Moving To Australia - Guide to Moving to Australia

by Lissie

Everything you need to know about moving to Australia. Where to start, things to consider, its not just about the paperwork - there are emotional considerations for moving overseas

I've moved to and lived in Australia twice. My brother has lived there once and has just decided not to move his family there, so I think I know quite a lot about the pros and cons of moving to Australia .

In this article I want to consider not so much the technical visa requirements, but the emotional baggage which comes from being an immigrant, even a voluntary one.

Everything You Need To Know About Moving To Australia

Step 1: Get a visa which will allow you live and work (or study) in Australia. Avoid paying the immigration "consultants" - start with the official government website, as the rules change all the time, its far more likely to be up-to-date than anywhere else!
Step 2: Buy plane ticket.
Step 3: Move life to Australia, carry on as normal.

OK so that was probably a little facetious. But the point is that many, may people think that once they have an Australian visa, its easy after that. In fact its just beginning.

Advantages Of Moving To Australia

  • the weather, in most of Australia is pretty darn good. Note I except most of Victoria, Melbourne and Tasmania from this statement.
  • its a politically-stable, low corruption country. Its pretty easy to get on in Australia without having to bribe your local cop or official.
  • the country is generally booming on the back of the resources industry and Chinese demand for practically everything, there are lots of jobs, if you pick the right location: Western Australia, Queensland.
  • the beaches. The beaches are what makes Australia, you think the East Coast has nice beaches, try the West! 
  • laid-back society. Generally Australia is pretty informal, I guess, if you tried, you could find a restaurant in Sydney that required men to wear a jacket, but you'd have to try quite hard. A man wearing a suit jacket in down town Perth, will turn heads. 
  • sports mad. Only in Australia could you have three competing forms of rugby (AFL, Rugby League, Rugby Union)! Even New Zealand sticks with only two. There's beach rugby now too. 
  • excellent food in general, if you love BBQ you will be in heaven here.

Disadvantages Of Moving To Australia

  • its a long way away from practically anywhere: going "home" to Europe or North America is a major undertaking. New Zealand and Asia aren't quite as bad (though Perth is 7 hours direct flight from Auckland, Sydney is only 3.5 hours);
  • its big - its 4 hours plus flight, or about 6 days driving from Sydney to Perth; 
  • it has some very extreme weather: cyclones in the north, bush fires in the south, floods. Whatever you call Australia's climate - its not temperate. Some people think temperatures over 40C are extreme too. 
  • the only type of skiing that's worth doing is on the water - for the snow version the locals fly to Japan or New Zealand; 
  • its a small population - 25 million odd - if your interests are unusual you won't find as many people that share them as say in the UK or USA; 
  • with the notable exception of Melbourne, the public transport sucks big time. Its a big country with a scattered population. My best advice is you "don't drive" is learn, now. Its a great driving country, there's hardly any traffic outside of the big east coast cities; 
  • problems with getting qualifications recognized. Australia's unions and professional associations have some very closed shops about recognizing overseas qualifications - get this clarified long before you decide to move; 
  • depending on your visa type your children may have to pay overseas student fees at university; 
  • English is the only language spoken - well its not - but if English is not your first language you will need to get fluent in the local version quickly

What's It Like Moving To Australia

Well it really, really depends. Depends on whether you have a job already, whether your employer has organized some accommodation for you, depends on how well you speak English.

I've done it both ways. I got offered a job in a mining town in NSW as a new graduate. I didn't have to sell a house, car or anything else to leave my home. I arrived, I was met at the airport, furnished shared accommodation was arranged for me. I started work, I bought a car, and the other bits and pieces as I needed them. I was the only female graduate taken on that year, they took on about 30 men. My social life wasn't hard to establish!

A few years ago my partner and I decided to have a career break, move to Australia and do a long road trip. We spent a year organizing it. We resigned jobs, got our home rented, put our possessions into storage, including a car. We suspended medical insurance (which we've never got back), we canceled dozens of subscriptions, put the car rego on hold, cancelled utlilites, we re-directed mail to a PO Box. We went to the doctor and dentist. We gave away food and everything else that couldn't go into storage (paint, bike oil etc). We signed out updated wills on he way to the airport! We got on the plane exhausted! We opened a bank account, transferred money. We arrived, got local driver's licenses, spent a week buying a 4WD and camping gear. It was pretty stressful!

We then did the entire thing in reverse when we left several years later. I'd suggest that you organise a rental car and a short-term furnished apartment for when you arrive.  You need a car to buy a car, you need a car to find accommodation (unless you are moving to a mining town and this will probably all be done for you). Arrange a bank account before leaving home - you can open it and everything - you then show up, show your passport and collect your EFTPOS cards. 

You can probably drive on your home license for several months, but to buy a car you will need a local license, so do that before going car shopping. 

Advice on Moving To Australia

Consider Carefully What To Take 

If you are paying for shipping its expensive. Somethings just won't work (all American appliances that run on 110V), everything from the UK or US will need new plugs. Most of your winter clothing won't be required, even if you are moving to Melbourne, if you are moving to Perth or Queensland, you won't need any of it.

Big and bulky stuff like furniture is rarely worth shipping unless you are very, very attached to it ie its an antique. Shipping cars and vehicles is also rarely worth it. Australia doesn't have particularly cheap cars, because of its local industry protectionism, so it might be tempting. But check that the model you are shipping can actually be maintained in Australia - if its not already imported it may well be very expensive to get parts for. Most Australian cars are Holdens, Fords or Toyotas.

Make Sure You Have All Your Documents
Bring ALL your documents, everything - health records, academic records the lot.

You Will Have No Credit
Even though we had a wonderful credit record, several mortgages and credit cards at home, we struggled to get a credit card with a $1000 limit when we first arrived! You start from scratch, its unlikely that you will be able to get significant credit for the first 6-12 months because of this.

You Will Have No Insurance Record
Same goes for no-claims records with your insurances. We were told we needed to pay an outrageous amount a month for health insurance, because we were a couple of decades over 30. The fact that we had had insurance in New Zealand was irrelevant. Go figure. Australia's health costs are a lot higher than in New Zealand or Asia, so if you go uninsured (as we did), you will get emergency and urgent care free, but will have to be prepared to fly elsewhere if you want something elective done. Fortunately both Thailand and Malaysia have some excellent medical facilities which are setup for medical tourism.

Updated: 02/22/2012, Lissie
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BrendaReeves on 02/21/2012

Excellent article. Being a native Californian, I love warm weather and am tempted to do it.

Sam on 02/21/2012

Great article about moving to Australia! I considered it when I was younger, but unfortunately I suffer from arachnophobia ;-)

Lissie on 02/20/2012

For a NZer Australia is about the only place "close" - 3.5 hours to Sydney! Everywhere else is long-haul - I hate the 14hours to LAX - tedious flight, and expensive unfortunately! In some ways up to about 10hours I don't care very much , you arrive, drink, eat, watch the movie, doze. Its the 24hrs+ to Europe that kills me!

Angel on 02/20/2012

This was great information. I will never be moving to Australia but I want to visit so bad. I just have to get my chicken butt on a plane for a long ride. LOL.. This will be very helpful for anyone thinking of moving to Australia.

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