If you’re about to migrate to Australia and want to know what to expect, here’s a blog post written by a fellow expat called Charlotte.
Charlotte moved over to Sydney from England with her husband and daughter in October 2017. When they moved over, they had just a job offer and a couple of suitcases with them. They had to find somewhere to live and furniture to buy when they came to Australia.
Find out how much Charlotte’s family of three spent the move to migrate to Australia from England in this post.
Why Charlotte’s family decided to move to Australia
We always discussed the idea of living abroad, even if it was just for a few years. Although if I’m honest I never knew if it would ever be a reality of actually migrating to Australia. The thought of moving all our stuff, leaving family etc felt so overwhelming. It was only after visiting my sister who has been living in Sydney that we started to realise it could be a reality!
Like most people visiting Australia, we instantly fell in love with the blue skies, the beautiful beaches, the outside lifestyle and the slower pace of life. We also met so many expats whilst we were here, which made moving half way across the world not seem like such a crazy idea. If they could do it, why couldn’t we?
We have been in Sydney just coming up to 21 months and I am so glad we did it and it made us so much closer as a family. I’d be lying if I said it had all been smooth sailing, of course there has been ups and downs and moments where I miss the comforts and people back at home.
Taking my little girl to the beach after school or meeting her dad after work and heading to the beach where we all jump in the sea and make sandcastles is a lifestyle that just wouldn’t be possible in the UK.
For anyone wondering how we actually managed to migrate to Australia, I share all the details in this post.
What visa do I need to live in Australia?
Understanding the visa process for moving to Australia can be a bit of a nightmare so make sure you check out this post which explains everything you need to know about what visa you need to apply for to move to Australia.
How we got a visa to move to Australia
We managed to migrate to Australia on a 4 year visa which is called the 457 visa. My husband found a recruitment job whilst we were still in UK (through a UK recruitment firm) so they luckily sorted out our visas for us. This visa has now actually changed and is called the 482 visa which you can read more about here.
I was also able to get a hairstylist job at my sister’s salon in Sydney so we were very lucky to be able to move over with jobs already lined up.
All in all, I think the visas would have cost us around £3,000 but luckily my husband’s new company paid for this.
Chat to recruiters based in Australia
I would recommend chatting to a couple of recruiters who specialise in the industry you work in so you can migrate to Australia. Take a look on Australia’s main job site called Seek and you should be able to find a recruiter to chat to.
Most recruiters will be happy to face time and they will be able to give you a good idea of what the market is like for your profession, what visa you would need, how easy it would be to get a job and salary expectations etc.
How much does it cost to move over to Australia?
It’s important to calculate the financial implications of physically moving abroad, its likely you will need a lump sum to take over with you to help you get started. I’ve listed a few things for you to consider when calculating your costs like rent, shipping, child care below.
Will I earn more money in Australia?
Firstly, don’t assume you will automatically earn more in Sydney. This seems to be what most people believe, don’t get me wrong in lots of situations this is true BUT not in all, it certainly wasn’t in ours.
Secondly you need to realistically calculate the cost of living in Sydney. Coming from the suburbs of London and then looking to move into one of the most expensive areas of Sydney, we were shocked how much rent was. This was coupled with how expensive fresh produce is in Sydney (our food shop has almost doubled since moving), it was important we were clear on what our outgoings were going to be.
Therefore, I would recommend calculating a list of your outgoings vs what your expected income would be to give you a good idea of how you would fare in Australia. I know that’s completely impossible to do when you’re not living in Australia so try and come over for a visit to get an idea of costs before you make the move over.
For example, a weekly shop in UK cost us around £60 a week but in Australia it costs us around $220 (£118). Although Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia, the average rent price for a 1 bed is around $500+ a week plus bills ($270+).
How much will rent cost us in Australia?
Being your biggest expenditure, rent is a good place to start. I would recommend looking at Domain to get a feel of rental prices in and around the city you want to live in to give you a rough estimate.
We started narrowing it down by writing a list of criteria, our main criteria being that we didn’t want our work commute to be over an hour and we wanted to be as close to the beach as we could afford to be. Based on this we looked at areas under an hour commute from Sydney and close to the beach.
We then filtered this down to what we could afford to pay on rent based on salary expectations (which we got from speaking to the recruitment consultant) and food and bills etc. This was a great way to filter it down to 2 or 3 areas and get realistic rental costs.
It’s also good to note that most rental properties in Sydney are unfurnished. So, you will need to calculate the cost of shipping your stuff or just buying new when you arrive.
You’ll also need 4 weeks rent to cover the Bond (deposit), plus an extra 1 month’s rent to pay in advance. We were lucky because we could stay with my sister when we first arrived before we found something more permanent.
How much do bills cost?
If you’re renting you won’t need to pay council tax or water rates – this will all be covered by your landlord. Therefore, your main bills are electric & internet etc. In terms of estimating bills, you’re unlikely to have a gas bill so that’s one saving and we found our electric bill to be a slightly higher than what we were paying at home.
How much are flights to Australia?
Obviously flights vary in cost and thankfully they seem cheaper than ever now. We bought one way tickets which cost us approximately £500 each. If you’re looking for decent flight deals, check for cheap flights here.
Should I buy a car or ship my car over to Australia?
Don’t ship your car over to Australia, it would cost way too much to do so. Cars tend to be a bit more expensive in Australia as they have to be imported. The best thing is petrol is much cheaper than in England at nearly half the price.
Do I need private health care in Australia?
This can vary but we had to get private health insurance as a caveat of our visa, so we pay around $250 a month.
If you’re coming to Australia for a year, get the best insurance here.
Is it better to ship your furniture over to Australia or buy new?
We decided to buy everything new in Australia as we were able to store our stuff at our house back in the UK, so we didn’t have any storage or shipping costs.
When you first move you feel like you’re haemorrhaging money as you have to buy EVERYTHING from scratch from; beds, TVs and sofas to cutlery, towels and toiletries.
Therefore to keep costs down we were really strict and bought everything from Ikea, Kmart, target and charity shops. If I had to give a number id say we spent approximately £3,000 on furnishing our apartment.
School fees & child care costs in Australia
A point that caught us off guard was that in certain states any person on a temporary visa has to pay school fees in Australia, even to a state school. This varies across state so be sure to calculate that into your costs if it applies.
I would recommend looking into private schools both religious and non-religious as these can sometimes be the same price or even cheaper than sending your child to state schools.
We pay around $5,000 a year to send our child to primary school now. You can find our more information about school fees in Australia right here.
You’ll also need to factor in child care costs for younger kids too unlike UK which offers up 15-30 free hours a week.
At this point we had an idea of our expected incomes and what our outgoings would be, I’m not going to lie it was pretty tight. We had to remember that for us this move wasn’t about financial gain it was about achieving a more outdoor lifestyle and experiencing new things as a family.
The Emotional Stuff
Probably the hardest part of doing the whole migrate to Australia thing is the decision to leave family and friends. I’m really close to my family so it was hard for me to comprehend leaving them and I was lucky that I would be joining a sister in Sydney so it’s not like we wouldn’t have anyone. But it was still a pretty brutal point in the decision-making process.
For me the guilt of moving my daughter away from her much-loved nanny and grandads, cousins and aunties and uncles was the toughest part of the whole moving to Australia scenario. Even now we’ve been here for 21 months, I can’t honestly tell you whether the trade-off of those priceless relationships is worth the trade-off for a life growing up on the beach…
At this point in our decision making, it felt like we just kept going around in circles, but my friend made a great point, when she said “If you go, you can always come home. If you don’t go, you’ll always wonder what if…”. That right there, that was the tipping point that made us make the decision to move.
At the end of the day you need to make the decision that is right for you and your family. I know how overwhelming it can feel so hopefully this will help you get the ball rolling when you migrate to Australia.
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