Out- Of-Lockdown

What Expats In Australia Have Learnt During Lockdown

The results are in! After we surveyed our readers about how they are getting on with lockdown life, find out what expats in Australia have learnt during lockdown. Will their lives change when things go back to normal? Let’s find out.

As I write this post, it’s been seven weeks since the world went into lockdown. We’ve all had a rollercoaster of a time from the early days of pure panic, to getting used to this new way of life.

After being glued to the news for the first two weeks, to feeling like a big wave of grief had come over me, I also spent a lot of time glued to watching other people’s Insta Stories as some kind of comfort and escapism.

Personally, I’ve learnt a lot from all the people I follow on social media. As someone who has been working from home on this blog for over a year now, I’ve learnt a lot of small things make a big difference. Everything from properly getting dressed each day to upping my home workout game has done me wonders. More importantly, I took time out of working on this site, to stop and chill for a couple of weeks.

We’ve been really lucky to self-isolate in the beautiful Queensland town of Agnes Water over the last few months.

I also spoke to friends and family much more. And of course I learnt the power of group video chat – something which I’ve found to be awesome. And I wrote a post about how our readers are communicating better their their friends & family back home too.

We’ve all seen people have high expectations of getting the most out of this time (myself included), almost like we’re setting New Years resolutions.

As there currently seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel in Australia right now, it’s interesting to see what people will do when things go back to normal.

I’ve wondered whether people will be kinder to each other, and whether they will realise what’s ultimately most important in their lives.

Most of all, I’m interested to hear how other expats are getting on. Being so far away from our loved ones isn’t easy especially as it’s looking like quite a long time before we can jump on a plane to go back and visit them again.

So I put it out there and asked our readers what they will change about their lives when things go back to normal. The results were really interesting so I thought I’d share them with you.

Stop Buying Into Consumerism


A topic that came up a lot in our survey is around consumerism. We’ve all cut down on spending and that’s made a lot of our readers realise that maybe they don’t need to spend money to be happy.

Interestingly, I was asked recently how I have shifted my shopping habits into a more minimalistic lifestyle. I hadn’t quite realised it until I was asked the question but my lifestyle has actually changed dramatically.

After living back in England for six months in 2018, it made me realise my priorities had changed a lot and I wanted a simpler life. When we returned to Australia, I decided I would work on this blog full time to ultimately give us more freedom in our lives.

I stopped my fashion habit because I have a gut issue so my body has completely changed shape and I can’t wear whatever I like anymore. Plus, I realised the true value in clothes shopping when I had to sell most of my clothes at Kirribilli Markets. After spending probably hundreds of dollars each week on disposable fashion that I was then selling off for $5, it made me feel completely embarrassed by my actions.

But, I have since realised I only bought into fashion because it made me happy at the time when I was working 9-5. I have never been great at working for someone else and hated how I was literally counting down for the weekend every single week. I didn’t want to live like this anymore.

Although I’ve had to take a huge pay cut, I’ve been forced to spend money on the basic necessities now. This has been a great lesson because I’ve realised that all I need is the great outdoors in Australia to keep me happy now. When you realise what ultimately makes you happy, you don’t need to waste money on a lot of things you thought you needed.

Cook More At Home

When you have a busy life, the last thing you want to do when you get home is spend time cooking up a meal. Most of us opt for a take away, eat out or buying something we can stick in the oven.

Since lockdown started, I think a lot of us started to freak out at the idea of having to cook all of our meals (although you can still get takeaway from most Sydney restaurants right now). But this change has made a lot of people realise that they don’t need to eat out as much as they did. And as we all know, cooking at home saves you money in the long run.

I have been wondering how restaurants will cope when the travel ban is lifted. Will people flock to them again or will this time make people think a bit more about whether they want to eat out?

Shop Less For Food


An interesting thing that many people mentioned was the fact that they don’t need to go food shopping as much anymore.

Whilst some of you have been food shopping once every two weeks, it’s interesting to see how much money you can save rather than going to the supermarket every night to pick something up.

For us personally, we’ve finally got into doing an online food shop which saves us so much more money than getting carried away at the supermarket.

Keeping Up The Exercise

It’s quite amazing how everyone has totally appreciated the opportunity to go out on a daily walk in lockdown. I have too and made sure I go out everyday. It’s the perfect form of mindfulness to step away from daily life and have some time to yourself.

I’ve been big on the home workouts, especially since the pandemic started – and so has everyone else! I found a lot of inspiration from others and although I’ve been on and off with home workouts in the last year, I have consistently been doing them for the last few months now.

Most importantly, I’ve realised how much happier I am thanks to working out everyday. It can be a bit draining working from home all the time but making sure I work out for 45 minutes everyday really has done wonders for me. I finally get why exercise is so important for many people not only physically but mentally too.

It’s much easier to workout from home when you don’t have to spend time commuting to work everyday. I wonder how many people will keep up their new exercise routines when they go back to work? Which leads me to wonder if people will continue to go to the gym when this is all over?

Changing Careers

Quite a lot of people mentioned how they want to change careers when this is all over. It’s a difficult time right now as there are so many unemployed people in Australia right now. At least this time has made you realise what’s important to you and how you can change your life for the better.

One reader told me although they wanted to change careers before the Coronavirus started, they’ve since realised that they probably won’t take the leap now. Having realised how grateful they are to have a secure job, they’ll wait it out.

I’m also interested to see what new businesses people have come up with since the pandemic started. When you get given this sort of time to yourself, it’s quite amazing what you can do with it.

Flexible Working Hours

Out- Of-Lockdown

I remember when I took a job a few years ago, it introduced me to flexible working hours. I would work from home most of the time and go into the office maybe twice a week. It honestly opened up a new world to me. I wasn’t longing for the weekend as much and I had way more time in the week to myself than having to cram everything in the weekend.

But the main thing it taught me about that job was to be accountable for my own work rather than sitting in an office feeling like I had to work. I then actually wanted to do a good job. This in itself made me step up and really work hard.

Interestingly, it’s been an eye opener to see how everyone else has found the working from home situation. I saw some people post on their Instagram about how they did it for a year and hated it, and others wonder how they would concentrate without ultimately sitting on the sofa and watch TV all day instead.

Because I’ve been working from home for the last year, I find it pretty easy. I treat my days like I would do going to an office. I get up early in the morning and I start work around 8am, in a separate room in the house if I can. I make sure I don’t work on weekends to have a break like everyone else does.

Many of our readers told us how they are hoping to work from home at least once or twice a week when they go back to work. When you realise it’s actually not that hard for most office workers to work from home, you realise how much it might benefit your life in the long run.

Move Back Home


It didn’t actually surprise me to hear that the one thing many people want to do when the travel ban has been lifted is to move back home.

When a pandemic like this has shifted our feelings about being expats in a country so far away from everywhere else, it’s made a few of you want to be nearer to loved ones in the long run. I know I’ve been listening to British radio everyday just to hold the feeling like I’m back there too.

I wrote about being homesick in Australia before and mentioned that I think as expats we put pressure on ourselves to make it work. If you want to go home, do it because I can tell you there’s not many people in the world who have the courage to move their lives to the other side of the world.

Travel Australia More

<em>Hiking along the <a href=httpslondonerinsydneycomred rock trail agnes water queensland target= blank rel=noreferrer noopener>Red Rock Trail in Agnes Water<a> in Queensland <em>

Australia has had a terrible start to 2020. With the bush fires and now Coronavirus, tourism has taken a huge tumble. It’s made a lot of us want to travel more around Australia and support the local communities. I think that’s what has made us realise how important it is to shop local, more than ever small businesses need our help!

In terms of travelling more, many of our readers mentioned how they are going to make much more of an effort to go out and do things with friends and their own families now by going on road trips and spending more quality time together, rather than just going to shopping malls to fill the weekend.

Socialising More


As expats, it can always be hard to make friends anywhere in the world. If you’re living in Sydney, then it can be that extra bit harder. I’ve personally noticed that Aussies have tight friendship groups from as early as Primary School and tend to not go outside of it.

I think a lot of Brits especially tend to make friends with other Brits in Sydney as there’s already a common ground and it sort of feels like we’re in this together. (This is of course not a generalisation, just something I’ve personally noticed.)

But many of our readers mentioned how they’ve realised how incredibly important it is to have friends in Australia, especially to get through hard times. One mentioned being an introvert has made them realise that they will now make an effort to socialise more, whilst others will actively try and increase their friendship circle in Australia.

The main thing a lot of people realised was to live more in the moment and not make excuses for not catching up with friends.

Communicate More Back Home

I think we’ve all spent more time talking to friends and family back home in the last couple of months. It’s made our readers realise that they need to keep up the communication more, even keep up the online quizzes with their friends.

Whilst one reader realised how much they missed the banter with their friends back home. Sometimes it’s easy to forget when it’s out of sight out of mind.

Be More Mindful

It’s been really interesting to read everyone’s responses about what they’d like to change about their lives when things eventually go back to normal. I also read how one reader was going to be more creative to take more time out to practice mindfulness through doing a puzzle or making a photo book. Another is going to actively help the elderly in their neighbourhood, something I think we’re all probably guilty of not realising this should be the norm.

And whilst others realised the importance of properly slowing down, that we don’t need to have a million things planned during the week. In actual fact, spending more time with family is key to a successful life and work doesn’t need to take over more of your time than needed.

I think the main point is; people have learnt to be more mindful of themselves and of others going forward.

What have you learnt? Let us know in the comments below!

Co-Founder and Editor
  1. Hi Annie,
    Thanks for such a relatable post. My husband is English and we moved back to Sydney last year after 12 years for me in England. Unfortunately I started job hunting in January and have had knock back after knock back and am without work. My husband luckily found work as soon as we arrived and is now working at home with me and two under 5s in the house! We have had to make a massive shift on our lifestyle – we owned our home in England, travelled lots and were close to family and friends. Our move back has been hard and Coronavirus has made it even harder. But it has made me realize we are lucky to have a rental property we can afford, lucky my husband earns a good salary and Lucky in some ways I am not working so I have been able to care 100% for our girls. I feel a little worthless sometimes as I had a great job in England but I’m learning to focus on what’s important at the moment and looking after myself. I think I’m going to look at business opportunities now that I can do at home and stretch myself in that way. It’s a scary time but we are getting through and we love our zoom catchups with family and friends in England.
    Thank you again for your post!

  2. Thank you for posting these accounts. We are living in unchartered times! Unfortunately, life hasn’t really changed that much for me. I have lived in ‘regional’ NSW (two hours north of Sydney) for 17 years and I have to say it has been the most isolating experience of my life. I’m a square peg in a round hole. I would love to return to the UK, but my wife is Australian and she does not want to leave Australia. We also have two children, who were born here and are happy in Australia. One of the biggest hurdles for me has been work. I would love to change jobs when this is all over, but it’s not easy when you’re living outside a major city.

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