Moving to Australia
Thinking about emigrating? Do you dream of Australia's perfect climate and stress-free lifestyle? Well its not all perfect but thousands of people immigrate to Australia every year and many only regret they didn't move to Australia sooner.
Emigration to Australia or anywhere else is a big step to take.Some people practically have a nervous breakdown just moving house - how much worse is moving to Australia?
Migration changes families for ever - and in ways you may not have considered. Not everyone makes it as a migrant: but Australia does boast a large number of expatriates who are very happy to call Australia home.
Is Emigrating to Australia Right for You?
Do you have the personal attributes to be a successful migrant? I have been a migrant, multiple times and have a lot of friends who have moved countries too. Here are some of the characteristics which seem to reflect the successful ones:
- flexible: can you handle different ways of doing things, different priorities. Even if you currently live in an English speaking country don't expect Australia to be the same. In fact you would probably find a more English experience in some parts of Southern Spain than you will find in Australia.
- sense of humour: you have to laugh at yourself and your assumptions - yes really you do! A sense of humour will see you through all the interesting cultural clash situations which will happen to you.
- comfortable with your own company. Or if you are moving with your partner and/or other family comfortable with their company too. Even if you know someone at your destination you are still going to have to develop a day-to-day social life from scratch. Having kids will probably make this quicker but generally I find it takes at least a year to develop a social circle - it will take longer if you earn't working or are older. The old chestnut of joining clubs and hobby groups which reflect your interests really does work. Or take the opportunities offered to learn to surf, ride, 4WD, SCUBA dive, fish or any of the many sports and outdoor opportunities that Australia offers
Why Do You Want to Move to Australia?
Australia and Australians: Do you have a realistic view ?
Australia really is a long, long way away. Yes the world is smaller than it ever has been and Internet and cheap calls make it easier to keep in touch - but Australia truly is a very,very far from home -in terms of travel time and costs. There is a reason that the English flock to Spain and the American retire to Mexico - yes both countries offer warmer climates, but they are also very close to home. If there is an emergency at home and you get on the next flight it is still going to be 2 or 3 days before you arrive.
Priscillia Queen of the Desert
Understand how Australian Society is Different
. There are plenty of tourist sites which will assure you that Australia is crime and drug and guns free. The truth is more complex. Australia has had ugly incidents: such as the race riots in Sydney, 2005 It had a mass shootings too at Port Arthur, Tasmania -where a lone insane gunman killed 36 people and forever ensured that Australia would have strict gun laws . The drug of choice throughout most of Australia is beer but the local wine industry is well-developed too. Seriously though binge drinking can be a problem amongst all age groups.
At the risk of being blunt: Australia is still developing from a racist, sexist, heterosexual male society. Its improved significantly over the last 20 years. Back then the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, featuring 3 drag queens, would probably not been able to be made safely on location in Broken Hill, NSW. Although Melbourne and particularly Sydney have a vibrant gay and alternative lifestyle scene - this is still not the norm in most of Australia or even in cities such as Perth and Brisbane.
The skills shortage has seen many barriers to women's employment disappear (it took until the mid-1980s before married women living in Broken Hill could hold a non-professional job as the local unions banned them)but its definitely still a bit of a wild west out there in rural Australia.
Australia's record on race relations with the Aborigines is dismal and the real first Australians do not have political self-determination and suffer from third world levels of poverty and disease. Up until the 1960s Australia had an official "white Australia" policy which covered large numbers of post-war European immigrants but closed the country to Asian and Pacific Island emigration.
Again large cities have multi-cultural populations but mixed race couples may still get unwanted attention in smaller towns and the outback.
What Would You Miss Most from Home if You Emigrated?
What will migrating to Australia do to my family long-term
Migrating to Australia will fracture your family. That's not a threat it's a statement. You will leave some behind; you will move some with you. Even if you migrate as a young single the odds are that you will marry a local and have children who call a different country home. If you migrate with your children you fundamentally change their relationship with their grandparents and other close relatives. After a number of years you may want to return to your to home country: but your children may consider themselves Australian.
Consider the age of your children: even within Australian states the high school curricula are not standard. It is easiest to commit to living in a single country or Australian state for children's high school years. Once you have graduated high school it is usually easiest to gain university entry in the same country. Australia has a great education system but it is not, fundamentally multi-lingual society. If having your children grow up multilingual consider how you are going to achieve this.
Younger children rarely appear to have problems adapting to a new culture - remember though they will end up speaking "strine" whether you like it or not!
Moving locations won't solve your personal relationship problems. If your underlying problem is the relationship with your partner or your children, moving may not solve your problems, it may make them worse. Moving is stressful on all levels from the practical to the emotional - a dysfunctional relationship is not going to survive that. On the other hand if you really want to connect more with your family and become a stronger family unit, and limit contact with wider family members then moving to Australia will probably help.
Moving to Australia: For a Better Life
For a better life is the usual reason that people give when I ask them why they moved to Australia. It may be wise to consider what a better life means for you. If you love to surf, dive, 4WD, camp, drink and eat well then Australia will offer you years of entertainment. If however you are more interested in skiing, European fine art and culture, opera and orchestral music, then you will have more options elsewhere.
Moving to Australia won't necessarily solve your financial problems either. Salaries may look higher but are irrelevant. What determines your lifestyle is the difference between your income and your basic living expenses not your absolute income.
If you hate your actual job then a move to Australia won't help long-term. However if you like your job but hate the system you work in changing countries may help: it certainly seems to work for teachers and health care professionals.
If your profession requires licensing make sure you understand the costs and time frames for getting registered in the state you are interested in living in.
Official Australian Government Sites
- Visas & Immigration
Official Australian Government Immigration Site. Start here includes links to accredited migration agents.
- Australian JobSearch - Harvest jobs - Harvest Trail
Guide to seasonal employment in Australia's harvest work
- Medicare Australia
Medicare is the State Healthcare system which pays for basic medical care for all Australians. Provides subsidies for GP visits and prescription medicines.
Permission to Work and Live in Australia
There are lots of sites out there, generally run by migration specialists, telling you how to get the correct visas and the requirements for moving to Australia. You don't have to use a migration agent and using one won't give your application priority - start with the official Australian Immigration Site for the correct, free information regarding visas Australia currently has a shortage of skilled workers. The list of occupations in demand changes from time to time but the following jobs are normally on the list:
accountants and teachers
engineers: chemical, manager, civil, mining, electrical, electronic
computer professionals with specialist skills such as linux, SAP, network security, Oracle
health care: dental, optometrist, podiatrist, psychologist, nurse
hospitality: chef, baker, pastry cook, cook
building trades: bricklayer, plumber, electrician, landscape gardener
other trades: mechanic, boilermaker.
There is current discussion of allowing short-term unskilled or semi-skilled foreigners to work in Australia in areas of seasonal demand such as harvest work and for roles such as cleaners in remote outback communities.
Where the Jobs in Australia are Located
Remember that shortages are nationwide - it does not necessarily follow that if you are determined to move to a particular town that you will necessarily get a job in that town. The China-led resource boom means that both Queensland and Western Australia, and more recently South Australia are booming and there is a huge demand for any trade associated with mining plus ancillary jobs in the building and hospitality trades. In contrast Sydney is still suffering from very high house prices and a flat employment market.
Most Australians are employed in the services sector but many government jobs require citizenship which may mean that moving to Canberra is going to limit your job opportunities
Spoof of Australia Movie: Funny
Budget for Moving to Australia
Moving to Australia you will need to develop a credit history from scratch. Opening a bank account from outside the country is straightforward - and by far the cheapest way to transfer large amounts of cash. You will not immediately qualify for a credit card until you have a job. Make sure that existing cards keep working in your home country - make sure you maintain a postal address which will stop the card's statement being returned for example. Until you have a residential address, not a post Box, you will not be able to prove your identity for items such as police checks (essential for most jobs), car licenses etc. Having a relative or trusted friend in the same state came be very useful to start this paper trail going. Once you have the local driving licence it all becomes a lot easier.
Consumer goods and clothing are relatively cheap in Australia and shipping costs are relatively high. You may want to consider shipping little and buying most when you arrive.
Costs of a Move to Australia
Visas and Passports including required documentation, vaccinations, health checks etc.
Storage costs for items left at home
Costs associated with selling or renting your home.
Airfares and any stop over on the way to Australia
Initial Costs in Australia
Arriving without accommodation or transport makes it difficult to acquire both. Budget for 2-3 weeks of accommodation in a self-contained apartment or hostel and a rental car. Assuming that you intend to rent for the first few months, even if you later buy, then 2-3 weeks should be long enough to find a place.
Avoid arriving in January, February as this is when rental demand peaks. Also avoid arriving too near Christmas as the entire real estate industry takes 2 weeks off.
Rent a car to ensure that you are mobile enough to buy one. Budget for a mechanical inspection unless you are mechanically competent and expect it to take a few days to transfer the papers. The paperwork will be easier if in the meanwhile you have acquired local drivers licenses.
Setup Costs in Australia
Access to three months living expenses while you are looking for employment.
Rental Bond and Rent in Advance: could be up to 4 weeks in total varies by state.
Vehicles: purchase, inspection, transfer fees, licence fees, insurance.
Police clearance required for many non-professional jobs.
Bonds for telephone, utility companies
Mobile Phone, Broadband connection, Pay TV (broadcast TV is free)
School uniforms and school fees
Would You Buy an e-book on Migrating to Australia ?
My Experience with Emigration and a Request
I am the child of immigrants and a migrant myself. I am a New Zealander currently living in Australia for the second time. I have also lived in Canada and the UK for extended periods of time. I was born in England but my New Zealand mother returned home with her English husband and two UK born children.
I am considering writing an e-book and would appreciate your feedback in the poll to the right.
Emigration is both easier and more difficult than it ever has been. My mother was away from home for over 10 years, most modern immigrants can afford to return home every year or so. On the other hand visas are a fairly new requirement and waving the passport of the former colonial power will NOT get you entry to Australia without a Visa!
What's your experience of emigration? Are you considering it? Have you been affected by friends or family moving overseas? Have you migrated and then regretted it?
Please leave me a comment below I'd love to hear your experience. I'd also appreciate if you will would respond to the poll to the right if you are genuinely interested in the topic.
For more links to useful Australian sites see below the comments.
Recommended Books on Moving to Australia
Employment Agency Links
- SEEK - Australia's no. 1 jobs, employment, career and recruitment site
SEEK is Australia's number one jobs site. Search or browse jobs across Australia. Find work or recruit the ideal candidate. SEEK and you shall find.
- Job Search, Employment Information and Career Advice at careerone.com.au
Large Job Site particularly good for IT and Technical vacancies
- Jobs, Employment & Careers @ MyCareer
MyCareer provides job search and employment opportunities in Australia. Search for jobs by location, job sector, industry or salary to find your dream job.
- Properties for Sale and Rent
Real estate @ Domain.com.au. Houses and apartments for sale or rent all over Australia. Thousands of properties in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin.
- Australia real estate investment : A guide to buying property in Australia
Buying property in Australia: a comprehensive guide by the same author!
Major Australian Banks
- Australia's Bureau of Meteorology
Australia is a continent as well as a country. Don't arrive in Melbourne without a winter coast or an umbrella, don't expect it to stop raining in Darwin at Christmas. Check the details here.