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One of the things we love the most about living in a different country is seeing and learning about different ways of doing things. Canada and Australia are thought of as really similar culturally. But there are still lots of nuanced differences we notice.
As Canadians living in Australia, there are so many things I love about the Aussie lifestyle. I have made a list of Aussie things that I would love to see Canada adopt. A lot of them are things that I will really miss about Australia.
While we try to keep an open mind, some different things are harder than others to embrace. When we first moved here there were things that drove me crazy in the beginning, but I have now come to accept and sometimes prefer. Another day, I will share with you things I think Australia should adopt from Canada.
UPDATED at the end to include some great suggestions from my readers!
- 1 No Tipping
- 2 Taxes Included
- 3 Park BBQs
- 4 Round Abouts
- 5 Amazing Playgrounds
- 6 School Uniforms
- 7 Smashed Avo
- 8 4 Week Mandatory Vacation
- 9 Shoes Optional
- 10 Champagne All the Time
- 11 Long Service Leave
- 12 Bottle of Tap Water on Table
- 13 Drinking in Public
- 14 Relaxed Attitudes
- 15 Flat Whites
- 16 School Schedule
- 17 Canteens at School
- 18 Superannuation
- 19 Do you have More?
I love that you don’t have to tip in Australia. Change that, I love that Australians don’t tip at all. When we first moved here I wondered if it was completely true, this no tipping business. We have found it to be 100% true and I love that the price I see at a restaurant is the price that I pay. In fact Australians loath the whole idea of tipping and American businesses like cruise ships operating in Australia have had to adjust their pricing structures to reflect this.
I also feel good knowing that servers are being paid a decent wage. The minimum wage in Australia is almost $18/hour. Service is definitely no worse over here either.
Going along with no tipping, I love that taxes are included in the price I pay. No fumbling along with change and trying to do mental math to calculate your final bill or total price. What you see is what you pay. Why on earth can’t we embed the tax in our price in Canada?
Every little neighborhood park in Australia has free gas BBQs to use. Every weekend the parks are overflowing with birthday parties, picnics and get togethers, all with the smoky smell of a sausage sizzle. It is such a great way to enjoy local parks and get outside. Every day the council cleans them and they are ready to be used again.
In Canada, we would worry about the safety of the BBQs, worry about children using them and on and on. No worries here mate!
Where we live in Canada, round abouts are just starting to be introduced. The problem is that in Canada no one knows how to use them properly. I love how they keep traffic flowing and they are much easier to navigate than a 4-way stop.
Australia has the most amazing playgrounds. What makes them amazing? First off they are all different. In Canada every playground feels like a lightly modified version of the classic colourful plastic standard one. They may be fun for very young children, but kids get tired of the same thing all the time.
Australia’s playgrounds are varied, encourage kids to take managed risks and allow kids to use their creativity in play. This is because Australia invests in playgrounds; there is a playground near us that cost $10 million to build. It keeps my middle school aged kids entertained for hours.
When we first moved here this was one of things I was hesitant about, but have now come to love. Most Australian schools have uniforms including the mandatory and very cute SunSafe hats. While Ella bemoans not being able to express herself through her clothing, I love that all the kids are on the same ground. There is no debating what to wear in the morning and since kids own less clothing, it is much less expensive.
I dread going back to street clothes at school in Canada. Ella is already talking about what she is going to wear to school on the first day!
I think Melbourne has the best food scene in all of Australia and the smashed avo is a breakfast staple. In fact, the weekend cafe culture is incredible and every little cafe is buzzing and packed come Saturday and Sunday mornings.
The smashed avo is simple, but delicious and each little cafe finds a way to customize it just a little bit.
Serving sizes are much more reasonable in Australia and as a result you see a lot less obesity issues.
4 Week Mandatory Vacation
The minimum vacation time (called annual leave in Australia) is 4 weeks, mandated by the government. But it is not unusual for people to have 6-9 weeks annual leave in a year. Australians are well-traveled people and since they are so far away from the rest of the world, they need that time to travel internationally. It is not unusual at all for Australians to go on a 4-week trip to Europe or go to Thailand for 2 weeks.
In addition to having more vacation time than Canadians, Australians don’t feel the same urge to work through their holidays. Pretty much zero business gets done for the whole month of January, during summer holidays. While times are changing, I think Australians have a great work-life balance. This is definitely something North America could learn from Australia.
The Aussies are known to be laid back and kids (adults too!) really do walk around barefoot a lot. Going barefoot isn’t just for the beach in Australia; it seems perfectly acceptable to walk into public spaces without shoes. My kids have taken to this and their black, grubby feet drive me crazy! But, it is pretty cool that shoes are optional and it completely perpetuates that Aussie beach vibe.
Champagne All the Time
In Canada, we drink champagne at celebrations – we toast the newlyweds at weddings with it and we celebrate engagements and promotions with it. Here in Australia, they drink “bubbles” all the time. It certainly isn’t saved for special events. Since living in Australia, I have drank way more bubbles than I had in my prior 35 years! In fact I am embarrassed to admit that I had never properly opened a champagne cork before we moved here.
I am definitely planning to bring this back to Canada! When we first moved here I kept telling every one about how on Friday arvo (afternoon Aussie speak) after school we would get together in the local park for bubbles and nibbles. I was awed by this! It was such a fun way to end the week. I would probably get arrested if I tried it in Canada though.
Long Service Leave
In Australia, after you have worked for the same employer for 10 years, you are entitled to an extra 8 weeks of paid long service leave. They reward you for being loyal to one employer. We routinely hear about people taking epic 6 month trips with their families, using their long service leave. We know people that are using their leave to do a camping lap of Australia or an extended North American road trip.
Since Paul has worked for the same company since 2003, he would have accrued 13 weeks of long service leave if he had been working in Australia. Amazing isn’t it! And remember since Aussies have a lot of annual leave anyway, you can add them together to have a large chunk of time off, paid. What a great way to re-energize after being in the work world for 10 years. Especially since many of the people we know using their long service leave are our age and get to travel as a family.
Bottle of Tap Water on Table
In Canada, I feel bad not ordering a pricey drink at a restaurant. I feel bad asking for water. And I hate the freezing cold water I get served with those ice chips in them. Here in Australia, it is standard to be served a wine glass style bottle of room temperature water (and glasses) on your table as soon as you sit down.
I think this is catching on more in Canada now thankfully. It is good for the environment and good for our health (who needs those sugary drinks!)
Drinking in Public
Just writing “drinking in public” sounds not so classy because we are ingrained as North Americans to think that drinking in public is inappropriate. But, it is just not a big deal in Australia. Gavin is playing footie this year and last night was the launch evening at a local park. In addition to having a sausage sizzle, you could purchase wine and beer too. Were people intoxicated and acting inappropriately? Not at all. In fact school functions used to by BYO until very recently, when they have opted to make them dry.
On the weekends the parks are full of people having picnics and BBQs, with some bubbles, wine and beer. To me it is all part of Australia’s relaxed vibe and the assumption that people can act responsibly.
Australia’s overall relaxed attitude to everything is something I am going to really miss. Kids are allowed to climb trees in the school yard here, we don’t have to sign mountains of paperwork to carpool and drive kids to school events, and parents can prepare meals in the Canteen without taking excessive food handling courses.
“No worries mate” really is the motto Australians seem to live by and I really appreciate the casualness of life here.
I am not a coffee drinker and I have spent the last year and a half living in one of the most coffee obsessed cities in the world. Melburnians are very particular about their coffee and will discuss at length how each cafe prepares their coffee. I had no idea coffee was such a technical business.
I was talking with an Aussie the other day about coffee in Canada and they asked where we would go for a good coffee and I said Starbucks and they were absolutely appalled. Starbucks is almost non-existent here and independent coffee shops on every street corner, rule this country. Since, I don’t want to miss out on the beautifully frothed drinks, I have developed quite the chai latte habit.
The Australian school year is divided into 4 terms of about 10 weeks each. Between every term there is a 2 week school holiday break, in addition to the 5 week summer holiday break at Christmas and January. I think kids need these periodic breaks to re-energize between terms and it is so nice to have holidays spread out throughout the year.
The Canadian system is based on a time when children were involved in farming and needed a long break in the summer months to help out on farms. Study after study shows that kids loose a lot of ground in the 9 week summer school holidays in North America. Times have changed and since most kids are not helping out in the fields anymore, it is high time that our school schedule changed as well. Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers” lays out a very clear argument for why we need to move away from this extended summer holiday school schedule.
Canteens at School
I detest packing school lunches! Really I yearn to live in a country like France or Finland where school children are served healthy 3-course meals for free. However, I am also a huge fan of the primary school canteens that are typical in Australia. Our school canteen is open 3 days a week and serves the kids home-made hot lunches and snacks at recess. The canteen is mostly staffed by parent volunteers.
At recess the kids come up to window and can use pocket money to buy muffins, cheese toasties, cookies and other snacks. This is a great way for kids to get familiar with using money and teaches them all about opportunity cost. And it means I get a few days off packing lunches!
Before we moved to Australia this was a term I was completely unfamiliar with. The Australians in typical fashion just call it “super” and it is Australia’s mandatory retirement savings scheme. Your employer must pay money into your super account each year, which is managed by a super fund. The employer contribution rate is 9.5% of your income, but you get to choose which fund you want it to go into.
In Canada, we have a huge divide between public and private sector workers when it comes to pensions and superannuation puts all working Australians on the right course for retirement. You can read this article about what Canada can learn from Australian on the pension front.
Do you have More?
Have you been to Australia and Canada? What are some things you loved about Australia? I would love to hear – leave me a message in the comments!
While we love a lot of things about Australia, there are loads of things we love about our home country of Canada. I already have some notes on some things I would like to see Australia adopt from Canada – that will be coming soon in a separate post.
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