Moving to Australia – Useful Information
OverviewRelocating to Australia can be a huge leap in your career and personal life: a new, exciting scenery and high standards of life and work can boost your potential and help to discover lots of great things beside and inside you. On top of being just tremendous, this big move will be stressful unless you get prepared thoroughly in order to be ahead of the game. Life differs here, and you need to consider some things well in advance before boarding a plane. We are here to provide useful information for your, probably, the most life-changing move.
Visas & Employment
Once you are reading this information, you probably have already landed a job and got your visa or you are thinking of getting one. You cannot relocate down under without a proper visa. The local government has developed a bunch of visa solutions that suit any possible immigration situation; however, from your side, you are expected to contribute valuable skills or make a weighty investment in the Australian economy. Regardless of your visa duration (either it is temporary or permanent), you, as an applicant, need to undergo a full assessment for which you need to prepare a proof of your competitive skills and qualifications (for the chosen occupation), your available funds, English proficiency, and your good health and character.
It is easy to get confused in the vast variety of available visas. To find the most suitable visa in your situation, please, visit our virtual consultancy room for a free and competent assessment. Involving visa professionals is crucial if you need to strategize relocation for your whole family.
Visas and employment go together. You cannot work down under if you don’t get the visa that allows such employment. If you were offered a contract by an approved Australian company, you can apply for the work visa 457 (a 4-year employer-sponsored visa). You can also seek for sponsorship of the government (either the state one or a local one) or a relative that dwells in Australia provided that you possess skills mentioned in the governmental “skill shortage” list. If you can claim for neither of these sponsorships, you can try your wings in getting the Skilled Independent Visa 189 that is granted based on your personal outstanding skills and merits.
In Australia, most of the jobs are advertised online. Such services as MyCareer, SEEK, and CareerOne will give you a taste of the job market and competition in your niche. Hiring through networking or on recommendation of colleagues is also popular in Australia.
When job-hunting, remember that some visas have essential restrictions (such as for example, limitations in healthcare or obligation to work on a certain territory without a right to move or even restriction to work). You shouldn’t sneeze at these restrictions because the enforcement of laws is powerful in Australia.
All Australian employees must pay income taxes and get the personal Tax File Number for filing the tax returns. You can get the detailed information about your prospected taxes on our website or the website of the Australian Tax Office.
Travelling to the Down Under
Unless you migrate to Australia from New Zealand, prepare for a long trip: you are going to learn why this country is often called “down under”. A flight to Sidney from Europe or New York will last over 20 hours, 15h from Dubai, 14h from Los Angeles, 10h from Tokyo and 8h from Singapore. Rarely do the Australians travel less than 10 hours to get anywhere, so don’t expect them to sympathize with you in your long and agonizing flight. Once in Australia, you can use local domestic airlines (Qantas, Jetstar, Tiger Air, Virgin Australia etc.) to arrive at your destination.
During your long flight, it is important to choose an aisle seat (for a long flight, it is better than a window seat because you can move freely and get to the bathroom without disturbing others), drink lots of water, walk and do stretching exercises from time to time, wear loose clothes, and have something interesting to watch, listen, or read.
Customs, quarantine and visa checks are very strict in Australia. If you carry 10k USD or more in physical currency, you need to declare money at the customs. At the visa check, you must show your valid travel document, Passenger Card, and a suitable valid visa (please check the list of travel documents required for your particular situation on the website of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection). If you don’t have these documents, the officer will delay you in order to check your identity and motives of entering the country. If you don’t pass the immigration clearance, you may get a refusal to enter Australia and removed or deported.
If your luggage contains some plant material, animal products or food, you need to declare these items in your Incoming Passenger Card for the quarantine check. It is simpler and safer not to carry them at all, of course. But if you still carry and declare those items, you don’t face a penalty. If you don’t declare and then get caught by the x-ray device, detector dog or an officer, you will get fined right in the airport (360 AUD) or even prosecuted afterwards risking getting a sentence of 10 years of jail. You shouldn’t also carry any pirated things that violate the copyright. Doing so also leads to criminal prosecution.
What If You Need to Move Some Stuff?
People tend to stick to some things, and moving far away where you cannot take them along seems painful. Of course, you can use services of a removal / relocation specialist and have your belongings join you in Australia, but still think twice whether the efforts and costs are worth the benefit of having them around down under.
Not only can such services be very costly, risky, and troublesome, but also their benefit can turn to be doubtful. In Australia, you can buy everything you need while things brought from abroad with titanic efforts can be useless. For example, there is no sense in bringing electric goods because Australia uses 230V power, so you will need to buy special adapters in order to use your stuff. Compare prices of different removalist services and the prices for relevant goods in Australia to ensure you really benefit if you move them. Don’t forget about strict quarantine rules and special permits that can be required. Weigh all pros and cons and then act.
When choosing the removalist service, consider not the price (cheaper doesn’t mean better) but the duration of your belongings’ travel, insurance and help with documentation at the customs. Search for the recommendations from people who used the removalist services successfully.
Things to Do Right After Arrival at Australia
- Choose the transport to get to your accommodation (shuttle bus, taxi, or public transport)
- Contact with a real estate agent for housing options available in your area
- Buy a pre-paid mobile or internet SIM-card
- Buy a sunscreen and apply it immediately (the sun is very intense in Australia).
- Have a walk around and taste the local food
- Visit your consulate
- Learn the local language called lingo (the Australians say lots of weird words, and replenishing your vocabulary is a must)
- Visit a local patrolled beach but avoid places marked with warnings about a box jellyfish (a deadly creature that causes painful death)
Opening Bank Account
Australia is a financial hub with a well-developed network of banks that offer a full range of competitive financial services. We recommend you to set up your Australia bank account before arriving down under because it gives you a full access to your funds immediately after arrival. You can open an account from abroad using online services offered by almost all Australian banks. You just fill up the relevant application form (takes 10 minutes or so), add passport information and wait until a bank officer processes your application and provides you with details of your new bank account. You are able to systematize your financial activity by opening 2 accounts: a regular transaction account and a saving one with an interest rate for putting money by. You also need to specify a branch where you plan to collect your card upon arrival.
Now you can move on to transferring your funds. For the transfer, you need your personal account number, your bank’s address, a number of a branch, and the SWIFT code. The bank you have chosen will offer you to handle the transfer, but their services are costly. It is much cheaper and still reliable to transfer money via either a Forex company (for sums over 5k AUD) or such services as TransferWise or Currency Fair (for smaller sums). If the sum you are going to load your account with is less than 10k AUD, you can consider bringing this money physically without declaring at the Australian customs. But using a bank account will let you have a peace of mind during the travel. Once you are already in Australia, you visit the bank branch you specified, show your ID, collect your debit plastic card, and access your funds.
If you haven’t opened your account before arrival, you can do if afterwards but no later than 5 weeks after arrival. Just visit any branch of the chosen bank with your passport and undergo a short procedure.
Many foreigners wonder whether funds they transfer or physically bring to Australia are subject to local taxes. The answer is no. No taxes on your personal funds are imposed unless you have a saving account and start to get interest in Australia. This interest is considered as an income earned inside Australia and, therefore, is taxed. You cannot avoid it as your account is tied to your Tax File Number, and your financial activity is tracked by the Tax Office.
Australia’s real estate market is very congested, especially on the most populated eastern coast. It is better to make accommodation arrangements before arrival. As your visa can be connected to your employer, you should seek for housing that is located as closer to your office as possible. Australia is a huge country, and maps may mislead especially those foreigners who arrive from small countries: the real distance can turn to be much longer than it came across at first. Don’t buy property before landing a job. Take a walk in the neighborhood of your office to discover comfortable places. Take into account such factors as access to public transport or schools, availability of shops, the ambience of the place, status and so on.
If you are new to Australia and don’t know where to seek, contact with a rental agent in your area. You will have to provide some documents that prove your trustworthiness, for example, copies of your passport or a driving licence and references from the previous landlord or your employer. If you have a property that suits you, don’t hesitate to take it immediately because Australian rental market is high-velocity and nobody will wait for your decision.
The property is very expensive in Australia. If you still intend to buy rather than rent, don’t rush things and research the topic to make an informed decision. We don’t recommend buying the property before landing a job. Sidney and Melbourne (huge cities on the prestigious eastern coast) are the most expensive in terms of property. Here, prices for an average property vary from 350k to 550k AUD. The farther you move from the coast inside the country (to the outbacks), the lower the prices will be. But as commutes can be very long and the infrastructure worsens as you move deeper inside Australia, settling in the suburb doesn’t always work.
In Australia, you can buy property through open sales, through private sales, or through an auction. The latter option is very popular taking up to 50% of all purchase deals. Foreigners can receive loans, but beware of strict rules for the down payment banks set here. Also, bear in mind taxes and additional costs you will pay for your purchase: 2-5% as the Stamp Duty, 10% as the Goods and Services Tax (for new property and land), state’s fee for processing your contract, and fees of a solicitor. As a first-time owner, you still can compensate a part of these expenses using the government’s grant (up to 15 AUD).
If you don’t want to be tied to one specific location, choose to rent which is what most of the Australians choose, by the way. The price will depend on the location, availability of facilities in the neighbourhood, access to public transport, number of bedrooms and remodelling conditions. A studio in Sydney or Melbourne would cost you 250-350 AUD per week, and a 2-bedroom apartment/house – up to 500-750 UAD for the same rent period. In the beginning, tenants usually pay a rent for 4 weeks in advance and a security bond equal to 4-6 weeks of rent. Bear in mind that Australian property is rented unfurnished. A tenant also pays the utilities.
By the way, about the utilities. On most of the territory of Australia, you are able to choose the provider of gas or electricity on your own or to use the provider that was connected to the property before. Right after you find a suitable dwelling, you need to get connected to the services before moving in. You can do it yourself by contacting with every supplier separately, inquiring about rates and discounts (and doing lots of legwork) or involve a professional team (for example, eMove or Connectnow) that will arrange all of these matters for you.
Medicare – a governmental healthcare system that covers most needs in treatments and medications – is available only for citizens and holders of permanent visas. Other foreigners must hold comprehensive health insurance plans in order to be protected. Most rich Australians prefer to use private insurance plans so you won’t be in minority. Australian insurers offer a vast variety of covers for every kind of situation. Most of them have developed plans especially for foreigners who just arrived in Australia.
How does the Medicare work? Every eligible working individual pays the Medicare levy (2%) which is used by the government to form the fund and distribute subsidies for healthcare needs. Residents/citizens earning over 90k AUD who don’t use full private hospital insurances are subject to the levy surcharge (additional 1%). Holders of permanent visas must get registered with the Medicare no later than 7-10 days after arrival in Australia. You need to provide your travel documents (passport and visa).
It is important to take all your healthcare records along to Australia. If you immigrate with your family, take their records along as well. Immunization cards for children are mandatory if you decide to enlist them in a child care centre or school.
Mobile & Internet
The Australians love technologies and innovations (actually, they invented a selfie), so you shouldn’t lag behind as well. Taking your smartphone along down under, ensure it will support the local GSM standard. If your gadget is compatible, all you need is to select a suitable prepaid plan and an SIM-card. If you have to buy a new device, in Australia, you won’t be disappointed by the assortment.
There are 4 major network providers down under: Telstra (a leader of mobile, home phone and broadband internet connection), Optus, Virgin Mobile, and Vodafone. You should select the provider that has the best network in your area. Unfortunately, remote rural areas can have troubles with mobile connection, so we recommend you to make a research and talk to a couple of providers in order to find the best solution.
Prepaid plan is recommended for a foreigner who just arrived in Australia, firstly, because contract options imply being employed and having a permanent address and secondly because your circumstances may change and you need to be more flexible and ready for new opportunities from the very beginning.