There are several differences between Australia and the US that we’ve noticed since moving here. Its mostly small things, but they’re small things that can take a lot of adjusting to. Here are some examples:
Cell phones are called mobile phones and their plans are completely different to those in the states. It costs more to call a mobile phone, but it doesn’t cost anything to receive a call on your mobile. Our plan is what they call a “cap” plan. Meaning I pay $49 a month for my phone and I get $300 worth of calls and txts for the month. If I go over the $300 worth of calls, etc. then I am charged on top of the $49. Seems complicated, but really its not. I don’t think I’ve gone over the cap since we’ve had them, so I’ve paid $49 a month. Mike is on a $29 cap, but he knows far less people to call, and his phone includes Skype and 4000 free minutes of Skype calls.
You can pay anyone directly from your bank account, regardless of what bank they’re with. We pay our rent by making a transfer from our account, to my mum’s account, once a week. We are with the same bank she is, but even if she was with another bank, we’d still be able to do it, so long as we have her account info.
Internet plans. Yes, you need a PLAN for your internet. Its not like you pay $60 a month and you’re connected and good to go. Internet plans give you a limited number of megabytes or gigabytes of data usage. You can get 2 gb of data usage over a slow connection, or over a faster connection, or you can get 50+ gb. You pay more the faster the speed and the more usage. We’ve found one provider who will give you unlimited access for as little as $50 a month, but its very slow, or faster unlimited for $100 a month.
We don’t have cable (or “pay” as its called here) TV, because we can’t really justify the expense yet. I’m not going to get my TNT with Law & Order reruns, so there’s not much point. Everything we watch is on basic TV. But Foxtel, one of the providers, just got the tivo/dvr equivalent. They call it “PVR” (personal video recorder). I’m not sure if it works exactly the same or if its a little different.
Back on the subject of our bank, while being able to pay anyone or anything directly from our account is neat, it is NOT neat that there are practically NO stand-alone banks, and no drive-thru ATMs. It is a royal hassle to get cash out. Basically, you get it out when you get groceries, or if you go to the mall you get it out then. Because there’s no other quick place to get it from. And they charge you to make more than 5 bill-pays online a month, that sucks too. But you can open a sub account with them that earns 6.5% interest.
Fast food…it may sound GOOD that there are few fast food options, but it, too, can be inconvenient. The closest fast food to where we live is 15 minutes away and its McDonalds. Your fast food choices in Australia are Subway, McDonalds, Hungry Jacks, KFC, Red Rooster, Noodle Box or fish and chips, if you count that. There is no Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell, Atlanta Bread Company or Wendys (well, there is, but its an ice cream shop).
Going out to dinner is a once-a-month occurrence, rather than a 3-times-a-week occurrence. It is nice to eat at home, though, and its much too expensive to go out to eat a lot here anyway. It will be especially nice when we move into the townhouse and Mike is 2 seconds away from work. This afternoon we sat in traffic and I was highly irritated by the time we got home. I thought we left Atlanta to get away from crap like wasting time in traffic!
I’m sure there are more things I could add to the list, but those are the ones that we’ve noticed the most so far.
Some things, however, seem to be constant across the world…like bad drivers. There are some major IDIOTS on the roads here, just like in Atlanta!! People are still inconsiderate, kids still have poor manners, companies still treat their employees like crap (but most have decent holiday plans!), and really, no matter where in the world you live, you have problems. I thought moving here would be the answer to everything, but it has come with its own downfalls. But being so close to my family with baby Nicklas on the way more than makes up for it all. Its just interesting to think that I had the Gold Coast and Australia in general on this pedestal, and it hasn’t quite lived up to it. We’ll see how the next 6 months go, maybe it can still make it up to me!