gap fee so it doesn’t cost us anything).
No longer do we need to wait for three hours at A&E for a minor injury – we have a minor trauma centre 15 mins away. Earlier this month, my daughter hurt her finger and she saw a GP, had an X-Ray and saw the GP again for the results and was out within half an hour! We’ve used it many times over the years and we’ve always been in and out really quickly. (Again, bulk billed with no fee to pay).
In Queensland, there is no TV license to pay, but if you have a dog you need to get a dog license!
It’s not mandatory to have fully comprehensive car insurance here in Queensland. Your car registration fee includes compulsory third-party insurance (which provides compensation if your car is involved in an accident that kills or injures someone.) This doesn’t cover you in the event of damage to your vehicle or someone else’s. It’s advisable that you still take it out separately as many people on the roads don’t have it. Somebody backed into my husband in a car pack a couple of years ago and they didn’t have insurance. Luckily we were insured so our insurance dealt with it and chased the lady up to cover the cost. Imagine if you didn’t have insurance and you hit a car worth $100k! You’d end up paying damages from your own pocket – ouch.
Wondering how different the UK is to Australia at Christmas time? Check out this post about Christmas Down Under.
In Queensland at least, we don’t have MOTs or anything similar. It can end up meaning some cars on the roads aren’t in the best condition. You can pay for a roadworthy check at the time of buying a car and that can be a good idea if your state doesn’t have anything in place like MOTs – we did that when we bought a car privately and it gave us peace of mind.
You can park more easily
There were times in the UK when we’d need to park a long walk from where we wanted to be – sometimes streets away! The street we lived on in Hampshire was chocablock with every bit of pavement taken. Each house had one single driveway and some households owned four or five cars between them so you can see how easily the street got overrun. Here, most houses have a double garage and driveway (meaning households have plenty of parking) and you can usually park on the street easily too. There is just so much more space here. And you can always get parked at supermarkets – even on weekends they don’t get that busy!
We don’t have airing cupboards in Australia!
We have lofts but they’re HOT and not usually boarded up to use in Australia like they were in the UK. Plus think about the spiders up there *shudders*. You store things in your garage here instead.
In Australia, they bag your groceries for you at the checkout (apart from at Aldi where you bag your own, but even there it’s way calmer than it was in the UK where they’d throw things at you down the conveyor belt!) Shopping is such a beautiful experience here and the checkout staff are always friendly and chatty.
Beetroot on burgers
Yes, that’s a thing in Australia. Burgers often have beetroot on them here, and can sometimes have extras like pineapple. So weird, right?
Cars are automatic
It’s much more common to have an automatic car in Australia than a manual.
Pies can be loaded
Meat pies are a common snack in Aus, and they can come loaded with mash, peas and all kinds of things on top (sometimes even cheese or salsa!) It’s not something I ever saw in the UK.
Front doors are unnecessary
As you use your garage all the time in Australia, you very rarely ever open your front door. We also get a lot less door-knockers here – in the UK we constantly had sales people knocking on our door so I definitely don’t miss that.
In England, newspapers would be posted through our letterbox. Here, they’re thrown somewhere in our driveway or front garden (exactly where doesn’t really seem to matter – it just lands somewhere on the property!).
Dogs are expected to be on leads here at all times unless you’re at a dog park or an off-lead area. Also, many people here have ‘outside dogs’ – where they’re left outside almost all of the time. It feels a bit alien to me not having your dog inside but I guess it’s because there is so much space here outside and it’s warmer weather.
Kids in Australia don’t generally get changed into a different uniform to do PE – they wear their full PE kit on certain days of the week ready for their PE lesson and a formal uniform on other days so they don’t need to get changed at school. It means they get hot and sweaty during the PE lesson and then have to stay in those clothes all day. It’s a bit strange but at least it means they aren’t getting changed and risking losing items of clothes all the time.
Schools don’t tend to have canteens here, or even have food halls to eat in. Our school (which is a huge school of almost 2000 kids) has a tuck shop that sells a wide range of foods like you’d get in a UK canteen so they can still get hot meals. The kids eat their tuck shop or packed lunch on the floor outside their classrooms in the shade. When making packed lunches, ice blocks and insulated lunch bags are essential in Australia too (something I never had in the UK when I was a kid)!
If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read 71 reasons why you should consider moving to Australia
Living in England vs Australia: There are so many differences!
Phew, this list of differences between living in the UK and Australia just kept on going and going and I’m sure I’ll keep coming back to it to add more as I think of them!
Can you think of any other differences?
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