This week’s post will NOT be about jet lag, like I promised. Maybe next week. It will instead be about money.
Unlike Money Money Money Part I, wherein I shared the financial costs of moving countries, this week’s post is about the differences in matters of finance between Canada and Australia. For those of you who are interested. Which is you. I know because you’re still reading.
Money-wise, here are some of the differences.
In Canada, our retirement savings went in to RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans). Here, they have what are called Superannuation Funds. I am thrilled to report that thanks to the effort of a non-profit called 350.org, a list of superannuation funds that are purposefully divested from the oil and gas industry is available to anyone looking for a Super (they don’t say the whole term here – Superannuation is too long – so they just say Super). I have selected Future Super, to look after my retirement funds, for that specific reason. Since I’m on the topic, you can also switch to a bank that is divested from oil and gas. The list of banks is here. It actually rates all the banks, so you can see where yours falls in terms of investment in the fossil fuel industry. We based our bank choice on that list, for that very reason.
Much like Canadian part-time and full-time positions, wherein the latter have access to medical benefits, paid vacation and sick time, and the former do not. Australia has similar tiers of workers. Casual workers (like myself) may have a slight salary bump (between 5 and 20% more than what a full time employee would make in that position) but have no other benefits. Time off work is time unpaid. Sick time is unpaid. There are no medical benefits through your employer, and perhaps most disconcertingly, you can be let go (they call it sacked here) with no notice. Your employer can send you home with no cause and no notice without penalty. Full time and even part time workers enjoy more job security and the benefits vary from job to job.
The flip side of the casual position, which is supposed to be a benefit for casual employees is the ability to walk out without notice. A casual employee is technically able to walk out the door with no notice, however any case I have heard of here has resulted in a full and complete loss of reference from the employer, no matter how long or well the casual employee had served.
References are called referees here. I’m not sure what soccer referees are called. Probably referees too. I’m teaching English now, so I’ll fill you in. That’s called a homonym. No, a homophone. I don’t know what it’s called.
But I digress.
Other differences? The coins here do not have names. No one here knows what a dime or nickel is. They have 5 cent pieces (5c), 10 cent pieces (10c), 20 cent piece (you get the pattern), 50 cent coins, 1 dollar coins and 2 dollar coins. Like Canada’s new money, the Australian banknotes are made of polymer plastic. They have $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 bills. I am sure there are bigger ones, but we’re not those people right now.
What’s that? Pictures? Alrighty.
Here is the Canadian currency (with which many of you will no doubt be familiar). This particular set was put together by my wonderful sister and came with me in my carry-on. Honestly, I felt a little home-sick holding the familiar weight in my hands.
There are a few other money-related differences.
Rent is charged by the week rather than the month here.
The cash machines (that I’ve been to so far) all spit out $50 bills, unlike the Canadian machines which do almost exclusively $20s. [Update – at an ATM today I was given the choice of $20 or $50 bills].
Tipping is not a thing here. You don’t have to tip the person who serves your meal. It is not expected. The odd place has a tip jar, but you don’t get judgement eyes if you abstain from dropping a few coins in. I have to say, this has been a major relief from a problem I didn’t even know I had! It is so nice not to worry about it. I am also happy to report that we have not noticed the corresponding drop in customer service one might expect. If anything, wait-staff here are more pleasant and eager to please than Canada. But that could also be the weather.
Prices on items include taxes. Again, this gave me relief from a stressor I didn’t know I had! If a tray of strawbs says its $3.99 – then when you get to the till, it will be $3.99. If the toaster says $25, it will be $25. If the set of sheets says $69.99, guess what! It will be $69.99! Novel idea. The only exception is petrol (Canadians, that means gas). If the price on the billboard says $1.19 a litre? It may or not be that price. It seems to be the only area Aussies haven’t insisted on honest labelling. Some servos (Canadians, that means gas stations) have loyalty programs, which entitle you to the posted price. Or others, you only get the posted price if you buy an overpriced bottle of milk, and loaf of white bread. Good news though, there was an industry summit a few weeks ago here in Queensland about this exact issue. I hope they fix it. I’ll keep you posted. (Honestly, I probably won’t).
Since I’m talking about fuel prices I will say we have noticed a HUMUNGOUS variation in prices. The BP near our house might be $1.24/L and the Centex near my work will simultaneously be $0.98/L. What gives? Or, I have seen two gas stations on opposites sides of the street – one priced at $0.97/L and the other was at $1.09/L. AND THERE WERE PEOPLE FILLING UP AT THE SECOND PLACE!!!!
So, I have some theories about this. Sorry if I’ve posted about this topic before and am restating myself, but frankly I think about this a lot.
Theory 1: Australians don’t care about gas prices. They’ll fill up at whatever station when they’re empty.
Theory 2: Some stations have AMAZING loyalty plans that we don’t know about yet, thus incentivising customers to buy their gas even though it’s more expensive, or making it cheaper when they pay than the posted price implies.
Theory 3: The gas is a different quality from different stations. I’m not an expert, but I am literally picturing someone cutting the underground gas tank with water. Or maybe different additives?
There is probably more to say about the differences in money, but I am tired and I want to watch an episode of Madam Secretary. Good night!