Australia is uniquely a continent and a country; in fact it is the smallest continent and the sixth largest country in the world. With a population of just over 21 million spread over nearly 3 million square miles, there is plenty of empty space for everyone! As Australia is an island, more than 80% of the flora and fauna can only be found here. The uniqueness of the Australian wildlife and the wide open spaces are part of the appeal for many wishing to move here.
Australia was founded on immigrants and is very multicultural. Consequently only 0.45% of the population is aboriginal Australian, with 53% European and 29% naturalized Australian accounting for the majority of the population today. Historically it was part of the British Empire until 1931 but Queen Elizabeth is still the monarch, which is a somewhat controversial topic. Australia is a huge and empty country and it has always encouraged immigration from Europe. Initially convicts were deported to Australia as a punishment for their crimes. In the 1960s many British families were given incentives to move to Australia. After the abolition of the White Australia policy, immigration has also been encouraged from Asia, giving a wider multicultural ethnicity.
It is still a very popular place to visit for holidays, long vacations and gap year students. It is more Americanized than British though in many ways. Some of the major attractions are the Great Barrier Reef, the Tropical Rainforest, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, the sunshine and the beautiful beaches everywhere.
The quality of life in Australia is seen as exceptionally good. Health care and life expectancy are high, public education is good and there is a strong history of economic freedom. Political freedom is respected and civil liberties are protected. Jobs are widely available, although as immigration policies have tightened, potential immigrants usually need to be able to offer a skill or vocation in order for a work permit to be granted. Alternatively, retirees and other applicants can obtain a visa if they are able to show they have considerable wealth and private self-funded healthcare.
English is the official language spoken in Australia, so for a large part of the world this is a great advantage. Australians do have a distinct accent though. It is easy to watch TV, read the newspapers and converse with the locals who are always friendly. You do however need some extra vocabulary, such as boomerang, didgeridoo, kookaburra and koala!
Australia is so big that it encompasses several climates. In the north it can be hot and tropical. Melbourne has a Mediterranean climate, whilst Tasmania is temperate, like England. As it is in the southern hemisphere, the summer in Australia corresponds to the coldest months in Europe and America. There is an ideal climate for everyone visiting Australia, you just have to do your research and decide where you want to live.
Australian restaurants and food are excellent, with wonderful steaks and fresh fish often cooked on the “barbie” or grill. Order “bush tucker” in a restaurant and you will receive a platter of smoked emu, crocodile and kangaroo which is quite delicious. Crocodile meat tastes like white fishy chicken and kangaroo is a tender lean red meat. Many restaurants are BYOB, which is Bring your own Bottle. Visit the local bottle shop to pick up a bottle of cheap Australian wine, and the restaurant will open and pour it for you. This makes eating out very reasonable. Restaurant food is much cheaper than in Europe anyway and locally produced wine is both abundant and cheap.
Real estate in Australia is plentiful and much cheaper than in Europe or in some American city hotspots. Use a local real estate agent to guide you through the many choices you will have to make. Properties generally are large, modern single-family homes on spacious lots. They often have a swimming pool and every modern amenity. The housing market is less robust than it was and the median price of a good-sized family home in Brisbane is currently around $380,000. However this is in a coastal town with good communications and plenty of well-paid jobs in the city. In Tasmania houses are perhaps half this price as it is very rural with low job prospects. Houses are also cheaper around Cairns, North Queensland, although it is a wonderful place to live with so much to see and do there. If you are shipping furniture to Australia it will be a long and expensive process, and may not be worth the costs. It is advisable to get an estimate from an international moving company before deciding what to do with your worldly goods.
If you are looking for a laid-back lifestyle in a civilized, safe country with a high standard of living at affordable prices, Australia comes out tops every time. The only downside is it is a very long way from anywhere else!