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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Working in Australia Is Great, but Life Is Unaffordable

Expats in Australia enjoy a great working life and an amazing natural environment, but they struggle to afford living in this popular destination.

Australia comes 20th out of 53 destinations in the Expat Insider 2023 survey. Expats rate it very highly as a destination for Working Abroad (10th) and are especially happy with the local job market (2nd). The natural environment and the ability to freely express themselves (both 10th) are more major highlights. However, expats struggle with their Personal Finances (44th) and local housing costs (46th). Overall, 76% of expats are happy with their life in Australia, compared to 72% globally.

Top-Tier Work Culture

Expats praise working life in Australia, voting the country 10th in the Working Abroad Index. They are especially satisfied with their Career Prospects (8th): Australia ranks 2nd for its job market. Nearly two in three expats (64%) are happy with their personal career opportunities there (vs. 57% globally).

And once they get a job, they seem to enjoy the work culture too. Expats report that the local business culture promotes independent work (62% happy vs. 46% globally), creativity (64% vs. 51% globally), and flexibility (80% vs. 60% globally). This flexibility may also have a positive impact on their high satisfaction with their work-life balance (9th) and working hours (10th). Despite all this, the country only ranks midfield for overall job satisfaction (30th).

It’s Beautiful, but Isolated

When it comes to the Quality of Life (19th), the Land Down Under has a major drawback. Australia ranks 51st for its travel opportunities, which may not be much of a surprise, considering its location. But expats can experience a lot without leaving the country’s shores.

Australia ranks 9th in the Environment & Climate Subcategory. Most expats (93%) praise its natural environment (vs. 84% globally). “Australia is one of the most beautiful places I know, with unique wildlife, beautiful beaches, and tropical rainforests,” shares an Italian expat. And while its culture and nightlife leave a lot to be desired (20% unhappy vs. 15% globally), expats enjoy the many opportunities for recreational sports (87% happy vs. 75% globally).

“Australia is too far from any other place in the world … even New Zealand is 3.5 hours away!” – Expat in Melbourne

Troubles with the Basics of Expat Life

Australia ranks midfield throughout the Ease of Settling In Index (21st), with fairly average results for all factors. However, there are many ups and downs in the Expat Essentials Index (19th). The Admin Topics Subcategory (10th) reflects these contrasts. While expats find it very easy to set up a bank account (2nd), it is very difficult to obtain a visa to move there (46th).

Australia’s Digital Life (17th) also gets mixed reviews. Nearly all expats (96%) say it is easy to pay without cash (vs. 84% globally) but report difficulties with getting high-speed internet access at home (45th). Housing (44th) is another weak spot, with 59% of expats considering accommodation unaffordable (vs. 42% globally) and 38% saying it is hard to find in the first place (vs. 31% globally).

“There is not enough affordable housing, especially for retired people. And the cost of rent is ridiculous.” – British expat

Financial Problems All Around

Pricy housing probably plays a role with regard to the country’s bottom 10 ranking in the Personal Finance Index (44th). Nearly half the expats (48%) are unhappy with the general cost of living in Australia (vs. 35% globally). “The cost of living is just getting more expensive,” notes a US American expat. In fact, over one in three expats (35%) say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 27% globally).

Further Reading