Expat guide for moving in Melbourne.
While it is not compulsory to insure your home and contents in Australia, it is highly recommended. Melbourne is geographically stable, so not prone to earthquakes, but does experience extreme weather conditions occasionally, such as hailstorms, high winds, and flooding. In recent years the risk of bush fires, even in the suburbs close to the city, have become a very real danger in the hot summer months.
Although Melbourne is a relatively safe city, the human element (opportunistic theft and organised break-ins) are common enough to make home and contents (or renters) insurance a good idea.
Competition among insurers is fierce, so if you are comfortable negotiating, feel free to do so. Customer Service Representatives have substantial margins to work within, and when presented with the risk of losing a sale to a competitor, they are usually willing to discount coverage to get your business.
The following providers are the most popular in the insurance industry:
- Allianz: http://www.allianz.com.au/allianz/home+insurance.html
- GIO: http://www.gio.com.au/
- AAMI: http://www.aami.com.au/
- APIA*: http://www.apia.com.au/
- ING: http://www.ing.com.au/
- 1 Cover: http://www.1cover.com.au/
*APIA is ONLY for seniors (over 55)
It may also be helpful to use the following site to compare insurance providers:
Unless utilities are included in your rent, you will need to organise your own connections. Although most providers offer an online form to order a connection for your residence, their use is notoriously inefficient and frustrating. It is highly recommended that you contact the provider directly by phone and request connection. You will need to provide your name, date of birth and passport number, as well as the address of the property.
Gas and Electricity
In the state of Victoria the gas and electricity industries are unregulated, allowing you to select your provider. While this competition can reduce costs, it’s common for only several companies to service your suburb and street address. Most energy companies in the Melbourne area offer gas and electricity packages that allow you to receive both services on the same bill.
Gas and electrical connections are rarely disconnected from Melbourne properties. Given the quick rate at which properties turn over, it is usually more cost effective for suppliers to leave gas and electricity connected to a vacant home than to send a technician to cut it off. When you move in to your new home or apartment, you will generally have immediate access to hot water, lighting, and cooking.
Although the gas and electricity are likely to already be connected*, it is still your responsibility as a tenant to contact a supplier (from the list below) and register as a new customer. If you fail to contact the supplier and provide your personal details, they will generally contact you within the first month, and allow you 48 hours to register before discontinuing service.
Creating a new account will generally incur a one time connection / set-up fee of between $70-$100, and you can expect to pay about $250 per month (combined gas and electricity) for a family of four. These utilities are billed in three month cycles, and discounts are usually available if signing a contract for 24 months (or more) of service.
*In the rare instance that a property is not currently connected (this should be obvious from inspection, and if not the real estate agent should be able to tell you this), you will have to select a provider and schedule connection. Be sure to allow several days to guarantee the utility provider sufficient time to connect the services prior to your move.
Melbourne Area Energy Providers:
- True Energy: http://www.truenergy.com.au
- Origin Energy: http://www.origin.com.au
- Energex: http://www.energex.com.au
Water in Melbourne can be provided by a handful of companies (that are heavily regulated by the government), but you do not have a choice of provider. The water provider you use will be dictated by the area you live in. Water rates vary by suburb, but all billing for all providers are conducted on a quarterly basis.
As with gas and electricity, you will be obliged to sign up with the water provider who services your area. This information should be provided to you by your real estate agent or property owner, but in the rare case that it is not, contact your local council to determine your provider. If you don’t know which council you are located in, you can find contact details by visiting http://www.localgovernment.vic.gov.au/
Unless you have rented an apartment or flat with a lease agreement that includes the cost of water in the rent (or excess use charges*), you can expect to pay between $80-$120** per month for a family of four.
It is strongly recommended that you inspect your first water bill closely for any usage you would consider a discrepancy. As most water providers are only obliged by law to read the water meter twice a year, billing is often conducted on an average usage estimate based on your household size and suburb. Reports from several expats who have experienced this suggest that it is not uncommon for new customers to be overcharged initially. If this happens, contact the water provider and request that they read the meter. In most cases, this will result in a more accurate, reduced bill.
*Some large apartment buildings pay bulk rates to water companies to cover the massive volumes used by their tenants. In these cases the owner / landlord will generally only charge tenants excess usage fees to cover the difference between what they pay the water provider, and what the tenants have collectively used. These fees are generally low for tenants (averaging between $15-30 per month for double occupancy).
**If you own your home you can expect to pay slightly more than the prices quoted.
The postal system in Australia is privatised and extremely reliable. Aus Post shops are franchised, and as such may vary slightly in operations (and quality) from one neighbourhood to the next. These offices are generally open at a minimum, Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm (with many in high traffic areas opening an hour early, and closing an hour later). Depending on the area and operator, some outlets are also open on Saturday mornings until noon.
There is no need to register to begin receiving mail at your new residence. Simply let a sender know your address and any mail will be dropped in your letterbox upon arrival. Parcels that arrive by post that are too big for your letterbox will be kept at the nearest post office. If this happens, a card will be left for you that describes the package type, the time of attempted delivery, and a location where you can collect it (usually after 3pm the same day). Depending on the post office, they may make a second attempt at delivery the following day.
It is highly unlikely you will need to ship anything with anyone other than Australia Post. They have a maximum weight on parcels of 15 kilograms (around 33 lbs.). This is the Health and Safety limit on the size of a package one person can lift alone. Australia Post tends to be the fastest and cheapest shipping option for objects that can be shipped using this limit.
However, if there are circumstances in which the items you would like to ship fall outside of those limitations (furniture, large appliances), there are a several multinational freight companies that can accommodate your needs. Keep in mind that costs for sending large items overseas with the following companies will, in many cases, be cost-prohibitive (meaning it may be cheaper to buy the same item in the country you are shipping to).
Whole Household Relocation:
- OSS World Wide Movers: http://www.ossworldwidemovers.com/
- Allied Pickfords: http://www.alliedpickfords.com.au/
Large Item Shipping:
- FedEx: http://www.fedex.com/au/