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Living Australia: The most important differences to Germany

The Life in australia differs in many ways from that in Germany, Switzerland or Austria, although Down Under has been strongly influenced by European culture. The national language is English, the Australian cities are clean and modern, the cuisine is quite British and the whole nation is passionate about sports. But what is the essential difference to the way of life that is so familiar to us? One thing is clear: The Aussies have mastered the philosophy of "Easy Living" like no other nation.


Brief overview

There is no doubt that this country has developed its own culture over the years, one that is increasingly detaching itself from its British roots. One reason for this is certainly the multiculturalism that makes life in Australia so diverse and colorful. The Asian influence in particular is unmistakable in the metropolises. Nowadays, every city and supermarket assortment can no longer be imagined without Asian cuisine. But Italy, Greece, Lebanon and India also have a great influence on everyday life in Australia. To this day, Down Under is the country par excellence for many emigrants from various nations.

Australia is one of the most sparsely populated countries on earth, with over 92% of the population living in the country's metropolitan areas. This makes it very easy to escape the big city life and enjoy the unique beauty of nature. Due to the fact that the sun shines almost everywhere in Down Under and the temperatures are usually between 20 and 30 degrees, life in Australia mainly takes place outdoors. Whether it's a BBQ in the park, various sports activities or a drink in the street café around the corner, everyday life on the 5th continent is geared towards being able to enjoy the good weather at all times. But beach life is also a defining factor that characterizes the quality of life in this country.


numbers and facts

  • There are around half a million Aborigines, around ¾ of them live in the cities.
  • Although the red continent is 21 times larger than Germany, only 25 million people live here. That is just 3 inhabitants per km² (compared to Germany: 229 inhabitants per km²).
  • The gross domestic product per inhabitant is approximately $ 48,000.
  • The form of government is a parliamentary monarchy and the head of state is Queen Elizabeth II.
  • 92% of the population are of European, 7% of Asian and 2.5% of indigenous descent.
  • The unemployment rate is usually well below that in Europe, economic growth is extremely strong and the general price level is quite high (but so is income).
  • Life in Australia is characterized by an above-average quality that is almost nowhere to be found in the world.

All differences at a glance

As already indicated, Australia was strongly influenced by the fact that the continent had belonged to Great Britain as a colony for a long time since its European discovery by James Cook in 1770 and was still under the influence of the crown afterwards. At the same time, however, the greater involvement of the Aborigines and the influences of immigrants from other nations resulted in ever greater cultural differences from the former colonial power - even more so since 1986, when Great Britain also submitted the last claims through the "Australia Act".

Today, life in Australia is therefore a fascinating and, above all, unique mix, which differs in many places in decisive ways from life in Germany and which for many is the decisive attraction to emigrate. We are now going to show you some of the most important points between living in Australia and living in Germany.


The many ethnicities in Australia

In the past few decades, Germany became a country of immigration relatively late - a story that only began in any noteworthy form with the arrival of the first guest workers from abroad in the mid-1950s. In Australia, the exact opposite prevails: the fifth continent has been a country of immigration since 1770.

An important marker in this story is the fact that Australia was (also) used as a convict colony by Great Britain between the late 1700s and the late 1860s. This means that criminals (a very broad term at the time) from the British Isles and Ireland were banished to the fifth continent by ship as a punishment.

But even if many of today's Australians look back with pride on these roots (which also made an important contribution to the self-image of the "Digger"), other people also immigrated from the start. For example soldiers and administrative officials to work there.

In addition, the gigantic continent, which has not been deeply discovered for a long time, has also attracted many more settlers since its colonial early days who emigrated to Australia and sought their fortune - not only from Great Britain, but literally from “all over the world”.

If you emigrate to Australia today, you will therefore find a country in which people from around 200 nations live (around 25 percent of Australians were not born there). This also means that there is a far more complex consensus in Australia about what constitutes a “real Australian”: For most, it primarily means living that famous culture of “mateship”, i.e. cultivating classless cohesion - a cultural one Thought in which the society of Great Britain, once sharply built up along class differences, certainly served the Australians as a negative example.

Ultimately, emigrating to Australia means for (many) Germans also having to learn to look at everything more relaxed and to discard many thought patterns based on status symbols, professional prestige, etc. For most Australians, a mate is someone who is friendly, open, friendly, a good neighbor - no matter what job they do, how much they have in their bank account, etc.

By the way: Get used to the fact that addressing people by first name is the norm in Australia and that the emphasis on titles is not particularly popular.


Other rules & laws

Even if Australia has been an independent nation in every respect for over 30 years, there are many points that cannot hide how strong the British influence still is. This also applies to the laws and regulations "down under". For example, much of the police and judiciary are still similar to the UK system; it even goes so far that the normal police officer is addressed as a "constable" and some judges still wear artistic wigs ("wigs").

The most important other differences to Germany:

  • In general, violations of the law are punished more severely than ours.
  • If there were injuries in a car accident, the police must always be called in.
  • Alcohol is generally only sold from the age of 18, not like ours, where a distinction is made between brandy and beer / wine / sparkling wine.
  • Similar to many US states, the public consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited by law in Australia and subject to severe fines.
  • Anyone who smokes in a prohibited zone can expect fines of up to AUD 10,000 even for the first offense.
  • Helmets are compulsory on everything that has two wheels - including bicycles.
  • The gun laws are much stricter, especially when it comes to knives. Important: This often extends to comparatively harmless pocket knives!

Please also note that to apply for a visa for Australia that goes beyond the normal visitor visa (600), you must also state any previous convictions. If there are any, it is at the discretion of the officials to reject it.


Money & Finance

The Australian dollar is slightly weaker than the euro. The current exchange rate is EUR / AUD 1: 1.62. But beyond that, there is more that you should know about finance.

The most important point: the tax burden. Germany ranks among the best in the world when it comes to per capita taxation. In 2019, an average employee had to pay 49.4 percent of their gross wages in the form of taxes. In the same year it was only 27.9 percent in Australia - this is largely due to the fact that there a) the health insurance is not debited personally, b) the payment into the pension insurance in Australia is made entirely by the employer with nine percent of the gross annual salary and c ) there is also no charge for unemployment insurance. This, as well as health insurance, is financed Down Under from general tax revenues.


  • The principle of evaluation by scoring via Schufa or other credit agencies, which is common in Germany, exists in a similar form in Australia. There, however, there is no such disproportionately important credit agency as Schufa, but the market is divided relatively equally among several companies.
  • The Australians are far more fond of electronic numbers. Around two thirds of all transactions there are made by card, whereas with us it is only half.
  • A cash cap has been in effect in Australia since summer 2019: since then, goods and services over a value of AUD 9,999 may no longer be paid for in cash, but must be made by check or card via an account; In Germany, such a principle has been discussed for some time, but has not yet been anchored in law.
  • In Germany there is no general obligation to file a tax return - unlike in Australia. There are even penalties there if the declaration is not filed between July 1st and October 31st.

However, you must also note that the general price level on the fifth continent is higher than here. That means the tax savings in particular won't have as dramatic an impact on people living and working in Australia as you might think now.


Health Insurance & Doctors

Of course, living in Australia also means needing a doctor every now and then. A central point has already been listed: the health insurance there is financed entirely from general tax revenues; Incidentally, it bears the name "Medicare". As a result, the personal tax burden for health insurance is around 1.5 percent (in Germany it is eight percent).

The British roots are also evident in the Australian health system: the systems in both countries are similar in many ways, but most experts are of the opinion that the Australian system is better. The most important differences to Germany are:

  • There are two classes of doctors. Only those who are Medicare approved are paid entirely out of the system. With other medical professionals, patients have to bear the majority of the costs themselves and pay them from their own account - or take out additional insurance.
  • Ambulances are not covered by insurance in all states and territories in Australia. The prices for an assignment are usually divided into a general flat rate and a kilometer price. Many who have lived in Australia for a longer period of time therefore take out “Ambulance Insurance”, an insurance policy that only covers such journeys.
  • The services of ophthalmologists and dentists are covered by Medicare to an even lower degree than by the German statutory health insurers. Here, too, many Australians take out additional insurance.

In contrast, all drugs prescribed by a doctor are covered to a high percentage by Medicare. The co-payment in pharmacies is accordingly much lower for you than in Germany.


The Aussies' outlook on life

“The German lives to work”. You may be familiar with this saying; it was and is often used as a comparison to other countries - not only, as in the original proverb, to France or the French. And as far as the general “Australian way” is concerned, the difference is quickly apparent.

In many places, you will find that while Australians are a performance-driven, working society like ours. In addition, there are significant differences to Germany: As a rule, most Australians are more relaxed, less dogged when it comes to tackling and coping with tasks and work. Many Germans also emphasize that there is a much more optimistic and positive attitude towards life than in Germany. Even if there has recently been criticism that the work-life balance has changed for the worse. An important reason for this is the sharp increase in commuting distances, depending on the state.

To classify this Australian species, you need to know the unofficial motto: "No worries" - no worries. You will see and hear it a lot on the continent: It is an important part of local slang, the already mentioned mateship and even a central part of the local linguistic discourse.

Background: Many Australians have a comparatively pragmatic approach to problems and challenges that cannot be adequately described as “don't see it that closely”. For them it is more likely that a path should offer usable solutions now, in the present, rather than in the future. For many who come to Australia from outside, it seems like a very successful balancing act that manages to achieve motivation and punctuality in an almost playful and relaxed way. Incidentally, this is one of the main reasons why so many people from other countries view Australia and the Australians very positively.

For you this means that you should work on yourself to weaken certain “typically German” patterns of thought and action - because these at least clearly identify you as a “foreigner” and can sometimes also ensure that conflicts arise; for example, because you are unconsciously too formal or formulate criticism too directly.


The mirror image of the seasons

If they want to live in Australia, this point will most likely give them the longest settling-in period. It can often last years, sometimes even decades, depending on how long you lived in Germany before.

In general, the climate zones in Australia are completely different from those in Germany. This even applies to the mild climate in the south of the continent, which can best be compared with that in the Mediterranean areas of Europe. Overall, you can state that you will have to get used to climatic aspects in your new life in Australia.

However, that's not the hardest part. The most critical point for many emigrants from the northern hemisphere is the mirror image of the seasons. You too have (probably subconsciously) internalized it for decades that, for example, Christmas takes place in winter, that the trees bloom in April and May and the leaves fall between September and November.

So don't underestimate how much the Australian seasons can unbalance, or at least confuse, your internal clock. This is further reinforced by the fact that many things that are also part of the Australian cultural norm were shaped by the situation in the northern hemisphere: for example, the connection of Christmas with snow, Christmas trees or a sleigh-riding Santa in a thick winter coat.

You should therefore be prepared for the fact that many things will still feel "somehow wrong" in this regard, even years after you emigrated. However, this is exactly why they should immerse themselves as deeply as possible in the Australian approach to the seasons: for example, spending Christmas with friends and family on the beach. This will help you to accept this new normal more quickly.


Celebrations & bar visits

In Down Under, the "quality time" after work and on the weekend is very important and characterizes life in Australia significantly. Anyone who works hard there has every right in the world to have a really good time afterwards - “Work hard, party harder” is another unofficial motto of the country, especially in young circles.

Again there are a lot of differences to what you know from Germany:

  • In pubs, clubs and other localities it is absolutely common for one member in turn to order a round for the whole group. Individual orders are frowned upon by most - also because they take up too much time for the waitress at the table.
  • When a round of beer is ordered, the “jug” is the usual unit of measurement - a large glass jug from which everyone at the table can help themselves.
  • Pubs, in particular, are not "moping-up" places. Anyone who goes here wants to have fun - which is why the mood in most pubs also makes waves.
  • Demarcation is frowned upon when partying. Even if individual groups visit the localities, mixing (also with complete strangers) is a good thing.
  • Musically, clubs in Australia place far less value on being "underground" or on playing lesser-known music or having such DJs perform. On the contrary, most of them follow the mainstream more, so they are increasingly playing the latest music and music from the charts. By the way: Most clubs have a very restrictive dress code, especially for male visitors.
  • If you like to drink canned beer, you should get used to the term “tinnie” and not speak of the more logical sounding “can (of beer)”.
  • Because of the high alcohol prices, private parties are usually unspoken “BYO” - “Bring your own”. That is, guests bring the alcoholic beverages they consume themselves.

Very important for clubbers: It is absolutely uncommon in Australia for club nights to start at such an extremely late (or better earlier) hour as is now common, especially in major German cities. Most clubs close their doors at three in the morning.

By the way: If you don't like Australian beer, you will find at least a basic selection of major German beer brands in most liquor stores.


The absolute no-gos

We have already listed a few things that you should avoid after emigrating to Australia in the previous chapters. However, there are more things that can be dangerous mainly because they are handled very differently between Germany and Australia:

  • If you have a backpack or shoulder bag with you in a shop, please do not go through the checkout area without opening it briefly and showing it to the cashier.
  • As proud as some Australians cite any ancestors who came to the continent as prisoners, it is frowned upon in discussions - most locals want to get away from the cliché of the "penal colony". The topic of Aborigines should be dealt with in a similar way. Apropos:
  • Aborigines are under no circumstances (!) Referred to as “subscriptions” in Australia, this is a serious racist insult. The terms "Aboriginal People" and "Indigenous People" are correct.
  • There is a shortage of water in Australia. Long showers, lush lawn sprinkling and the like are therefore an absolute taboo.
  • Even if the beach section may seem so lonely, unclothed bathing is only legal in designated (“clothing optional”) sections. Upper body free tanning depends on the location. It's best to stick to the way other beachgoers do it.
  • And one last time there is a bit of British style in living in Australia: if you see a line of people, just stand in the back. Pushing ahead is frowned upon in Australia even more than here.

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