Escaping to Australia: What you need to know

We spoke to two British expats in Australia about their experience Down Under,
and why you shouldn’t be nervous about migrating to The Lucky Country.

Australia. 11,761 beaches containing one big untameable desert. An ancient continent
roamed by mammals made by a five year-old who stitched random limbs from all her
fluffy animals together, and insects sent from the devil himself. Still, that’s a lot of

So many beaches in fact that young, sun-starved Brits are increasingly considering
moving to Australia as a viable option. Last June, over 19,230 UK nationals moved to
Australia, up massively from the 2,400 who made the switch in June 2022. Moreover;
the average age for arrivals to Australia has decreased over the years. It’s now just 27.

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that here in the UK we all know someone who’s
either moved or travelled to Australia, or has half an eye on doing so, especially if you’re
a Uni student or graduate.

If you’re one of those considering going Down Under then you’re most likely looking at
two options for Visas: Skilled Work Visa or Working Holiday Visa.

The first is a more permanent option, with the Australian government having a Skilled
Occupation List. If your occupation is in demand and you have the relevant
qualifications then you’ll go through a skills assessment. If you pass that, you can apply
for the Visa with all the necessary documents. You’ll also need to pay the visa
application fees which vary but normally start at around AU$3000.

Alternatively, the second is for young people aged 18-30 who want to travel and work in
Australia for up to 12 months.

This is the type of visa that Georgia Keeley, 21, from The Wirral, is on. Her brother lives
in Perth and her mum has lived in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Unlike most young people here then, Georgia saw glimpses of Down Under as she was
growing up, unsurprisingly influencing whether she would ever live there or not. Her
mind was made up quickly. She now lives in Melbourne and has plenty of insight to give
on adjusting to Australian life.

“I loved it here. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where I thought I want to live here. So,
I had that in mind. I’d been at university for three years, not knowing what to do

“I needed to get out. I needed to see the world. Also, they speak English here and I
have family. So that’s probably why I thought: Australia”.

Earlier mornings but slower days

Georgia thinks that the single biggest change which any aspiring expat will need to get
used to is the new cultural expectations of what a working day looks like.

“Culturally, they’re very get up and go,” Georgia believes. “That’s the first thing you’d

“They’ll be up at 5 or 6 or 7am. It’ll be busy outside with people running, chatting,
walking and doing all sorts of exercise and going to cafés.”

In an age where social media has made us more health conscious than ever, Australia
is touted as having one of the healthiest populations on Earth. Bloomberg’s Global
Health Index ranked them as the 7th healthiest country in 2019. The UK sits at 18th.

If you’re looking to live somewhere which generally normalises earlier mornings and a
more active, exercise driven lifestyle, then Australia might be for you.

Someone who had similar motivations for moving to Georgia was James Jones, 25.
James lived in Ealing before moving to Ranwick, Sydney. He also cited wanting to get
out and explore as a big reason for moving.

“I wanted to get out of the country, partly to run away from some problems here. I’d had
enough and here they spoke English,” said James.

“I also wanted to see Bondi Beach because I’d watched a lot of Bondi Rescue. I’d
always been fascinated with Australia, probably because of shows like that.”

“People’s work schedules are 6 or 7am to 3pm so they can get things out of the way.
The place is designed for early risers.”

“The pace of the work here in Sydney is a lot slower too. Ideas about productivity are a
lot more chilled and that’s okay.”

Cost of living and work

As great as it is to know that Australia is more relaxed about work, how does the more
boring stuff, like the cost of living, stack up against the UK?

“Me and my flatmates (who are also from England) were talking about this today,” said

“They were saying that they don’t think food is particularly more expensive here. I think
there are certain things that are more expensive. Chicken is way more expensive here
than at home. Otherwise, I’d say it’s a high cost of living but not much more than at
home, unless you’re in Western Australia then I would say that’s cheaper than the more
popular East Coast.”

“You don’t have to spend much money to have such a good day and that’s what I really
appreciate about Australia.”

“In Western Australia, I’d say it’s cheaper for accommodation and rent. I would also say
that if you are in Western Australia then you have to get a car, so there’s that cost of
living too.”

“Whereas if you’re in Melbourne, accommodation is more expensive but you’re less
likely to need a car so that’s one less expense.”

While James accepts that “Sydney is the hardest city to live in” in Australia, the
ex-Londoner massively values the “affordability and freedom to do more here.”

“Because the economy here is in a much better state than in the UK, the money you
take from work is greater because that money is worth more,” James said.

James is a prime example of someone who has used a Skilled Work Visa to thrive down
under, and live a quality of life he wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“I work in scaffolding. There’s so much more opportunities here regarding that line of
work. Although its a trade at home, meaning I’d need to have loads of different

“Here, as long as you have the skills, you can turn up to a city can get work in
construction maximum 5 days later. That’s even in Sydney.”

For young men/women who don’t feel as if they have a future in the UK but have skills
in construction, it’s easy to see why Australia is a safe destination. Additionally, if you’re
considering going Down Under with a construction work visa, then the most important
piece of advice is: don’t be afraid, you will find work.

You’ll gravitate towards other Brits

Under most circumstances, making new friends who speak the same language and have the same humour over 9,000 miles away would be a struggle.

However; the largest expat community in Australia are UK born residents. In 2016, the Australian census surveyed 1.1 million of them.

“I live with three other English girls who I met at University,” said Georgia. “I also have other friends which are just a whole group of British expats.”

“So most people that I meet are actually British because you’re meeting people through friends of friends.”

Overall, the main takeaway from Georgia and James’ experience is to not be afraid, despite all the changes. Changes like a different, slower lifestyle will take some getting used to but are healthier and more sustainable in the long run.

Additionally, if you’ve made it to Australia with a Visa in the first place, then you’ll find work just fine and be financially stable.

Finally, as there’s so many British expats Down Under with similar experiences, you’ll make friends easily through work, leisure and just generally experiencing all that Australia has to offer.

If the thing that’s stopping you from making the switch is fear about what might go wrong, about being lonely, about not finding work, then know that thousands have had that fear before you. Thousands more have gone onto being proud Australians.

An Australian’s perspective on moving Down Under

Lochy Campbell, now 31, moved to West Acton, London, in February 2016 from New South Wales but unexpectedly moved back in February 2017 after attending a funeral at
home and simply never coming back to the UK.

“The cost of living in London at the time was comparable to living in Sydney. However, from the few bartending and labouring jobs I had, they paid like I was some kind of
slave,” Lochy said.

“I think Brits wanting to move to Australia makes a lot of sense. It’s a big open country with great weather and even better beaches.”

“For any Brits wanting to move to Australia, I would encourage it. If you can hire yourself a car, travelling up and down the south coast of Australia is beautiful, plus you’ll get to
drive on the right side of the road.”

“Although the cost of living is pretty high at the moment, jobs often pay well.”

“The main thing I would point out is to figure out beforehand whether it’s a holiday or
whether you want to live here. That way you can put more focus on finding residency. The current housing crisis in Australia is a big issue. It’s hard for many working class
people to find a home, let alone an affordable one.”

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