expat preparing to return home

Tips for Australian Expats Preparing to Live Abroad

Some Quick Tips for Aussies Ready to Explore the World

Australia is undoubtedly a great country to live and, many would argue, the best in the world. For some of us, however, the time comes when we are ready to step outside of our comfort zone and experience the life and culture of another country. I get it! I’ve been an expatriate now for eleven years and have never looked back.

Here I’m going to share some of my tips for a successful transition to expat life.

Research, Research, Research

Yes, the better you are prepared before you leave Australia, the easier the passage to expat life will be for you. Ask yourself these questions: Where do I want to go? Will I need to find work or can I work online? Do I have enough finances for the first couple of months in the event that I can’t find employment? Do I want to retire overseas? Is the English language a must, or am I prepared to learn a new language?

When you have a reasonable idea of where you want to go, that’s when you should research that country’s government website to learn the requirements for gaining residence there. Every country has different requirements and different visa schemes.

Can I get a Second Passport?

With Australia being so multi-cultural, most of us have family ties to other countries. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a British passport which, before Brexit, made it simple to get residency in any European Union country. Check your family tree as your grandparents can entitle you to a passport from their country. A second passport is a wonderful asset, and if you can, you should definitely organize that before you leave Australia.

Choosing Your Destination

Digital Nomads

Are you a digital nomad? If your source of income is location independent but dependent on technology and the internet, then these are huge considerations. Working online is a lonely business so ideally you want to be near other digital nomads for company and inspiration. Bali and Chang Mai in Thailand offer a breezy, low-cost lifestyle coupled with excellent WiFi services. Other suggestions can be seen here.


Are you planning to retire overseas? Possibly looking for a cheaper lifestyle than Australia? Popular countries for an excellent lifestyle at a fraction of the cost of living in Australia are Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Ecuador, Croatia and, of course, Bali, Thailand, Philippines. Read more here.

You’ve Accepted a Company Transfer

In this case, most of the hard work has been done for you. Usually, accommodation and all other assistance is provided. Your only issue may be a language barrier.

Hoping to Find Work

This is more of a challenge as your options are very limited. Consider most low-cost countries have huge unemployment problems and jobs for foreigners are rare. Moving to an English speaking country will offer you more opportunities. Another possibility is Teaching English as a Foreign Language, which is the route that I took. Get your TEFL certificate, and you shouldn’t have a problem finding teaching work but don’t expect a high income.

Can I Afford Life in my Chosen Destination

To get a reasonably realistic idea of living costs in your chosen country, I highly recommend Numbeo. This site lets you compare prices with where you are presently living. It lists prices for everything from a litre of milk to renting a flat in the city centre. A very valuable tool that I use even just for holidays.

expat interview Kristin

What Needs Organizing Before You Leave

This is where list writing is one of my most valuable tools. There are many things to consider if you are going to leave Australia indefinitely.


How do you intend to access your funds? What are the best card options for you? What are the fees involved and how can you avoid them? There are cheaper options for transferring money overseas, so it’s important to shop around. Transferwise, OFX and Worldfirst are just a few.

Student Loans

Changes to the system in July 2017 mean that you must now notify the ATO within 7 days of moving overseas with your new contact details. You will also be required to submit annual declarations of your worldwide income and possibly make repayments on your loan.

Driving License

Do you intend to drive overseas? If the answer is ‘yes’ then you will need to obtain an International Driver’s License. You can contact the Australian Automobile Association to obtain this. Usually, after 6 months of living in your adopted country, you will be required to either swap your license or in some cases you may be required to take that country’s driving test.


You’ll need to notify Medicare that you are moving overseas. You will continue to be covered for the next 5 years, but if you remain overseas longer than that, you’ll need to reapply.

Health Insurance

Your Australian Private health insurance will not cover you overseas, so halt contributions and look at your options for a plan that will cover you overseas. An excellent option for those planning to move abroad is Global Health Insurance for Expats. A high-quality global health plan is definitely critical if you are an Australian expatriate planning to move abroad. Most plans in the market will cover you both abroad and also when you are back home in Australia.

Sometimes, if you are working for a company overseas, you may be provided with health cover but otherwise, it’s up to you to organize this, and we all know that accidents happen, and it’s important to be covered.


The decision to move overseas is a major one, and I hope that this article has given you some food for thought and ideas to make your transition to expat life as smooth as possible. Soon COVID-19 will subside or be gone – when it does or before – you can join your other Australian expatriates living abroad.

By: Corina Carthew

Author: ExpatInfoDesk