Zoë moved to Australia over two years ago. Obviously she loves it here as she never left, but when she first moved over, there were so many things that she found surprising that no one told her before she got here. For example, it gets cold here! Winters feel freezing in comparison to the summer, even if the temperatures aren’t very low. Zoë wanted to share some of the things she’s learned from her own experience, from asking around and from doing some research – so here are her top tips for moving to Australia.
Make contacts and friends
This depends on if you’re travelling alone or not, but when I moved to Australia I didn’t know anyone. So before I got here I reached out to anyone and everyone for contacts. I put up a post on Facebook, asked all my friends about any long-lost cousins they might have out here and even asked people I had only met once. And it definitely helped. Everyone who’s travelled out here knows what it’s like to be without the support of your family and friends around you so most people are happy to meet you for a coffee and give you some advice.
Organise the documents you need for Australia
Making sure you have everything organised before you leave for Australia is key. You need to have all your documents ready, especially if you’re hoping to get sponsored over here. What I did was put all my important documents in one folder – birth cert, college degree, transcripts, photocopy of passports, bank statements, etc., which meant that when I needed them for applying for my sponsorship visa, they were all in that folder.
Budget for the weeks before you move
Before you leave you’ll be having lots of lunches, dinners and goodbye drinks with friends so be prepared for that strain on your wallet (and waistline, unfortunately)!.Saying goodbye to everyone can also take up a lot of time, so don’t leave it until the last few days before you leave – you’ll want that time for packing and getting ready to move.
Know what to pack for Australia
Whatever you do, make sure to pack warm clothes like jumpers, jeans and leggings! I arrived in Australia with one cardigan and one pair of leggings – completely inadequate for spring in Melbourne, when it rained solidly for the first three weeks after I arrived.
Of course, one of the reasons we all move to Australia is the sunshine, but you have to be really careful about the sun here. It’s way more direct and hotter than the sun in Europe/the northern hemisphere. Even if you tan like I do, I came from nine months of rain in Ireland so my skin was not prepared for the intense sun at all. Sunscreen is key. Make sure you wear one with a high SPF (eg 50 or 50+) and top it up regularly, especially if you have been swimming or sweating.
Bring an adaptor plug for Australia
The plug type in Australia is I, which is the plug that has three flat pins in a triangular pattern. Australia uses a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. Remember to bring adaptors or you’ll be left unable to charge your phone or laptop! It’s a good idea to bring an extension lead so you can use multiple European plugs at once.
Bring your laptop
Bring your laptop if you can – it’s a lifesaver for writing up CVs and applying for jobs. There’s nearly always a local library close by with free Wi-Fi, which is super handy.
Write an Australian CV/resume
In Australia your CV is known as your resume, so it’s best to use that term when emailing employers and recruiters. Back home it’s best practice to keep CVs to two pages if possible, but in Australia they like long resumes, which can be up to four pages. Definitely take a look at updating your resume before you get here in case you need to check up any details at home first.
Get your free CV template : Writing a Resume in Australia
Have your job references ready
You’ll generally need to have references if you’re applying for a job or a place to live in Australia. Don’t forget to contact your previous employers in advance, as trying to do it from here is a pain because of the time difference. Be warned – unlike in Europe where they might not always contact your references, they nearly always call them in Australia!
Sort out your superannuation fund
Your superannuation, or super, is a retirement fund that most Australian employers are required to set up for their employees. They will pay your super separately to your paycheque, at a rate of 10.5% of your salary (the rate is set to rise to 11% in July 2023).
If you change jobs during your time in Australia, which is common on the Working Holiday Visa, make sure your next job puts your superannuation money into the same Super fund. If not, it’s a pain trying to claim it all back from different funds.
You can only claim your superannuation back when you leave Australia for good, and it will be taxed at the very high rate of 65%.
Reach out to recruiters
I had never used recruiters to get a job at home but here they’re great. Most of them will want to meet you before they send out your resume for interviews, so it’s a good idea to send your resume to them before you get to Australia and then meet them when you get here. Be careful – there are a lot of recruiters who will message you on LinkedIn and put you forward for jobs without meeting you. I’ve found that these aren’t great and spend less time matching you to the right job.
Stay in a hostel when you arrive
When most people arrive in Australia, they stay in a hostel, which I think is the best thing to do. Even if you already have friends here, staying in a hostel will introduce you to a wide range of people and get you set up with a good social group from the start. I went to a hostel in Glebe when I moved to Sydney and most of my social circle comes from the group of people that I met there.
The people in the hostel are all in the same situation as you so you will get a tonne of great tips, from which recruiters to hit up, what bars to go to, to where to get cheap eats!
Do some research before you pick a hostel. Some of them are big super-hostels for a younger crowd, while others are more smaller and more casual. I find the smaller hostels are better for meeting people as if you’re on your own as you can get lost in the crowd at the bigger hostels.
To choose the best hostel for you and compare different rates, use a comparison website such as Booking.com.
Read more: Hostel Guide for Australia
How to find a house share in Australia
There are loads of housing and flat hunting websites in Australia so it’s pretty easy to find a place. I’ve found flatmates.com.au quite good, although they charge fees for some features. I’ve always found houses through Gumtree, which is free. Check out Facebook too as other backpackers have already set up pages to find houses. Be prepared though – you will most likely have to pay a bond (deposit) of a month’s rent when you move in. A lot of places are also unfurnished, so you’ll need to budget for buying a bed, mattress, curtains, etc.
Check out Concrete Playground
Speaking of cheap eats and freebies, check out the Concrete Playground for your local city. It covers everything from gigs, festivals, free events and great ideas for things to do in the city that you might not otherwise hear about.
Bring enough money to move to Australia
People say it all the time, but I never truly believed them until I got here – Australia is expensive! It’s fine once you get a job but before that, I struggled with how much I was spending, even though I was being careful. Be prepared and have a sizeable chunk of money to get you through the initial few weeks when you don’t have a job and are constantly partying with all your new-found friends. You’ll also need to have enough for your rent and your bond once you find a place to live.
Get a card for public transport
My experience with transport is limited to cities, but most of them have a card system like the London Oyster card. Sydney has Opal cards, while Melbourne has Myki. It’s way handier to get these than buying individual tickets. Also, they have ticket inspectors quite often checking so it’s worth covering yourself. They don’t buy the ‘I’ve only just arrived’ excuse – I’ve tried!
Always bring your ID
They’re really strict on ID in Australia, so always have ID with you, even if you look over 25. If you don’t have an Australian driving licence or other Australian ID, some places will only accept your passport, which is not ideal.
Commonwealth Bank is best
Banks in Australia charge you if you take out money from an ATM run by a different bank. Commonwealth Bank has the most ATMs and they have a great internet banking set-up so I’d definitely recommend them.
Read more: Open a Bank Account in Australia
Dealing with homesickness
Homesickness varies for everyone. When I first arrived I was really homesick, which I didn’t expect. Calling home and FaceTiming my friends and family helped a lot. When you get settled and have a house and job, homesickness tends to fade, so hang in there!
Lastly, remember nothing will ever work out as you planned it. Come here with an open mind and flexible plans and you’ll have a great time!