Expats Guide to Australia

Living or Moving to Australia

Australia - the sixth biggest country in the world and a very popular destination to relocate to.  Ranked one of the happiest and safest countries to live in, expatriates would be expecting a great lifestyle of multiculturalism experiencing different traditions and cuisines. With a high population of over 21 million people, people living here find that there is always something to do. Whether it is relaxing on one of the beautiful beaches, captivating the outstanding city views or even discovering the wildlife, you will certainly not be let down.

General Information

Population:           There is a population of about 23.8 million

Capital of Australia:             Canberra

Official Language:                The main official language spoken is English; expats will have no problem communication when moving here.

Major Cities:  Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide

Popular Expat cities: Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Sydney

States of Australia: New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.

Territories: Australia is made up of two territories: The North territory and the Australian Capital Territories.

Time Zone:  There are three time zones in Australia – Eastern (GMT +10), Western (GMT +8) and Central (GMT +9.5)

Money: Australian Dollar (AUD)

Nearest Neighbours:          New Zealand, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands

Popular attractions:  Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Kakadu National Park, Fraser Island and many more

Religions:               The main religion in Australia is Christianity. Other religions include Hinduism , Islam and Buddhism.

International Dialling code:               +61, plus a two-digit local city code

Emergency contact:            000 for the police, ambulance and fire services

Visa:       Australian Visa

Australia Travel Advice:     Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Popular Destinations


Australia is surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Ocean with the popular attraction sites being the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House. With 5 main cities, there is not enough that you can see in the country.  Australia has a varied climate, with different parts of the country having different weather patterns. Northern Australia is tropical which has humid and hot weather. Summers in Australia are long and hot when winters are cool and wet. There is not much rainfall throughout the country. This is one of the reasons expats choose to move to Australia.  The perfect country for people who want to enjoy the sun.

Major Cities of Australia

Brisbane

With a population of over 2 million people, Brisbane is the third biggest city and the Capital of Queensland. It’s known to be young and trendy with modern architecture and a gateway to many famous attractions. The city is built surrounding the Brisbane River; due to having no beaches Brisbane has its own man –made lagoon at South Bank Parklands which offers sunbathing and swimming for holiday makers.

Brisbane enjoys a subtropical climate with high humidity and temperatures in the summer and dry mild weather in the winters. Summers in Brisbane are often filled with thunderstorms and heavy winds, but the warm, sunny weather is well suited to the holidaymakers who visit for all year round.

Adelaide

Adelaide is situated in South Australia and is known as being the elegant and cultured capital. Its sense of space and urban geography makes a refreshing way of life that expats enjoy. Adelaide allows expats to soak up prominent history, large green parklands, old buildings and pleasant suburban housing that add a range of elements to its natural beauty. Adelaide is a major city in the world that goes out of its way to engage foreigners to a destination with a high quality life.

Expat life in Adelaide is enhanced by warm Mediterranean climate, due to its coastal location, the city enjoys land and sea breezes which influence the seasonal temperatures. Summers are hot as maximum highs at an average is around 85°F (30°C), Winters are wet, mild and marked by consistent rainfall that being said temperatures don’t drop below 60°F (15°C).

Sydney

Sydney is one of the world’s most vibrant cities and is a gateway to the rest of Australia; it introduces a dynamic, world-class city where natural beauty from beaches to public gardens can be experienced. The city also welcomes arts and culture scenes which are made up of galleries, museums, theatre productions, and a large selection of restaurants and lively café culture. As well as this there are festivals all year round for almost every occasion. Sydney experiences rainfall throughout the year though the city has more than 340 sunny days a year. The hottest months of the year have temperatures reaching a maximum of 90°F (35°C). Winters in Sydney have a few warm days however can also be cold and wet. The temperatures for the coldest month in Sydney rarely drop below 47°F (9°C).

Perth

Perth is the fourth largest and fastest growing city in Australia with over 2 million people living here, 30 percent were born outside Australia. Nature and urban life exist in harmony in Perth, on the west coast of Australia. The largest expats living in Perth are from Britain, representing 10 percent of the city’s total population. Expats from the following countries: New Zealand, South Africa, China, Indonesia, Vietnam and India have also moved to Perth.

Perth experiences a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers, and cool, wet winters. This city receives rainfall seasonally, and is recognised as the sunniest capital city in Australia. Summers temperatures can often reach 86°F (30°C) but there are seasonal rainfall and thunderstorms in the summer. During the winter the weather is cool and wet. The average temperature during winter ranges between 46°F (8°C) and 68°F (20°C).

Melbourne

Melbourne is the capital of Victoria and a vibrant hub of style, sport and culture. Expats moving to Melbourne will find themselves in one of Australia’s most multicultural areas. Almost half of the residents in the city were born overseas, a third speaks a language other than English and over 140 nationalities are represented here. Melbourne is a good-looking city with beautiful historical buildings, European-style secret lanes and rooftops. The city also has eye-catching public parks, gardens and galleries

Melbourne is known for its changing weather conditions due to having temperature oceanic climate. In the hottest months of summer, temperatures average between 58°F (14°C) and 78°F (25°C), though it can increase. In the spring and summer months weather including thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain which are quite severe. In the winter months temperatures average between 42°F (6°C) and 59°F (15°C). Melbourne experiences some frost and fog in winter however snow is rare.

Formal Requirements

Expats who are travelling to Australia must have an approved travel document as evidence for their identity and nationality. The preferred travel document would be a passport but other forms of travel documents will be accepted.

The following documents should be presented to officers to clear immigration

• Valid passport or an acceptable travel document
• Valid visas or authority to enter the country
• A passenger card which is completed and signed. This includes a health and character declaration.

If an individual arrives without any of the above documents, they may be refused entry into the country or even delayed until their identity has been confirmed.

 Utilities

When renting a flat, buying a house or even searching for accommodation, expats should consider the cost of utilities. There is a frequent need for electricity, gas and water.

Houses that are being built continue to use single glazed windows and do not offer the same insulation as double and triple glazed windows. This will give added extra costs to the property.

Electricity

Electricity prices in Australia have gone up because of the growing demand.  The electricity works on a system of 230 Volts so if you are an expat who has taken an appliance from a different country you must ensure that you are using an adapter which will convert the current.

Some states in Australia have a large number of electricity suppliers but there are other areas where there is only one supplier. Some of the main companies include: AGL, Origin Energy and Energy Australia.
The increase and demand of electricity has resulted in higher bills for those with a large home and big family. Expats are able to take over an account but unfortunately discounts are not available with suppliers unless you take advantage of off peak rates and also use the same suppliers for gas.

Tip: Expats should only use electrical appliances when absolute necessary due to the high costs. Flat screen Televisions use much more electricity so these should be turned off and unplugged when it is not in use.

Expats may find that power cuts occur in some states such as remote areas. It is advisable that you stay prepared and keep candles in the house. Also keep your own generators.

Gas

Expats who have newly arrived in Australia and have rented out a property can take over an existing account or swap an account online without any interruptions. If you require gas connected to a newly built home, a supplier must be contacted six weeks before you move in. You must note that gas mains might need to be extended to properties, along with the installation of meter boxes

It is found that in Australia Gas is currently cheaper than electricity. Gas is mainly used for central heating but for many old houses they have a primitive heating system.

Water

When expats move to Australia, they do not need to arrange for a new connection of water as it is already being supplied by the state government. Rent is often inclusive of water depending of the state you are residing in; you must contact the owner of property or the agent for the meter to be read before you take over the property. It is advisable that expats buying property should speak to the settlement agent who will inform the Water supplier of the owner.

Here is an average table of the prices of utilities each month for a property. This can vary depending on the state/area that you are in and also depending on the month

Utilities (Monthly) Average Price Price Range
Electricity, Heating, Water for a 915 sq ft Apartment $ 171.52 $ 107.00-$250.00

 

 

 

Visa Types for Australia

To live and work in Australia expats will be required to have a Visa. The Australian government have made it simple and easy to understand the application process. There are different types of visas available for expats, and the visa you should apply for will depend on the length of stay, your passport and the purpose of the visit.
Visa Wizard provides expats with information about how to apply for a specific visa, where to apply, the costs and more. This is a straight forward step by step system which evaluates an individual’s reason for moving to Australia. However it does not guarantee entry to the country.
Expats should do as much research possible to apply for a visa which will help simplify the process to gain entry into Australia.
Work Visas

If you are an expat and want to live and work in Australia there are many different types of working visas that you may be eligible for.
If an expat has a job offer with an employer then their employer will be required to apply for an Employer Sponsored Migration Visa on your behalf. Visas in this category are both temporary and permanent.
Employers use a temporary visa to sponsor an overseas skilled worker for a maximum of four years. The employer acts as the sponsor. A permanent visa allows an employer to sponsor experts to fill vacancies for their companies.

If an expat does not have a job offer but are looking to find employment, they do not require a sponsor but will need to prove they have the skills and qualifications required to work on the Australian skilled occupations list. Expats may be expected to pass a test expecting to score a minimum number of points which are based on their English skills, work experience and other skills they can bring into the country.

Temporary Business Visa

Majority of expats apply for this visa at it allows foreigners to work in the country for up to four years. The temporary business visa is a multiple entry visa and expats who are granted this visa can bring their family along with them. Once legally working in Australia, if expats want to change jobs then a new visa will not need to be applied for. Working visas must be paid a salary that is equal to market rates.

To get a working visa:

1. Before getting a working visa, the employers must prove to the government that certain requirements and responsibilities are met, i.e. a position needs to be filled, they are able to afford to pay salary to the applicant and no Australian citizen can do the job.
2. Expats will need to secure a job with an employer in Australia and sign a contract. A nomination by the employer must be approved or the work permit cannot move forward.
3. A visa application must be filed. This can be done online, by post or by person. Many certified documents must be submitted of original copies and in English.

If an expat wishes to move to Australia to start a business or invest in a business it is necessary to get a business working visa. There are many sub class visas and it depends upon the intention and their role in the business.

Working Holiday Visa

With Australia having partnership with different countries, young people are able to visit and work temporarily to fund their travels. The working holiday visa is for people who want experience living abroad for a few months. To get this visa, individuals must prove that the reason to visit is for travel. This visa can be obtained for 12 months, but they are not allowed to work for more than 6 months with one employer.
Expat applicants must be aged between 18-30 to apply for this visa and this is accepted from a number of countries, i.e.: UK, Canada, Germany, Taiwan, Estonia, Italy and more.

Expat applicants must have a passport with at least one year of validity left showing proof of enough funds to support themselves in Australia. The proof required will need to be stamped and dated with a bank statement. Individuals also must not have any prior criminal convictions or any serious medical issues.
If three months of work has been completed, applicants will be eligible to apply for an extension to their original visa.

Visitor Visa

A visitor visa allows an individual to visit for business or visiting purposes. This visa is valid for three, six or twelve months. A visiting visa cannot be extended and if people want to stay longer they will be required to apply for a different visa two weeks before their visitor visa expires.

An e-visitor visa can be applied for by European passport holders or UK passport holders who want to visit Australia for three months or less. This permits a person to visit for business purposes. You can apply for an e-visitor visa over a twelve month period, three months at a time. This is applied for online and must be made outside of Australia. Visa is granted via email notification and you must show this upon arrival in Australia. This visa is also not extendable.

Residence Permit

Expats who enjoy working in Australia as well as living here might want to stay on a permanent basis. They could be eligible to apply for permanent residency which will not make them a citizen. Residents who are permanent are allowed to remain in the country as well as work if they wish. Expats will also be eligible for Medicare as soon as they have become a permanent resident. Permanent residents have unrestricted rights to live, work, study and travel in New Zealand also.

The migration visa is valid for five years from when the application was submitted. Expats are able to travel freely from and to Australia within this time. If expats want to leave and re-enter they must do so on a Resident return visa.

To become a citizen of Australia, expats must be able to prove that they have been living in the country on a valid visa for four years before applying; this includes the 12 months as a permanent resident. They must not be away from Australia for more than one year and no more than 90 days in the year before applying.

Work in Australia

Most expats who are working in Australia enjoy their work environment and what they do, having a great work life balance. Expats have found themselves in a national economy which is very stable. Australia has a close association with China and India with a growth of industrialisation making these three countries close trading partners. Expats who wish to work in Australia will have the advantage of exploring opportunities in big industries such as construction and mining.

Finding a job

Expats are expected to find and secure a job before coming into the country. The immigration department of Australia is very strict and if people do not have a work permit candidates will be immediately deported.

Most people have come to work in Australia on an employer sponsored visa and the company must prove that there is a position for the expat for them to move.

If you are moving to this country as an expat, you should start by joining associations and joining career centres which are held by regional governments. Expats should also make use of the national newspapers who publish job listings and advertisements in employment sections. It should be noted that if you are looking for work, it is easier to find jobs in rural Australia than urban Australia.

There are also many job portals which are accessible and expats should sign up to find work as well as registering with recruitment agencies.

Application for jobs include submitting cover letter and CV tailoring the job they are applying for and also doing online applications with the company they are applying for.

Salaries in Australia

Graduates are expected to start on annual salary of around AUD 38, 000 with managing directors being able to earn up to anything from AUD 380,000 to AUD 650,000.

Housing and Accomodation

Expats moving to different countries may find looking for a new home will be quite a challenge. With a few factors to look at such as choosing the right area and finding a suitable property, many people who have moved to Australia find it more convenient to rent a property in the country before buying it, this would give more of a choice to see different properties in different areas.

A tip to remember when looking for properties is that in Australia they are referred to as flats or houses. A flat is term for an apartment with 2 bedrooms and a Studio for just one bedroom; this may be cheaper than renting or buying a house. A house is larger than a flat with much more outdoor space. You may also come across a ‘Unit’ which is larger than a flat with split levels like a house.

Buying Property

Finding property to buy or rent in a new country is not easy, so here are a few tips that can make looking for a new home a little straightforward.

1.Location

Start off by choosing an area which you would possibly want to live in by visiting the neighbourhood and doing research about the area. Speak to estate agents advertising the properties, and see if the area is within your payment budget.

Due to the public transport, expats will also need to consider how close the workplace is, how long it takes to travel to work and the locality of the schools. If you are moving to a major city, expats are advised to look at three or more properties in different areas.

Majority of the estate agents and property websites will be able to provide information about nearest transport links, shopping centres and stations so customers can calculate travel time in between these areas. They will also give expats information about parking if they have their own car. This is one factor that needs to be considered as it can lead to unnecessary high costs.

2.Search for property before moving

When it has been confirmed that you will be moving to Australia, Expats should start looking at properties straightaway using property search websites. This way you will be able to see what the area is like and decide on a budget. Online websites provide more fresh information about the newest properties on the market. Once you have arrived in Australia, you will then have an idea of what kind of budget you have and the type of property you are looking if previous research has been done.

Real estate agents manage rental properties in Australia, however may not be very helpful if you don’t have a large budget. The most they will provide is a list of properties and a map.

3.Speaking to Agents

Once you have found a property it is important that you get in touch with an agent to arrange a viewing. Expats will be required to get in contact with the agency and the individual agent managing the property as they will be able to answer all their questions and start the process of renting out the property.

If you are unable to get in touch with the agent, it is recommended that you leave a message and also send them an email.
Expats must note that it is illegal for agents to rent properties without the tenant viewing it. If agents are holding viewings for properties or open houses, it is encouraged that you go to view this as these properties can be hard to get. Take along the papers necessary so if you want to put in application this can be done straightaway.

4.Applications for properties

When you are submitting an application for a property you need to ensure that all the correct information has been given as looking for a property is very competitive. This can help in securing the property

To put in an application expats will be required to show the following:
• Proof of Income and bank statements for the last three months
• Proof of Identity – i.e. passport, drivers license
• Rental agreements from previous properties
• References (This is the most important part of the application) It includes the current
employer and a previous landlord
• Expats may need to put down a deposit with the application. If you are not successful in getting the property this will be returned

Estate agents will check the references for expats and then the application will be sent to the owner of the property for a final decision. Agents are not able to favour one application over another

5. Signing the lease and moving in

When an expat rents a property in the country, there is no particular amount of rent that will need to be paid in advance. However, when you are about to sign the lease, a payment of the first fortnight/month’s rent will need to be paid alongside a bond which is the amount of a month to six weeks rent.

The bond that expats will be paying is a security deposit, which protects them from any damage done to the property or any bills left unpaid by the tenant. In all states, other than Tasmania and the Northern Territory, the bond which has been paid will be kept by an independent government owned body.

Before moving into the property, ensure that you check the place for any damage that has already been done by the tenant. Expats will then need to bring this forward to the agent or landlord of the property. This way at the lease’s conclusion, the costs of any items are not accounted for on the inventory and will be taken off from the bond.

It is suggested that expats ask the agent if there are accounts set up with utility providers, this will save having to pay a fee. For each state there is a tenants association for any support you may require to protect the rights of the renter along with many rules and regulations.

This process will be different dependant on the state area you will be moving to

Mortgages in Australia/ Buying a house

If you are an expat who has been granted permanent residency you are eligible for a First Home Owners grant. This is a one off grant where residents can get AUD 7,000 put towards their first home. If you are a permanent resident or on a certain type of visa and you are considering buying a house you may want to take a loan.

If you are looking to get a loan in Australia, this will be dependent on what visa you’re on and how good your credit rating is.

Expats may need to apply for permission with the Foreign Investment Review Board to buy real estate. The FIRB will then make a decision considering your circumstances.

The amount of the mortgage will depend on the lender and the financial climate. Many lenders will only lend up to 80% of the value property to residents. If you require more then you will need to contact a specialist mortgage broker. Expats on a temporary resident visa are able to borrow up to 80% and expats who are on a Doctor working visa, permanent residents and spousal visa’s are able to borrow between 90 and 95% of the value for the property. This total which is then granted is related to the income of the individual applying for the mortgage. To obtain a successful mortgage application you should be working for a couple of months in the country and if you can prove you have a good credit rating in their home country.
Whatever you’re visa status, expats will not need to pay higher chargers for the mortgage; however will need to consider they may only have a few lenders willing to offer them a mortgage. If expats agree to pay off their mortgage in a shorter time, better interest rates may be given. This would result in paying more each month.

When buying a property in Australia, expats must pay Stamp Duty on the purchase price. If you are buying a property for the first time, you may be exempt but there are different rules for different areas so for more support expats are advised to look at their state government website.

Other fees when buying a house include:
• Lender application fees
• Lenders mortgage insurance
• Mortgage registration fee (Goes to the government)
• Legal fees (Solicitors charge)
• Land transfer fee
• Cost of conveyancing
• Checks on the structure and pest situations
• Home insurance once the sale has gone through

Education and Study

Expatriates, who move to Australia, take their children along with them which would mean a good school will need to be located and researched about. The country has a large scale for children to spend recreational time outdoors with a good high level range of school options.
The standard of education is excellent and many expats even migrate to Australia to become University students.
There are a variety of schools in Australia and parents will have plenty of options to choose from. This includes Public schools; Faith based schools and also Private schools having their different curriculum information and expenses. Attendances in schools are compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 17. Although, it is encouraged by the government to enrol children in early education a year before joining primary school. Primary School is for children ages 5-12 years old and high school runs for children aged 12-18 years old.

Private Schools

The quality of education, small class sizes, excellent facilities and curriculum is why parents prefer to put their children into private schools being an expat. There are many private schools in Australia and these promote better infrastructure and a great standard of education. However, private schools will have long waiting lists and for some schools children may be required to pass an examination.

Expats find that by putting their children into private school they will be taught the same curriculum as their home country other than the public school that would have a different curriculum.

Private school children tend to have better exam results and good discipline than those from a state school. Due to this they have better post school outcome and are less likely to be unemployed once completing school.

With all the fantastic elements in a private school comes a tuition fee which varies within Australia. Private Catholic schools normally are the least expensive and fees range from approximately AUD 20,000 (£10,800) up to AUD 34,000 (£18,300) per year. Tuition fees for private schools are increased by 5 per cent or more at a time.

Most independent schools have the main language as English and if your child is not fluent in this, some private schools provide intensive programmes for them to learn the language. The number of international students may also be limited to approximately 10% of the schools population.

Public Schools

Majority of the children in Australia and many other foreigners send their children to public schools. Expats should expect public schools to be managing and implementing education in their own respective areas. The levels of achievement of the schools vary from state to state. It is said that Victoria and New South Wales claim some of the best public institutions.

If you are an expat living in Australia with a temporary residency visa, you will need to pay a fixed tuition fee depending on the state you are living in. Those who have a permanent residency visa are able to send their children to these institutions for no cost, however are encouraged to give contributions to their schools which is expected from local and foreign students.
There are also additional costs with school uniforms, stationary and other levies the school may have which could equal to over 100 AUD per term. It is important that foreign families provide proof of residence to enrol their children into the schools.

Faith Based Schools

Australia has many faith based schools which are run accordingly to a religious order but still have an importance on their curriculum and academics. Many of the faith based schools in the country are mostly Catholic and all of them will need to recognize a religious value and belief in their students.
The religious value in schools may differ and expat parents should speak to other foreign families to find an institute which they are looking for.

If expats want to send their children to a faith based school, tuition fees must also be paid. These are not the same as private schools and are less than the fees that temporary residents pay for public schools in different states. Due to this reason, expats living in a state that have public schools fees often send their children to faith based schools.

University Registration

Many expat students enrol into Universities in Australia which provide top education, research and have an international outlook. These have a top ranking and some of the universities are ranked amongst the top 200 in the world. Universities in Australia educate over 400,000 international students per year.

Expats are able to register in an Australian university either as an international student or as a permanent resident. However a student visa should not be applied for until an unconditional offer from the university has been received. University requirements are reliant on the demand for places but will usually include assessments of:
– Your English language competency
– Cost of studies
– Academic background

Tuition fees vary depending on the university and if you will be studying undergraduate or postgraduate programmes. For international students fees range between 30,000 AUD and more per year. If expats have permanent residency or are citizens of the country then they will be eligible for domestic fees which are around 8,000 AUD per year. Including tuition fees there will be additional costs for living expenses, overseas student health cover, costs with student visas, study guides and textbooks. Many universities also charge service fees to cover non academic services including career and employment.

Student Visas

Expats who study in Australia will require a Student Visa. These are issued to students who are accepted on a registered course which meets the standards of the Australian agency. People who have a UK passport are required to have a Higher Education Sector temporary visa. The cost of this may vary but can start from 565 AUD and is valid for the length of the course only.
There are strict controls in Australia with additional requirements including medical health checks, English language skills and also a character reference.

Health & Medical Care

The healthcare system in Australia is provided mainly by Medicare Australia. This is very high quality healthcare provided to Australian citizens and permanent residents. Due to the exceptional healthcare system the country’s population claims one of the highest life expectancies in the world. However there is no free healthcare for expats in the country. For those who decide to move here both private and public health care must be paid for. Payments will be for staying in a public hospital and for a general GP visit.

Exceptions may apply to citizens from the following countries which have Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with Australia: Italy, Malta, Finland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and The Netherlands.
Reciprocal Health Agreements

Expats who move from countries that have reciprocal health agreements are entitled to:

  • Subsided medicines
  • Medical treatment by doctors at surgeries and community health centres
  • Free treatment at a public hospital as a in-patient or outpatient
  • If expats are from the listed countries, until they are granted permanent residency they
    are liable to medical bills so private health insurance should be bought

Expatriates Private Health Insurance (Compulsory)

For visas to be granted in Australia, expats must prove to the authorities that they are covered by a minimum level of private health care when moving to the country to work and live. More of this information can be located on the Department of Immigration and Citizens website.

If you are from any of the countries with reciprocal health agreement expats will still need to take out health insurance to qualify for their visa. An exemption can be obtained if you are on the agreement and then enrol in Medicate after arrival.

It is recommended that expats who are eligible for Medicare treatment acquire private health care insurance; this is also highly encouraged by the government. This insurance will cover what Medicare doesn’t and is compulsory. Private healthcare in Australia has many facilities and can be expensive but higher rate tax payers without this are penalised through the tax system if they do not take out the basic hospital cover. Private healthcare does not offer emergency services so expats will be relying on emergencies through public healthcare.

Medicare

Medicare is a government funded health care system which is available for citizens and permanent residents of Australia and paid for through taxes levied on individual salaries. Medicare covers treatment in public hospitals and payment of complete or some of the cost of doctor’s consultations. When a patient has been seen by a specialist at Medicare and referred to a Doctor, Doctors may charge more and either bill Medicare directly or if the patient has paid, they are able to claim the payment back. Claims can be made by mail, telephone or at a Medicare office.

Expats who are eligible will need to register with travel documents, permanent visa and their passport. Applications for Medicare healthcare should be done one week after arrival in Australia and can take between three – four weeks for the Medicare card to be issued. It is important that expats get a referral from a general practitioner before seeing a specialist and have the cost of the consultation and procedures.
To apply for Medicare an application form is available online; however this should be taken to any Medicare Service Centre by person.

What benefits are provided by Medicare?

  • Eye tests
  • Medical Consultation Fees
  • Surgical procedures, excluding those for purely cosmetic purpose
  • Items for chronic disease management
  • Medical tests and examinations which are needed to treat diseases , this includes X-rays and pathology

What is not covered by Medicare?

  • Cosmetic procedures
  • Ambulance
  • Treatment in a private hospital
  • Dental treatment
  • Glasses, contact lenses and hearing aids
  • Home Nursing
  • Physiotherapy and occupational therapy

Public HealthCare

Australia’s public healthcare is quite efficient however expats should still be expecting queues and waiting lists for non-emergency surgery. Whether you’re living in the rural or urban areas of Australia the facilities can differ and it may be necessary to travel distances to receive the appropriate care.
Due to this, most expats without permanent residency chose to use private doctors and hospitals. These public services are only used in the case of emergencies.

Banking in Australia

To understand different aspects of financial management in Australia it is recommended that expats receive plenty of professional support with the country being a major financial hub.
The official currency in the country is the Australian Dollar ($A or AUD), this is divided into 100 cents. Expats will find that once moved here currency is abbreviated as $ but is not to be confused with the US dollar. Cash and Credit/Debit Cards are accepted in Australia and it has many ATM’s with services in English.

Notes: 5, 10 , 20, 50 and 100 dollar notes
Coins: 5,10,20 and 50 cent coins, and 1 and 2 dollar coins

If expats want to open a bank account, all options should be looked into due to the interest rates being different in every bank. Some of the major banks in Australia include – Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank and Westpac. Great services and information is provided to new expatriates. To open a bank account it is quite simple only needing a certified passport copy, a bank statement from the last three months and proof of residential address.

Many banks will help expats open an account before arriving into the country making the process easier.

Majority of the banks in Australia charge a monthly fee for a bank account. You will be charged for withdrawals and you won’t receive any interest on deposits that you put into your bank account.

Tax System

Whether you go to Australia to live there permanently or just for temporary work, expats will come upon the Australian Tax office. Tax in Australia is paid with direct and indirect taxes, levies and GST at local and state level.

For expats who are planning to work it is important that you have a tax strategy so that financial rewards can be enjoyed as part of work experience. Expats should ensure they have received the right advice about taxes.

The tax paid in Australia depends on how much someone earns which differs from income tax and if paying tax for Medicare. A tax file number (TFN) will need to be obtained to ensure that tax can be taken from your pay at the right rate. These rules are the same for temporary, permanent or non resident tax purposes. Taking the right amount of tax is the employer’s responsibility which is based on an individual’s pay, income, benefits and other benefits in the salary.

There are many temporary residents who reside in Australia each year as professional who are seeking experience in a work sector. Expats will need to consider salary packaging, share options and other employment related tax requirements.

If permanent residency has been obtained by an expat, the tax position will change considerably. They are subject to tax on their worldwide income, foreign assets may become subject to tax and they will also be issued tax for Medicare levy. Expats will gain access to many other benefits such as accessing the Australian Social Security system and access to Australia’s free health system.
Tax will not need to be paid on investment income earned from investment if an expat is not a permanent resident in Australia.

Getting advice about tax in Australia is very important for both temporary and permanent residents. Expats should plan accordingly before moving to Australia.

Transport & Travel

If you are keen to explore the country it is important to familiarise yourselves with the different types of transport that are available in Australia. There are many good public transport services in the major cities being flexible and comfortable. Some travel options include trains, buses, trams, monorails and taxis.

Bus and Coach Travel

A comfortable way of travelling in Australia is by using the bus, with travel being cheap and convenient to get around using these services are very straightforward. However, the distances covered by the buses/coaches are quite large which will make some journeys take over 24 hours. Due to this, expats will choose to fly between their destinations which takes much less time.
Greyhound is the largest national bus Service Company which covers many different areas in Australia travelling to over 1,000 destinations every day. Bus passes are available for passengers with best travel discounts.

Firefly express is another bus service which includes travelling between Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. With ‘Murrays’ a small bus operator running services between Canberra and Sydney.
Trains

In Australia the rail network is not as developed as other countries and some may say that rail services are slow and inefficient. However travelling on the train will give expats to see many scenic and beautiful views when going to regional towns and cities.

There are many train operators with their own fares, booking and ticketing systems with the high speed services connecting to different cities. Each rail system manages the train in many geographic areas including train services from Melbourne – Sydney, Sydney – Adelaide and Adelaide – Perth. Others connect Sydney – Melbourne and Melbourne – Cairns.

Trains are very rarely used by commuters in Australia so there are no rail passes that can be purchased by travellers.

Planes

Most expats find that it is faster and cheaper to fly between cities than taking public transport, due to the length of time that it takes. Each state capital in Australia has at least one major airport which has the national airline Qantas offering domestic flights leaving every 15 minutes at peak times.
Cheap fares can always be found when booking in advance and online to travel in between cities. Discounts are hard to found serving regional destinations and for routes that are quieter. There are also many small airlines which fly within state borders to many different tourist locations and small towns.

Driving in Australia

In Australia, expats find that it is very useful to have their own car as they are able to travel around freely and are able to experience the natural scenery and wide roads.
Driving is on the left hand side of the road which some expats may have to adjust to. The highway and roads are very well maintained and signage is clear making it easier to travel around. However, if travelling to rural parts of the country there are many roads which are poorly maintained being bumpy and sandy. In other parts of Australia such as New South Wales and Queensland you will find toll roads including bridges and tunnels. Drivers are expected to familiarise themselves with the rules of driving in Australia before moving as the regulations are different in each state.

Speed Limits

Due to the remote areas and not so well maintained roads there are many speed limits on the roads of Australia

A few types of the roads and speed limits include:

  • Highways linking capital cities of each state has a Speed limit of up to 100 Km/h
  • Motorways which have limited access highway has a speed limit of up to 110 Km/h
  • Minor arterial roads and local roads has a speed limit of up to 50 Km/h
  • Major arterial roads (within cities and towns) has a speed limit of up to 80 Km/h

Driving License Requirements

If moving to Australia drivers are expected to have a valid English driving license, this can only be used for the first three months in the country. However, if the license is not in English, expats will need to apply for an ‘International Driving Permit’ in their home country which should be issued before getting to Australia.

After living there for three months, expats will need to have an appropriate Australian license. The requirements for a driver’s license are:

Drivers will need to present the original overseas English license. If you do not have an English license, it will need to be presented by an official English translation document which should be issued by the National Accreditation Authority.

  • Expats will need to pass an eye test and a knowledge test
  • Proof of identity and residency
  • Pay the drivers license fees
  • Pass the official Australian driving test
  • Information about any medical issues

If you hold a license from the following countries expats DO NOT need to complete a knowledge test or a practical driving test. The countries include New Zealand, Canada, USA, Japan and most EU nations. It is important that you check these requirements with your state government depending on where you are living in Australia before applying.

Driving licences can be exchanged at a local Road and Traffic Authority office or at the Driver and Vehicle Centre.

Removal Services

When moving to Australia expats should do their research as there are many companies who offer shipping and removal services to and from Australia, making this an easy move. If you have owned household items for over 12 months these managed with overseas shipments.

Australia has many places where expats can find shopping centres to get the household products and home furniture not needing to ship most things from their home countries.
Shipping to Australia for expats can be very expensive both by air and sea. However it is possible that if an employer has called you over they will pay for the bills to bring the furniture across.
It is found that when shipping products by sea, these are less expensive than shipping by air, but will take much longer. Expats should use both methods for most important and less important products to be shipped.

Additional expenses will be provided to expats for packaging materials and handling excessively large items and processing requirements for products. Depending on the weight of the furniture costs will be varied. Insurance should also be purchased to cover costs ensuring reliable services.

Expats will be provided to prove that they own the goods that have been shipped, presenting receipts, insurance papers. Expats have up to six months to arrive in Australia after their goods get into the country or should arrive in the country seven days prior to the arrival of their goods.

Communications in Australia

Australia has a variety of telephone and internet access providers like other countries around the world. Before moving you should research the best company plans which are being offered to get the best to suit you.

Australian mobile phone providers use GSM services to provide compatible phones. This ensures that you are able to travel to Australia without having to buy a new mobile and will just need to purchase a SIM card once in the country.

The most popular mobile and landline phone providers include Telstra, Optus and Vodafone Hutchinson. The annual average cost of a medium mobile phone could be around AUD$ 293.00

The following elements should be considered before selecting a landline/mobile plan

  • Is there a bundle service which offers all three mobile, landline and internet plans
  • Will international charges apply
  • Will there be any special discounts for phoning people with the same provider
  • How long will the contract be fore

Thousands of people around the country use broadband or wireless broadband to access the internet, Australia has many internet service providers around all the states with the costs being around AUD 60 per month providing easy internet access via laptop computers. Some popular internet providers include iiNet, BigPond and Intermode. Many mobile and landline service providers will also offer internet services.

The company that handles all post office services in Australia is ‘Australia post’. When you have moved to the country, expats are able to search for the nearest post office using the Street posting box locator service which is available on their website. Post offices are usually open Monday – Friday 9am-5pm.

Leisure Activities

Australians love sports, with the weather being able to permit individuals to play all types of sports are popular here. This includes cricket, rugby, tennis and many others. Australia has a wide variety of landscapes which expats are able to explore.

With the amount of beaches around Australia, water sports are very popular and are a way of life for Australians. Water sport activities such as surfing, windsurfing are done everyday especially in the hot weather. Snorkelling, Sailing and Kayaking can also be enjoyed along with the marine landscapes of the Great Barrier Reef popular for its wildlife.

Many people in Australia enjoy going to the cinema with family and friends which allows them to socialise and do different cultural activities. Every year a festival of Australian films is organised where people get together and enjoy themselves. Exhibitions are regularly organised in the many cities by local organisations.

If you are an expat that enjoys drama, there is a theatre in Sydney and Canberra where theatre plays can be watched. There is also an international jazz musical festival held every year in Melbourne.
In or around Sydney? Enjoy the Tarongo Zoo, Sydney Aquarium, Wildlife World and the Luna amusement park which offers entertainment for all ages.

Embrace the Land activities by visiting the Kakadu National park which has an archaeological and ethnological reserve. Go for a hike in the middle of these landscapes or even ride a horse or camel in the desert.

Australia is not lacking any entertainment so you will never be disappointed. There are also several activities and venues for your children including children’s farms and zoo’s, ice skating and much more.

Australian Cusine

Australia has a multi-cultural nation with a variety of cuisines on the menu. These include Malaysian, Mediterranean and Thai foods. Recognition has come from immigrants from the south east of Asia and high quality produce with ethnic restaurants opening in the cities. People are now able to eat fine dishes from all over the world and a wide range of different fusion cuisines.

Expats will find a variety of restaurants from different countries with menus including local food and Australian sea food. The Australian meat pie is at the top of the list for the country’s most popular dish including fish & chips with organic foods becoming more available in the country.

Celebrated Days and Events

Expats will find that the city Sydney always has something to offer, with a number of breathtaking festivals happening throughout the year. Below is a list of recommended festivals that happen in and around Australia’s biggest cities:

New Year’s Eve: Sydney celebrates the New Year with a big bang by putting on one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in the world. Centred around Sydney’s most famous landmarks, the sparkling Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, this event is a must see when in Sydney.

Australia Day: Australia Day is the country’s national day, where Australians come together to celebrate the Australia culture. It’s the day to reflect on what they have achieved and what they can be proud of in their great nation.

Sydney Festival: One of the largest and most distinguished events is the Sydney festival which presents the greatest. International entertainment artists and most local talent in the performing and visual arts sector in Australia.

Chinese New Year: Australia is a multi-cultural country and embraces the Chinese New Year festival. There are many ways to get involved in Australia, especially around the China Town area as there is dragon boat racing, noodle markets and the magnificent Twilight Parade.

Vivid Sydney: Vivid Sydney is an annual festival of light, music and ideas. It colours the city with magic, creativity and inspiration. Light installations are massively popular as this is where the highlight each year revolves around the installations projected on to the sails of the iconic Opera House.

City to Surf: The Annual City to Surf is Sydney’s favourite and world’s largest sporting event, with more than 85,000 participants. The run starts in the city centre and ends at the beautiful Bondi Beach. Many high profile celebrities and sports people take part, raising money for charity.

In every major city in Australia expats will find other group gatherings of many different nationalities or country specifics. A huge range of activities are organised for expats to gather and socialise. The activities include sports, arts or nights out in the towns.

Expert Help for Expatriates

There are many services in Australia which provides help and advice to expats moving to the country. These services can help with moving, finding schools, neighbourhood orientation, help with finding a home and much more. Below is a list of some of the local experts available to help you with your move.

Team Locations: This is a leading corporate employee provide that delivers relocation services on a global basis.

Relocation Specialists: This is a company who are suppliers of personalised relocation support for international moves. They offer support from pre-departure planning, temporary accommodation and lifestyle services.

Relocation Services Australia: This business has been helping expats relocation within Australia. They focus on ensuring everyone has a good easy and convenient way of moving.
Expat International: A company that focuses on developing relationships with customers providing cost effective solutions.

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