We’ve been in Australia for just over three months already and I wanted to share with you our favourite things so far. Some of these things are major lifestyle improvements, while others are just small things that make a life a little bit easier.
My favourite things about living in Brisbane
It’s amazing living somewhere you don’t need to worry about taking a jumper. I’m sure as winter comes around I’ll turn soft and start to feel the cold again but right now, even on rainy days, it’s hot. Even at night. I love it. So long as I also have air conditioning nearby 🙂
There are lots of major attractions around Brisbane. These include things like the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and Australia Zoo as well as lots of theme parks. Entry fees are reasonable and annual passes are really good value here (we’ve bought passes to both Lone Pine and Australia Zoo), meaning we can go out on day trips a lot more often than we could afford to in the UK. We’re also perfectly placed in between the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast for day trips or weekends away.
We’re in a great location to take holidays to New Zealand and the South Pacific Islands without a long haul flight. Vanuatu is on our hit list and I really want to take the kids back to Fiji and the Cook Islands, both of which we visited on our round the world trip before they arrived.
The sea is always warm. My kids used to hate going in the sea – now they can’t get enough of it. T2 has always been scared of water and even hated the paddling pool back in the UK. Now he screams when it’s time to leave the beach and he begs to go in our pool every day. T1 even swims underwater – something he would never do a few months ago.
The kids have been inspired to learn so much about the local wildlife. Seeing their faces light up when they first saw koalas and kangaroos in the wild was incredible. There are even koalas living in the grounds of their new school. They are loving seeing animals for the first time and learning all about them.
Everyone I’ve met seems passionate about staying active. It’s quite infectious. There’s great cycle/walking tracks along the coast, plenty of parks have adult gym equipment in and people actually head out to exercise on the weekend around 6am to enjoy the day before the sun gets too strong. I’m not sure I’ll be taking it THAT seriously, but I like the idea of moving more in the fresh air.
The parks here are incredible. They are well-maintained, often undercover and many of them have toilets and bbq facilities around them too.
Driving is a lot easier here. The roads are wide, where I live there are cycle tracks making it much safer for cyclists, and parking bays are bigger. Parking in the suburbs is also generally free. Yes, FREE – even at the beach or the shops. And finding a space isn’t usually too difficult, even at peak times. Even our school has a really big car park for dropping off, unlike all of the schools close to where we used to live in the UK.
There are a lot more small, independent shops and niche stores. And as all stores are new to us here, it makes shopping a bit more exciting. It also makes it difficult to find specific things, but we’re slowly getting the hang of it. It’s a very strange experience living without the three As: Argos, Asda and Amazon, but not necessarily a bad one and I’m sure after a few more months of getting our bearings we’ll be used to it.
We don’t have to wear shoes and socks. Flip flops (or thongs, which feels totally wrong to say out loud) and sandals are all we need. Or bare feet, which the kids usually prefer.
The people we’ve met so far have been so friendly. A family we didn’t know before we arrived lent us a sofa, camping gear, mattresses and bedding for a month while we waited for our container. The people who ran our holiday let helped us out by giving us a lift to collect our hire car and generally being lovely to us. The staff in car sales places were amazing with the kids. I can’t name a single person who has been anything other than welcoming.
The houses have so much more space around them. Almost all houses are detached (although there are plenty of apartments and units near the beach too). The garden we have here is smaller, but the house is much bigger and having that extra space inside is going to make a massive difference to the way we live our lives. (It’s too hot to use a big garden anyway, so we’re not missing it.) There is a second sitting room which gives the kids extra space and keeps the main living area as Lego and dinosaur-free as possible (i.e. not very), and I also have a large office to work from for the first time in five years. This makes me very happy. We couldn’t afford to rent anything like this back home and by Aussie standards what we have is quite modest – there are much bigger houses out there to choose from.
Food shopping is much better than I’d expected. The meat here doesn’t feel filled with water – a roast chicken is chicken instead of all juice. Steaks are cheap compared with the UK and I also like the RSPCA rating on the meat here. The fruit and veg are generally much bigger and taster too – I ordered some celery and the bunch that arrived was so big I couldn’t fit it in my fridge! Husband is loving the seedless watermelons – something he’s been hankering after since we visited Australia a few years ago. The kids have even started eating fruit other than apples and bananas too. Our next door neighbour has a mango tree and invited us to help ourselves to any we can reach whenever we like. The kids get so excited about picking a mango and bringing it inside to eat. Food isn’t any more expensive than the UK either – I’d say I spend a similar amount. And I can still get Marmite from the English aisle. Phew.
You don’t have to queue up in the bank to see a cashier. Instead you take a ticket, sit down and they call you when they’re ready. The staff give you their business cards with a direct phone line to their desk printed on, and they give you their email address in case you have any problems meaning you can actually get in touch with a real person if you need to. They also remember you. Honestly, I’m not joking. I know that computer systems exist that prompt staff to ask about your holiday or whatever you’d mentioned the last time you were in: this isn’t that. They genuinely seem to want to chat to you. It’s a bit unsettling but rather nice.
Most of all, I think my favourite thing is that we’ve moved to a new place together as a family. Every day trip is a new experience for all of us and we’re having adventures together. I love that I have a long list of places I want to go – from beaches and theme parks to island tours and wildlife encounters. I’m looking forward to doing all of them as a family and introducing the kids to their new home.
Enjoying the journey
When I stepped on the plane to move my family of five to Australia, I had a mini panic; what if it didn’t live up to our expectations. I needn’t have worried. It’s not exactly how I expected, and obviously some things are very hard (like leaving friends and family behind), but that’s OK. It feels like home to me. A home that I’m looking forward to getting to know more. A home that I’m excited to have the chance explore. This was 100% the right move for our family.
Moving across the world isn’t for everyone. Our new lifestyle certainly isn’t for everyone. But what matters is it’s right for us right now.
T2 summed it up when I asked him what was his favourite thing about our first Christmas Day in Australia. I expected him to say getting his new Hot Wheels track or How to Train Your Dragon toys. Instead he said: “Going for a walk on the beach in the sunshine, mummy”. Sometimes it’s the simple things that matter.
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