Moving to Australia can be an amazing experience. Although it is the sixth-largest country globally at over 3 million square miles, it is only home to 21 million people, which ensures that natural beauty dominates over suburban landscapes (especially out of the main cities).
The country boasts a diverse range of wildlife and nature, and there are many species of animals and plants indigenous only to Australia. The pristine beauty of the country’s wilderness, coupled with the abundance of wildlife, is part of its attraction for potential expats.
Moving to Australia provides the expat population with an excellent quality of life. Life expectancy is high, and stress is relatively low when compared with other countries in the world.
Australia as an expat destination
Founded by immigrants from the UK (many of whom were convicts), the population has grown significantly. Today, Australia is extremely multicultural and encourages controlled immigration from Europe and the US. The 1960s saw the country actively promoting immigration from abroad, with many British families being offered incentives to move there, as long as they were white.
People of ethnic backgrounds were restricted in emigrating because of the ‘White Australia’ policy. Luckily, however, this was abolished in 1973, and ever since then, the country has become increasingly cosmopolitan. Today, Australia remains a trendy expat destination. It is considered one of the best places to live because of its low population density, high standard of living, and unpolluted atmosphere.
According to the Human Development Index (HDI), Australia is ranked 7th out of 174 countries, with this ranking being based upon high scores in GDP, life expectancy, literacy, and education. It is perhaps due to these reasons that Australia is so popular with people who are moving overseas.
Cost of living in Australia
Expatriates moving to Australia from Europe will generally find that the cost of living in Australia is relatively high compared with that of their home country. In recent months, this has continued to rise at a breakneck pace.
The 2012 Mercer Cost of Living Australian cities ranks high on the list in the Asia Pacific region. Following the Australian dollar strengthening, we have all experienced further jumps up the global list since last year.
Sydney (11) and Melbourne (15) experienced relatively moderate jumps of three and six places, respectively, but Perth (19) and Canberra (23) both jumped 11 places. Brisbane (24) rose by seven places, and Adelaide (27) shot up 19 places.
In addition to facing high living costs in Australian cities, expatriates may also find that they are paid less and face higher tax bills. In terms of purchasing power parity, Australia provides its residents with a similar level as that available in Japan and a higher purchase parity than the United Kingdom and Singapore.
For full details of all the costs you can expect when living in Sydney, please see our guide to living in Sydney. It contains full sample costing details for all goods and services and compliments this with useful insights into how much you can expect to pay to achieve the standard of living you’re looking for.
English is the official language spoken in Australia, and you will have no problem communicating or conducting business when moving to Australia if you speak English. The population consists mostly of Caucasian (92%) and Asian (7%), with Aboriginal and other cultures accounting for just 1%.
Australia is so large that it actually experiences an extremely varied climate; different parts of the country experience different weather patterns. Northern Australia is tropical, with hot and humid weather and seasonal monsoons. In contrast, Southern Australia experiences a temperate climate with distinct seasons.
Summers are long and hot, while winters are cool and occasionally wet. Western Australia is hot and dry in the summer and cools in the winter, with temperatures often falling as low as 7 or 8°C. Rainfall is low throughout the country, which is why there is often the danger of bushfires.
Because of the climates’ diversity, there will be a weather pattern to suit virtually everyone, another reason why Australia is so popular. However, because the climate does differ so much, you must research any city you are considering relocating to carefully to ensure that you find a climate that suits you.
Expat job and career opportunities
Even in today’s economic crisis, unemployment is low. There are plenty of jobs of all levels available to those who want them. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to gain work permits and residency if you move to Australia from overseas. Immigration policies have become a lot tighter over the last decade, and most people looking to move and work need to offer skills to gain a work permit.
Retirees will be given visas if they have enough money, and if you have sizeable savings, regardless of how old you are, you will have no problem.
If you have yet to secure work, it is useful to consult with a career adviser. Australian based advisors will be in a position to advise you of your job prospects in the region and whether or not your own skills and experiences will be in demand in this country. The following may be of use:
- Career Development Association of Australia http://www.cdaa.org.au
- Career Advice Australia
- My Future http://www.myfuture.edu.au
- Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations http://www.deewr.gov.au
- Relationships Australia http://www.relationships.com.au
- Lifeline http://www.lifeline.org.au
- Mensline Australia
It is advisable that if you do choose to conduct your job search in Australia itself, that you ensure that you have sufficient funds to survive at least six months without a paid income. Once in Australia, you should visit Centrelink, a government-approved job search network: http://www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/individuals/work_index.htm.
For full details of the necessary visa requirements and application procedures for moving to Australia and obtaining work, please see the destination guide.
Key facts every expat should know about living in Australia
- While some companies and corporations offer maternity leave at their own discretion, there is no national maternity leave in Australia.
- Expats are strongly advised to pay for health insurance. This costs in the region of USD 60 per month and does not include optical or dental care.
- Banks charge a monthly fee for a bank account (approximately USD 4 per month). You are charged for branch withdrawals (approximately USD 3 each time), and you don’t earn any interest in the majority of deposits.
- Pets entering Australia will need to be placed into quarantine for up to 120 days. Some breeds of dogs are not eligible for importation into Australia at all.
- Depending upon where you obtained your original driving license, you may need to re-sit your driving test in Australia before you are permitted to drive there.
International Relocation Guides
Expat Info Desk currently has two city guides available for Australia; a guide to living in Sydney and a guide to moving to Melbourne. These exhaustive guides contain everything you need to know about relocating to these Australian cities and will assist you to:
- Relocate efficiently and effectively with minimum stress.
- Settle into your new life quickly and easily and find the help and assistance you need when you need it.
- Identify areas to live in that suit your lifestyle and budget.
- Find the right places to meet like-minded people.
- Find schools that are suitable for your children and their learning needs.
- Ensure that your family gets the most of their experiences abroad.
- Prepare for the new culture in advance and avoid any cultural traps.
- Deal with any transition challenges.
- Cut through red tape and avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.
Unlike a book, the guides are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure that the information is accurate and reliable. Because the guides are written by real expats who live and work in Sydney and Melbourne, you can be assured that you are accessing the information you need as written by people who really are in the know.