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.

Donate to Australian bush fire relief from the USA

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.

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