Zoë moved to Australia almost two years ago. Obviously, as she’s still here she loves it. But when she first moved, there were so many things that she found surprising that no one tells you before you get here – for example, it gets cold here! Winters feel freezing in comparison to the summer even if the temperatures don’t reflect that. Anyway from asking people and reading online and finally from experiencing it, here are her best tips for moving to Australia
No. 1 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Contacts
This depends on if you’re travelling alone or not, but when I moved over here I didn’t know anyone. So before I got here I reached out to anyone and everyone for contacts. I put it on Facebook, asked all my friends about any long-lost cousins they might have out here and even asked people I had met for just the first time. And it definitely helps. Everyone who’s travelled out here knows what it’s like to be without your family and friends base so most people are happy to meet you for a coffee and give you some tips.
No. 2 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Documents
Making sure you have everything organised at home is key. Depending on if you want to get sponsored you need to have all your documents ready. What I did was put all the important documents in one drawer – college transcripts, photocopy of passports, bank statements, etc., which meant that when I needed things for applying for a sponsorship visa I could ask my parents to look in that one drawer which made things easier for them to find.
No. 3 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Goodbye dinners
Before you leave you’ll be having lots of lunches, dinners, goodbye drinks so be prepared for that strain on your wallet (and waistline, unfortunately)!.
No. 4 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Warm clothes
Whatever you do make sure to pack a couple of sweaters and long pants. I arrived in Australia with one cardigan and one pair of leggings – completely inadequate for a spring in Melbourne, where it rained solidly for the first three weeks I arrived.
No. 5 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Sunscreen
Of course one of the reasons we all move to Australia is the sunshine! It might be obvious but you have to be really careful about the sun here. It’s way more direct and hotter than the sun in Europe and the northern hemisphere. And even if you tan as I do, I came from nine months of rain in Ireland so my skin was not prepared at all for it! Sunscreen is key. Also, within a year I noticed way more dark freckles on my skin so you really do have to be careful.
No. 6 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Adapter
Don’t forget they have a different plug here. Bring an adapter and extension cable so you can plug in your laptop, phone etc.
No. 7 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Laptop
Bring a laptop if you can – it’s a lifesaver for doing CVs and applying for jobs. There’s nearly always a local library close by with free Wi-Fi which is super handy.
No. 8 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Resume
Over here your CV is known as your resume so it’s best to refer to it like that when emailing employers and recruiters. Also, back home we were told to cut our CV to two pages if possible but in Australia they like long resumes which can be up to four pages. So definitely take a look at updating your resume before you get here in case you need to check up any details at home first. Here you can find a free template: Resume in Australia
No. 9 – Tips for Moving to Australia – References
References are super handy, so don’t forget to hit up your old employers in advance as trying to do it from Australia is a pain. Especially because of the time differences it takes way longer for anything to get done.
No. 10 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Superannuation
A super is a retirement fund that employers are meant to set up for you and put payments from your paycheck in here. So if you change jobs, which you’re likely to do as the Working Holiday visa only allows you to have a job in one place for six months, make sure your next job puts money into the same super fund. If you don’t, it is apparently really annoying trying to get your super back from more than one super fund when you leave and they all charge you when you do this.
No. 11 – Tips for Moving to Australia – 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 good to send your resume over before you get to Australia and then meet them when you get here. But 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.
No. 12 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Hostels
When most people arrive they go into a hostel which I think is the best thing to do. Even if you already have friends here, going into a hostel introduces you to a wide range of people and gets 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 that 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 and where to get cheap eats (of course)! Also, do a bit of research before you pick a hostel. Some are big super-hostels for a younger crowd and some are 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 in the bigger hostels.
More info: Hostel Guide for Australia
To choose a good one and compare the different rates, it is best to use a comparator such as Booking.com.
No. 13 – Tips for Moving to Australia – House shares
There are loads of housing and flat hunting websites over here so it’s pretty easy to find a place. I’ve found flatmates.com.au quite good but you need to pay around $20 every two weeks to contact people which is a pain. I’ve always found houses through Gumtree which is free. Be prepared though, the bond (deposit) is quite steep when you move into a house – easily around $1,000. A lot are unfurnished so you’ll need to include buying a bed, mattress, curtains, etc. into your budget. Check out Facebook too as other backpackers have already set up pages to find houses.
No. 14 – Tips for Moving to Australia – 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 hear about.
No. 15 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Money
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. It’s something to keep in mind and be prepared to have a 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.
No. 16 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Public Transport
My experience with transport is limited to cities, but most of them have a card system like the London Oyster card. 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!
No. 17 – Tips for Moving to Australia – ID
They’re really strict on ID so have a driving licence or other ID with you as I had to carry my passport out with me for the first few months, which is not ideal.
No. 18 – Tips for Moving to Australia: ATMs
Banks in Australia charge you if you take out money from an ATM run by a different bank. Commonwealth has the most amount of ATMs and they have a great internet banking set up so I’d definitely recommend them.
No. 19 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Homesick
Homesickness varies for everyone. When I first arrived I was really homesick which was unexpected. Calling home and skyping helped a lot and when you get settled and have a house and job it tends to go away, so give yourself a few months to settle and hang in there.
No. 20 – Tips for Moving to Australia – Plans
Lastly, remember nothing will ever work out as you imagine it. Come over here with an open mind and flexible plans and you’ll have a great time!
Author: Zoë Bradley
Updated on the 17/11/19. Initially published on the 20/09/18.