I was in Darwin in the north of Australia the other week, it’s a beautiful place this time of year, warm tropical and a great escape from the cold southern states. I noticed that it wasn’t just Australian’s enjoying the warm location though, just about every other person I met working in the hospitality industry seemed to be from the UK. That got me thinking a little about the effort involved in picking up and moving to Australia, even if it were only for a short time.
Did you know that over 15% of Australia’s migration intake is from the UK? That is around 124,000 people in the last 5 years!
I figured that it might be worth sharing a few helpful tips with anyone looking to make the big move to Australia, so here are my 5 tips for Brits that are giving it some thought:
It’s likely that you will want to open an Australian bank account if you move over here, but it isn’t a bad idea to keep some money sitting in a UK account to hedge your bets when converting from British pounds to Australian dollars, particularly as the dollar has been quite strong of late. You might like to investigate some of the finer points of international banking to save charges, but my personal preference would be to watch exchange rates closely for a while and only move when you feel you are going to get a good deal. A lot of money is won and lost trading currency and if you have substantial savings, then the differences can be considerable.
Rent or buy
I know that the UK has had a price slump in recent years and much of Australia has gone the other way, but there is still plenty of (relatively) affordable housing available in Australia. This is highly dependant on where you intend to locate yourself, as with everything demand is driven by supply and given that over 25% of migrants head for New South Wales (primarily Sydney), the cost of housing is generally higher there. In some cases however, purchasing a property does not really cost much more than renting. This might seem like a bit of a drastic step for someone newly arriving in the country, but don’t rule out the possibility of buying rather than renting if you intend to base yourself somewhere permanently.
Unfortunately most of Australia is not know for it’s transport. Air travel is quite costly and only a few major cities, like Sydney and Brisbane, have well developed public transport (thanks to the Olympics and Commonwealth games), but it doesn’t extend far past the urban areas. This will be a bit of a culture shock for anyone from the UK, or just about anywhere else in the world really, but the upside is you get to drive a car and work to your own schedule. Most people find having at least one car is a necessity and many Australian families have two. Cars can be expensive to buy depending on what you are after, but there are some useful buying sites like the Trading post and Gumtree that help to cut out the middle man.
Australia has a serious lack of competition in the consumer sector due to our small population and Brits will notice the cost of phone calls, internet services and other service based items are a little on the rich side. The Australian government is rolling out a national broadband internet service which should help to improve things, but internet access is still sparse in many places. My top tip is to get a phone and internet plan through a supplier as a bundle, you usually get a better deal when you package everything together and it tends to make life easier as well.
Embrace the differences
When I talk to visitors most of them say that Australia is a pretty easy going country, with friendly and laid back people, I guess that is part of the reason why people choose to move here. Enjoy the differences for what they are and don’t be afraid to ask questions of just about anyone you see, most people are happy to help out.
Do you have a good tip to share?