Going from South-East Asia to Australia is extremely common among long-term backpackers. It’s close in proximity, you can find cheap flights with AirAsia, and the money-making opportunities down here are pretty great. If you come to Australia with the goal in mind to make money, you can find yourself stacking up some cash pretty quickly (just be careful, it can be spent pretty fast as well).
During my year in South-East Asia, I met countless people who had plans on extending their travels in Australia. After a couple months of exploring options, I finally applied for my visa, booked a flight, and moved to Sydney.
After any long-term backpacking trip, it can be weird to go home. It can also be really weird continuing your travels in a foreign country. It’s definitely a big change of pace from the laid-back lifestyle I had in South-East Asia, but it’s been absolutely incredible. There are some positive and negative aspects of this big transition.
Check out my list of 17 things that happen when you move from South-East Asia to Australia.
1) You’ll switch from buying bottled water to drinking the tap water.
When you’re backpacking South-East Asia, you always find yourself buying bottled water. It’s not that big of a deal though, because bottles rarely cost more than 50 cents. This becomes a habit. You’ve gotten used to the fact that you can’t drink the tap water, and have already accepted that this a necessary daily purchase. But when you get to Australia — you’ll quickly realize that this is no longer a luxury you can afford. Large bottles of water here can cost you $5 at a quick-e mart. Ridiculous right? Just get a water bottle, and fill it up from a faucet
2) You’ll laugh when you see Thai massages for a promotional price of $45.
For the past several months, you’ve been getting pampered with $3-$10 massages. When you move to Australia, you’ll quickly realize that you won’t be able to “treat yo self” to a daily massage anymore. You’ll see the advertisements at Thai massage parlors, and burst with laughter at the thought.
3) You’ll stop asking for the Wi-Fi password
In South-East Asia, pretty much every café, restaurant, and bar has wi-fi these days. It might be painfully slow, but at least you can do the basic social-networking stuff. In Australia, free wi-fi is pretty much non-existent. I was shocked when I went to a coffee-shop and asked them for the password, and they replied that they don’t even have wi-fi. It’s just not a thing here. Everyone has a phone plan with a data package, and none of the establishments here feel the need to offer free internet.
4) You’ll cry when you look at the price of food at restaurants, and drinks at bars.
So. Many. Tears. Why is food so expensive in Australia? I don’t want to pay $20 for a burger, and I certainly will not pay $7 more just to get fries and a drink. On the bright side, at least you’ll lose a bit of weight living and working here because of semi-starvation.
Oh, and alcohol? If you plan on drinking on a weekly basis here — you’ll probably be drinking Goon (extremely cheap wine in a bag). The struggle is real.
5) You’ll eat plenty of Domino’s & Subway for cheaper eating options.
When grocery shopping is a bit expensive, and cooking in the crowded hostel kitchen is annoying — you’ll always be on the look-out for a good deal. Thank God for Fast Food. (T.G.F.F). Domino’s and Subway have got you covered when you need a big and delicious meal, and you’re on the struggling backpacker budget.
6) You’ll go to 7-11 and crave a Ham & Cheese Croissant Toastie
You are well aware that these delicious treats are only sold at 7-11’s in Thailand. You were pissed off when you couldn’t find them in Malaysia, and you’ll feel that exact same feeling when you can’t purchase them in Australia.
7) You’ll take off your backpacker bracelets for job interviews.
“Nope. I don’t want to. They are never coming off.” Well, unfortunately your backpacker attire will eventually have to be removed. It’s great you have some travel souvenirs, and I know that each of those bracelets reminds you of a certain time and place in your life. Whether it’s that group of friends in Cambodia — or your tubing mates in Laos. Building up a solid collection of travel bracelets is really common out in South-East Asia — but you can’t be going to job interviews with all those ratty and withered bands on your arm.
8) You’ll get a decent job with relatively high wages to save up some money for more travel.
After going to a couple different recruitment agencies, you will land a job that you may or may not enjoy. It doesn’t matter if you like it or not though, especially once you get your first paycheck. The only thing you can think about is saving this money, and heading off on another backpacking trip. You’ll think after every paycheck, “Wow, I could live off this in Vietnam for at least three weeks”.
9) You’ll have the urge to bargain down the price of expensive taxi rides.
No can do. In Australia, you’ll have to get used to the meter (which has a high start rate, and increases ridiculously quick). Definitely look into signing up for an UBER account as well. It can help out, and can actually be cheaper at times.
10) You’ll lose your tan from sitting inside an office all day at work.
You’re days of spending all day frolicking at the beach are over (unless you land a job with night shifts). You’ll still have plenty of time to hit the beach and soak up the UV rays on the weekend, but it might be a bit harder to maintain that perfect tan. (Doesn’t quite apply to me though. Ginger problems)
11) You’ll actually know what day of the week it is.
When you’re on a long-term backpacking trip, you’ll quickly lose track of what day of the week it is. Everyday you wake up, and you are free to do with it as you please. Monday vs. Saturday — doesn’t matter. However, when you get out to Australia — that is no longer the case. You’ll have a job with a weekly schedule, and might even be getting paid more if you’re working on the weekends. There’s also always different events and music festivals happening on the weekends!
12) You’ll be shocked at the cost of living and the low-quality of hostels.
Most people will be staying a hostel for at least a week or two before they get fully settled in Australia. When you start apartment hunting, you’ll practically be in tears thinking about how much of your hard-earned paychecks will need to go to rent. If you want your own room, you’ll be expected to pay at least 220-250 per week. It’s frustrating, but that’s just Australia. When it comes to hostels, in South-East Asia if you pay $10-$15 per night, it will be at a pretty upscale place, with relatively nice amenities. In Australia, you can expect to pay at least $18-20 per night for a budget hostel, and it unfortunately won’t be the nicest place. Try to limit your time at the hostels. Find a good shared room apartment, and move in as quick as possible.
13) You’ll miss saying “hello”, “goodbye”, “please”, and “thank you” in foreign languages.
It will be nice hearing English everywhere you go at first, but than you’ll start to miss the little things about backpacking in South-East Asia. For example, learning and practicing just the basic phrases you need when you’re traveling. You might even accidentally greet some one in Thai, or say goodbye in Bahasa once or twice.
14) You’ll notice there are still Asians everywhere
You might think your days of being surrounded by Asians speaking languages you don’t understand are over — WRONG. I might have only been here for a month, but in Sydney I have definitely noticed that there is a very large Asian population here. It’s not a bad a thing at all, it was just a little surprising. Especially when I go to cheap little restaurants where I’m hoping for similar Asian prices, and see it’s over $10 for a single rice dish!
15) You’ll add some words to your vocabulary
Check out the blog posts I wrote titled “14 Words You’ll Start Saying when you Move to Australia“. It just goes over some fun words that Australians use. Cheers, mate, arvo, and more.
16) You’ll Stop Fearing Public Restrooms
Let’s just put it out there. Bathrooms in South-East Asia can be dirty as shit. Squat toilets. Bum guns. No flush. Well, you can say goodbye to those. Public bathrooms are very well maintained here in Australia. The benefits of moving back to a Westernized country.
17) You’ll miss South-East Asia, but you’ll be stoked for your new adventures in Australia!
Backpacking South-East Asia is definitely a life-changing experience, but so is having the opportunity to live and work abroad in Australia! It’s not too difficult to find work, the culture is amazing, and there are so many incredible places to visit. It might take some getting used to at first, but extending your travels by completing a Working Holiday Visa in Australia is a decision you will not regret!
Moving to Australia for a Working Holiday Visa after finishing backpacking trip from South-East Asia is really common. It might take some time to adjust back into a Westernized country, but it will be a decision that you wont regret.
Are you currently backpacking South-East Asia and want to make the move over to Australia!? Feel free to Contact Me with any questions you have. I was pretty damn nervous to make the move over here, but it is has been incredible so far!
Thanks for reading! Share with your backpacker friends!