Moving to Australia: Key factors to consider
Written by F&N Worldwide on 16 March 2016
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Moving to Australia has been the dream for many expats for many years and it shows no signs of losing its title anytime soon. In fact, Australia recently came top in the OECD Better Life Initiative study into wellbeing, proving it’s earned its status as one of the top countries to relocate to.
It may be the incredible climate that has many booking a one-way ticket to Australia, but it has so much more to offer than just sunshine. Which is why this guide should answer all you need to know about moving to Australia, from visas to finding a home and beyond.
Why move to Australia?
If you’ve decided to up sticks and move to Australia, it’s likely that you’ll have already made your mind up about where you’re going and if Australia topping the wellbeing poll doesn’t tempt you there, then here’s just why you should consider a life down under.
Australia has a bustling expat community, so there’s no need to feel alone when you relocate, as the multi-cultural society is extremely welcoming.
Aside from the weather and BBQs (almost) all year round, then the laidback culture is also a tempting thought for many. With an outdoorsy lifestyle ready and waiting, there are over 500 national parks ready to be explored, and as the country is so vast you’ll have plenty of places to tick of your bucket list. Plus, with one of the lowest population densities in the world you’ll have plenty of space to yourself.
It’s not all sunshine as Australia does experience snow too so you can also partake in skiing in both New South Wales and Victoria during the winter months. Remember that seasons in Australia run differently to the UK, so summer in Australia is winter in the UK.
Moving to Australia: Visas
The Australian visa system is known for being fairly strict so it’s essential you familarise yourself with the system and any documents you may require during your move. There are four main types of visa; visitor, student, temporary residence and migration.
The best option is to visit the Australian Government website to research which visa option is for you and your circumstances. If you have an in demand skill, then SkillSelect helps to address shortages within the country and ensure migration in Australia remains relatively controlled. Having said that, if you are moving to Australia to better your lifestyle and in turn have a valuable skill to offer the country then you should have no problems obtaining a visa.
Moving to Australia: Where to live
Where you choose to live in Australia will of course depend upon your reasons for moving, and your circumstances. You may wish to live close to the sea, in the city or the outback. Access to good schools, transport links and employment prospects may also affect your decision too.
You may choose to rent a home in your chosen area at first, before committing to purchase a house as it allows you to scope the area out and experiencing living there before putting your money where your mouth is so to speak.
Housing in Australia is of extremely high quality, with many properties also coming with swimming pools so you can cool off in the hot Australian summers. As many choose to reside on the popular East Coast, property prices can be fairly higher than average here than they are inland.
The Foreign Investment Review Board has lots of advice for expats on investing in property and can help to ensure you don’t need any extra permissions to purchase property.
Employment in Australia
Working conditions in Australia are some of the best in the world, making it a fantastic place to get a job. Salaries are also considerably higher than the rest of the world, but it’s worth remembering that the cost of living is also higher.
The unemployment rate is extremely low, with many enjoying successful and fulfilling careers, so providing you have good qualifications and speak fluent English you should have no trouble finding a job. Working hours are around 36 per week, with 4 weeks annual leave per year. So you’ll have enough time to enjoy the Australian lifestyle too.
You’ll still need to pay tax in Australia, and you’ll need to acquire a Tax File Number which you’ll need to apply for. This contributes to the running of Medicare, as well as schools and other public services.
Australia has a mix of both private and state healthcare systems, which work together to provide cover for residents. Medicare is the government run healthcare system and provides free or partly subsidised treatment, it can also be used in conjunction with private treatment giving you greater flexibility as to the treatment you receive and cost.
All taxpayers contribute to Medicare, and the amount you pay is determined by the amount you earn. The majority of standard GP services are covered by the system, although many residents take on private policies to cover any shortfalls which may occur.
To enroll on the Medicare system, you can either apply online or apply in person at a Social Security office. This should be a top priority as soon as you arrive in Australia to ensure you are covered as soon as possible.
Australia really is a great place to live, and a move you certainly won’t regret in a hurry.