Living in a Land Down Under

No, I have not seen any Kangaroos.

I’ve been here for nearly 2 weeks.  It has been a lot less scary than I anticipated.


Considering I live in a city, there isn’t really all that much wildlife.  I’ve heard stories about huge spiders, but I really haven’t seen that many bugs at all.  Birds look different, there are possums (apparently living in our attic, but not the mean American possums, they are friendly Australian possums [per my roommate]) instead of squirrels, but I still have yet to see a Kangaroo.


I’m about 3km outside of downtown Melbourne (or CBD central business district as they call it).  The city itself sort of reminds me of a smaller, cleaner, warmer and more spacious version of San Francisco.  The whole place really doesn’t feel that foreign at all to me.  However they do drive on the wrong side of the road which is harder to get used to than I thought it would be.

My House

My house is probably the oldest in South Yarra.  The area we live in is very upscale.  All the houses around us are newer condos, and we are in a tiny cottage right in the center of it all.  The house was actually purchased right before I moved in for over a million dollars.  The owners are going to tear the house down, so the just the small plot of land is worth over a million.

My housemates are a couple from Perth (Kat and Dale), who spent the last 3 years living and working in Ireland.  I understand about 80% of the words Dale says, and about 70% of the words Kat says.  Mainly because she speaks much softer.  That’s the way it is for most Australians, however Dale had a friend over and I could only understand 20% of what he said.  Literally.  I just gave up after a while.  He is a native English speaker too.


So far, I’ve found that people are mostly fun and friendly.  Most people think I’m either from America or Canada, but some thought I was from England.  One Australian was able to guess I was from California with me only saying a few words.

While most people are very nice, there was one exception last night on the tram (1:00am on a Friday night).  My friend is an engineer on an upcoming multi-billion dollar desalination plant, and I was telling him that I saw on the news that some people think it is an unnecessary white-elephant project that will cost the tax payers billions.  Before he could even answer, a girl sitting across from us joined the conversation, totally uninvited.

She starts attacking me (in argument) that we need the plant, and that I don’t know what I’m talking about.  I comically point out that it is not even my opinion, its just something I’m repeating from TV, and was curious to know the opinion of my friend.

She then proceeded to start telling me all the reasons that she hates America and Americans.  I respectfully disagreed with her on some points, but she was in no state of mind to be having a debate at a high level of intellect.  I wasn’t able to get many words in.  Her inability to engage in a fair debate caused her to be the laughing stalk of the tram.  One gentleman actually got up and walked to the other side of the car as he was so sick of listening to her.  After we left, my friend, some random spectators from the tram and I laughed about it the entire way to the next bar.

In contrast to the United States, there are very few people of Hispanic decent here.  Most people are white (although sunburnt ) or Asian.  And there are a couple Blacks.


Stuff is way more expensive here.  Our American dollar is actually worth just slightly less than an Australian dollar, so the exchange doesn’t work in my favor.  Also, all goods and services seem to 50% more expensive as well.

A good 6-pack of beer will run you $18 at the supermarket.  A decent pint will run you $8-11 at the pub.  Cup of coffee is $2+.  Litre of petrol is $1.40.  If you go to Subway, their famous $5 footlong will cost you $7.  A fifth of vodka will cost you $30 on sale.  Wine is almost the same price here.  Groceries and other consumer goods typically run about 50% more here.

However, people don’t really tip here.  You don’t tip the taxi driver, you don’t tip the bar tender, and you only tip if you eat out at a fancy restaurant.  Tax is also always included in the listed prices, so for pretty much everything, the price you see is the price you end up paying.  I believe the US should incorporate that policy.


In-flight display of where you were.  Air New Zealand rocks!

View of the city from across the lake

The conservatory, which I use as my office

My housemate and I doing some construction

Taco Bell?  Wait, not quite…


2 Responses to “Living in a Land Down Under”

  1. Therese Noonan says:

    Wow, thanks for the update. You’re having a great experience. Were you in New Zealand when the earthquake hit? I know Aukland is 600 miles away from Christchurch.

  2. Tommy says:

    Just missed it! I flew out of Aukland at about 8:00AM local time, and the earthquake was at about noon. It was all over the news here for the first week or so.

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