Different countries, different customs – What you should know before you emigrate to Australia

It is a big step to emigrate, no matter whether Australia or another place is supposed to become   your new home. Emigrants have to put down fresh roots in their new home country. Diligent preparation and in-depth knowledge of the country’s customs will help you to make your emigration story a success. How does Australia tick?

Photo by Photoholgic on Unsplash


Way of life

Australians are helpful, sociable and hospitable. If you have problems finding your way around town, you may well be approached and offered help. You may even be accompanied to the desired address by a local person. People help each other, which a newcomer may particularly appreciate.

You may also be invited spontaneously to an aperitif or barbecue by people you hardly know (for now). It is customary in Down Under that you do not arrive empty-handed at your host’s place, but contribute something. This is called “bringing a plate”. It is also definitely not wrong to bring a bottle of wine or any other drink. However, please do not be surprised if the host serves you exactly the drink you brought, as this is not uncommon here. The bottle of wine is not meant as a thank you or anything like that, but as a drink that the guest would like to enjoy.

Do you like to shop or have a drink? You may be pleasantly surprised when a member of staff engages you in conversation. You may be asked if you have plans for the rest of the day or if you have something special planned for the weekend. I Interactions are  generally informal and nice.


Job Hunting

Job hunting in Australia has its own rules. If you have some work experience in your old country under your belt, it may not count for much down under. What counts most is “Australian experience”. How you get this experience, e.g. in the context of volunteering or in a not overly qualified job, is not so important. If you demonstrate flexibility, it is appreciated in Australia.

When looking for a job, don’t forget the so-called “hidden job market”. There are many jobs that go out under the table. This means that you should use your network or build one up if you don’t already have one. Don’t be afraid to let your social environment know that you are looking for a job.


Commuting / Travelling                         

Public transport is well developed in Australia’s metropolitan areas. In rural areas and provincial towns, however, this is not the case and travel by motor vehicle is preferable. There is still no national timetable for public transport. The individual states and regions function as self-contained networks.

Due to the long distances, you are very often dependent on a car in Australia. This is especially true in rural areas. If you settle in one of the larger cities or travel there for work, it is worthwhile to consider traffic, which can fluctuate greatly during the course of the day, when determining where to live. We all know that there are better things in life than being stuck in a traffic jam. You may also be one of the increasing number of commuters who scoot to work with the intention of beating the traffic.

Toll roads are relatively common. Organise an electronic toll tag for your vehicle as early as possible so you can use toll roads conveniently.


Old-age provision

Like Switzerland, Australia has a three-pillar pension system. The first pillar in Australia is tax-financed and basically provides only minimal coverage. However, you may not only be entitled to a retirement pension from the first pillar in Australia, but also in Switzerland. Clarify early on what the situation is in your case.

The 2nd pillar insurance in Down Under is provided by your employer. As a rule, you can freely determine the pension fund (so-called “superannuation” or just “super”) and also choose how the investment profile should look. You also have the option of securing your income and taking out disability and death insurance. As a rule, insurance against disability and death are already included in the standard policy with reduced coverage.

In general, it is the employer alone who pays the pension fund contributions. The contributions are usually made on top of your salary, i.e. they are not deducted. As an employee, you have the option of making voluntary contributions and deducting them from your taxes. This is called “salary sacrificing”.

If your financial situation Down Under allows it, you can save and invest voluntarily within the framework of the 3rd pillar and thus make additional provisions for the third stage of your life.

Health insurance

If you have the status of an “Australian resident”, you have access to the state or public health insurance “Medicare”. “Medicare” is tax-financed. The so-called “Medicare levy” usually amounts to 2% of taxable income. “Australian residents” are in particular persons with permanent residency or Australian citizenship. If you are not an Australian resident, you are not entitled to Medicare and must take out private health insurance.

Even if you are covered by Medicare, it may be worthwhile to take out additional health insurance with a private health insurer to close coverage gaps   (so-called “gap insurance”). Medicare does not cover every medical service; neither does it cover alternative medicine. With private insurance, you can ensure a free choice of hospital and doctor and reduce waiting times, especially in public hospitals. However, this coverage through a private health insurance can be quite expensive. Whether it is worthwhile for you depends primarily on your circumstances, financial means, as well as the condition of your health. It may end up being cheaper for you to pay out of your own pocket for medical services that are not covered by Medicare.