Australians love to enjoy the great outdoors, often without going any further from home than the back deck or patio. Outdoor living is not the same thing as living outdoors; the latter requires putting up with the extremes of climate we experience in this country, not to mention the numerous biting things and of course, the need to find adequate sanitary arrangements.

You don’t need to call the removalists because you can enjoy the sun and the seasons within the comfortable confines of your own home or apartment with just a little outlay of cash and a lot of time and effort spent figuring out exactly what you want to achieve. For some, it is simply a place to set up the BBQ and perhaps a table and chairs under a large umbrella while other people might prefer a purpose built BBQ facility with entertainment deck and weather proof overhead protection from sun and rain.

Taking the simpler end of the equation and exploring further, even people living in rented apartments with relatively small balconies can enjoy the fresh air. A small gas BBQ keeps things clean and saves having to mess about with charcoal or heat beads and fire starters. Charcoal always takes forever to set on fire and then when the cooking is done, the coals finally become absolutely perfect for grilling those snags and steaks but by then it is too late. A lot of so called BBQ experts will waffle on about the way food always tastes better when cooked over charcoal but the truth is, it doesn’t. Unless you are using expensive wood fuel like hickory, the flavour most absorbed by the food is usually a petroleum based fire starter variety. Add flavour through your marinades, herbs and spices and not the flames.

Even on smallish rooftop or balcony gardens, a table and a few chairs can be placed under a large market umbrella to set up a cosy al fresco dining situation for a ‘couple of couples’, space being limited you need to keep the guest list in proportion to the available balcony area. If you are stuck for space but have lots of friends, consider picnic style get-togethers where you can enjoy the outdoors for a few hours, then come home in time for dark and your favourite TV shows.

It really isn’t until you get a home of your own that you can seriously consider outdoor entertaining for more than just two or four friends at a time. Even townhouses and modern villa homes have small but useful outdoor living areas you can do a lot with. Some of the best outdoor living areas exist in more modern homes where the kitchen flows into a family oriented space that flows outside onto a patio, deck or some covered space. The large French windows or sliding doors allow the home owners to open up the house to the world and let the traffic flow in and out like the rise and ebb of the tide. Easily navigating the space between kitchen and outdoor living area facilitates moving food and drink from inside where it is stored to outside where it will be consumed. Don’t make the mistake of impeding this free flow with too much furniture, enjoy the space.

If you have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor living then by all means do so. It is one of the great things to enjoy about living in this country. While you are out there on your balcony, deck or patio, spare a thought for the poor souls overseas, stuck indoors for months on end just so they can have a few extra weeks of good skiing!