It can be a bit of a culture shock moving to Tasmania. The people are different, the pace of life is different, the things that are important to people are different, the weather is different, the feeling is different. Tim settled in down here much easier than me. It did take me a while to get used to how things are done here and just get over it and go with the flow.
One thing that you’ll learn pretty quickly is that there is a certain anonymity to living in Sydney. Tasmania is a very small place. I’ve listed the population comparisons a couple of times before and I’ll do it again:
- Population of Sydney (June 2007) - 4.3 million
- Population of Newcastle (NSW’s second largest city) (June 2007) - 523,662
- Population of Melbourne (June 2010) – 4.0 million
- Population of Victoria (June 2010) – 5.5 million
- Population of Tasmania (June 2010) - 507,626 (yes, that’s only five hundred and seven thousand people in the entire state!)
- Population of Hobart (June 2009) – 212,019 (and that’s only two hundred and twelve thousand people in the capital city)
- Population of Launceston (June 2008) – 103,325 (that’s just one hundred and three thousand people in the state’s second largest city)
Everyone seems to know everyone else, either growing up through childhood or through family connections. There is never more than 2 or 3 degrees of separation, particularly if you live in a small town. And with such a small population there are some disadvantages (I use that term loosely) to living here – for example, please don’t expect multi-level Westfields, please don’t expect high-end fashion stores, please don’t expect there to be restaurants to be open until very late, please don’t expect a Maccas on every corner (at last count there were only 14 Maccas throughout the whole of Tasmania compared with 214 throughout the whole of NSW), please don’t expect superstars to be putting on concerts here, please don’t expect to have the same lifestyle.
If you want to live in a place where you can live a little slower, have less people around, less traffic, perhaps live mortgage free (or with a small mortgage), live on a larger block, have some pets, then you’ll enjoy your time here. It’s not all going to be easy, and sometimes it will be a pain in the bum that you can’t get the exact same equivalent of what you used to have in Sydney. Sometimes you will be home sick, sometimes you will wonder if you’ve made the right decision, but after a while you just kind of settle into a new kind of normal.
One other thing I have noticed is that people are (for the most part) very polite down here. When I worked in Hobart I found that the people that I worked with didn’t speak up for themselves like we used to do in Sydney. I get the feeling that it wasn’t just that particular workplace that I worked at. I think that people value their jobs a lot more here in Tasmania (which is understandable) and they are less likely to complain if they feel that something’s not right.
Oh, and Tasmania is not a wealthy state. In fact, the state government is in financial straits and as a result is cutting back on public services such as health and police and at one stage last year was going to close schools on a grand scale (public outrage forced the government not to go ahead with the mass closures). The unemployment rate here is (at last count) 7.7%, compared with 5.1% as the national average. The forestry industry, which at one stage employed a very healthy percentage of the State’s male population, has all but collapsed leaving many of those people without jobs. Re-training seems the only option, but re-training in what other industries I’m not sure. According to a recent Mercury article that I read, one third of the population of Tasmania receives some form of Centrelink assistance, so it’s not all roses down here for many people.
Another big thing is of course the weather – it is cooler here in winter than it is in other parts of Australia during winter. Although it’s nowhere near as cold as a North American or European winter, you will need a couple of winters to adjust. If you’re like me and you feel the cold, why not get right into the winter spirit and get rugged up with a scarf, comfy ugg boots, a coat, a pair of gloves and a beanie (I practically live in my beanie during winter!). You may be very miserable if you get around in only a jumper and jeans during winter!