Expats FAQ in Australia
What city are you living in ?
A: Bank notes comprise of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Australian dollar notes; while coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins, and 1 and 2 dollar coins.
A: Top big banks are Westpac, Commonwealth, ANZ and Australia Bank.
A: In order to open a bank account, one needs to present an identification e.g. driver’s license or passport, proof of an address in Australia, and in some cases a reference from one's previous bank.
A: Opening a Melbourne bank account is quick and simple, even for expats. However, it must be done within the expat's first six weeks of arrival in Australia. Otherwise, bank authorities may require more time and evidence of identification. In any case, an expat has to present a passport, a valid visa and another valid ID when opening a bank account.
A: Yes. Most Melbourne residents consider ATMs as the most convenient tools for cash dispensing. Note that ATMs in the city only give out 20 AUD and 50 AUD notes, though some of the smaller ones (usually in gas stations) dispense only 10 AUD, again, only in combinations of 20 and 50 AUDs. In rare places such as casinos, one may get 100 AUD notes.
A: Banks in Melbourne usually open at 9am and close at 4pm on Mondays thru Thursdays. On Fridays, they open at 9 am and close at 5pm. Most of Australia's biggest banks like ANZ, NAB, and Commonwealth have branches in Melbourne.
A: The most important requirement for opening a bank account in Sydney is a 100-point score on identity. There are three approved forms of identification. For migrants, these three IDs include a passport, a driver's license, and a medical card. Normally, an expat who is unable to provide the three will not be allowed to open a bank account in any bank in Sydney.
A: This depends from bank to bank, but usually, monthly maintenance fees of $5 will be charged to an account holder to keep the account active. When planning to open a bank account in Sydney, it is advisable that one spend time shopping around to know which bank charges the least fees.
A: The four major and most established banks in Sydney include the National Australia Bank (NAB), ANZ, Commonwealth, and Westpac. The Commonwealth Bank, once a government bank until its privatization in the 1990s, is the most distributed bank, both in the city and the entire Australia.
A: One must ensure that business name doesn't have a trade mark registered against it. All business name registrations go to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) External Site. Once it's registered with ASIC , it's registered nationally as well. One just need to have an Australian Business Number (ABN) in order to register a business name online through the ABN application or through ASIC Connect External Site.
A: The Australian business number (ABN) is a unique 11 digit number that identifies a business or organisation to the government and community. Not everybody is entitled to one; hence, it is not compulsory.
A: Foreign companies must be registered with ASIC, the governing body responsible for the ongoing regulation of foreign companies.
A: The Australian tax year covers the period from July 1 to June 30 of succeeding year. After securing an Australian Business Number or ABN, registration with the Australian Tax Office follows for the payment of four basic business taxes in Melbourne, namely, goods and services, fringe benefits, pay-as-you-go withholding, and payroll taxes.
A: Expats who want to open a business in Melbourne should consult with the Australian Business License and Information Service (ABLIS) for information regarding the necessary licenses, permits, approvals, registrations, codes of practice, standards, and guidelines for setting up business in the city. Which particular requirements are needed will ultimately depend on the business type and target location.
A: Melbourne has many thriving industries, but as far as potential investments are concerned, the food, medical research, agricultural, tourism, cultural, financial services and manufacturing sectors are the most promising today.
A: Generally, stores, shops, offices and other business establishments open at 9am and close at 5pm Mondays thru Fridays. Banks specifically are open from Mondays thru Thursdays from 9:30am to 5pm, and are closed on Fridays and weekends. On Saturdays, shops open a bit earlier at around 8:30am, and close a little earlier too at around 4pm. Stores that operate on Sundays are open from 9am to 4pm.
A: There's a lot, especially those with an overlooking view of the world-famous Sydney Harbour. Over the last decade, Sydney has been host to many big international conferences and other major world events such as the International AIDS Society Conference and the 26th Asia Pacific Academy of Ophthalmology Congress.
A: Yes, business franchising is a very promising industry in Sydney. In fact, there are many franchising expos held in the city every now and then, and one of the biggest has been scheduled for March 2015 at the Royal Hall of Industries on 1 Driver Avenue Moore Park.
A: You can visit Event Finda for events tailored fit for chidlren at http://www.eventfinda.com.au/children-kids-holidays/events/australia
A: There are only two states in Australia with ski resorts namely the New South Wales with Perisher and Thredbo and Victoria with Falls Creek, Mt Hotham and Mt Buller.
A: The Gold Coast is a goldmine for family activities family surrounded by theme parks and the vast stretch of the ocean. Families can also travel to Cairns and be awed by the Great Barrier Reef and engage in many activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, etc.
A: Public primary schools in Melbourne are free, but there is usually a voluntary school levy to be paid by each student per year. Government subsidy also excludes uniforms, extra-curricular activities and other miscellaneous expenses.
A: There are basically four types of Melbourne childcare facilities, all of which accept kids up to the age of 6. These include private centers, community centers, family day care (up to a maximum of 4 preschool kids to be cared for in the carer's home), and home care (an au pair or nanny comes to the kids' home). Additionally, there are centers offering playgroups for parents who want to be around as their children socialize with other kids.
A: For expat children, requirements usually include a passport, birth certificate, contact details of parents or guardians, certificate of immunization, a description of the child's health and development history, and information regarding language or languages spoken by the child.
A: One thing most expats say about child care is Sydney is that it's expensive - around $70 – 125 per child per day. On top of that, waiting lists are also notorious for being really long, especially in highly populated areas. In eastern suburbs like Woolahra and Manly, it can be almost impossible to get a slot.
A: Sydney offers a lot of opportunities for kids to develop their sports abilities. West of the city center is the famous Sydney Olympic Park where kids can enjoy facilities for swimming, walking, archery, trapeze and many others. At the Sydney Park and Centennial Park, kids can learn and master cycling. Of course, there are playgrounds everywhere for the younger kids.
A: Sydney locals have a big thing for cafes, and the good thing is, even kids are well accommodated. In fact, a lot of restaurants offer children a separate menu that is more suited to their tastes. China Town at the city center is known for its yum cha or lunch meals which are usually served between 10am and 3pm. Kids love them and so does the rest of the family.
Cost of living
A: As most expats are not permanent residents; hence not qualified for Medicare, their option is to obtain a private medical life insurance, which can cost more than 500 AUD per month.
A: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane are considered cosmopolitan cities and have a higher cost of living compared to other Australian cities.
A: Rental costs in a good location in a cosmopolitan area starts at AUD 1000 for an unfurnished two-bedroom apartment to AUD 1,300 and more for a furnished two-bedroom apartment.
A: People pay the most for accommodation in Melbourne. In the city center, for instance, rentals can go as high as 450 AUD per week for a one-bedroom apartment.
A: A lot of expats are still surprised to know that the city is prone to extremely cold winters and extremely hot summers. The average utility bill of an average Melbourne household is about AUD1800 a year, including gas and electricity costs, plus around 500 AUD yearly for water.
A: Melbourne has many fine dining restaurants where bills can rack up to the hundreds, but there are also several places where people can enjoy great food for so much less. Both in the city center and in outlying areas, there are diners that offer superb food for a little more than the cost of a fast food meal. In Melbourne, 15 AUD for a sumptuous dinner is usual.
A: Most of a Sydney resident's monthly cost of living goes to rent. A one-bedroom apartment in the city costs around $450 to $550 weekly, and a two-bedroom apartment will probably start at around $650 weekly.
A: A usual electricity and gas bill in Sydney costs around $5 - 15 per week, and around $30 per week for a landline. For Internet, the range is from $40-70 monthly, depending on the period of the contract and gigabytes of data provided.
A: According to the 2011 Economist Intelligence Unit, Sydney is at least 28 % more expensive to live in than London, and around 45% costlier than New York.
A: Medicare is a free service available to Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent visa holders. Medical coverage include free treatment and accommodation as a patient in a public hospitals, and 75% of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures if you are a private patient in a public or private hospital.
A: In Queensland, one can go to Mater Children's Hospital, Royal Children's Hospital, Herston. In New South Wales, there is the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children, Sydney Children's Hospital and John Hunter Children's Hospital. In Victoria, Royal Children's Hospital and Monash Children's Hospital cater to any children medical emergencies.
A: Expats who do not have Medicare are encouraged to get a private health insurance. And even with Medicare, there are specific treatments that are not covered such as dental and optical services.
A: In Melbourne and the rest of Australia, Medicare insurance covers only Australian and New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, and vacationers from countries with a reciprocal health agreement with Australia (Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Malta, UK, the Netherlands, Italy, and Slovenia.)
A: For fire, police, or medical emergencies, 000 is the free hotline to call in Melbourne. However, ambulance transport is not free in the city or anywhere in Australia, but there are preneed companies that offer plans exempting holders from fees. For round-the-clock nurse-on-call services, Melbourne residents can call 1300 60 60 24.
A: Non-Medicare-covered expats in Melbourne have three options to get medical coverage while in the city: an employer-provided company insurance plan, international medical insurance that meets requirements of the Australian medical insurance industry, and a private insurance plan purchased in Melbourne. When deciding which plan to buy, it is important to pay attention to policy provisions on pre-existing conditions, waiting periods and pharmaceutical benefits.
A: There are around 50 public hospitals and clinics right within the city center, and most of them provide specialist services or are connected with major research centers. Additionally, there are also many privately run hospitals both at the city center and around suburban areas. The Ministry of Health website provides a lot of helpful tips and information about health services in the city, and offers a search function for those who are looking for a medical facility near them.
A: It depends on the policy and the insurer, but the most common exclusions are dental and physiotherapy care, along with ambulance transport, visual aids, and prescription drugs. Government subsidies, however, have made the prices of medicines generally cheaper in Sydney and in all other parts of the country, compared to the rest of the world.
A: As with any part of Australia, Sydney offers a public healthcare system to all residents through a program called Medicare. The plan, financed through taxes via the Medicare levy, covers all medical treatments received in public hospitals, and all other costs associated with treatment obtained from out-of-hospital GPs or specialists. Unfortunately, only expats who have become Australian citizens or permanent residents are covered by this system.
A: One must prepare proof of identity (passport/ birth certificate/ drivers license, proof of income e.i. bank statements for the last three months, previous rental agreements (if there's any) and references e.i. employer or previous landlord.
A: Property sites that have an extensive and updated listings on properties and rental accommodations are www.realestate.com.au, www.domain.com.au and www.gumtree.com.au
A: There is no standard for how much rent has to be paid in advance to the landlord; tenant and landlord has to come in agreement with the payment terms. But tenant must pay the first fortnight/month's rent and a bond, equivalent to a one month's rent.
A: Houses in Melbourne can vary wildly in prices, but as of March 2014, the median price was $652,500 for detached homes and $499,000 for apartments.
A: Houses in Melbourne are either free-standing or attached buildings, can be anywhere from a few months to 150 years old, and are typically built from concrete, timber or brick. On average, a home in the city will have four bedrooms, a maximum of two bathrooms, a kitchen, living area, and laundry room. Bigger ones have more than one living area and come with a garage.
A: Yes, as a non-citizen or permanent resident, permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board must first be obtained. It usually takes 40 days for the FIRB to send a reply, but in unusual circumstances, it could take longer depending on how much time is needed to resolve the issue or issues involved.
A: Edgecliff, Double Bay, Darling Point and Vaucluse, all found in the eastern suburbs, are the most expensive neighborhoods in Sydney, where median luxury apartments cost around $ 1.35 million.
A: Houses in Sydney are generally expensive, but in Tregear (near Blacktown), some properties are becoming increasingly popular for their relatively lower prices. The median house price is around $240, making the area a perfect place for families who are just starting to establish themselves in the city.
A: This depends on various factors such as the property's market value, the loaner's capacity to pay, etc. In most cases, however, Sydney mortgage homes are paid with a monthly interest rate of about 4-5%, or 5-6% for more expensive homes.
A: There's Bondi Beach in Sydney to start with; Victoira has Bells Beach while new South Wales boast of Byron Bay.
A: The Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Harbour, Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia’s wineries, Tasmania's Port Arthur are among the many attractions that draw travellers and tourists across the world to visit Australia.
A: It's during June to November when the weather is mild that makes it the best time to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
A: There are many cheap entertainment options in Melbourne. Halftix is an agency that sells discounted tickets for tours, concerts and other events in the city, and its office is located at the Melbourne Town Hall Administration (Swanston Street around the corner of Collins Street). However, tickets can only be bought personally and strictly for cash. Ticketmaster and Ticketek are two other popular ticket agencies in the city.
A: Yes. There are many carting venues around Melbourne, and particularly popular among teenage boys is Auscarts. This is a modern indoor carting venue just five minutes away from the city centre. Drivers need to be at least thirteen to be able to race, and there's a 145- 200-cm height requirement. The carts can take a maximum load of 145kilos.
A: There's this game called room escape that's currently making waves in Melbourne today. People come in groups and are put together in one room to solve different challenges so they can escape within a certain number of minutes. The games are fun and challenging at the same time, combining intuition, teamwork, logic, and analytical skills. Room escape is also a growing trend for corporate team-building activities. One favorite venue is Exitus located at the Port of Melbourne.
A: The music and theater circuit in Sydney is rich and colorful. The internationally famous Sydney Opera House is actually the number one choice for the biggest classical and pop events held by international artists in Australia.
A: With Sydney's bright and sunny weather, outdoor activities are very popular in the city, especially among the youth. There are at least 400 public playgrounds, parks and other open, natural spaces which are commonly used for sports like running and cycling, as well as for outdoor recreation like barbecues and picnics.
A: Absolutely! In fact, there are 15 community gardens which are very popular among tourists and expats. These places feature a wide variety of herbs, fruits and vegetables, and lovely flowers. Of course, sunbathers and surfers will love the city's sun and beaches, along with the beautiful and sprawling national parks that surround the metropolis.
Looking for a job
A: Dailies such as The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald regularly publish job listings and advertisements in the employment sections. The local and community newspapers also have job listings, but not extensive. Online job portals are also a good source of job listings and one can opt to register with a recruitment agencies.
A: A CV/Resume must consist of 2-4 pages long, which must include the candidate's contact details, complete list of work experience from the most recent to the least recent, skill set, duties within your list of positions and character reference.
A: Engineering, ICT, Biotechnology and Healthcare are among the sectors that have several opportunities for skilled workers and professionals.
A: Employment trends come and go in Melbourne. Currently, there is a high demand for chemists, veterinarians, electrical engineers, welders, plumbers, software engineers, pastry cooks, and midwives. Foreign nationals who want to apply for a skilled migrant visa must ensure that their overseas qualifications are officially evaluated.
A: How much an expat makes in Melbourne depends on the type of job he has. So far, the highest paid expats in the city are those who work in the health and medical sector, where professionals make around 4,900 to 5,000 AUD annually. This is followed by electrical and electronics trade professionals who typically rake in up to 4,800 AUD at the end of the year. Architects make around 3,800 AUD, while cleaning and housekeeping staff receive some 3,600 AUD. These are all estimates, but they create a realistic picture of how much expats are making in Melbourne today.
A: Workers in Melbourne do not go to work on a ferry like those in Sydney, but the daily commute in the city is considered far more convenient than in London, Tokyo, or New York. However, expats whose jobs involve long-distance traveling need to be patient as it can take a while to get to Melbourne, even coming from Sydney which is about an hour's flight away.
A: Sydney is the reigning financial hub of the country where 25% of the national GDP is sourced. Jobs are most abundant in the property and business services, manufacturing, retail, health, and community services sectors, along with information, creative and performing arts and media and technology. The city's tourism industry has also been a steady provider of employment, especially for foreign nationals.
A: A basic requirement is English proficiency and passing an official skills assessment for those applying for Australian working visas. More specific requirements will depend on individual visa categories and subcategories, which have their own skills evaluation programs in place.
A: Business attire for corporate workers is essentially conservative in Sydney. A dark-colored, modestly designed suit is the norm for men, and a modestly designed suit or smart dress is expected to be worn by women. This is in contrast to Brisbane and other tropical parts of Australia where people can wear shirts and shorts even to corporate affairs.
A: The Australian Tax Office (ATO) handles all taxation and any other tax related issues an expat may have.
A: There is a 10% GST in Australia, which are already included in the price of goods at purchase.
A: No, obtaining a Tax File Number is not compulsory. However, it is encouraged to get a TFN to avoid paying tax withheld and to be eligible for government benefits.
A: The local currency in Australia is issued in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and 100 AUD, 50 AUD, 20 AUD, 10 AUD and 5 AUD. All of these are commonly used in day-to-day transactions. The 100 AUD note, however, is less frequently used, and it may be refused by the smaller shops if you're making a small purchase. It's often wise to have more supply of the lower value notes.
A: A foreigner who arrives in Melbourne carrying at least 10,000 AUD or an equivalent amount in a foreign currency has to fill out and sign a Cross-Border Movement – Physical Currency (CBM-PC) form. If asked at the border, he should also inform the officer if he is carrying any bearer negotiable instruments or BNI's, such as travel cheques, money orders, promissory notes and the like. Though BNIs have no face value, they still have to be disclosed.
A: American Express and Travelex are the two most frequently accepted cards in Melbourne. In larger stores, JCB cards may also be accepted. All of these cards can be cashed at foreign exchange centers, banks, car rental agencies and the bigger hotels. A foreigner must present a passport when cashing traveler's cheques. Major cards like Visa, American Express, MasterCard, Diners Club, etc. usually charge varying fees.
A: Money exchange is done in most of the key banks in the city, at small money exchange kiosks dotting Kings Cross and Circular Bay, and in hotels and casinos.
A: Yes, everywhere in Sydney, there will be ATMs, but most are found in touristy areas or business centers. Note that most ATMs only accept international cards, both credit and debit.
A: Credit cards are often used in Sydney for bigger purchases such as electronic gadgets and sometimes even cars, while cash is usually the only mode of payment accepted for smaller transactions such as bus ticket purchases or buying in smaller stores.
A: Online sites for furniture and household item include kmart.com.au, bigw.com.au, target.com.au and IKEA.com.au.
A: Absolutely, the country proves to be an excellent place to raise a family especially when it comes to property houses, health services and education. Children can spend recreational time outdoors in large open space and in a nearby beach while parents can benefit from various government schemes for financial emergencies.
A: Summer happens during December to February. Fall/Autumn is around March to May and winter arrives by June until August. It is best to travel or relocate to Australia during Spring from September to November.
A: Yes. In fact, Melbourne is now a top destination for retirees, along with other key cities like Sydney. This trend has even led the federal government to make a number of retirement visa types available. The first requirement for obtaining a retiree visas is that the applicant is at least 55 years old.
A: Weather in Melbourne can switch from rainy and sunny several times a day. A phenomenon known as "cool change," characterized by a sudden shift in the wind direction that causes a dramatic drop in temperature, is known to occur. On a sunny morning, it can get as hot as 40 degrees Celsius, but in a few hours, this can drop to 18 degrees Celsius. Other days, temperatures can dip below freezing points.
A: A study of Melbourne municipalities shows that asthma rates are the highest in Wyndham and the lowest in Marybirnong. There is no conclusive evidence relating this to hay fever, but it may be a good point to consider. Bayside suburbs are also said to be anti-hay fever.
A: This depends on the moving company and the amount of load to be moved. However, the most common rates fall between $140-165 per hour, for a service package that normally includes two professional removalists and one truck.
A: The most basic thing to remember when moving to Sydney is sun protection. A lot of tourists and expats take this for granted, but Sydney's sun can be quite harsh, especially to those who are not used to it. Temperatures can go up to over 40 degrees Celsius on an ordinary day, and this can be very hazardous. There even schools (most, if not all) that have a strict no-hat-no-play policy, which means children will not be allowed to go out and play unless they wear something on their heads for protection. Sunscreen is a definite must, and so are cool, cotton shirts which help to regulate body temperature.
A: At the outset, household goods shipment can be very expensive, but this proves to be more economical later on than having to buy all new stuff upon arriving in Sydney. What's important is that enough research is done before choosing a shipping company, as there are many potential risks involved in goods transport. Costs are often based on weight, cubic dimensions, or both.
A: When relocating to Australia with a pet, one must strictly adhere to the following: an ISO 11784/11785 compliant ISO microchip, a rabies vaccination within one year of entry, blood Titer Test (RNATT) no sooner than 180 days prior to entry. (Have your veterinarian scan your pet's microchip prior to the titer test) and import Permit, a USDA (or CFIA) accredited veterinarian must then complete the Australia Veterinary Certificate for endorsement by the USDA or CFIA if travelling from the United States or Canada. All pets must travel as manifest cargo will need a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel.
A: Australia requires dogs and cats a minimum of 10 days quarantine except for pets travelling from New Zealand, Norfolk Island or Coco Island.
A: Restricted dog breeds are Dog Argentino, Fila Brazileiro, Japanese Tosa, Pit Bull Terrier, American Pit Bull and Perro de Presa Canario or Presa Canario.
A: Requirements generally include a rabies blood test performed within 150 days before entry to Australia. If this requirement is satisfied, the pet will only be quarantined for 30 days. Pets may travel to Australia 2 months following the blood test, but the quarantine period will be longer.
A: Melbourne dog boarding services cost around $45-50 each. For every pair of dogs, the fee is around $75-90, depending on various factors such as location and facilities.
A: Yes. The most important requirement is registering dogs with the Melbourne council, and this registration is to be renewed annually. After registration, the dog owner will receive a certificate, along with an identification tag that bears the pet's registration number as well as the council's name. This tag must be worn by the animal at all times. Failure to register dogs in Melbourne can mean a fine of up to $500, while abandoning a dog can cost the owner up to $ 1,000.
A: Animals are generally not allowed inside trains in Sydney, but there are three exceptions: police/security dogs, animals trained to assist disabled passengers and animals undergoing assistance training.
A: For pet-related issues such as excessive barking, property damage, people-chasing, etc., complaints may be lodged by calling 02 9265 9333. Response from a city ranger can be expected within 24 hours, and if the problem continues, a nuisance order will be served to the pet owner. Depending on the case, fines can range from $275-880.
A: It's because there is no government subsidy for pet care in Sydney, so that pet owners feel like they are paying too much for vet services. While humans are covered by Medicare, animals are not. This is why it's important to take the time to research on different vets in the city so that comparisons may be made.
A: As early as 5, children can go to Primary school in Australia.
A: In general, state schools are open and accessible to foreigners.
A: Based on the QS World University Rankings 2013/14, the high-ranking universities are the Australian National University (ranked 27 in the world; 1st in Australia), the University of Melbourne (ranked 31 in the world; 2nd in Australia) and University of Sydney (ranked 38 in the world; 3rd in Australia).
A: Schools in Melbourne have a total four terms per school year, beginning late January up to early December. Summer and Christmas holidays are combined in one stretch.
A: Fees vary significantly from one school to another, so parents are advised to consult schools directly when asking for information regarding tuition fees. On average, yearly fees per private school amount to around $ 20,000. In public schools, tuition is free for permanent residents and those who hold a 457 visa. However, other expenses such as uniforms, fees for school trips, etc. have to be paid out of pocket. An enrollee classified as an international student has to pay full fees, and this status must be indicated in his or her passport.
A: Schools in the Eastern suburbs such as Donvale, Blackburn and Park Orchards are good to consider because they are cheaper than those in the inner city, yet competitive in terms of quality of education. Note that government-run primary schools follow very strict zoning requirements. For example, parents must be able show proof of residence within a particular school zone before they can enroll their kids in a school within that zone.
A: Sydney (and Australia in general) boasts of public schools that are ranked 9th in world education survey of the Programme for International Student Assessment or Pisa. Under the same programme, UK ranks 25th and the US 17th.
A: Yes, all Sydney schools - public, private, Catholic, Anglican, or Jewish - require students to wear school uniforms. Aside from skirts for girls and trousers for boys, a hat, sports jacket, backpack, and shorts are also included. Black, lace up shoes are the usual footwear, but they tend to be expensive in Sydney. Parents are advised to buy at least two pairs for each child before the move.
A: Yes, there are special enrolment requirements for 457 visa holders, and not all schools in Sydney accept 457 visa holders. It is important to contact a school directly and inquire.
A: Across the country, one can find David Jones, Harris Scarfe, Myer, Barsby's, Hanna's and Stewart's.
A: Woolworths and Wesfarmers are the heavyweights when it comes supermarket sales.
A: Sites such as productreview.com.au and myshopping.com.au are the go-to sites amongst the locals.
A: Melbourne is actually known for being Australia's fashion capital so there are many malls and boutiques dotting the city. In the CBD, some of the world's best designers in the likes of Louis Vuitton have shops lining the entire Little Collins Street. Melbourne Central is a popular shopping mall, along with Bourke Street Mall. For famous Australian brands, people usually troop to Emporium.
A: Definitely! DFO Outlets Centre found at South Wharf (near Yarra River's southern bank) is perfect for discount shoppers. Elizabeth Street is also perfect for backpackers looking for high-quality yet cheap outdoor products.
A: Shopping in Melbourne usually starts at 9am and ends at 5:30pm on weekdays, and runs from 9am (sometimes later) to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Most shops in the suburbs like Chadstone close later - usually up to 9pm - on Thursdays and Fridays. At supermarkets, opening time is usually 7am and closing time could well go beyond midnight. Of course, there are those that are open round-the-clock.
A: The city practically crawls with shopping districts like Westfield Sydney, Pitt Street Mall, the Queen Victoria Building, The Strand and Sydney Central Plaza. These shopping centers are joined together by pedestrian malls and walkways, and that makes it a whole lot easier for shoppers to get around. Anything, from chocolates to antiques, can be found in these shopping havens.
A: The city has a long line of art galleries, but a very popular favorite is Aboriginal Art Galleries which features the indigenous works of more than 140 artists, including Dorothy Napangardi, Minnie Pwerle, and a lot more. Sculptures, artifacts, and more aboriginal art pieces can be found and purchased in these galleries which have two locations within the city - Queen Victoria Building and Opera Quays.
A: There are lots of antique shops in Sydney, mostly located in shopping areas such as Paddington Double Bay, and Woollahra, especially around Sotheby’s. For cheaper antiques, the Sydney Antique Center in Surry Hills along South Dowling Street houses more than 50 smaller shops that sell all types of items, from chinaware to ancient animal carvings.
A: The biggest among the telcos is Telstra, which also owns the majority of landline infrastructure. Coming second is Optus, which is a subsidiary of Singapore Telecommunications.
A: In a month, Internet cost is around AUD 80-100, either uncapped ADSL or cable.
A: Requirements vary for each telcos. In general, one must have an identification with proof of address, complete contact details, a residential address, a delivery address (applicable for phones), proof of employment, study or pension benefits, and a direct debit from an Australian bank account or credit card.
A: Five of the most trusted telecom companies in Melbourne include AAPT Cellular One Ltd, Soul, Optus, Digiplus, and Telstra. These companies offer broadband technology, wireless broadband and 3G communications networks across the city.
A: People in Melbourne typically pay more for telecom services than residents of other Australian cities. For example, for the average use of an ADSL broadband plan of 50 gigabytes per month, the bill may amount to around 100 AUD with a big telecom company. For a plan with a duration of less than two years, a subscriber may have to pay some 100 AUD in set up fees. For landlines, most households usually pay about 20 AUD monthly, while mobile phone plans normally cost around 70 AUD monthly.
A: Yes. In fact, there are six free TV stations, along with pay-to-view TV. The free TV stations available in the city are Channel 7, Channel 9, and Channel 10, along with ABC, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s national network, and Channel 31 and SBS which both feature foreign language programs.
A: Most people in Sydney use either iiNet, TPG or iPrimus which are considered the best Internet service providers in the city.
A: Yes. In fact, over 75% of the city's metropolitan area has facilities that enable the use of 4G phones and other gadgets. It is projected that by April of 2015, at least 90% of the city will be able to use 4G technology.
A: Different ISPs charge different rates, but usually for about the same quality of services. The monthly cost ranges from $40-70, depending on the period of the contract, with a choice of 12, 18 and 24 months, and data volume provided, usually from 20 - 500 GB. Some companies offer unlimited Internet for around $60 monthly.
A: As one of the liveliest places to live, Australia has one of the extensive public transportation networks; most of its cities have trains, buses, monorail, trams and private taxis. Most expats working in the city use public transport on a daily basis, and it's the best way for travellers to get around the city.
A: Australia is one enormous vast land, and travelling via train is one way to appreciate the outback. The famous Indian Pacific alone links Sydney, Adelaide and Perth while crossing the great Nullarbor Plain in the process. To help prepare your train journey, visit the Australian Rail Maps at http://www.railmaps.com.au
A: Vehicle need to be registered right away in the owner’s state of residence (and not where the vehicle was purchased). State agencies handle the whole process, but usually it's the Road Transport Authorities, which is responsible for motor vehicle inspection and registration, and driver licensing service.
A: This depends on the passenger's current location and destination. The average cost of a taxi going to or from the city center is around 55 AUD. Two other factors that affect the final bill are traffic and the time of day. Taxis in Melbourne also charge higher at night.
A: Most people in Melbourne prefer to get around using the public transport system. Aside from being cheaper (only 7 AUD a day for a public transport ticket), commuters are also able to avoid dealing with fluctuating fuel prices and high parking fees (over 10AUD), not to mention traffic jams. Expats who live in outlying areas naturally have to spend more for transportation.
A: An expat is allowed to drive in Melbourne using the driver's license issued to him in his home country. However, this is only good for up to three months after the issuance of his Australian visa. After such period, he has to pass a local driving test to be able to continue driving in the city. If his original license was issued in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK or USA, he may simply swap that license with a Victorian license, and there will be no driving tests required.
A: Traffic in Sydney is busy all the time, and traveling by car is often preferable outside of weekday peak hours. City roads are most congested from 6:30AM-9:30AM, and those leading to the suburbs are the busiest between 4:30PM and 6:30PM.
A: Yes. Any passenger aged 15 years below is usually given discounts on most public transport vehicles. The age limit for discounts on Matilda ferries, however, is 14. Kids 3 years old and below can travel completely free. For Matilda ferries, the age limit is 4 years and younger.
A: Bus tickets are available at corner shops, post offices, 7/11's, transit stores and news bureaus. Note that between 7am and 7pm, people cannot buy tickets while on board buses within the city, or in any of the key transport corridors. Sometimes, especially on weekends, tickets may be purchased from the driver on non- Prepay Only bus routes.
A: Foreigners travelling to Australia need to present upon entry a valid passport or other acceptable travel document, a valid visa, and a completed and signed Incoming Passenger Card.
A: A good reference is the Lonely Planet book on AU and Citysearch.com website for Sydney attractions.
A: Winter months from June to August would be the cheapest time to travel.
A: In terms of common diseases, there are no major risks in Melbourne today. In the last few years, however, there were minor epidemics of pertussis or whooping cough that affected children in suburban areas. As a general precaution, expats moving to the city with kids are advised to ensure that immunizations are kept up to date.
A: Expats should remember to take along the right clothing for the city's rather unpredictable weather. Generally, it's wise to bring along enough sunscreen, a sun visor and UV protective clothing when possible, as the Australian sun can be a bit piercing.
A: There are no special vaccinations advised for people traveling to Melbourne, but booster shots for tetanus and polio are highly recommended. Elderly expats must have flu shots as well, and those who are coming to work in medical settings should get immunization for hepatitis.
A: Summer, which runs from December to February, is the best time to enjoy the city's fabulous beaches. However, temperatures can go as high as over 40°C, so sunscreen is an absolute must. From March to May, which is autumn, it can still be good and warm but not all the time for those who are mainly planning to hit the beach.
A: Yes. There are coach companies in Sydney driving to all key Australian cities and many NSW regional centers. The terminal is located adjacent to the train station in the City South. Many tourists prefer to travel by coach because it is cheaper and runs faster.
A: Most travelers agree that the best way is to take a ferry east from Circular Quay all the way to Taronga Zoo, Manly or west down below the Harbor Bridge, and on towards Parramatta. All of these are affordably priced and are favorites of many tourists. For a shorter route, it's best to take the ferry between Darling Harbor and Circular Quay for a ride below the Harbor Bridge.
A: Visitor's Visa include Subclass 976 for tourists and travellers visiting for less than three months, and for passport holders from a designated list of nations while Subclass 651 is for European/UK passport holders visiting Australia for three months or less; on the other hand, Subclass 676 is for passport holders who do not qualify for a subclass 976 or subclass 651; and Subclass 679 is for those who wish to visit a family member in Australia for 12 months or less.
A: There are three categories which fall under the Employer-Sponsored Work Visa: 1) Standard Business Sponsorship for employers who want to bring a working from overseas provided that they can justify that no Australian employee is available 2) Educational visa sponsored by an institution for teachers and education workers from overseas 3) Medical practitioner visa sponsored either by a hospital or by a small rural community/ local council for trained doctors.
A: One can apply for Australian citizenship if you have been living in Australia on a valid visa for four years immediately before applying; this should also include the previous 12 months as a permanent resident in the country and has not left Australia for more than one year in total and no more than 90 days in the year before applying.
A: As of 2013, almost 25% of Melbourne's population is composed of migrants from over 180 countries, and the city actually has the second biggest Asian population in Australia. There are no specific figures, however, as to how many or what percent of this population holds permanent resident status. Nonetheless, as expected, there are many embassies and consulates spread all over the city, providing immigration-related assistance to their citizens from such countries as the US, UK, Denmark, Finland, China, Taiwan, Mauritius and about 35 others.
A: Applications may be forwarded to the Australian Passport Office (APO) in Melbourne which has moved to a new location: Level 2, Collins Square, 747 Collins Street, Docklands. The APO in Melbourne also offers Australian Passport Information Service through the hotline, 131 232.
A: Reports may be filed in person at the Melbourne Visa Office at Casselden Place, 2 Lonsdale Street, or phoned in at the national hotline, 1800 009 623.
A: Yes, but it is only good for a three-month stay, and it does not appear in the passport as it is electronically processed and saved. ETAs are often used by people who come to Sydney on a study program, or a short-term business or tourism-related event.
A: ETA visas are usually given automatically as soon as all details have been submitted. A visa grant notification will usually be sent to the applicant in seconds. However, in some cases, processing can take longer due to three possible scenarios - incorrect information has been entered in the application, the applicant has a criminal conviction, or the application has been forwarded to the Australian High Commission.
A: Foreign nationals who want to work in Sydney can apply for a Working Holiday visa which is good for a maximum of two years. Those who would like to live permanently in the city can forward an application to Australia’s General Skilled Migration program. The applicant will then be assessed based on a points system which takes into consideration various factors such as age, qualifications, etc. If a person gets a job offer from a Sydney-based company while visiting the city, he or she may apply for a Temporary Residence visa. However, the prospective employer must be able to provide evidence that there are no local candidates qualified for the position. If sufficient proof has been presented, the company may sponsor the worker for up to four years.