Do you wish you were living in Australia? This guide to moving to and living in Australia will show you how to emigrate.
From discussing the practical aspects of applying for a visa to speaking openly about the employment and economic situation in Australia right now, we’ll cover all the bases so that if you are contemplating moving to and living in Australia, it could become a reality for you and your family.
Why expats love the idea of living in Australia
Australia is definitely one of the best places to live for expats, and its reputation is totally deserved.
It seems to offer almost everything you could want – a better climate, a stronger economy, a better work/life balance, good education and healthcare systems and much more.
Australia has all the things we’re seemingly seeking such as a great climate, an outdoors lifestyle, decent food, jobs, opportunities, quality housing, a high standard of western-style living, it’s English speaking and totally accessible.
In other words, it’s not at all foreign in all the ways we want it to be familiar, yet all the things we want to lose from our old life are certainly lost when we move to Australia – like the winter, long commutes and drab urban landscapes.
However, emigration to Australia is not as easy as packing your bags and booking a plane ticket as anyone who has already made the move will tell you.
In Australia, there genuinely is more emphasis placed on enjoying outdoor, active life. There genuinely are more opportunities to get more out of life than simply sitting in front of the TV night after night.
The days are long, the nights are mild, people socialise outside together for longer throughout the year, and later into the evening. Impromptu get-togethers are the norm, therefore you don’t really risk being a stranger in a strange land for long.
The better weather makes getting up and going to work easier. Lunchtimes and breaks can be spent outside soaking up the sunshine – great for the feel-good factor.
At the weekend yes, you can go to the mall and shop, but that’s not your only choice. You can swim, surf, hike or bike, you can enjoy your own pool or garden, get out and meet people at the events that go on all the time in Australian towns and cities.
Basically, there is more, much more that you can do and enjoy in Australia – which is why it is SUCH a popular choice with so many expats.
Australian visas and residency
Australia places a very strict limit on the number of immigrants it can and will accept each year. People usually have to apply for a visa based on the skills they can bring to the nation.
You should refer to the Skilled Occupation List which is regularly updated to determine whether you have the qualifications, talent or experience in demand in Australia that will help you find work, and secure a residency visa to boot.
If however, you’re aware that perhaps your skills are not the most sought after, or you’re concerned that your age will count against you perhaps, there may be better ways for you to secure your visa.
If you can get a job in Australia before applying for a visa to relocate Down Under, so much the better. Many who already have a job find that they can be fast-tracked through the system, so you could contemplate remotely looking for work, or travelling to Australia on a holiday visa and working very hard to get in front of recruiters and really selling yourself.
You will have to leave the country to correctly apply for relocation and residency, but if you have a firm offer of a job waiting for you when you arrive, your application may be viewed far more favourably.
Other ways you can get a visa include if you already have close family living in Australia who can sponsor you, or if you’re an employer who wants to move their business to Australia and create jobs.
Alternatively, if you have money to invest and you’re prepared to put it into Australia for a fixed term, you could get a dedicated visa under the Business Skills migration programme.
The very best place to begin your search for which visa type you should apply for is the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.
Here you will find everything from a visa wizard that will help you work out which class of visa you should apply for, to the latest updates on the Skilled Occupation list and even background information about living, working and even applying for citizenship in Australia. It really is a fantastic resource.
Get to know Australia well enough
The next most important thing while considering moving to and living in Australia is making sure you know the country well enough to be confident in your decision.
As stated, the dream of a life Down Under encompasses everything from a perfect climate to a dream nation where there are jobs and opportunities aplenty.
However, Australia has not been immune to the global financial crisis, it has political arguments ongoing within its government, and the economy is nowhere near as strong as it was.
This should not necessarily put you off emigration by any means, but we draw it to your attention to show you that nowhere in the world is perfect, every nation has inbuilt and ingrained issues.
If you are keen on moving to and living in Australia, you need to be very realistic about what the new country will offer you in terms of opportunities, lifestyle, quality of life and happiness.
Do not move with rose coloured glasses on, assuming that everything will be perfect! And if you’ve never been to Australia before, we Brits have such a false idea of the nation that can only be rectified with a visit.
We urge anyone contemplating moving to and living in Australia to take at least a short break (ideally an extended holiday) there. Spend time travelling around and getting to know the different regions and the people. Look away from the tourist sights and sounds to see what real life is like, whether it really appeals and where you would like to live in Australia.
Get online, get on forums where other expats who have already made the move hang out, and get tips for filling in your application. There are companies who will help you to fill in the many complexities of your visa form to the very best of your ability so you stand the best chance of acceptance, but they all charge a high fee.
However, if you can spare the money and you are really determined to make the move, you may find that using such a service will benefit you. Otherwise, take the application seriously, and take your time reading it through, understanding all aspects of it and then do your very best to complete it as fully and as well as possible.
Finally, don’t be put off your dream of a move simply because it seems there are many other people dreaming of the same outcome – a lot of people never get any further than idealising a relocation.
If you’re serious about moving to and living in Australia, do all you practically can to make it happen – plan on succeeding and focus strongly on making the move happen. Your positive determination may very well be the booster you need to turn your dream into reality.
How to start planning your move to Australia
Possibly the only good thing about having to wait for a visa for moving to Australia is that you can spend the time planning and preparing. There are two sides to this – you need to tie up your old life and sort out your new life.
Your to-do list at home
- Sort out your home – will you sell it or rent it out.
- Sort out your furniture and personal effects – what will you sell, give away, recycle or pack up and take with you.
- Employment – can you be moved into a new job in Australia by your old company? If so that could solve your visa and job worries in one go. Alternatively, what about asking for unpaid leave or a sabbatical to make sure you actually like your new life before you quit your job. If this is not possible, work out your notice period to try and tie in with your relocation date.
- Get money matters in order – moving is costly because it means you have to get rid of one home and take on another – this involves fees and taxes at the very least. You have to find a car and sell a car, move furniture, buy new, pay for utilities, pay for visas…The list of items on which your money will be quickly frittered away is ridiculously long – so save hard and have a cash back-up in case of emergency.
- Speak to your children’s school about the move – make sure their learning is documented.
- Get medical matters in hand – find out about your doctor transferring your medical history to Australia when the time is right.
- Find out about shipping pets well in advance of a move in case they need to be brought up to date with rabies vaccinations and screening – this can take 6 months!
Your to-do list in Australia
If there’s any real secret to moving to and living in Australia successfully it lies in the planning, follow these tips to get your new life off to a great start.
When you know the visa has been granted you will need to go into overdrive to get everything done as it has a validity expiry date beyond which, you will have to reapply if you haven’t moved. So, be ready to work hard.
- Find a house to live in – you’re well advised to rent first because trying to buy a house on another continent is not just difficult, it is downright ridiculous when it’s to be your new family home for life!
- Get a job – or put out feelers through agencies so you can hopefully hit the interview circuit when you arrive.
- Get your children enrolled in schools provisionally – you’ll have to, of course, do a face-to-face when you arrive, but if the paperwork’s been done, there should be minimal delay and disruption for your child’s schooling.
- Get your international removals organised and your goods shipped because it’s a long way to Australia and you don’t want to be hanging around without a bed.
- Make sure you have the tickets for your flights, your valid passports and copies of ALL your essential paperwork from driving licenses to marriage certificates with you when you fly just in case the originals get lost in transit.
- Ship your pet and make sure there’s someone to receive it in Australia.
- Get medical insurance in place.
- Say your fond farewells rather than any bitter goodbyes.
What NOT to do once you arrive in Australia
Or, in other words, how not to alienate yourself and annoy the Aussies
Do NOT complain about your new nation.
The number one thing you need to know before you move abroad is that no nation is perfect, if you can accept this you can be happy.
So, know from the outset that you won’t necessarily love every single thing about Australia, (for example, cane toads aren’t all that lovely), but don’t focus on any negatives and shout about them every opportunity you get.
Not only will you be branded a whinging pom, but you will also one day be blatantly asked why you don’t just leave if you hate it so much!
On a similar note, don’t start going on about how much better certain things are in the UK.
Because there was a reason for you to have left the UK, wasn’t there? It is absolutely natural for expats to miss things about home and to dislike things about their new nation.
When they are in the integration phase it can be quite hard to focus on the positives of the new nation and to remember the negatives about the old nation – but that is what you need to do if you want to integrate and really make Australia home.
Don’t rubbish the Australians when it comes to ANY form of sport.
There is no other nation when it comes to cricket, rugby, Aussie rules football and so on – the sooner you accept this the better.
Yes, you might be a lifelong Arsenal/Liverpool/Chelsea supporter, but keep it to yourself and learn to adopt an Australian team. You’ll have a lot more to talk about with many more people and you’ll be seen as making an effort. If you forever fly the flag for ENGURLAAAAND when it comes to sport, you will never be accepted in Australia.
Don’t allow your children to become bullies at school.
You may be very worried about your children settling into their new life Down Under, but 9 times out of 10, they will settle in more quickly than you.
However, because their new teachers will be working hard to ensure they are not picked on or side-lined, sometimes your child can actually become the bully.
It’s apparently a common concern. Naturally, Aussie parents have a real issue with the ‘new kid’ picking on their kid. British children are often more ‘interesting’ to other children and their status can be quite high in their friendship groups as a result, try and ensure this doesn’t result in them getting overconfident and boorish around other students.
Stop living in enclaves.
It’s all too easy for expat birds of a feather to flock together because we all have shared experiences and we gain great support from each other. However, if you all live together, socialise together and stick together it presents a negative united front to your local neighbours.
Try and strike a fine line between socialising with your ‘own kind’ for simplicity, and reaching out and getting involved with your local community.
How to integrate into Australian life
Or in other words, how the Aussies expect you to behave.
You know what your strengths are in terms of being an acceptable immigrant – so play to your strengths, get involved in the Australian way of life and be happy in the active choice you have made to make Australia your home.
Be a positive addition to Australia.
Don’t be tempted to move in and become a drain on the nation’s resources, it will not be tolerated. By moving to and living in Australia, working, starting a business, creating employment, paying taxes and (yes that word again) integrating, you are creating a positive atmosphere for yourself and your family.
Embrace the Australian way of life.
By changing your patterns of behaviour and becoming more Australian in the way you do everything, you will be welcome and accepted.
It is not so difficult for Brits, as from what they eat and drink to how they socialise and even how often they wash their car and tend their gardens, Britons are naturally very similar to Australians. So assimilating the Australian way is naturally easier – and the sooner you give in and fire up the Barbie the sooner you will be accepted.
Remember to love your new life.
You chose Australia for very good reasons – from the way of life to the work/life balance, from the weather and climate to the economic climate, from the employment landscape to the natural landscape – love where you’re living and let it be known that you’re happy to be in Australia.
After all, if you genuinely don’t like it, you are free and encouraged to leave.
Welcome to Australia – what to expect
The feelings you will encounter when moving to and living in Australia as a resident will range from stunned shock to overwhelming excitement, from momentary panic and homesickness to a feeling of such euphoria as you realise what you have achieved, and all the opportunities in front of you.
It is actually one of the best feelings in the world when you have planned and prepared for relocation and then you realise it and make it happen.
Enjoy the positive feelings and don’t worry about the negative ones. They are 100% to be expected, everyone goes through the thought process where you encounter a few tough days trying to adjust and you think ‘oh my God, what have I done’.
Take it all in your stride, look to the longer-term, remember why you made the move in the first place (a checklist attached to the fridge is a good idea sometimes), and have a treat on a bad day to remind yourself that actually no, your new life IS better! You’ll be fine.
Then all of a sudden, 6 months have passed. You’re an Australian – you have a job, a home, your kids have friends, you’ve made some good friends yourself, you’re happy. You have a whole new range of hobbies, your accent has a strange twang and you’re happiest of all when you’re spending all your free time with your family and your friends outside in the glorious sunshine.
Okay, so getting to this point requires a huge transition as you enrol your kids in school, attend a million interviews, search long and hard for the right house, warily approach strangers in the hope they will be friends, and untangle the mess of red tape than any relocation inevitably leaves you tied up in. But you get through it, and you get through it easily because it’s what you want – moving to and living in Australia has been your dream, so live it!
You might find useful:
- How To Get A Job In Australia With Employer-Sponsored Visa;
- How To Retire To Australia: Tips For Retirement & Residency;
- The Best Places To Live In Australia For Expats;
- Visit our Australia Country Guides page for more information on living in Australia.