Viva La Difference . . . . No.7

23 March 2009

Australian houses don’t have letterboxes.  The ‘postie’ (an Australianism) puts the post into a box outside the door, at the end of a driveway or, in the case of blocks of flats, in a series of boxes at the entrance.   

English houses and flats have letterboxes of all shapes and sizes (I’ve delivered the post and I think I’ve seen every kind of letterbox there is).  The postie delivers the mail direct into your house.  If it’s a block of flats, he delivers to each one.

The English system does make it easier if you’re waiting for a letter – you don’t have to keep walking out to the box to see if it’s come yet.  And your mail is less likely to be stolen. But if I were a postie, I think I’d prefer the Aussie system.  Less walking, fewer dogs and less chance of having your fingers removed by a very strong letterbox.   



  1. We do have letterboxes! It’s just that they are on the outside of the house not on the inside of the front door. I would have suspected this is partly weather-related, except that the same system applies in NZ where the weather is more like the UK. Actually, NZers have a real thing about letterboxes, and will vie with each other to have the most interesting one on the street.

  2. Letterboxes in the U.S. vary. Most in older areas are attached to the outside of the house near the front door. At my other house, I had a mail slot in the wall and the mail went into a box built into the wall with a cute wooden door to open from inside the house to retrieve the letters. In older suburbs, the mailbox is on a post at the end of your drive. In newer subdivisions, the mailboxes for some number of houses — not sure if it’s all the ones in that division or street by street — are clustered at the entrance to the street. I have a friend in Arizona and her mailbox is a compartment in a bigger box thing on a street corner on the next street over and down the block from her house.

  3. My postie delivers by motorbike – so no walking (but it would be a pain to have to get on/off the bike all the time!). It does mean that you can hear him ride up and down the street, if you are waiting for mail.

  4. We do have a Saturday delivery in the UK. which is good, but iin general our postal services are retracting, as there are more and more private services taking the market in, eg, parcel mail.

  5. This is one area where I feel much more secure with the Brit system – any old person could have nicked stuff from the ‘letter boxes’ we had in the Sydney houses we lived in.
    With just a hole in the door, any amount of post can be delivered and not fall out on the pavement.

    I’d give anything(ish) just now for a good coffee, though!

  6. We had Saturday delivery in NZ too, although I’m not sure if they still do that. I hadn’t thought about the lack of security on Aus/NZ style boxes Emily; a lot of people have locks on them. Our new letter box has a lock on it, and a place for junk mail/newspapers – very swish.

  7. In spite of the possible security aspects, I really didn’t like the letter slots which were installed on the doors of the houses we lived in in England — almost nothing seemed to get through them unscathed, mostly due to the spring loading required to keep cold draughts out of the house.

    And I do like that the stand alone letter boxes we have here in Australia are more easily tailored to the needs and style of the people living in the house. One of the first things we did when we bought our house was to replace the original tiny letter box with one that has a lock and that has a large enough opening and a large enough box to hold standard magazines both flat and out of the rain.

  8. There must be some very fit posties in the UK if some of those blocks in “Sun Hill” are any indication!

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