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Old 11-07-2008, 04:30 AM
 
Location: Winnetka, IL & Rolling Hills, CA
1,273 posts, read 2,690,064 times
Reputation: 533
Default What is it like to live in Australia?

I am wondering what it is like to live in Australia, particularly Melbourne and Sydney? Currently I live in Chicago, Illinois, USA, but I am looking to relocate somewhere in the summer of 2009. All of this curiousness started because I was emailed about possible employment in Sydney or Melbourne. I was surprised earlier this year to see the racially motivated riots in Sydney, and I don't want to raise my family in an area with major racial tensions (We have enough in the United States). Having never travelled to Australia I am particularly interested in these points:

- Culture
- Cost of Living Education
- Racial Tension
- Education
- Housing Styles
- Taxes
- Politics
- Demographics

I think that is it! Cannot wait for responses.
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Old 11-07-2008, 05:13 AM
 
Location: London
200 posts, read 721,539 times
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Some of the questions you asked vary considerably upon location - not unlike the US.

Cultrure - The Brits think of Australian Culture as an oxymoron which is pretty arrogant. But Melbourne is actually a very cultrural place. It is probably the Arts capital of Australia.

Cost of Living - Varies considerably in different parts of the country. Sydney has a very high cost of living. Over all you will probably find it higher than America. But the minimum wage is three times a higher.

Education - If you can't afford to pay University fees or get a student load Australia has what is known as HECS. Higher Education Contribution Scheme. Personally think it's an excellent idea. You go to University without any up front fees and repay via your taxation until the fees are paid off.

Racial Tension - Like the US varies considerably upon region. Melbourne has a Chinese born mayor and is very mult cultural. If you go work in Melbourne you'll most likely work in an environment where people are from all over the world. Northern Queensland on the other hand is about as redneck and racist as you can get.

Housing Styles - Again varies considerably. It's a country the same size as the 48 continental states of the US so you have a huge variety of housing styles. In Queensland you have a lot of colonial style houses. In Melbourne more European. etc.

Taxes - Similar in structure to the US although higher at the top end.

Politics - Is generally more to the left than the US. John Howard was probably the most conservative PM we've had in a long time but he still didn't get rif of Medicare the national health service. He wanted to but politically he couldn't. Religion doesn't influence Politics as much. Whilst Rudd is a Christian we have elected openly Agnostic PMs. eg Hawke, Curtain, Chifley.

In answer to your question of the 194 or 195 countries there are in the world it is a very nice place to live and grow up. It's got it's faults. I've been away from there for about 4 and a half years ago. Whe I go back at Christmas I relish the lack of crowds. I hire a car and love the fact that I can get on the open road and there's a long distance between towns. Some things I used to hate about the place I now really miss. ie The she'll be right mate attitude used to p.... me off but after living in London where people are so uptight I yearn for it. It'll probabbly p... me off again when I return there.
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Old 11-07-2008, 05:36 AM
 
Location: Winnetka, IL & Rolling Hills, CA
1,273 posts, read 2,690,064 times
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Cost of Living - How much does your average 2,400 square foot house cost in Melbourne or Sydney?

Education - How does the, what we call in America the K-12 educational system work? Does Australia allow those with U.S. citizenship to enroll in public schools?

Taxes - How much would a family with 1 child and a combined income of 280,000 AUD in taxes or what rate would they pay?

Politics - How would a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) family be treated (LDS members are not polygamist)?

Are there any suburban areas of Sydney or Melbourne? How is the economy in Australia? How is the credit system in Australia? Is it easy to get a mortgage? Is it easy to get credit? Do you have credit scores? Do you inherit your US credit score? Do non-citizens obtain credit scores?
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Old 11-07-2008, 06:40 AM
 
Location: Hong Kong
339 posts, read 788,464 times
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Wow, you've asked a lot of questions there!

I lived in Sydney for 6 years. First off, I just want to say that the 'racial riots' were completely blown out of proportion, it was more like a big fight between local louts. We were living there at the time (2-3 years ago I think) and regarded it with little more than mild passing interest on the TV. It in no way affected a majority of the population. There have been no more incidents like it since in Sydney as far as I'm aware. On the whole Sydney is very multicultural and doesn't exhibit the same sort of 'segregation' that you see in the US i.e. between black & white. This is not an issue you need to worry about. On the whole, Australian cities are pretty safe.

Taxes - check Australian Taxation Office Homepage for tax rates and other info. $280K is a significant salary and you'll be right in the top bracket. Don't forget the US also taxes it's citizens even when they are abroad. I think it applies once you earn more than $80K US.

I don't believe there are any issues with enrolling your kids in public school as long as they are resident. Most public schools are decent, some are great. Depends on the area. You always have the private ed option too. In Sydney that could set you back in excess of $20K per year for a child at high school.

Average housing cost - very high. Sydney is out of this world expensive. A freestanding house of that size in a good suburb (i.e. 10km of the city centre) would be in excess of 1 million, in many cases significantly more esp. close to the beach. The further you go out, the cheaper it gets. Basically, the further west you go the less desirable it is. The median price is about $500K. You also pay high stamp duty on property purchases (i.e. $750K house in NSW attracts $30K stamp duty which you cannot borrow so you have to factor that into your deposit).

If you are going to stay only a few years your best bet would probably be to rent as rents are still relatively low compared to buying. That way you could afford to live in a really desirable suburb too. see www.domain.com.au for rents and home prices. For Sydney check suburbs in the lower north shore and eastern suburbs - these are desirable areas. The inner west still has some nice areas but not as desirable on the whole.

Sydney and Melbourne both have lots of suburban areas. If you chose to live in a suburb a long way from the city you will more than make up for the savings in commuting costs - both money and time.

I don't think as an LDS you would be considered differently than anyone else. Presuambly the only way people would know is if you told them and even then most wouldn't think much of it.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you need any further specifics on Sydney. I can't help with Melbourne sorry (although its a lovely city too).
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Old 11-07-2008, 06:50 AM
 
Location: Hong Kong
339 posts, read 788,464 times
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Can I also suggest two things:

1. If you are serious about the move, invest in flights to your chosen city for your family to visit before you move. This will be invaluable and put your minds to reast about a lot of questions you may have. I relocated overseas recently and this was invaluable.

2. Use an exclusive buyers agent if you are serious about buying a house. Unlike the US buyers agents they charge you fees (and this can run into the tens of thousands) but they work exclusively for you. This will save you time, stress and possibly money. see Buyers' Agent - Sydney Real Estate Buyers' Agent - Advocate Advice for buying property in Sydney for an example. There are many if you do a search on google. This will help you to negotiate a market you know nothing about.
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Old 11-07-2008, 06:55 PM
 
Location: Texas
718 posts, read 1,574,892 times
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Just an FYI, while we were in Sydney, we visited an attorney who specializes in immigration and work sponsored visa programs. According to the attorney, you are responsible for your children's fees and expenses when enrolling them in public school. We were told it was in the thousand's of dollars. He did go on to say a lot of employers who were sponsoring a long term work visa often paid those fees, but not always. That was one of the things which led us away from a long term visa.

We stayed in the North Ryde and Chatswood area and loved it! Close to the city but the traffic was always horrible!!!

The good news is there are some really CHEAP airfares to the area right now, according to some of the websites. It might be a good time to head down there and check it out for yourself. Good luck.
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Old 11-07-2008, 07:56 PM
 
9,072 posts, read 11,965,829 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billsaintkilda View Post
The she'll be right mate attitude used to p.... me off but after living in London where people are so uptight I yearn for it. It'll probabbly p... me off again when I return there.
LOL. When I first moved to Oz from New York that "she'll be right" attitude used to drive me crazy. It took me about a month to slow down and appreciate it and start adapting. Now that I'm back in North America and get on that subway daily.. I do miss that "she'll be right" attitude -- but if anyone on my staff has that attitude they better shape up (LOL)!

The one thing I miss is talking a walk on a sunny Sunday in Adelaide and strangers greeting me with a G'day. A mate of mine from NYC came to visit and he told me when he got back to NY he was smiling at strangers and saying "Good morning" and getting funny looks back.

I am going to miss being on a warm beach at Christmas and watching santa surf. Hmm.. I am off to check on prices for flights back...

Last edited by minibrings; 11-07-2008 at 09:09 PM..
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Old 11-08-2008, 12:41 AM
 
Location: Winnetka, IL & Rolling Hills, CA
1,273 posts, read 2,690,064 times
Reputation: 533
Are schools in the Albert Park and Port Melbourne areas good? How is public transportation in that area? Is that area safe?
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Old 11-08-2008, 05:50 AM
 
Location: London
200 posts, read 721,539 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by US-Traveller View Post
Are schools in the Albert Park and Port Melbourne areas good? How is public transportation in that area? Is that area safe?
They're really nice areas with good access to public transport. Not sure about the schools.
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Old 11-09-2008, 06:04 AM
 
787 posts, read 1,047,647 times
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Quote:
Racial Tension - Like the US varies considerably upon region. Melbourne has a Chinese born mayor and is very mult cultural. If you go work in Melbourne you'll most likely work in an environment where people are from all over the world. Northern Queensland on the other hand is about as redneck and racist as you can get.
imo, this paints an unfair image upon both places - cairns for example, is basically a glorified tourist resort exposed to many different cultures as they descend upon it and Melbourne is notorious for its anti-italian, greek and vietnamese past. Not saying that Melbourne is incredibly racist, but it's not void of it either, and any visit to north queensland doesn't mean you've got a high chance of encountering racism. That said, if there's one group people seem to be openly criticized all over Australia, it's Americans due to their government's recent actions.

Quote:
Taxes - How much would a family with 1 child and a combined income of 280,000 AUD in taxes or what rate would they pay?
expect almost a half of that to go in federal income tax.

Quote:
Politics - How would a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) family be treated (LDS members are not polygamist)?
not that it matters to you, but legally you cannot marry more than one wife or husband. LDS members wont be treated any differently to other christians, though.
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