Moving is always a pretty stressful time. And there is nothing more daunting than moving overseas.
Yes I have lived here before, yes my work is incredibly supportive and yes, my partner is Australian. It should be easy right? right?
At a time when you are feeling extremely vulnerable (pulled away from a family that support and adore you) into a city where you have to re-establish yourself entirely- it is very easy to feel overwhelmed by all the things that you need to do to be recognised as a real-life person!
Thankfully I have had some beach time this week (or ‘Bench’ to Non-Thoughtworks consultants), else I really don’t know when I would have had the time to get myself set up.
Basic things to get sorted when you arrive:
A Place to live
Domain.com have a great iphone app that allows you to refine your search and then scan through the results on the move. I got a little bit addicted!
Else sign up with a few agents and get them to call you with the latest properties as the ones advertised online are often gone by the time you call up!
Bear in mind that the real estate world is a little different here to the UK. There are set inspection times, which are essentially a big open house free-for-all where anyone who is interested in viewing the property can rock up. Unless the property is empty its unlikely that you will get an individual appointment to view it, which is very annoying! The open inspections are usually on a Saturday and one weekday.
Make sure that you are prepared to apply by having ready:
– A letter from your employer to state that you work with them and your salary
– A written reference from your previous landlord(s) if feasible. (ours kindly emailed a paragraph for us to use& it was awesome)
– A print out of your tenant ledger (rent payments) or a bank statement showing the payments being made regularly and on-time
– A photocopy of your passport (and visa)
– A photo copy of your drivers licence as additional identification
– Having money available to pay a bond (refundable) and the first months rent.
A Bank Account
You need some identification, the usual options- Drivers licence, Passport, Medicare Card. You also need some proof of Residential address- so your lease will come in handy here. If you haven’t found a place to live yet, you can ask your employer for a letter to explain your situation.
Im set up with WestPac who are pretty good- but shop around and see which rates/accounts suit you best. Most seem to have annual fees so be aware of that before you sign up. Other options include: Commonwealth Bank of Australia; ANZ Bank and National Australia Bank
A Drivers Licence
You can use your current overseas licence for 3 months after arriving in Oz, but I found it useful to get an Aussie licence immediately as a means of identification.
If you have a drivers licence from the UK, you can use it to get your australian drivers licence without having to re-take any tests. Hurrah! Im not sure about the rules for countries that drive on the other side of the Road, so best to check as you might need to re-take. Also, your licence needs to be in English, or have an official translation!
You need to go to an RTA (Road Traffic Authority) which have offices all over.
You need to have one document from each of the 2 lists provided:
You can choose to buy a year licence ($52), a 3-year licence ($122), or a 5-year licence ($162). I used my passport and an australian bank card and had a 5 year licence within an hour! Success! 🙂
To get a phone contract you need a certain number of ‘points’ from both a Primary and Secondary Identification type
For Primary id:
You can use your passport, but if its not Australian, you don’t get as many points (30point out of a required 100). I found it easier to go and sort out my Australian Driving licence first, and that gave me 60 of the 100 points instead!
For Secondary id:
If you set up an Aussie bank/ Credit card account you can also show the debit/ credit card as an additional 40 points and you are there! YAY!
Additional Options include Utility bills (25 points), Medicare card (40 points), Birth certificate (40 points) or Private Health Insurance Card (25 points).
**Top Tip**: If you are using your passport and valid visa as identification- be aware that your visa end date will constrain the length of contract you can have. So as my Visa runs out next year- I wouldn’t have been able to get a 24month contract. Using a Drivers Licence helped avoid this issue for me. 🙂
Provider-wise, I’ve gone with Telstra as they have a reputation for fast data- but again shop around and see which caps suit you. Virgin apparently are one of the only providers that include your international calls in the monthly cap value- but I’ve heard mixed reviews on service/ network availability.
The easier alternative is to go for a pre-paid sim card (pay as u go). You still need to provide identification to get one set up.
The final piece of the initial puzzle. There are many more things that you will sort out/ acquire along your merry way, but at least you are almost ready to get cracking. You will need your passport and your visa for this.
Medicare is the Aussie equivalent of the NHS. Well, sort of. You get charged to go to the Drs here (unless you have some special circumstances).
The medicare card allows you to claim back some portion of that you paid out. Sometimes Drs offer Bulk Billing where your doctor bills medicare directly, accepting the Medicare benefits as full payment for a service. Otherwise, you can pay the amount and then lodge for a return.
More information can be found here:
So now you are set to relax, enjoy the beaches, the bars and the coffee without that nagging feeling that you ought to be organising something! 😉 Welcome to Sydney!