You know you’re an Aussie expat when…

You're an Australian Expat when

You know you’re an Aussie expat when you find yourself nodding your head to a few or many of these situations. Maybe that should be changed to “you know you’re a seasoned Aussie expat” when…

In any case, there are around 200,000 Aussie expats living in the US alone, and many more spread across the world. Every year 70,000 Aussies get on a plane to take up a job inΒ  another country. On average, Aussie expats return home after about three years of living abroad. Cue the reverse culture shock. So what brings us all together? Because once you move away from the land down under for a length of time, you’re not really going to return as the same person.

Here’s my list. Some are pretty general for expats everywhere and others are Australian-specific. I’d love to hear your additions in the comments below!


1. Your Aussie accent is now almost undetectable (or at least indistinguishable) but the second you call home, you slip back into “bogan” like it’s an old pair of trackies.

2. You’ve stopped making nicknames for new friends and people you work with by shortening their name and adding an “o” or “y”.

3. You know that asking for a cuppa will just result in blank stares so you make your own tea or coffee.

4. You dream about bread from Baker’s Delight or the little bakery down the street from your place in Australia because it tastes amazing, it’s not sourdough, doesn’t have 10 tonnes of sugar in it and you didn’t have to make it yourself.

A loaf of white bread from Baker's Delight
I’m drooling just looking at this bread. Picture: Hilary Leigh

5. You wake up with tears in your eyes after the aforementioned dream.

6. You’ve started saying “flip flops” (even though they’re not words any adult feels normal using) because you’ve been in that awkward “thong” situation one time too many.

7. You pick up the local slang. In California that means putting “super” before every adjective. For example: That road trip to Carmel was super exciting, but the traffic was super annoying.

Super Mario
See what I did there? You try finding a photo of the word “super”!

8. You’ve stopped mercilessly ribbing every single person you meet at every opportunity. Otherwise…

9. You’ve at least dropped the mocking down to acceptable levels for the country you’re living in.

10. You’re the only one brave enough to catch and release spiders and other creepy crawlies because “that’s nothin’ mate!”.

You know you're an Aussie expat when you're the only one not phased by spiders
A spider I came across while cleaning one day. I named him Sir Herbert.

11. You’ve forgotten what it’s like to search a YouTube clip and get the “This video is not available in your region” message of doom.

12. You have perfected the “stranger smile” – the toothy grin you give to anyone you don’t know.

13. The thought of having a sweltering hot Christmas is just too much for you. You probably aren’t too keen to recreate an Aussie Christmas either.

Christmas baubles on the seashore
But how could you not want to get back to a beach Christmas?

14. You’re now used to not drinking alcohol at work.

15. You’ve stopped abbreviating everything. The last nail in that coffin is when you drop “servo” in favour of “gas station”.

16. You find yourself collecting boxes and stashing them under the bed “just in case”.

Packed moving boxes
Look familiar? All of those boxes are giving me heart palpitations.

17. You’ve timed yourself packing up the house/apartment and use it as a benchmark for future moves.

18. You know the prices of big ticket furniture items at Ikea and usually end up with the same furniture.

19. You know all the words to I Still Call Australia Home, and will sing it if you get drunk enough.

20. You can pack a 23kg bag without using a scale.

21. You don’t know how to answer the “where is home?” question.

22. You get Ticketmaster emails from all the countries you’ve lived in.

Ticketmaster email for Sydney events
Right celebration, wrong country.

23. You routinely get excited about shows or concerts coming up before realising they’re actually in a city you previously lived in.

24. You commonly begin stories with “Well, when I lived in [insert foreign country here]…”.

25. You have a go-to set of itineraries for visitors to your adopted city. Here’sΒ mine for San Francisco.

The Bay Lights by light artist Leo Villareal

26. Your car and transport purchases are governed by, at least in part, the projected resale value.

27. You attend weddings, baby showers and meet new members of the family over Facetime or Skype.

28. You open birthday and Christmas presents on Facetime or Skype to share the moment with family.

A wrapped present

29. You actually pay attention to underlined “misspelled” words to switch them to American English.

30. You know how to write cheques to pay your pay bills.

31. You’re excellent at working out the time in Australia off the top of your head.

Planet earth shadowed by night and lit up by day
Or if you’re like me, you just type “Time in Sydney” into Google.

32. You have an array of electrical adapters and transformers for the important equipment you brought with you. Like the coffee maker or the Thermomix.

33. You have two separate financial years, and sets of tax documents to fill out – one after January and the other after July.

34. You don’t bother arguing with people who insist that all Australian animals in every part of the country will murder you.

Brown snake

35. You automatically correct your Australian term for something with the American equivalent.

36. You are wildly familiar with the confused look people give when they haven’t understood a word you’ve said and proceed to explain yourself without having to be asked.

Expat Life | Signs You're an expat | Aussie Expat | Seasoned Expat | #AussieExpat | #ExpatLife | #SignsYoureanExpat | #YouKnowYoureAnExpatWhen


33 thoughts on “You know you’re an Aussie expat when…

  1. This is really nice! I learned alot about Aussies by reading it. I also really appreciate that you aren’t afraid of catching little spiders due to the massive ones that you are used to. πŸ˜› I am too scared to catch them normally, but I appreciate them.

  2. I’m not Australian but I relate to #21 a LOT! I’d add…when you start to realize that other English speakers take ‘no worries’ seriously. I can never wrap my mind around that one!

  3. Haha, some of these are so funny. At one point during my travels, I was able to recognize Aussies. However, I’m not an Aussie but I can recognize myself in some of these.

    1. Some of them are general and related to expats, but I’m glad that you could recognise Aussies on your travels. I hope that’s a good thing and not a bad one.

  4. Haha this was a fun read! I’m from the USA, so I’m used to the flip side as an expat. It was funny to read what it’s like for an Aussie. Or should I say, super funny ;P as a Californian haha!

    1. It must be very confusing for you over there Francesca, you have my sympathies. πŸ™‚ I hope you’re enjoying it though!
      You’re super sweet πŸ˜‰

    1. I was just on the phone with an Aussie who’s been here for 28 years and he still has his accent. I’m pretty sure we’re all safe πŸ˜‰

  5. I still refuse to correct my ‘Australian’ spelling to ‘American’… my poor daughter gets answers wrong cause even though she is American she must be listening to me saying them and spelling ‘Water’ W.A.R.T.A hahahaha that is just one… it is funny when I bump into an Australian over here in the US and we get to talking… it speeds up and runs into one long sentence lol… very refreshing lol

    1. Hahaha, I won’t do it on the blog, although I have to do it at work. It’s so annoying!
      I was thinking the other day that if I have kids I’ll feel bad for them because I still use all the Australian words for things like “dummy” and “nappy” etc. They’ll be so confused.

  6. “You slip back into bogan like it’s an old pair of trackies…” Bahahahaha!

    Hilarious and fascinating list. Especially to someone who’s never traveled (unless one trip to Holland with your parents when you were ten counts…) Love it!

    1. *rolls up sleeves* I was a little proud of my self after typing up that gem πŸ˜‰

      Travelling to Holland ALWAYS counts. Think of the clogs! And the cheese!

  7. What a hilarious list! I think the accent/phone thing is the same whatever country you’re from! I’m sure my husband sounds a little more Geordie every time he phones home! Next time I come to San Fran, I’ll bring you some goodies from Bakers Delight!

    1. Totally! My brother in Australia gets a full-on Maltese accent when he’s talking on the phone to a Maltese person. Even if he’s still speaking English.
      LOL, it might be a good thing that I’ve moved so far away from Baker’s Delight.

    1. It’s so difficult to explain. A part of me misses Australia but I do love San Francisco. Hahaha, Vegemite doesn’t need to be on my list because I buy it here! I have a jar on my desk at work and a couple at home so I’m well-supplied!

  8. Great read! Nodding along and I only spent 10 days in US. I found myself sounding soooo bogan I adjusted my accent. I started saying ‘bathroom’ instead of toilet or loo and I always wondered “do I reallllly have to tip”?
    Oh yes, and the sugary bread? What is that about.
    However I did enjoy the US very much except the only cheese I could find until I went to a speciality deli was the bright yellow stuff called American Cheddar.
    Apologies to all those who read this and are proud to be US citizens.
    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek 13/52. Next week’s optional prompt is “Food I dislike”. Do Join in! Denyse x
    Denyse x

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