Recently in one of the American Expat forums that I’m a member of, a friend posted a photo of a product that we all knew and loved back in the US but that hasn’t been available in Australia until just recently. The thread of comments from excited Americans was never ending! Then just days later, we had a new employee start at our office (from North America) who has been learning (very quickly through nights out drinking with our colleagues) that life in Australia is quite different from back home.  It got me thinking (as I do every so often) about all the things that are a little unexpected when people first arrive down under. So I’ve decided to compile a list of just a few of those things. Who doesn’t love a good list every now and again?

Of course there are the usual things one must think about like visas… I personally didn’t use an immigration agent to help me immigrate but plenty of people do. If you’re super organised, you probably don’t need one. However if you are a little all over the place, maybe look into having someone help out with all the headaches of the visa process. There are plenty of agencies like who offer immigration and relocation services.

But then there are just a few of the things you don’t always think about…

It’s not always sunny in Australia. Many people picture Australia to be full of sunshine all the time- some parts are not this way at all. Make sure you do your weather research. For instance, Sydney rains a lot in the summer- something I wasn’t expecting after living in southern California my whole life. Melbourne can be brutally cold and windy. Where you’re moving will definitely determine what you need to pack.


Some of your favourite foods that you grew up with will likely be missing from supermarket shelves. Get in touch with some fellow expats before you leave to find out if they stock your faves here. Otherwise, you may be kicking yourself for not packing that Costco sized bag of jet puff marshmallows.

Tips and flashing your cash doesn’t always pay off.  Want to get into that hot night club? Think twice before passing the bouncer a $20. You may get lucky, but he may just look at you like you’re a complete tool.

Females- Australia only JUST started carrying ONE brand of plastic applicator tampons. You have been warned… stock up before you depart!

Everyone seems to remember that Christmas will be in summer and Easter in autumn (weird right?), but one thing you forget about is your birthday! Did you spend your whole life celebrating your July birthday at the beach or pool with all your friends having drinks in the summer sun? Well prepare to shift those plans because your birthday will now be cold!

One word. Taxes. Be prepared for the nightmare that is filing in two countries, every 6 months.

And one last important note for you all. Be prepared to never want to leave! Even with all the griping I sometimes do, I still smile every time I pull into Sydney Harbour on a beautiful sunny day. I still am in awe that I can walk out my door and within 10 minutes be at some of the beaches I would have paid thousands to see just a few years back. And most of all, I am over the moon that I get to live here in this beautiful country with the Aussie love of my life.


1 thought on “I Wasn’t Expecting That”

  1. And…that anytime you mention the applicator thing-o to your Aussie mates, they’ll tell you to get over yourself or ask if you’re ‘too good for the stick’. Or should I say, there are some things you just can’t expect the natives to be empathetic about 😉

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