How to adjust to life in Australia


It would be pretty difficult to turn down an opportunity to move to a place nicknamed “Oz.”

Approximately, 29% of Australia’s population was born overseas, showing that you’re in good company if you have recently made that leap “Down Under.”

But this year, as the coronavirus pandemic found its way into the Pacific Ocean, moving to Australia required some additional adjustments beyond the usual season reversal (Christmas in summer, anyone?) and grasping Australians’ love of Vegemite.

We’ve compiled a few tips to make those adjustments, financial and cultural, more of a breeze.

1. Fun finances

Many Australians use the ANZ, National Australia Bank, Commbank, and/or Westpac as their banks of choice. But since last year, neobanks, like Volt and Xinja, have started to make their entry in Australia, meaning you’ll have plenty of options for banking. But, when in doubt, ask neighbors, colleagues, friends, and do your research before signing up.

Australia is not known for being cheap. Be sure to create a budget that allows you to meet your musts — rent or mortgage, transportation, groceries, obligations back home, etc — and wants — takeaway meals, trips, subscriptions, etc. Also, given it's a pandemic, budget for those emergency scenarios.

2. Money without borders

Moving is expensive. That’s a fact. The costs can ultimately reach several thousands of dollars. So, where possible, it’s important not to make things unnecessarily expensive, such as by overpaying on transfer fees or exchange rates when you send money internationally. Banks, PayPal and brokers are often deceptively expensive.

Wise is different. It always gives you the real, mid-market exchange rate for a low-cost, transparent fee. Wise’s online account lets you send money for a fraction of the price compared to banks and PayPal — no matter whether you’re transferring money for loans, a home, moving costs or to support family.

Wise’s multi-currency account also lets you hold balances in over 50 currencies, send and receive payments, and spend or shop internationally with its debit card. It means you won’t be charged the high international transaction fees or exchange rates that other providers charge.

3. Keeping up with COVID

If you’ve moved to Australia during COVID, you’re quite lucky. Australia has responded rather strongly — New South Wales only just opened up its border to neighboring state Victoria after several months, per Reuters — and is beginning to ease some restrictions.

COVID measures in Australia largely involved closing parts of the economy, new border restrictions, and other measures to stop the spread of the virus. Various jurisdictions have even been known to respond rather aggressively to small outbreaks, like imposing multi-day lockdowns. So, if you’re in Australia, stay on top of the latest developments as they appear to respond quickly and efficiently. Consider downloading their tracing app as well, the COVIDSafe app, from the Department of Health.

Australia has an excellent healthcare system, but for peace of mind away from your home country, ensure that you limit any potential exposure to the virus, such as where crowds may surface.

4. Do domestic travel

Don’t expect too much international travel — for now. Australians have reportedly been rediscovering their own terrain for a change of scenery.

“Coronavirus deaths remain under 1,000. Schools and restaurants are open, sports are being played, and friends are gathering for dinner parties. But people stick to where they can drive and what they know, and a lot of work still occurs from home,” the New York Times reported in October about Aussies and their attitude towards COVID.

But, despite being seemingly isolated in its corner of the globe, Australia’s domestic travel options could fulfill any wanderlust. Given Australia’s still strict response to COVID, rules around domestic travel between territories is, of course, subject to change. But if you can manage, be sure to explore cities like Sydney for postcard sights like the Sydney Opera House and Melbourne for its coffee culture and Victorian architecture. And if there’s one positive to COVID, it’s been forcing us to rediscover the great outdoors. Australia boasts beautiful national parks, such as Daintree and Mount Kosciuszko. But it appears that so long as COVID lingers, such visits will require a booking.

5. The coffee craze, a love for Vegemite, and out of Outbacks

While you’re staying indoors, perhaps you can practice your barista skills. Australians love coffee and their coffee culture has caught the attention of others worldwide. So, a solidly brewed flat white with perfected foam art could make you pretty popular beyond Melbourne or Sydney, too.

But with their coffee obsession also comes their enjoyment of Vegemite. It’s a paste made of yeast extract flavored with some spices and, you guessed it, vegetables. While I understand that description probably doesn’t do it justice, it’s essentially a savory spread for toast, perfect for “Brekkie.”

Lastly, and this goes to the Americans, don’t expect any Outback Steakhouses or “blooming onions.” You’ll be greeted with a confused look — these Australian-themed restaurants are not really Australian!


2020 was understandably a tough year to move anywhere. It’s tough to limit possible adjustments to a few as some may evolve as the coronavirus situation changes. But Wise can at least be a cheap and convenient solution to one of your financial stresses — sending money abroad.

Need to send or receive money internationally? Wise can help you manage your money across borders more cheaply and easily. Join our 9 million customers at, or through our Android or iOS app.

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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