All you need to know before moving to Australia

 

 

Moving to Australia can be a wise decision for families who want to begin a new chapter of their lives abroad. Its reputation as a working democracy, little pollution, and general high quality of life attracts over 130,000 migrants each year. Besides that, 150,000 jobs are advertised weekly by companies looking for skilled workers. Earning a decent living is thus hardly a problem for those who plan on moving here. As a destination for working expatriates, it is still considered potentially a difficult posting as the cost of living is high and the distance from family and friends can be a challenge. 

Australia is the sixth largest country in the world with a land area of about 7.6 million square kilometres. It is a land of contrasts --- from harsh deserts to huge grazing lands, tropical rainforests to modern cities, and beautiful golden beaches and exotic coral reefs to mountain ranges.The country has a lot to offer those who are looking for a fresh start, whether it involves settling down with family overseas or a new direction career-wise. The fertility rate in the country is low at 1.4 births per woman in 2005. According to experts, this figure is not enough to replace the ageing population. Currently, the Australian Government actively encourages skilled and sponsored migration to sustain its population. Presently, the expatriate population in Australia is composed of 4,711, 490 people, and about 89.3% of the population are of European descent with only 2.3% of the population being from indigenous or of Aboriginal descent.

Geography

Australia is divided into eight geographical regions:

  • New South Wales
  • Northern Territory
  • Queensland
  • South Australia
  • Tasmania
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia
  • Australian Capital Territory

Despite the vast land area, it has a small population, estimated to be about 23,833, 174 people. Australia has the lowest population density in the world (2.5 people per square kilometre), thus providing the luxury of ample space, especially in residential areas. Most civic amenities are available within easy access while major cities are located in the coastal regions.

Standard of living

According to research carried out by a leading company, Mercer, which surveyed 215 cities, "Australian cities continued to rate among the highest in quality of life with criteria including political, social, economic, environmental factors, personal safety, health, education, transport and public services. Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane all feature within the top 25, ahead of cities like San Francisco, Paris, London and Montreal for all-around health, safety and good times."

Sydney is world-renowned as one of the most vibrant cities in the world and often mistaken as Australia's capital, as it is the most famous city in the country. Queensland is known for its great weather and beautiful beaches also draws tourists.The Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world, is located north of Queensland. Another cosmopolitan city, Melbourne, with a milder climate, is a haven for shopping enthusiasts.

Culture

Before becoming a British colony, Australia's majestic landscape was at the hands of the Aboriginals. Today, American culture can be found in the media and sports (football, cricket, and rugby) and play a major part in the Australian way of life. Australia is a stable democracy where three levels of governance exist: Federal or Commonwealth Government, State Government, and Local Government. The currency is the Australian Dollar (AUD).

Administrative matters

New residents can register with Centrelink, a government office that provides job seeking assistance, social security payments, and other assistance to people living in Australia. You must also apply for a tax file number once you become part of the workforce or are receiving any form of income. Call the Australian Taxation Office for a form or visit their website to apply online.

If you open a bank account within six weeks of moving to Australia, a passport is required.  After six weeks, you will need additional ID.  Once you have a bank account, inform the bank of your Tax File Number to avoid paying higher taxes. Most salaries are paid directly into bank accounts. Other requirements needed to open a bank account include proof of residential address, a bank statement from the previous three months and the need to have passed the ‘100-point’ system to prove your identification. Conventional banks found in Australia include the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank.

Recognised as the 'Lucky Country' because of the general feeling of wellbeing experienced by people who have successfully relocated, Australia's ethic of "no worries" that reigns amongst the locals makes it a pleasant place for expats.

Essential Relocation Information

The home of the infamous Sydney Opera House has gained the reputation as one of the top expat destinations in the world. Its major cities Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, don’t just offer prosperous career opportunities but also the chance to live an excellent quality of life to all expats who are about to relocate. 

Australia consistently ranks as one of the ten most liveable places in the world. Its marvellous landscapes, attractive weather and a robust economy are some of the top reasons why waves of foreign nationals choose to start an adventure in this country. Its multi-cultural communities and firm belief in equality are the gems that set Australia apart from the sea of so many popular countries. So for all aspiring expats, here are some helpful tips that can make their relocation to the Oz a true success.

Preparations 

Visa 

All expats, except those coming from New Zealand, need a visa to be able to relocate legally to Australia. In general, there are four categories of visa for Australia: student, visitor, temporary residence and migration. It is best to contact the Australian embassy/consulate in the expatriate’s home country or visit the website of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to learn about the updated visa requirements and regulations. 

Existing Health Insurance 

The level of health care and protection in Australia is one of the finest and most reliable in the world. However, before purchasing private insurance in the Oz, expats who have existing health policies should contact their provider first before relocating. The purpose is to ask if the company can cover them while living abroad and to cancel their plan if it has limited coverage overseas to avoid paying for insurance that they can not utilise while in Australia.

Moving your belongings

When relocating abroad, especially for first-timers, it is best to hire the help of professional moving companies. There are several international movers that service expats who are about to go to Australia. They offer door to door service where their people will take care of the whole moving process from packing, shipping, to the unloading of the packages in the delivery address. It normally takes a month for the containers to arrive in the Port of Adelaide where local customs officers will inspect the cargos before they get cleared for distribution. 

The cost of shipping is usually more expensive by air so those who are on a budget can choose sea freight which is less expensive. However, the more and heavier the items to be shipped, the higher the price of service are. So expats must consider first their potential accommodation to check which items or furniture to import. Below is an idea of how much to expect when shipping items to Australia: 

  • 40ft shipping container (67 cubic metres) - €4,200 to €5,800
  • 20ft shipping container (33 cubic metres) - €2,700 to €3,000

Car shipping

Car shipping to Australia may not be a good idea, as there are a high amount of tax and duties required for their entry. When bringing cigarettes or alcohol, expect to receive heavy taxes as well.  All products are inspected before entry, but personal goods will be allowed duty-free provided commercial intent is ruled out. In many cases, one may be required to get a permit such as the Unaccompanied Personal Effects Statement for specific items, such as household and personal items. Expats will need to take note that unaccompanied personal effects do not include items purchased via the internet, or motor vehicles, commercial goods and motor vehicle parts. 

Pet relocation

Everything brought into Australia, especially animals, animal products, food and plants must also be declared.   Among the items restricted from entry are firearms, steroids, prohibited drugs, protected wildlife and the like.  Food items that are also prohibited include dairy products, uncanned meat products, eggs, seeds and nuts. When bringing cash, expats can bring any amount, but anything over $5000 or its equivalent must be declared.

When expats move during the summer, cool, casual clothes and sunblock will be useful from the time they land, while raincoats offer great help during the winter as it can rain a lot.  When packing for removals to Australia, it is wise to bring three-plug pin adapters for electrical appliances.  Bringing one's possessions abroad may require the help of professional movers to make things simpler. Fortunately, there are many companies available that provide such service to expats.

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How to live like a local?

According to the recent research conducted by the United Nations that assessed countries worldwide based on their education, life expectancy and economic data, Australia ranked as the 2nd most liveable places on earth. 

Foreign assignees moving to Australia will be glad to know that aside from gaining a prosperous career, they can also rest assure that the family they're taking with them will enjoy a safe and high-quality of life. Australia already has a reputation of offering nothing but perfection but expats must not forget that it also takes adequate knowledge of their new host destination to ensure a successful life overseas. The next few paragraphs contain some basic but useful information about the infamous Oz country. 

Weather 

Contrary to the seasons in Northern Hemisphere, Australia’s summers occur between the months of November and February while winter happens from June to August. Each part of the country also experiences a different type of weather. For example, cold temperature and snowfall are rare in the mountainous regions while the cities located in the north-western part commonly experiences hot and humid climates. The northern area has a tropical weather characterised by dry season with average rainfall while the southern states have wet and cool weather. 

Expats who are on their way here should consider the weather in their chosen destination in Australia to avoid packing unnecessary clothes. Those who will live Queensland should bring lightweight clothes to stay cool amidst the heat while expats who are on their way to New South Wales can bring thick garments that’ll guard them against the cold weather and rain. 

Local Cuisine 

One of the best ways to learn about a culture is thru their cuisine. It is also important for foreign assignees who are about to live abroad to find out what they are about to expect when it comes to the food of the locals. Historically speaking, the Australian cuisine has strong Irish and British influences where both are traditionally inclined to agricultural products such as wheat, sheep and beef cattle. The locals also have what they call as the ‘bush-tucker’ (hunter-gatherer) diet that originated around 60,000 years ago. One of the foods that Aussies can say has always belonged to them is the nutty-tasting witchety grub. Expats should be aware that this bush-tucker authentic food is actually a large, white larva that grows on woods. 

Foreign assignees who love to eat will find that most Australian food are mouth watering such as their classic meat pasties and pies. The locals are also fond of organic foods where many farmers markets are scattered across the country selling fresh produce. 

Festivals and Events 

Australia is known for its endless list of sports, cultural, musical and art festivals that run throughout the year. Expats will notice that the locals always have something to celebrate and gather about. One of the much-anticipated events in the country is the Australian Open, a tennis tournament held annually in Melbourne every January. It is the opening season of the prestigious four-part Grand Slam which includes the French, Wimbledon and United States Open. 

Another important event for the Aussies is the Australian Day which occurs on the 26th of January. It is a yearly celebration where everyone in the country takes the day off to dine, visit the beach or have fun with family and friends. Awarding ceremonies and flag raising in Canberra are also part of the activities on this national holiday.

 

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