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Moving to Australia

From the dazzling lights and buzz of big cities to the sweeping isolation of the outback, Australia is a land of contrasts. Thanks to the country's vast size and diverse landscapes, expats will have plenty to explore in the Land Down Under.

If there was such a thing as an ideal expat location, Australia would certainly be a competitive choice for the title. In fact, it consistently ranks amongst one of the safest and happiest countries for expats to live in. The Australian lifestyle is driven by outdoor pursuits and is truly multicultural, especially when it comes to cuisine and traditions.

The fundamentals of family and friends are important to Australians, and the nation’s strong spirit of egalitarianism has drawn a steady stream of immigrants from the UK, Europe and Asia to its ideal climate and naturally beautiful environment. Popular Australian expat cities include SydneyMelbournePerthBrisbane and Adelaide.

Australia has long been a destination of choice for students and young professionals from all over the world who move to the country to spend a few months taking up employment on a working holiday visa. It is also popular with expat families looking for a better environment to bring up children, as well as pensioners who move to Australia to spend their retirement years in the sun.

The government places a high premium on skills and enforces equally stringent measures to keep Australian immigration levels under control. So while Australia is a popular destination for expats, a strict screening process picks out those professionals with the skills desired to keep the economy in good health.

A large number of expats who move to Australia do so with their children. The country is an excellent place to raise a family as properties are often large, there is more scope for children to spend recreational time outdoors and there is a good range of schooling options. Furthermore, expats living in Australia will also have access to exceptional healthcare facilities in both the public and private systems.

The diverse, striking scenery and rugged beauty of the vast landscape, the easygoing nature of the local people, and the sense that a new beginning is available to anyone with the skills and energy to make it happen all make Australia an expat destination well worth considering.


Fast facts

Population: About 25 million

Capital city: Canberra

Neighbouring countries: Islands surrounding Australia include Indonesia and Papua New Guinea to the north, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the northeast, New Caledonia to the east and New Zealand to the southeast.

Geography: Due to Australia's size, the country has a variety of landscapes. There are tropical rainforests in the northeast, while the southwest, east and southeast are made up of mountain ranges. In the centre of Australia is dry desert, known as the outback. The outback makes up the largest portion of land in Australia. 

Political system: Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Major religions: Christianity

Main language: English

Money: The Australian dollar (AUD), divided into 100 cents. ATMs can be found throughout Australia and expats should be able to open a bank account with relative ease.

Tipping: If a service charge is not added to the bill, a tip is always welcomed, but not expected. 

Time: Australia has three time zones. Eastern (GMT +10), Central (GMT +9.5) and Western (GMT +8). Daylight saving time is observed.

Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. Three-pin flat blade plugs are the norm.

Internet domain: .au

International dialling code: +61

Emergency contacts: 000 for the police, ambulance and fire services.

Transport and driving: Cars drive on the left-hand side. The national transport system in Australia is excellent, and for long journeys, options include travelling by plane, train and inter-city bus within the country. 

Weather in Australia

Due to the country's vast size, the climate in Australia can vary from place to place, although one thing is for sure: expats living down under are unlikely to escape the heat.

The southern coast, which includes Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, possesses the best climate by far, with mild winters and warm summers. Winters tend to be wet, although Australia has been known to experience severe droughts caused by insufficient rainfall.

The interior of the country, often referred to as ‘the Outback’, is dry and barren and experiences more extreme weather conditions than the coastal regions. During the day temperatures can soar to scorching only to drop at nighttime, sometimes to below freezing.

Meanwhile, northern Australia has a tropical climate, and heavy rainfall and even cyclones are known to hit between December and March. This is also the hottest time of year in northern Australia, making for uncomfortably humid conditions.

Above all else, when it comes to the weather in Australia, expats should respect the harsh and relentless sunshine. Be sure to apply sunscreen with a reputable SPF factor when outside, and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. 

 
 
 

Embassy Contacts for Australia


Australian embassies

  • Embassy of Australia, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 797 3000

  • Australian High Commission, London, United Kingdom: +44 20 7379 4334

  • Australian High Commission, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 236 0841

  • Australian High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 12 423 6000

  • Australian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 1 664 5300

  • Australian High Commission, Wellington, New Zealand: +64 4 473 6411


Foreign embassies in Australia

  • Embassy of the United States, Canberra: +61 2 6214 5600

  • British High Commission, Canberra: +61 2 6270 6666

  • Canadian High Commission, Canberra: +61 2 6270 4000

  • South African High Commission, Canberra: +61 2 6272 7300

  • Embassy of Ireland, Canberra: +61 2 6214 0000

  • New Zealand High Commission, Canberra: +61 2 6270 4211

Public Holidays in Australia

 

2021

2022

New Year's Day

1 January

1 January

Australia Day

26 January

26 January

Good Friday

2 April

15 April

Easter Monday

5 April

18 April

Anzac Day

25 April

25 April

Christmas Day

25 December 

25 December

*Listed above are the national holidays celebrated countrywide. States and territories in Australia celebrate individual holidays, so it is best to check local official sources.

*If a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday becomes a holiday. 

Pros and Cons of Moving to Australia

With a number of Australia's cities frequently rated as some of the world’s most desirable destinations, it’s no surprise that many people make the move down under. However, it's all too easy to see a country through rose-tinted glasses. To help expats get a fuller picture of the country, here's a round-up of the pros and cons of moving to Australia. 


Accommodation in Australia

As with most developed countries, accommodation varies with location. Compact apartments and townhouses in the city offer easy access to the hustle and bustle, while suburban dwellings a little further away from the city centre afford more space and a sense of community.

+ PRO: Lots of choice

There is a wide array of real-estate options throughout Australia depending on an expat's requirements and budget. Renting is popular in cities and, in most cases, it is possible to find a reasonably-priced place to rent.

- CON: Property is expensive

On the other hand, while purchasing a property in an Australian city will offer plenty of choice, home buyers need to be aware that real estate law in Australia favours the seller, so plenty of research is essential before making an offer on a home. Competition against local and overseas investors can be fierce, so expats should be prepared to dig deep into their pockets for their perfect Aussie home.


Cost of living in Australia

Gone are the days of Australia being a cheap place to live in comparison with the UK or US. In recent years Sydney has been reported as being significantly more expensive than many other notoriously pricey global destinations, but it’s not all bad news.

 + PRO: High minimum wage and great standard of living

Australian cities are undeniably expensive places to live, but salaries are also comparatively high. The cost of living may be high but so is the standard of living, and many residents feel it is worth paying that bit more to reside in Australia.

- CON: Groceries and utilities are expensive

The price of food and utilities has risen dramatically over recent years and shows little sign of slowing. The price of everyday goods can certainly be a shock to those fresh off the plane.


Lifestyle and culture in Australia

Australia is first and foremost a friendly and accommodating country. The cities especially house a wide range of people from all over the globe. The outdoor lifestyle encourages people to come together, whether around a barbeque, at sporting events or just at a gathering of like-minded individuals.

+ PRO: Great climate and lots of sporting events

Australian cities play host to many sporting events throughout the year with something to suit every sports fan. Outdoor activities are also popular, so it is easy to stay healthy in Australia. Running and cycling are especially popular in cities and can be kept up throughout the winter months thanks to the warm climate.

- CON: Lack of activity in small towns

Outside of Sydney or Melbourne, cultural activities such as opera and ballet may be more difficult to find. The cinema might be the best option for artsy types as the main weekend attraction in rural areas is likely to be a football match.


Healthcare in Australia

Healthcare in Australia is a mixture of private- and state-provided care. Those eligible for Medicare, either as a resident or a citizen of a country for which there is a reciprocal healthcare agreement, are able to access subsidised necessary treatment. For those who cannot access Medicare, or for treatment which is not deemed necessary, private health insurance is recommended.

+ PRO: Good-quality public and private healthcare

The healthcare system in Australia is of a high standard. Both public and private hospitals are well equipped and provide top-notch service. Both systems can be used by expats and it is easy to get to grips with what is and what isn’t available publicly.

 - CON: Private health insurance is expensive 

Private health insurance is generally expensive and is a cost most expats will have to factor in. For some visa categories, expats ineligible for Medicare are required to take out private health insurance as a condition of their visa. 


Education and schools in Australia

Education in Australia is generally excellent with good services and teaching staff. Schools are a mixture of public and private, with parents being able to choose which suits their situation best.

+ PRO: Some reasonably priced private schools

Private schools have a reputation that often casts them as exorbitantly priced same-sex boarding schools, and although these exist, there is far more choice on offer throughout Australia. Some private schools are very reasonably priced and offer students a wider range of activities and subjects than may be offered at a public school.

- CON: High fees at private and international schools in Australia

Private schooling can be expensive for families and competition can be fierce. Similarly, university-goers without Australian residency and international students can be hit with high tuition fees.


Driving and transport in Australia

Australia is a massive country and, with the majority of the population living in coastal areas, transportation between states can be expensive. The most popular way to travel between states is by air and there are regular flights between Australian cities. However, in areas that are more sparsely populated, even buses and trains can be less frequent or non-existent.

+ PRO: Great travel opportunities within Australia and good city transportation

Australia offers a diverse climate and a wealth of unique wildlife, meaning that only a short plane trip can feel like landing in another country. Although cities do vary, urban transport in Australia is generally good, offering trams, trains and buses, although this varies from city to city.

- CON: Travelling to isolated places is difficult and journeys between cities can be long

If one is not travelling by plane, getting between states can be time-consuming and costly. Any other forms of transport will tend to take many hours.

Working in Australia

Expats working in Australia may not have sky-high salaries to boast about but, for the most part, they seem to be happy with their job, their work environment and their work-life balance. This is a statement that arguably stands as the most underestimated advantage of moving to and living in Australia. 

Furthermore, those who do decide to relocate to Australia will find themselves within a national economy that is known for being strong and stable. 


Job market in Australia

Expats who have qualifications and experience in growing sectors with skill shortages stand a good chance of finding work in Australia. Industries such as healthcare, IT and marketing are well worth looking into.

Another industry in Australia worth considering is mining – although the mining boom has begun to decline, the country is still one of the world's top exporters of minerals such as iron, aluminium, gold and copper. Construction is also a strong and continually growing industry, with construction managers being particularly sought after.


Finding a job in Australia

Most expats will need to find and secure a job prior to entering and working in Australia. The government’s immigration department is as strict as it is efficient, and those employed without a work permit will be promptly deported.

Most expats come to work in Australia on an employer-sponsored visa. The hiring company must prove that a position exists for the expat and that no local candidate is qualified to assume the responsibilities required by the position. This can actually prove quite difficult given that a large chunk of Australia’s workforce has a tertiary qualification, and that many senior managers and technical staff have international experience. 

As a result, though skills shortages have produced a crucial need for certain kinds of workers, the stringent permit eligibility rules often hamper attempts to import foreigners from abroad. 

Expats on the job hunt should start by joining industry associations and by perusing the career centres maintained by regional governments. National newspapers also regularly publish job listings and advertisements in employment sections. Online job portals are also a convenient and easily accessible way of searching for jobs.


Work culture in Australia

Generally speaking, those working in Australia are likely to notice that there's a distinctly relaxed atmosphere in the workplace. However, this doesn't mean that less work gets done – Australians are hard workers, but the country is better at maintaining a good work-life balance than many other nations around the world.

As swearing is a famously prolific part of Australian dialect, expats can expect this to extend to the workplace too, although it's probably best not to follow suit. Socialising with co-workers outside of work is common and expected, so if invited to after-work drinks, expats should be sure to accept the invitation and take the opportunity to get to know their colleagues.

Doing Business in Australia

Expats anticipating doing business in Australia are sure to find that the friendly yet professional corporate atmosphere of the country provides exciting opportunities for business dealings. Being predominately a market economy in the throes of embracing internationalisation, Australia has evolved into one of the easiest and most interesting countries in which to do business in the world.

Australia ranked 14th out of 190 countries in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business survey for 2020. The country did well in categories like enforcing contracts (6th) and starting a business (7th) but fell short in the ease of trading across borders (106th) and protecting minority investors (57th).

The approach to management in Australia is consultative, pragmatic and strictly non-hierarchical. Those in positions of relative power are accorded respect in virtue of their human and interpersonal qualities, not simply because they happen to be the boss.

In Australia, managers must take care not to appear aloof or out-of-touch with the members of their team – all members are equally important to the collective wellbeing of the group. Everyone is encouraged to air their opinions and ideas regularly. A wonderful feature of the Australian business world is that this egalitarian ethos provides opportunities for colleagues to form close personal bonds with one another.


Fast facts

Business hours

8.30am or 9.30am to 4.30pm or 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

Business language

English

Dress

The dress code is smart, formal and conservative for men and women. 

Gifts

Gifts are not usually exchanged during business meetings; however, if invited to a colleague's home, it's a good idea to take along some wine, chocolate or flowers.

Gender equality

Female expats looking to do business in Australia will find that women are generally treated as equals. However, while female leadership in high positions does exist, most of these jobs are still occupied by men.


Business culture in Australia

The business culture of Australia claims a bit of a hybrid character, incorporating the trappings of British formality and conservatism, the egalitarian ethos of Scandinavian countries, and the dynamic, innovative approach to business that is generally thought of as American in origin – rounded out, of course, with characteristic South Pacific warmth and friendliness. While individuals need to be smart, punctual and professional at all times, it is equally vital that one is willing to be 'part of the team', and to interact with colleagues in an engaged, interested and respectful manner.

Greetings

Business etiquette in Australia further reflects the egalitarian ethos. Though it's best to use titles initially, one will almost certainly be told to drop them, at which point first names can be used. Maintain eye contact when speaking to associates, as this is regarded as a sign of forthrightness and trustworthiness – qualities which Australian businesspeople tend to favour over showiness, self-aggrandisement or empty promises.

Communication

Do not be surprised to hear colleagues talking bluntly and frankly to one another – try to remember that in Australia, direct communication is valued far more highly than diplomacy. A good general rule for business etiquette in Australia is to always try and 'get along' – the last thing one wants to be considered is a loner or a malcontent.

Meetings

Business meetings in Australia should be scheduled a week in advance, and then confirmed a few days before they are due to take place. Be punctual, as lateness can be seen as a symptom of flakiness or indifference. Expect a little small talk at the beginning of the meeting. Business meetings in Australia do not generally proceed from a set agenda – rather, they are viewed as open forums, in which ideas are to be debated and discussed. In fact, over-preparing for a meeting can make a person seem pushy – as though they wish to bully others into adopting an opinion on the issue at hand.


Dos and don'ts of business in Australia

  • Do be honest and forthright – look to really get to know Australian colleagues on a personal level

  • Do get involved in 'team-building'; egalitarianism is the backbone of the Australian work ethos

  • Do make an effort to get to know colleagues outside of office hours

  • Don't try to prove credentials by talking about them – rather, show qualities by working hard

  • Don't be insulted if colleagues address someone in a blunt or plain-spoken fashion – this is simply the way Australians communicate with one another

Visas for Australia

Expats looking to live and work in Australia will need a visa. The good news is that the Australian government makes it easy to understand the visa application process, providing comprehensive information about how to apply for a specific class of visa, the associated costs, where to apply and more. 

That said, though the application process may be streamlined and easy to navigate, it certainly doesn’t guarantee entrance into the country. 

Australia claims an intimidating number of visa categories, and requirements vary immensely. Some merely require a passport from a certain country, some evaluate a person's skill level and education level, and some are based on familial connection. 

Regardless, it’s always best to do as much research as possible prior to applying for a visa for Australia to simplify the process and avoid complications.


Tourist visas for Australia

There are a number of primary categories of tourist visas for Australia, each suitable for a specific time period and for individuals of a specific nationality.

The standard Australian visit visa is divided into several subtypes according to the purpose of the visit, including tourism, business, or visiting family. Stays of three, six or 12 months may be granted.

Some nationalities are eligible for an eVisitor visa. Valid for 12 months, holders of this visa can visit Australia for up to three months at a time. They can only be applied for online, and the application must be made outside of Australia. There is no charge associated with an application.


Working holiday visas for Australia

If expats have a dream to live and work in Australia, there are many different temporary working visas that one might be eligible for. 

Australia has a partnership with a number of countries which allows young people to visit Australia and work temporarily to fund their travels. This type of visa is not intended for those interested in permanent relocation, but for those who want the experience of living abroad in Australia for several months to a year so that they can supplement their travel funds with short-term work. It must be proved that travel is the primary reason for the visit, with working as a secondary intention to support the travel. 

The duration of the visa is for 12 months. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30 and can be from a number of accepted countries. Irish, Canadian and French applicants are eligible to apply up to the age of 35.

Applicants must have a passport which has at least a year of validity left on it as well as showing proof that they have enough funds to support themselves upon first arriving in Australia.

If working holiday visa holders complete at least three months of regional work, they may be eligible to apply for an extension to their original visa. Make sure to keep evidence of employment as this will be needed for those trying to extend the permit.

Those not eligible for the Working Holiday Visa may be eligible instead for the very similar Work and Holiday Visa. 

*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.

Work Permits for Australia

Australia’s economy is robust and predicted to continue growing well, so it comes as no surprise that more and more expats will look to relocate to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane or Adelaide in the coming years to find lucrative employment. However, most expats will need to have a work visa to legally work in the country. 

The application process may initially seem intimidating. There’s an incredible assortment of working visa categories and subclasses, and each category seems to have its own complex requirements and strange loopholes. 

On the positive side, the Australian government’s online portal is a useful and up-to-date tool that future expats can use to find the visa that suits their industry field, their skill set and their intentions. 

Ultimately, whether one is an employer-sponsored skilled worker or a labourer looking to fill a skill shortage in the country, it’s vital that expats research the work permit process as comprehensively as possible prior to application. 


Employer-sponsored visas for Australia

If an expat's primary purpose for coming to Australia is work and they can find an employer to sponsor their visa, they could apply for a professional visa to live and work in Australia for up to four years. There are many visas available for this situation over a number of professions and occupations. 

All working visas require expats to find an employer to sponsor them. The employer must first submit their nomination and sponsorship forms before the visa can be applied for.

Expats should note that the process can take a long time, in some cases several months. Thus it’s best to anticipate a long waiting period rather than a short one. 


Business visas for Australia

For foreigners wishing to relocate to Australia to start a business, invest in a business or who anticipate playing a primary role in operating a new business, it’s necessary to first obtain a business visa.

As is the case with most visa categories in Australia, there are a number of visa subclasses, and the subclass one applies for depends upon their intention and their role in the business.

Cost of Living in Australia

Although Australia is a popular expat destination, it does have a rather high cost of living. That said, most expats find that the high quality of life makes up for it. Nevertheless, we recommend that prospective expats do their research and find out exactly what their potential expenses will be.

In the 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Sydney ranked as the 66th most expensive city out of 209 cities surveyed worldwide. It is Australia's most expensive city to live in, followed by Melbourne (99th) and Perth (104th).

Expats should therefore ensure that their salary is high enough to cover all of their expenses, as Australians frequently complain about stretched household incomes. The famed social welfare and benefit systems in Australia, such as Medicare and superannuation, seem to do little to ease the financial discomfort of many Australian families.


Cost of accommodation in Australia

Accommodation in Australia is notoriously expensive, though this can be mitigated somewhat depending on where one chooses to live. Location and convenience are largely responsible for high prices, with the more coveted destinations such as Sydney being pricier than smaller towns or cities such as Adelaide. Likewise, living further away from the city centre and commuting, while perhaps not convenient, can also reduce rental costs.


Cost of healthcare in Australia

Many expats living in Australia won’t be permanent residents and therefore won’t qualify for Medicare, the national universal health insurance coverage. Those who have waded through the red tape to obtain this documentation will, however, find that healthcare in Australia is of a high standard and is extremely affordable.

Medicare is financed by individual tax deductions and allows permanent residents to take advantage of free comprehensive hospital care, as well as free or highly subsidised doctor’s consultations. Some expats may be formally required to prove to the Australian authorities that they are adequately covered by a minimum level of private health insurance to initially be granted their visa. 

Private healthcare costs in Australia can be expensive and, unfortunately, there is no way for temporary residents to escape these fees aside from forking out for private insurance, which can be a costly venture in itself. 


Cost of education in Australia

Expats moving to Australia with kids can rest easy in the knowledge that the public school system is reputable, and in many cases, cheap. However, in many states, temporary residence holders are required to pay tuition to enrol their children in the state system.

For those who prefer to have their children enrolled in a private school or international school, tuition will naturally be required and will tend to be expensive.

Alternatively, somewhere between the state system and the private system lie faith-based schools. Tuition for these institutions is typically higher than public school tuition but lower than private school tuition – and in some cases, faith-based schools can be even cheaper than public schools.


Cost of living in Australia chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Sydney in February 2021.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

AUD 2,600

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

AUD 1,900

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

AUD 4,800

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

AUD 3,000

Shopping

Eggs (dozen)

AUD 4.80

Milk (1 litre)

AUD 1.70

Rice (1kg)

AUD 2.70

Loaf of white bread

AUD 2.70

Chicken breasts (1kg)

AUD 11.20

Pack of cigarettes

AUD 35

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

AUD 12

Coca-Cola (330ml)

AUD 3

Cappuccino

AUD 4

Bottle of local beer

AUD 8

Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

AUD 100

Utilities

Mobile-to-mobile call rate (per minute)

AUD 0.70

Internet (uncapped – average per month)

AUD 70

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

AUD 250

Transportation

Taxi rate (per kilometre)

AUD 2.20

Bus/train in the city centre

AUD 4

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

AUD 1.30

Culture Shock in Australia

Many expats imagine that culture shock in Australia is mainly related to money, marsupials and mangled accents. While these points may certainly be the most obvious causes of confusion and disorientation upon arrival, it’s important to realise that a move to Australia can be more difficult than initially anticipated. 

Foreigners often fall prey to the idea that Australia is just a cultural midpoint between the US and Britain. The thinking is that with its sophisticated infrastructure, strong economy and English language there’s little preparation that needs to be done prior to relocation and even less effort that needs to be put in to acclimatise once on Aussie soil.

Symptoms of culture shock, like the loss of identity and loneliness, often occur with new expats – and what’s more, though many expats may find aspects of life in Australia familiar, there are still several nuances that those from abroad will find complex. 


Cultural values in Australia

Some expats may be surprised at the extent of the pointed Australian emphasis on equality and the egalitarian spirit. For example, anything that can be construed as bragging or boasting will tend to provoke a negative reaction from Australians. This can be attributed to what is known as "tall poppy syndrome" – the tendency to value unity and uniformity over individual achievements. Anyone perceived as considering themselves better than others is often thought of as a "tall poppy" that needs to be cut down to size.

Another related and closely held cultural value is the idea of a “fair go”. This is the belief that everyone deserves a fair opportunity to achieve success through talent, hard work and effort, not favouritism or social hierarchy.


Socialising in Australia

Australia is generally an open and friendly destination. People immensely value their relationships, and loyalty to friends and family is highly thought of and commonly practised.

As a result, Australians generally come across as easy going, which may be misconstrued by some expats as being overly friendly or too informal.

Australians are fond of socialising around the barbeque or over a pint at the pub. People will introduce themselves and greet on a first name basis. Even walking down the street, it's not unusual to be greeted with a "g'day" from a total stranger or to find oneself making small talk with a fellow shopper in a grocery store.


Language barrier in Australia

English is the official language of Australia, but nonetheless, some famed colloquialisms have made their way into standard speech patterns, and expats will more than likely have to add quite a few terms to their vocabulary. 

A good rule of thumb is to realise that Australians have a tendency to shorten everything, so if stuck for a definition, just consider what the word could be with a couple more letters and an extra syllable or two. Still, confusion is not unusual at first. Luckily, Australians are friendly and obliging people and are sure to be up for helping "translate" a few phrases for their foreign friends.

Accommodation in Australia

Since Australia is such an overwhelmingly popular expat destination, those wishing to live within a closely knit expat community will almost certainly be able to do so. However, Australian society is also famously friendly and welcoming – and so expats have no need to worry if their dream rental is located in a predominantly Australian neighbourhood. 

Home security will not be a major issue for expats relocating to Australia. Although minor break-ins do occur in some neighbourhoods, more often than not, the installation of a simple alarm system should be enough to deter potential robbers. Time and again, expats report that they feel safe in their homes, no matter where they happen to live in Australia.


Types of accommodation in Australia

Expats moving to Australia will find plenty of housing options available to them, from furnished or unfurnished apartments to houses, studios and luxury apartments.

The standard of accommodation in Australia varies from area to area, and between types of accommodation, but is generally excellent. It is not at all uncommon for houses in Australia to boast family-friendly features such as garages, big gardens and swimming pools. Newer, more upmarket houses will probably be equipped with air conditioning, although ceiling fans are far more common. Indoor heating is very rare since it would be completely redundant for most of the year.


Finding accommodation in Australia

Expats relocating on a short-term basis will probably opt to rent property in Australia. This process is reasonably straightforward, although expats might find – at least during the initial stages – that they are required to do most of the legwork themselves. Internet searches and newspaper advertisements are probably the most fruitful avenues in this regard. When searching, note that prices are often quoted as per week rather than per month. Rent is then paid either every two weeks or every four weeks.

Viewings are held by estate agents, and are scheduled for specific timeslots. Expats should ensure they are there early so as not to miss the short window of time in which the property is open for viewing. Weekday viewings during working hours tend to have fewer attendees than weekend viewings. If possible, expats should opt for weekday viewings to get a jump on the competition.


Renting accommodation in Australia

Making an application

The rental market in Australia moves fast, leaving little time to deliberate or prepare documents. Applications are looked at on a first-come, first-served basis. For this reason, we advise expats to have all necessary documents ready ahead of time. That way, when the ideal home pops up, house hunters can put in their application right away.

Documentation requirements are stringent and are determined by a country-wide system known as the 100-point identification check. This process is used for everything from applying for a drivers' licence to opening a local bank account.

Various types of identification documents are assigned a specific number of points. Primary proof-of-identity documents (such as a passport, visa or Australian residency status certificate) earn more points than secondary proof-of-identity documents (such a health insurance card or local bankcard).

Leases

The typical lease length in Australia is six or 12 months, although leases can sometimes be shorter or longer if an arrangement is made with the landlord.

Deposits

A deposit (or "bond") of four to six weeks' rent must be paid when signing a lease. This deposit protects against any damage beyond normal wear and tear caused by the tenant during their stay. At the end of the lease, costs for any damages are deducted before the deposit is returned to the tenant.

Utilities

In most cases, all utilities are paid separately by the tenant – this includes electricity, water, gas and internet. Some landlords cover the cost of water but this varies so be sure to check.

Renting Property in Australia

Finding a new place to call home is always a daunting task, and when factoring in an overseas move as well, it can seem like a mammoth undertaking.

Expats new to Australia will not only need to find a suitable property for their needs but they will also need to choose the right area or suburb to live in. For this reason, most expats prefer renting property in Australia before they buy; a choice that works best for trying out different areas and suburbs.

The rental market in most of Australia's major cities, such as Sydney and Melbourne, moves quickly, and finding the right rental property isn't always easy. That said, there are a few tips and guidelines that can make finding a new home in Australia considerably easier.


Step 1: Learn the local lingo

The first step to renting property in Australia is to get a handle on the local lingo that residents and agents use to describe their humble homes or magnificent mansions.

In Australia, properties are either referred to as flats or houses. A flat is the local term for an apartment. Houses are typically larger than flats and come with an outdoor space – so it's more likely that a two-bedroom flat will cost less than a two-bedroom house, but it's not always the case. Flats with just one room are called studios.


Step 2: Location, location, location

Next, expats will want to choose which areas they would possibly want to live in. An easy way to kickstart this process is to visit a few neighbourhoods and stroll around to get a feel for the area. Take a few moments to check real estate agent windows and see if the area is within budget. If not, get on the train or bus and ride a couple of stops away and repeat. Those moving to a major city should come up with a shortlist of three or four suburbs or areas.

Part of finding the perfect location is knowing what kind of commute one can expect from home to the workplace or to the children's school. Luckily, in this robust information age, some property websites present their rental properties on maps that show local transport stops and stations so customers can predict travel time and proximity.

Those planning to use a car will also need to make sure that they have somewhere to park it. This is often a factor that expats overlook, but in reality, it can lead to high costs and an even more hectic headache if not addressed appropriately.


Step 3: Start searching

The best way to home hunt in Australia is by enlisting the help of technology. Sit down with some property search websites and start looking at what falls within budget in a desired location. Newspapers are another source of property listings, but the market moves quickly and expats are better off looking online for the freshest information.


Step 4: Dealing with agents

Once a suitable property has been found that meets the requirements, it's time to arrange a viewing.

Find out who is managing the property, and in the case that it's an agency – which happens more often than not – it's a good idea to find out the name of the individual agent managing the property and ask for them directly by name. The managing agent is the one most likely to be able to answer questions and start the application process.

It's important to note that in Australia most agents will not rent a property without the tenant having viewed it first. Some agents hold opening viewings or open houses, where anyone can view. These can be competitive, so turn up early and be prepared. Bring all the papers necessary to put in an application on the spot.


Step 5: Putting in an application for a property

Real estate agents can take more than one application for a property at a time, so expats should make sure when submitting that they include all the correct information. This can often be the difference between securing a property and losing out to someone else who is better prepared as applications operate on a first-come first-served basis.

Typical applications require:

  • Proof of identity (passport/drivers license)
  • Proof of income, bank statements for the last three months
  • References – one of the most important parts of the application. Ideally these would be from previous landlords but this can be a problem for those moving from overseas. In such cases, the expat's employer may be able to act as a reference instead.

In some cases, expats might be asked to put down a deposit with their application. This will be returned if they do not get the property. 


Step 6: Signing the lease and moving in

When renting property in Australia, there is no standard for how much rent has to be paid in advance. However, when coming to sign the lease and to pay the first instalment of rent, the new tenant will also need to pay a deposit or 'bond', usually for the amount of a month to six weeks' rent.

The bond, similar to the idea of a security deposit, protects the owner against any damage done to the property or any bills left unpaid by the tenant. The bond is held by an independent government-owned body.

As the tenant is bound to the bond it's important to inspect the property thoroughly for damage before moving in. If existing damage is found, be sure to bring it to the attention of the managing agent or landlord. In the case of a furnished property, an inventory should be kept. At the lease's conclusion, the cost of any items not accounted for on the inventory are deducted from the bond.

Before signing the lease, expats should also ask the managing agent if there are accounts set up with any utility providers. If there are, it might save having to pay a connection fee. 

For additional support with tenant issues, each state has a tenant's association that aims to protect the rights of the renter.

Buying Property in Australia

Buying property certainly warrants its fair share of red tape, and expats looking to become homeowners in a country other than their own will have to be ready to navigate a whole new set of rules and regulations. 

When buying property in Australia, expats should note that the process will vary from state to state, but there are some general steps that apply on a national level. Here's an outline of what to expect.


Step 1: Calculate a budget and arrange mortgage pre-approval 

Before starting the house-hunting process, expats should check whether they need to apply to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for permission to buy real estate.

When it comes to financing, the ease with which an expat can get a mortgage depends on several factors, but it's largely related to which visa they're on and how good their Australian credit rating is. In the end, the total granted is primarily related to the income of the people applying for the mortgage. Expats will find it easier to obtain a successful mortgage application if they've been working for a while and if they can prove that they've had a sound credit rating in their country of origin.

The good news for expats is that they won't pay higher charges on their mortgage or be offered a different interest rate just because of their visa status, but on the downside, they will have fewer lenders willing to offer them a mortgage.

It's important to consider both the big picture and a smaller cross-section of one's monthly budget when deciding on the duration of a mortgage. While an expat might get a slightly better interest rate if they agree to pay off their mortgage in less time, it will also mean they pay more each month, so both these factors should be considered carefully and the applicant should make sure they look at all the options available.


Step 2: Choose a location

Selecting which part of the city to purchase property in is one of the most important parts of buying a house.

In addition to buying a property in a location they'll love living in, most people also want to buy a property that's going to retain its value so they can make the most of their money. Expats should research and learn about recorded trends in housing prices and look at the median prices in areas they're interested in to see whether or not they can afford to look for properties in that particular location.

If unfamiliar with Australia, it may be best for expats to rent property initially until they have a better handle on which parts of the city suit their priorities best. Resale value is important, but by no means should anyone sacrifice their quality of life for a future sale.


Step 3: Find a dream home

Finding exactly the right property is the most time-consuming part of the process.

Expats should start by doing their homework while house-hunting. One of the easiest, and most accessible, places to start looking for property is online. There are websites that allow people to look at properties listed with multiple estate agents, and give them the freedom to fine-tune their search by the number of bedrooms, price, garden space, parking, and other features that might affect their decision to buy.

Once some preliminary legwork has been done, it's pretty easy to find a real estate agent in Australia; simply walk along any major street in nearly any city and one will more than likely see almost as many estate agents as cafés.


Step 4: Buy buy buy!

Whether bidding for a home at an auction or buying a property from a private seller, the formal purchasing process usually involves mediation through the estate agent managing the property.

The buyer, or their solicitor, will approach the agent with a price and they'll act as the go-between with the seller. They probably won't be starting out offering the asking price, and if they've done their homework they'll hopefully have a good idea of what the property has the potential to sell for.

Once a price has been agreed upon, the legal sale documents will be drawn up. These documents will differ from state to state, but it's a good idea for expats to have their solicitor guide them through the process before signing.

If an unconditional contract or exchange contracts are signed without having one's financing fully and formally approved it is very difficult to back out of the contract. 

If FIRB approval is required then the buyer needs to include this as a condition in the contract. Again, the solicitor will be the best person to ask about these details. If the buyer uses a specialist mortgage provider they'll often provide a solicitor experienced in these sorts of purchases as part of the agreement.

Additional aspects to consider

Expats should note that when buying property in Australia it's necessary to pay Stamp Duty on the purchase price. Expats who are first-time buyers – most often the case – may be exempt, but different rules apply in each state so they should consult their state government website.

Be sure to factor in this additional amount when making an offer.

Other fees that will be incurred over the course of the purchasing process are the lender application fee and lenders' mortgage insurance; a mortgage registration fee which goes to the government; a land transfer fee; the legal fees that the solicitor will charge; the cost of the conveyancing; and checks on the structure and pest situation.

Once the sale has gone through the buyer also needs to pay for home insurance.

Expats should also realise that the Australian property market can move fast and furiously. For this reason, even once contracts have been exchanged, until everything is finalised, the buyer could still be vulnerable to another party offering more. This is considered bad form by some but is an unfortunate reality of buying property in Australia.

Healthcare in Australia

The healthcare system in Australia is praised as one of the world's best, and it comes as no surprise that the country’s population claims one of the highest life expectancies in the world. A hybrid of both public and private service provision, Australia's healthcare system is affordable and easy to navigate.


Public healthcare in Australia

While the public healthcare system in Australia is quite efficient and is accepted internationally as a world-class operation, expats should realise that there are still occasional queues and waiting lists for non-emergency surgery. What’s more, the standards of rural facilities and urban facilities can differ, and for those living far from a metropolis, it may be necessary to travel some distance to receive the right kind of care for complicated or specialised cases.

For these reasons, and because costs for temporary residents not eligible for the Medicare system are on par with that of private facilities, most expats in Australia without permanent residency opt to use private doctors and hospitals. That said, if it does become necessary for expats with temporary residence to use the public system, there is no need to worry about the standard of care administered.

Medicare

The government-supported healthcare system is called Medicare; it is available to all Australian citizens and permanent residents and is paid for through taxes levied on individual salaries. The Medicare scheme completely covers treatment in public hospitals and also offers complete or partial coverage of the cost of doctors’ consultations.

Though the Medicare scheme doesn’t make it compulsory to visit certain doctors, expats should realise that in order to see a specialist and have the cost of the consultation and procedures covered, it’s necessary to first get a referral from a general practitioner.

Doctors either bill Medicare directly or if the patient pays then that individual is able to claim the rebate from Medicare. The rebate is then paid electronically into the claimant's account.

However, even if someone is eligible for Medicare, not all medical care will necessarily be covered. Therefore, we recommend that expats take out some form of private medical insurance.


Private healthcare in Australia

Much of the population in Australia has some form of private health cover, and both locals and expats are actively encouraged to take out such a coverage scheme by the government. 

The majority of private healthcare package options specialise in surgery, particularly non-emergency surgeries such as orthopaedic surgery. As the use of private facilities decreases the demand on public facilities, Medicare does occasionally offer certain rebates to residents who choose to use private facilities.

Expats moving to Australia to live and work on a working visa need to prove to the Australian authorities that they are adequately covered by a minimum level of private health insurance to be granted their visa.

Even if an expat is a citizen of a country with a reciprocal health agreement, they are still required to take out health insurance cover in order to qualify for the visa, as they can only enrol in Medicare from within Australia.

It's important that expats understand the level of access to Australian healthcare services that these reciprocal agreements provide. Generally, it is limited to immediate necessary care in the Australian public health system.


Pharmacies and medication in Australia

Pharmacies are easy to find in Australia, especially in the larger cities. Many pharmacies are open late or around the clock.

Expats should note the generic name of any chronic medication before arriving in Australia, as brand names may vary from country to country. 


Emergency services in Australia

The number to dial in case of an emergency is 000. The cost of ambulance rides is not usually covered by Medicare, even for permanent residents and citizens of Australia, so it is best to have some provision for this in the form of private insurance.

Education and Schools in Australia

The standard of education in Australia is world-renowned, and many expats even migrate to Australia's sunny shores specifically to become students. The national government places a strong emphasis on diversity and quality and is committed to excellence in research, teaching and student support. 

Expat parents moving with children of any age will find plenty of options for school in Australia and can choose between public or private institutions, including international schools. Each has their respective pros and cons, and factors influencing decisions tend to revolve around curriculum and cost.


School system in Australia

In Australia, the school system can broadly be divided into government (public) and non-government (private) schools.

The mandatory age for full-time school attendance can vary from state to state but is generally from age 5 or 6 to age 15 or 17. At this stage, students can then leave academic schooling on certain conditions, such as working full-time, taking up a professional apprenticeship or attending a vocational course.

The performance of both public and private schools is monitored by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). This information can be viewed on the official My School website along with other detailed data such as the school's income and expenditures, its attendance records and details about the school's population, including the percentage of English- and non-English speakers.


Government schools in Australia

Roughly two-thirds of the local population and an impressive portion of foreigners send their children to government schools in Australia.

Government schools are open and accessible to expats, but those living in Australia on a temporary residency visa will most likely need to pay the fixed tuition fee associated with their state or territory. Those living in the country on a permanent residency visa can send their children to a government school for free, though 'voluntary contributions' may still be expected as well as additional costs such as school uniforms and stationery must also be paid.

Children attend the public school that corresponds with their residential catchment zone, and it follows that expat parents looking to send their child to a stellar state school often move to that school's zone in order to guarantee placement.

Parents with expat children approaching college age will want to carefully consider the curriculum offered by their government school of choice. While some offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, most do not, and it is important that expat parents make sure that credits and certificates earned from an Australian school will be acceptable to tertiary institutions in their home country.


Non-government schools in Australia

There are plenty of non-government schools in Australia and, as is the case in most countries, it is assumed these institutions boast better infrastructure, a wider range of facilities, higher-paid teachers and an elevated standard of education.

Private schools

In Australia, the term "private school" is used to refer solely to private Catholic schools. While placing a high value on academics, these schools do teach from a religious standpoint. The extent to which religious practice and teachings are incorporated into the curriculum varies from school to school. Expat parents should speak to fellow foreign families to find an institution that aligns with their priorities.

Independent schools

Non-Catholic schools run by non-government entities are known as independent schools. This includes schools that subscribe to other religions (such as Christianity, Judaism or Islam) or educational ideologies (such as Montessori or Waldorf).


International schools in Australia

Though there aren't as many international schools in Australia as there are in other expat destinations, there is still a selection of IB schools and, in some cities, there are independent schools offering the curricula of other countries, including that of the USA, the UK, Germany, France and more.

These schools come at a cost though, and expat parents should be warned that fees for international schools can be astronomical. Furthermore, the most popular schools often have long waiting lists, and the most academically selective may require students to pass an exam prior to enrollment.

Parents who have their heart set on a particular international school may choose to enrol their child at a local school until a spot opens up.


Special needs education in Australia

Australia takes an inclusive approach to special needs students, aiming to keep them in the mainstream education system.

The government encourages mainstream schools to keep special needs students in regular classes while providing additional support to the student. However, some special needs students are placed in separate classes that are smaller so that they can receive more individualised attention. 

Though most special needs students remain in mainstream schools, there are also dedicated special schools equipped with the resources to ensure an optimal education. These are generally used by special needs students who need more support than a mainstream school can offer.


Homeschooling in Australia

Homeschooling is legal and regulated in Australia, though regulations and requirements vary across states. Parents who wish to homeschool must register with the government as home educators and are required to show proof of the child's progress. They are also subject to annual checks.

There is a large and active homeschooling community in Australia. Expats looking for advice, support or resources can get involved with local homeschooling groups or larger country-wide homeschooling organisations.


Tutoring in Australia

Tutors are growing in popularity in Australia, with about a third of families opting to employ a tutor at some stage. Tutors are frequently used to prepare for major exams or to assist with a particular subject. For expat parents, tutors may also be useful in helping children to adjust to a new curriculum, brush up on English-speaking skills or maintain fluency in their mother tongue. 

There are a number of large tutoring companies in Australia with good reputations. Some of the most prominent tutoring companies include LearnMate and The Tutoring Company.

Parents on the hunt for a good tutor should keep an eye out for tutors who are accredited by local organisations such as the Australian Tutoring Association.

Transport and Driving in Australia

Getting around in Australia can be quite difficult, especially when considering the vast distances between the main cities. 

National public transport networks are limited and journeys by train and intercity bus are not always the most efficient way to travel. Domestic flights in Australia are relatively cheap and by far the fastest way to travel between cities. There are more than 100 airports nationwide.

Although it isn’t necessary to own a car while living in Australia, having a vehicle does offer expats greater independence and freedom when it comes to travelling nationally, especially as the country is so dependent on road transport. 


Public transport in Australia

Trains

Australia’s rail network is not as well developed as the systems one finds in parts of Europe and Asia, and there is a lack of high-speed intercity rail services in the country. The historical lack of cooperation between state territories combined with the massive distances and a relatively small population to service has resulted in Australia’s rail network being slow and somewhat inefficient.

Expats will find that it is usually faster and cheaper to fly between major cities in Australia than taking trains. However, travelling by train often offers a more scenic journey. It is also a good alternative for getting to regional towns and cities that aren’t serviced regularly by flights.

Buses

The long-distance bus network in Australia is extensive and provides a way to reach some of the more isolated places. However, bus travel is only a viable option for those who have a lot of time as journeys are generally long and tedious.

While bus travel in Australia is a cheap way to get around, some long journeys will still be cheaper by plane, so it's worth checking flight options before buying a bus ticket. Most expats will opt to fly between destinations within Australia and those who don't tend to prefer trains over buses as they are more comfortable.


Domestic flights in Australia

As a result of the large distances between the major destinations in Australia, flying is the most popular travel option in the country.

Research and booking in advance are the keys to finding the cheapest airfares. Even the larger airlines have great online deals and cheap fares can almost always be found on the busier routes.


Driving in Australia

Most expats living in Australia find it useful to have a car as this gives them the freedom to explore the country at their own pace. Australia's low population density and large size make for long journeys between cities, though.

Australia has a well-maintained system of roads and highways and signage is generally very clear. The highways between state capitals are excellent and driving on these roads is a pleasure. However, expats travelling to rural parts of Australia will find that they may need to drive on poorly maintained dirt roads. Some states also have toll roads.

As licensing regulations and road rules vary from state to state in Australia, expats are advised to familiarise themselves with the rules within each particular territory before relocating. In most cases, expats moving to Australia will be able to drive using a licence from their home country for the first three months before switching to a local licence. 

Shipping and Removals in Australia

Many reputable companies offer shipping and removal services to and from Australia, and expats relocating to the country can generally import their household effects duty-free provided they’ve owned them for 12 months. Furthermore, many of the nation’s major cities are positioned on the coast, and most have ports that are efficient, well-managed and very familiar with receiving or sending container shipments. 

That said, the rule of thumb for shipping to a country as far removed as Australia is to avoid it unless it is absolutely necessary.


Shipping furniture to Australia

Although unfurnished accommodation is more popular in Australia, it’s still possible to find furnished accommodation; and expats will find countless shopping opportunities to stock up on household goods and favoured home furnishings. 

Expats who do decide to ship their goods to Australia will have to go through a number of procedures to do so.

If expats' packed goods will be arriving in Australia separately from themselves (as is commonly the case when goods are carried by cargo ships), the goods are considered Unaccompanied Personal Effects (UPEs).


Shipping cars to Australia

If planning on bringing a motor vehicle into Australia, expats will need to obtain a Vehicle Import Approval (VIA) and pay customs duty, although those staying in the country for less than 12 months may be exempt from these requirements.


Cost of shipping to Australia

Shipping, both by sea or by air, can be incredibly expensive. In many cases though, it’s possible to have the employer foot the bill for bringing goods across, or to at least set aside some sort of allowance for shipping personal items.

Shipments made by sea are generally less expensive than those by air, but those sent by air will obviously arrive much sooner than those sent by sea. It’s recommended that expats use a combination of both, shipping essential goods by air and other posessions by sea.

Costs are dependent on the volume of goods shipped or their weight, and the distance the cargo must travel. It’s a good idea to solicit at least three quotes from various service providers to get a good idea of the going rates before deciding which to use.

Expats should be aware that shippers often tack on additional expenses for certain packing materials, handling and hoisting of excessively large items and certain processing requirements.

Furthermore, it’s a good idea to buy insurance from a company other than the shipping company used, to ensure reliable coverage on broken cargo.

Expats may also be asked to prove ownership of certain items by presenting receipts or insurance papers. For new-looking electronic goods especially, it’s best to have these on hand.


Shipping pets to Australia

Shipping pets to Australia can be a complex process and requires careful planning and documentation. Pets must be microchipped and have certain vaccinations. Only certain types of pets – namely cats, dogs and horses – from selected countries are eligible to be brought into Australia, while rabbits and birds can only be brought into the country if they are from New Zealand. Pets from some countries may be quarantined. Dog owners should note that some dog breeds, such as pit bull terriers, are considered dangerous and cannot be brought into Australia at all.

Frequently Asked Questions about Australia

Moving to a new country is always a daunting experience, and expats often have all sorts of queries and concerns regarding life in their soon-to-be home. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about moving to Australia.

What is the weather like in Australia?

In such a vast geographical area there are significant fluctuations in temperatures between one part of the country and the next. Generally speaking though, the northern parts of the country are warm to hot most of the year. The coastal areas around Sydney experience mild winters and are warm to hot in the summer months.

How safe in Australia?

The general level of safety in Australia is high and expats who exercise the general precautions they would in any other developed country should be fine. The usual security measures are recommended for homes such as good locks and alarms, and alarms are recommended for cars. Poorer areas of cities are usually the areas with the highest crime rates.

Where do I get an Australian driving licence?

Australian driving licences are administered at a state/territory level with varying regulations for each. Expats will normally need to get a state licence within three months of taking up residence in the state and can use their foreign licence in the interim. Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road.

What is the standard of healthcare in Australia?

The standard of healthcare in Australia is excellent. The healthcare system is a hybrid of both public and private service provision. Expats from certain countries are entitled to subsidised public healthcare as their countries have engaged in reciprocal healthcare agreements with Australia.

Which city in Australia is best for expats?

Sydney, Melbourne and Perth all have large expat communities and come recommended but Australia has a wide range of options. Where expats choose to settle down in Australia will depend on their field of work and personal priorities, but the country has something to suit everyone.

Articles about Australia

Banking, Money and Taxes in Australia

Australia is a major regional financial hub with a sophisticated banking system, and expats will find there is plenty of professional support available when it comes to educating oneself about and understanding different aspects of financial management in the country.  


Money in Australia

The Australian Dollar (AUD or $A) is the official currency in Australia and is divided into 100 cents. Within Australia, expats will see currency simply abbreviated as $, though this isn’t to be confused with the USD.

  • Notes: 5 AUD, 10 AUD, 20 AUD, 50 AUD and 100 AUD

  • Coins: 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents; 1 AUD and 2 AUD 

Both cash and credit/debit cards are readily accepted in most places in Australia.  ATMs are easily found all around the country.


Banking in Australia

Expats who want to open a bank account in Australia should investigate all available options, particularly as interest rates can vary between one bank and another. Australia’s major banks are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank.

As banks are always keen to attract new customers, most have a wide range of services and are keen to provide assistance to expats. Opening a bank account in Australia is a fairly straightforward process as long as expats ensure they bring along all the required documentation.


Taxes in Australia

Moving to Australia temporarily for work or to live there permanently means that at some point expats will encounter the Australian Tax Office. Expats will be classified as either a resident or non-resident for tax purposes.

Australia uses a progressive tax system and the amount of tax paid depends on how much an individual earns. Aside from income tax, expats may also be required to pay the Medicare levy.

As tax can be a complex issue, it is recommended that expats consult a tax advisor, preferably one that has experience working with foreigners paying tax in Australia.

Expat Experiences in Australia

When considering a move to a new city, there is nothing more useful than hearing real life stories and experiences from other expats who have lived there. We'd love to hear about your expat experiences. Please contact us if you live or have lived in Australia and would like to share your story.


Marvin Coleman is a Scottish expat living in Melbourne with his wife, Robin, and their two sons. Together, Marvin and Robin run a mortgage brokering business which specialises in helping expats to secure mortgages and buy Australian property. Read more in his interview about his expat experience in Melbourne.

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Six years ago, Lara Davis left Cape Town, South Africa, for another vibrant coastal city in Australia. She has proceeded to fully immerse herself in the sunshine and hustle of one of Australia's most beautiful places. Lara talks to Expat Arrivals about working, studying and navigating expat life in Gold Coast, Australia. Read more about her expat experience of the Gold Coast.

Karen Bleakley moved to Brisbane from the UK in 2014 with her husband, four-year-old twin boys and her two-year-old daughter. She is a travel writer and helps expats navigate their new lives in Australia through her blog. She and her family love their outdoor lifestyle in Australia and can often be found at the local surf club, in the pool, or having fun at one of the many local parks. Read more about her expat experience of Brisbane.

Karen Bleakley

After moving to Australia in 2012 for a working holiday, American Katie Dundas fell in love with life down under and years later, she still calls Sydney her home. Read more about her expat experience of Sydney.

Libby Daniels was born to British parents in Melbourne, but lived and grew up in the UK. In 2012, she moved to Sydney. To learn more about Libby and her perspective on living down under, check out her expat experience of Sydney.

Rajiv Bedse, originally from India, moved to Melbourne in 1997 with his family to provide better opportunities for his children. After a number of years in the corporate sector, Rajiv has capitalised on his experiences of expat life to set up his own life coaching business which is aimed at helping expats further their careers in a new country. Learn more about Rajiv by reading his expat experience of Melbourne.

Mike Hawryluk is a Canadian expat living in Perth. He moved to the city with his wife and two kids to take up a job in the oil and gas industry. He provides a detailed account of some of the pros and cons of expat life in Perth. Learn more about family life in Perth by reading Mike's expat experience of Australia.  

Ed Gillian is a young Pakistani expat who moved to Brisbane in 2002 to pursue a career in Medicine. Other than Australia's high cost of living, Ed loves his host city and the Australian lifestyle. Learn more about Ed and his expat experience of Australia.

Christie Wilkin moved to Melbourne in 2010 with her husband and four young kids. She provides an excellent insight into the challenges faced by a trailing spouse and the children who follow an expat overseas. Learn more about expat life in down under in Christie's iexpat experience of Australia

Cosette Palenque moved to Melbourne in 2012 for love. In her interview with Expat Arrivals, she tells us more about the trials and tribulations of settling down in a new country far from home. Learn more about obtaining a visa, making new friends and adjusting to a new culture in Cosette's interview about her expat experience of Australia.

Tara Foster moved to Sydney in 2005 after a chance encounter on a flight which resulted in her being made a job offer in Australia. Today, eight years on Tara is enjoying her expat experience in Sydney. Read more about the pros and cons of expat life down under in Tara's expat experience of Australia.

Nene Davies is a writer who traded her home in Wales for the capital of Australia's 'Sunshine State', Brisbane in 2002. In her interview with Expat Arrival's Nene gives you her take on expat life in Brisbane and her love of the Australian 'can-do' attitude. Read more about her expat experience of Australia.


Kathryn Brewer is an Australian expat, who after living in China for four years, has decided to return to Australia. Here she shares her experiences of moving back to Australia and offers an interesting comparison between the Chinese cities of Beijing and Shanghai and her new home, Adelaide. Read more about her repatriation to Australia.

Kathryn Brewer - An Australian expat

Francesca is a British expat living in Australia. She moved to Sydney when her husband was transferred there by his company. Although she misses her family and friends and London fish and chips, Francesca is enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of Sydney and the quality of life that it offers. Read more about her expat experience in Australia.

Francesca - A British expat living in Australia

Jo Toumazou is a young British expat, originally from London, who moved to Australia five months ago on a working holiday visa. While she misses her family, friends and a decent cup of English tea, she has adjusted well to her new life in Sydney. She loves Australia's great weather and the range of exciting activities that Sydney has to offer. Read her interview with Expat Arrivals on her expat experience in Sydney.

Henno Kotzé is a 27-year old South African who moved from the winelands and grey-blue mountains of the Western Cape, South Africa to the frenetic buzz of Saigon, Vietnam. He now finds himself under the endless blue skies and red dust of Australia. Read all about his expat experience in Vietnam and Australia.

Danielle Duffey is an American expat living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, her five and three year old sons, and two cats. Her husband inspired the move after being posted to Australia for a two-year work contract. Read her interview with Expat Arrivals about her experiences of living in Australia.

Lara Green is a mother, blogger, writer and English expat making a new life with her family in Perth. She is enjoying the sunshine and laid-back rhythms of the west coast while facing up to the challenges of relocating to a new country. Read about her insightful take on life as an English expat in Australia.

Aubree Keys moved to Melbourne from Denver Colorado with her husband. She was a teacher back home but is so far concentrating on the expat experience and soaking up life in Australia. She keeps a busy blog on her progress and is looking forward to uncovering the strange land of Oz for her readership. Read about her take on expat life in Melbourne.

Tonia Warren has lived in Australia for nearly a decade after moving from the US as a 20-year-old. She loves the lifestyle, safety and friendly Melbournians. Get her impressions of expat life in Australia in her interview with the Expat Arrivals team.

Marcus Forster left life in the States to return to his rural roots in Victoria, Australia with wife and toddler in tow. Though repatriation after over a decade abroad can be difficult, past connections and Oz’s strong state amenities (healthcare and schools) has put a positive spin on his homecoming. Read what he has to say about life as an expat in rural Australia

Marcus and Ashley Forster - an expat and a repat living in Australia