Continuing to get our bearings

Well we all enjoyed our first “coffee/play date” yesterday.  The other girls were so warm and fun and it was just nice to be able to chat with other women and hear how they live, work and raise their children.

And Steve’s job interview went wonderfully well!  He should know in a week so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.  This would be full time, but he would still hope to find a teaching job to replace it with in January.  Although, he would actuallly make more money this way.  The amount of money you make here is absolutely astounding to me!  That’s a big part of the reason we decided to make the move, but still hearing the salaries make my jaw drop.   You hear so many things here are more expensive, but when Steve will make almost triple what he made in the States, and we won’t have health care premiums, the numbers still favored the move here.  It really is sad what jobs in the States pay for such precious, necessary positions, such as teachers and those that help the disabled.  I have not been able to witness the public health care system yet, but people seem so happy with it and healthy (although there is a severe obesity problem here as well—yikes!), it makes me wonder why people in the States are acting like offering public health care is giving the population a death sentence…..

Here are a few of my observations so far on the cost of goods and services, and since I have only been here a week and a half, maybe in a few months I will have to correct myself:

More expensive in Australia: gas (holy moly is it ever!), liquor (!), cars, housing, clothing and food in most instances (it took us ages to find maple syrup the other day, which the boys love to drown their pancakes in, and fortunately, that drowning will have to stop, because it was $3 for a teeny weeny bottle of it—that could be because I always bought the fake stuff at home!), and dining out (however, you don’t tip here and tax is built into the price, which makes it not too drastic—-still more though). High speed internet is a lot—at least in the house we’re staying in.  We’ll have to do more research there.  Taxes—to pay for some of the benefits mentioned below.

About the same in both countries: Again some food as well as some clothing.  You can definitely find discounted clothing, but for the most part, it is more. Also, utilities (electricity, water, trash removal) seem on par.  Things like cereal, lots of produce, and toiletries I have found to be about the same so far.  I do feel like the quality of food is better here, and there are less processed, fatty offerings in the stores (hence needing to spring for the real maple syrup).  I think the obesity issues stem from the amount of fast food available, particularly as sweets shops (I know the US has tons, too, so that’s likely equal) and the fact that the overall diet isn’t that healthy—a big focus on red meat, cream, butter and adding sugar to everything.

Less expensive in Australia:  Again, food falls into all 3 categories.  Some of the fresh, local produce is really inexpensive.  Health care—a biggie!  Even if you are not enrolled in the public option and have to pay out of pocket for care, it is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper than paying out of pocket for anything in the US.  It seems mobile phones and plans are less, too, but I am not an expert on that—this is my first time really shopping for a smart phone.  And, the welfare system is better. Some of that I have already explained, but we have also been offered family assistance, as well as a sort of entertainment assistance, so people can still enjoy a movie out, and bus rides around town, while things are tough on them.

Back to the daily life—I got to enjoy another lovely jog (walk) along the beach—again so soothing to be near water and see all the lush vegetation, hear the birds—passed some beautiful pink and gray galahs.  My 2nd spring of 2011 has officially begun—you can smell it in the lilacs—aaahhh!  It is definitely odd—all the talk of spring and summer starting….

I also did “taco night” Aussie-style for the boys last night—luckily it was edible!  I haven’t managed to find salsa or sour cream in the stores yet, just because they haven’t been obvious—I need to conduct an official search.  I cannot find black olives  or green chilies either.  But we made do and with each edible meal I put on the table, my confidence goes up, which feeds my psyche as well!

This morning we had my first official Aussie beach bbq with Steve’s extended family.  The boys were in absolute hog heaven in that water and sand (Zach’s first beach experience) and Zach LOVES chasing birds—particular these ones called ibis, which sounds lovely, but apparently these are nicknamed “dump birds”, I guess like annoying magpies, although they have magpies here  and they are larger and can take you out—duck!   

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