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How to adjust to life in Australia as a Spanish expat

Adjusting to life in Australia as an expat from Spain

When moving to Australia from Spain, you need to plan your accommodation, visas, employment and the bigger details of this life-changing move. You can prepare easily for all the above by looking online, checking forums or even in our guide to moving to Australia.

However there are cultural differences that you will only truly understand when you arrive, the funny quirks or norms that you should prepare for when you plan to move to Australia from Spain.

Differences for Spanish expats living in Australia

Australia shares some similarities with Spain. A great reputation for producing wine, beautiful weather and a stunning coastline.

However there are some differences that a Spanish person will have to adjust to if they are moving to Australia.


The Spanish Imposition

vineyard at sunset

Australia has embraced Spanish cuisine and wine with open arms and un beso for each cheek.

There are a host of Australian eateries and restaurants selling Spanish style food, along with successful wineries across the territories. Today you can now enjoy a glass of Australian Tempranillo from the Spanish red wine grape variety.

However one adjustment a Spanish expat must make when living abroad is with their wallet. For a Spanish person, there are many typical delicacies that are easy and cheap to buy in Spain but when in Australia, they are much harder to find and a lot more expensive. Speciality Spanish food like Jamón Iberico or Manchego cheese is considered a "luxury" and priced as such.


Office-to-bar socialising

people talking over dinner at table

Another adjustment a Spanish expat overseas must make to life in Australia is the structure of the working week and the hours for socialising. For many Spanish people, when making plans to meet friends after work for food, this means a late dinner at around 8-8.30pm that is enjoyed over the course of a few hours followed by sobremesa.

Considering the normal workday in Spain lasts until 8pm, with an average two-hour lunch break or siesta between 2pm and 5pm, your day is long. In Australia, not only does the working day end earlier, but when making plans to hang out with friends, there's more of an emphasis on going straight from the office to the bar for drinks first, and food (if at all!) second.

Enjoy the sun - but not too much

sun beach

Sun-screen and sun protection is taken very seriously in Australia.

Why? There is an urban legend that the “ozone hole” is directly over Australia, which is false. However it is true the ozone layer has thinned over the mid-latitudes which includes Australia. This has meant a five to nine per cent depletion of the ozone layer in Australia since the 1960s, which has increased the risk that Australians already face from UV rays due to their love of the great outdoors.

So, although you might hate the feeling of being greased-up with sun-screen and can’t touch anything without it slipping through your hands, it is more important than ever to “cover up” Down Under with a minimum of factor 50.


Aussie Weddings

beach wedding

Once you've settled into your new job and life in Australia, with a growing social circle, there's a chance you might receive a wedding invitation at some point. Excited, you plan for a night of fun and partying that will go to the early hours of...10.30pm.

This is one unexpected downside to Aussie weddings. They are a brilliant occasion to experience a beautiful ceremony and wedding, most likely celebrated outside. However they can be known to end early to allow people to still go to work the next day or get home early to “let the babysitter go”.

This is all very practical, but for a Spanish person who is used to a Spanish wedding continuing on until the early hours, with a traditional sit-down meal at around 10pm, it will come as a shock to them that the party is over so early.


Things in Australia that could kill you

bees hive
The biggest danger to you in Australia is not the spider. We covered the dangers of the magpies in our blog on 8 things to know before moving to Australia and how for six weeks in the year, magpies are known to attack the public to protect their young. However these are not the creatures you should be watching out for.

A University of Melbourne study has found that of all the venomous animals in Australia, bees and wasps posed the biggest public health risk, killing 27 people and causing 33 percent of all venomous hospitalisations between 2000 and 2013. In contrast, the number of spider related fatalities was zero.

In fact, the first fatality from a spider bite in almost 40 years was recorded in 2016. For the most part, spiders play an important role in managing insect numbers.

Not that Spain doesn’t come without its own dangerous creatures warning - from scorpions to the black widow spider, Spanish expats will arrive in Australia better prepared than most to live in harmony alongside arachnids and spiders.


Christmas Down Under

modern pink christmas table setting

In our article on how expats celebrate Christmas overseas, we discussed the new type of Christmas dinner many expats in Australia have to adjust to.

Instead of the typical Spanish Christmas course of a tapas buffet, followed by soup and roasted meat or fish, a Spanish expat in Australia might be enjoying a light, seafood, salad-based meal.

This is probably the perfect meal to have too, considering Christmas day temperatures in Australia can reach up to 40 degrees on December 25th. The last place you would want to be is cooking in a hot kitchen.

Don’t worry however, you can still have a Feliz Navidad. Australians still put in effort to decorate their houses and gardens starting December 1st and there is even carol-singing in the major cities and towns so you still get to experience that Christmas feeling throughout December as an expat in Australia.

We hope this hasn’t stopped you in your plans to move from Spain to Australia - but now you have some honest tips and advice to make sure you are getting the best start to your move Down Under.

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