If you are soon arriving in Australia, you probably ask yourself what are the first steps to take. In this article, you will find a ‘to-do list’ for each day of your first week Down Under. As the trip to Australia is quite long, we suggest you to organize beforehand an accommodation (hostel, wwoofing, HelpX or any other) for at least the first five days. This will enable you to discover the city while starting all the administrative procedures. This guide is however only an indication, and can vary with your personal preferences or with any constraints you might encounter. For example, if you arrive a weekend, some administrative procedures may not be possible to execute.
Going to your accommodation
In every big city, you will be able to take the public transports (train or bus) to travel from the airport to the city. This solution is an easy one as you will have access to the train or bus straight from the airport. You will also be able to buy a ticket at the ticket offices, or the ticket vending machines. Usually public transports are open from 5 am through to midnight seven days a week. A single ticket to reach the city will cost you approximately $20 per person ($18 in Sydney with AirportLink).
If you are travelling with a group, it may be more cost-effective to take a cab or Uber and divide its cost among the group ($50 on average to get in Sydney Centre from the airport).
Some hostels may send a free shuttle bus to pick you up at the airport, however only if you have booked a bed in one of their room for at least a week. Check beforehand if that’s the case with your hostel before you land.
Open a bank account
If you intend to work in Australia, you will need to have an Australian bank account. The main banks in Australia are Westpac, ANZ (Australian and New Zealand Banking Group), Nab (National Australia Bank) and Commonwealth.
Please note that you can also open your bank account from your home country with some banks.
What bank should I choose?
It is recommended to open your bank account in one of the main banks, as they have a strong presence throughout Australia. Please note that withdrawing money is only free in ATM affiliated with your bank operator (otherwise you may be charged $2 each time you withdraw in another ATM).
Your choice of bank also depends on your needs and the partnership your home bank may have with the Australian ones, so make sure to check if there are any beforehand. This would enable you to withdraw money and place your cash on your Australian account without fees, as international transfers can be pricey.
What to bring when opening an account?
Procedures in Australia tend to be easier than in Europe. For example, you won’t need a proof of address. Requested documents are:
- A $50 deposit when you open your account
- A postal address (even if temporary. It can be your hostel or your bank address. However, if you change address, make sure you tell your bank!)
- Some banks may also require your tax number in your home country.
How long does it take?
If you have all the requested documents ready, opening your bank account will take between 10 and 30 minutes. It is a quick process. However you won’t have your credit card straight away. This will take a few days.
Read also : Open a Bank account in Australia
Buy a SIM card
The main phone operators in Australia are Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Their national coverage vary, especially when you leave big cities.
Because you are a temporary resident, it will be difficult to have an annual plan. However, this will depend on your situation so always check with the operator that you want. An other affordable alternative is to buy a ‘prepaid card’. You can buy the SIM card from all operators for an average of $2 and then you can top it up on a monthly basis.
What operator should I choose?
Optus tend to have interesting international phone calls rates. However their coverage is not great, especially if you intend to travel around the country. Telstra has the best national coverage, so if you are planning on a road trip this will be your best option. Finally, Vodafone is known to have the weakest coverage.
Read also : Phone Plans in Australia
Transfer your money
To transfer some money from your home country bank account to your australien one, you have several options.
You can choose to transfer from your European Bank account directly. Costs can be high as both banks (from your home and host country) will charge you some fees.
Another option is to receive your money via Western Union. This option is very safe, however costs may also be high! This could be your ‘emergency’ option, as it is a very fast way to transfer money from an account to another.
What we recommend : A good alternative would be to use a company specializing in international bank transfer. It will cost less than through your own bank and exchange rates will also be more interesting. Through our partnership with CurrencyFair you will get 5 free transfers. On average you pay just 0.45% of the amount exchanged plus a £2.50 (or currency equivalent) transfer fee, regardless of the amount of money you want to transfer. It is cheaper and faster than going through your bank, and very safe!
Requesting a TFN number
The Tax File Number (TFN) is a mandatory legal number to work in Australia.
To get this unique number, you have different options that will take fifteen minutes of your time:
Online: ATO Website
In an ATO office: the administrative building where all the TFN requests are processed. The staff there is very welcoming and friendly, and you will be able to ask any questions/resolve any issues you may have directly with them.
The form to fill to get a TFN includes very basic questions such as your name, surname, postal address (in Australia), passport number, nationality, phone number and so on.
When you are done filling the form, you will receive a file number, which will act as your temporary TFN and will enable you to work until you receive your actual TFN. This process takes 28 days in general.
If you have any issue, you can always call 13 28 61 or go back to the office. If you changed your address before getting your TFN, you will be able to get your TFN over the phone after answering some questions.
Open a Superannuation account
If you are more than 18 years old and work more than 30 hours/week for more than $450 per month, your employer will legally be obliged to pay you the equivalent of 9.5% of your salary in a Superannuation account. This account is a blocked one, and you won’t be able to withdraw money from this account. Most of the banks offer the option to open a superannuation account when opening your bank account with them. This can be a good option to have an easy access to all your accounts on the same plateforme.
You will be able to have access to this account’s money when you are leaving Australia. The amount will be taxed at 65% when withdrawing.
Read also : How to claim your Superannuation
Exploring the city
DAY #4 & 5
While you are sorting out all the administrative procedures, you will be able to walk around the city, which gives you a great opportunity to explore it.
It is important to take some time to do so. Exploring the city is a good option to discover neighbourhoods and find a flat sharing. Especially if you are planning to stay there for a few months. It can also be great to check out the restaurants, bars, pubs that are looking for staff.
Discover the surroundings
DAY #6 & 7
One your first procedures are over, take some time to discover the region. All big Australians cities are surrounded by beautiful national parks, animal parks or amazing beaches. A great option can be to rent a car to drive around. You can easily rent a car for half a day or a full day. If you don’t feel confident driving around, you can always try to find a mate to day trip with in your hostel. Another option can be to join a tour to discover the region.
Read also : Cheap car rental in Australia
Receiving your bank card
DAY #6 & 7
If you have opened your account the second day of arrival, you will probably receive your bank card (however may depend according to banks, weekend and holidays etc). You also have the option to go back to the agency to pick up your card from the counter. This could be a good option if your address is not stable.
Looking for a flat share
DAY #6 & 7
If you decide to stay several months in a city, we would recommend you to go for the flat share option. It will be cheaper than staying at the hostel. You can easily find ads on Facebook groups, Gumtree, Flatmates etc. Make sure to meet and spend a bit of time with your future flat mate to be sure that you are on the same page.
Read also : Accommodation Guide Australia
Looking for a job
DAY #6 & 7
Again, if you wish to stay in the city for several months, you may need to look for a job quite quickly. In Australian big cities, there is some competition for jobs, even for the unqualified ones. It is thus common to look for a job for 2 to 3 weeks. If you arrived in Australia with some cash, you may start by visiting the city and the region and enjoy your first days in Australia! Then, it will probably be time to look for a job. Check the cafes, restaurants, shops, pubs in the city and suburbs.
Get your RSA, RSG, White Card, etc
DAY #6 & 7
Some jobs will require you to take some examinations, or to have diplomas. Therefore, don’t take too long to require and register, if needed.
- If you wish to work in a company that serves alcohol, you will need a RSA certificate.
- If you wish to work within the construction industry, you will need a White Card certificate.
- If you wish to work within the gambling industry, you will need a RSG certificate.
- If you wish to work within the transportation and distribution industry, you will need a Blue Card certificate.
- For any job that implies forklift, you will need a Forklift Licence.
Discounts to take your RSA test in Australia
Pay less for your RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) training and get the right to work in places where alcohol is served or sold.