Al's Australia Trip - The Important Stuff (Part Two)

Al's Australia Trip - The Important Stuff (Part Two)

Alasdair Spinner, Senior Recruitment Consultant, is currently travelling across Australia meeting with healthcare providers around the country. He’s writing a series of blogs detailing his journey, sharing his experience, knowledge, and useful insights into how to achieve the dream of living and working as a Doctor in this fantastic destination.

Day 5. Location: Sydney CBD, New South Wales

So we've looked at the Australian health system in very broad terms, now I want to talk about the important stuff - the things that you definitely want to know when contemplating moving to Australia.


Coffee making is exceptional in Australia - particularly in Melbourne and Sydney. It is the land of the long black and flat white. Even in regional areas the quality can be very good. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, most baristas here have actually completed a certified barista course so you're guaranteed a level of quality in process using decent coffee making machines. Secondly, post war migrants from Greece, Italy and latterly the Middle East created and have maintained a vibrant cafe culture which has extended throughout Australian society. So if your thing is a ristretto, doppio or macchiato you won't be disappointed.


As a doctor moving from the UK (for example), it is almost certain you will earn more money and have more leisure time here. Because of the climate the lifestyle is geared around the outdoors whether you are inland or coastal. Mostly this is activity based - sports, sailing, fishing, etc. But also extends to open air cinemas, music festivals (my favourite is the Byron Bay Blues & Roots festival), star gazing, camping, bushwalking & canyoning. This also extends to eating: outdoor entertaining at home, barbecues, picnics on the beach.

In considering activities, planning events, thinking of your children's weekends, everything is easier - the weather is more predictable, dryer and warmer all year round. It's easier to get the kids out the door, easier to have friends drop by unexpectedly, even drying all your clothes in the washing line, and never using your dryer is easier! As I write, it is autumn here in Sydney but the skies are blue and the mercury is steady at 27 degrees Celsius - perfect. Please note the climate in Darwin is very different to the climate in Sydney!


A huge continent, Australia is an urbanised country. The laws of supply and demand mean houses in the major cities - especially in Sydney and Melbourne - are expensive. However, choose to work and live in a regional city and you and your family can have an exceptional property: a modern five bedroom house, swimming pool and garden at an affordable price. Due to land availability there are opportunities to design and build your own house at affordable prices - many Australians do this. [Speak to our partners The Commonwealth Bank of Australia for more information about mortgages and the housing market - ed.]


Australia has a world class public (state) education system. Like health, the states and territories operate their own systems but work to a national curriculum that was introduced in 2012. Both my sons went to state primary school in Sydney and everything about their experience was fantastic. If you move to Australia with school age children (and are not yourself Australian) and put them in the state system, the conditions of your 457 employer sponsored business visa require you to pay an annual tuition fee (regardless of how many of your children go the school) of AU$3000-5000 (dependent on which State you are in). Secondary state schools vary in quality, like those in the UK, but are generally of a very high standard - dependent on the usual factors relating to size and location.

All regional towns with a population of over 30,000 will have choices in private primary or secondary schools. They tend to be religious based - Anglican or Catholic or other Christian denominations. Other options may include Rudolf Steiner schools or secular independent. Fees tend to start from AU$10000 to the more exclusive schools where fees AU$20000+ are not uncommon.


Naturally, being surrounded by a lot of sea means you can eat an abundance and rich mix of seafood. Large (100k+) towns will have diverse eateries, mainly SE Asian - Thai, Japanese, Chinese. Vietnamese - or Italian, Greek or Lebanese/ Middle Eastern. For me, moving back to the UK was hard - especially giving up decent sushi and noodle bars. The choice of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs is amazing, as you’d expect, with low prices.


Australia is a peaceful, affluent society. It is also a very successful multicultural one. It is politically stable policy wise (despite a recent penchant for changing prime ministers) and maintains a high standard living of living whilst being able to attract big business. It is a nation of migrants and has a migrant intake of approx. 200k per annum. Mainly from UK & Ireland, India, South Africa, China and Malaysia. I was visiting a client in a suburb in South West Sydney yesterday who told me there are 50 languages spoken in that suburb alone. Darwin is Australia's most cosmopolitan city with 65 languages spoken. Naturally, in small town regional Australia populations are less diverse, however the fact remains, unless you are an indigenous Australian, everyone either has, or is related to, someone who migrated here.


Australia is in Asia. Darwin is closer to Jakarta then it is to Canberra. This means it has, and will continue to, enjoy the fruits of South East Asia's growing affluence and influence - in particular from China, as the middle class there continues to grow. If you want to go overseas for a week, your options are limited to New Zealand or SE Asia, but that gives you a great platform to explore one of the most exciting regions in the world. All major cities in Australia have direct flights to Singapore. If you are looking to return to Europe or the UK, a family of four returning economy class to the UK will cost about GBP£4k. You do get used to the journey time - 21 hours at best. There are direct flights to Australia now from the Middle East hubs.


What is there not to like? Aside from the end of a sabbatical I think that the only other reason people leave Australia to return to their country of origin is for family, such as care for elderly parents. The benefits of an amazing lifestyle and less working hours in the week - especially for UK doctors - in Australia means retention for all the health services for IMGs is excellent. However, it is quite common for doctors to relocate and change employers within their own state or interstate.

Read Part One - Working in Australia

If you’re interested in working overseas, why not take a look at our Doctor's Guides. Alternatively, you can search all of our current job opportunities.

For further information on Consultant opportunities in Australia, contact Eunan O’Brien on +44 (0)131 240 5271 /, or Caroline O'Hagan on +44 (0)131 240 5252 /

For further information on GP opportunities in Australia, contact Vicki McLaren on +44 (0)131 240 5263 or email

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