Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Travel Guide: Moving to Australia

Are you thinking of moving to Australia? Here's everything you need to know...

So once you’ve made the decision, now it’s time to act. Your first step is to make sure you fit all the visa requirements. Put all your information in the Visa Finder on their Government website. 

I went with the Subclass 462 Visa.  This visa is for young people who want to holiday and work in Australia for up to a year. Two major things to consider:

  • You are only approved to work with one employer for six months
  • You also must enter Australia within 12 months from the date your visa is granted (this cannot be extended or deferred)

The requirements for moving to Australia under the 462 visa include the below:

  • You are at least 18 but not yet 31 years of age
  • You don’t have a dependent child with you at any time during your stay in Australia
  • You have a passport from: Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, People’s Republic of Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, USA, Uruguay
    • Note: Only USA passport holders can apply online
    • Note: Americans can not do farm work to get their 2nd year! I met an American who did his farm work as soon as he got to Australia to “get it out of the way.” He did manual labor all day everyday for a small stipend and accommodations only to learn that Americans lost the privilege to apply for 2nd year for whatever reason and that the farm work was totally pointless. Hilarious and also the reason us Americans have the reputation we do abroad.

The cost of the Visa is $440AU.

I received my approval within a few short days, you can check the progress of your application on your account. It also states that you must be able to provide proof that you have at least $5,000 in your savings. I just brought a copy of my latest bank statement, but I never needed to show anyone this. I wouldn’t risk not having this.

Choosing where to live in Australia

Once you’re approved and you’re moving to Australia, start thinking about where you want to live. If you’re planning on finding a job here it is probably easier to do so in a city, Sydney and Melbourne are the two major cities in Australia. The best part about having a year long visa is you can go wherever you want. You can spend 6 months in Melbourne then 6 months in Sydney or travel around the country for the first couple months until you find the city or area you like the best, totally up to you.

Sydney vs Melbourne

I was looking to settle in a new city, make a new life and just have a home base. When I was moving to Australia I chose Melbourne because from everything I read there’s more to see, it’s artsier, funkier, and the food, night life and public transportation is all better. The rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne is comparable to NYC vs LA. I’ve also heard Melbourne and Sydney compared to Times Square and Brooklyn (Melbourne being Brooklyn.)

You choose! This infographic lays it all out, the good, the bad, the pros, the cons.

Getting there

Spend the $$$ get the points. I highly recommend getting a credit card that will help you earn travel miles and points and also has no foreign transaction fees. Do some research and see which one is best for you. I chose the Capital One Venture card because:

  • when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months you earn 40,000 miles (equal to $400USD)
  • TIP: Put your flight to AUS on this card to help spend the $3k!
  • no foreign transaction fees
  • the first year is free and the second year is only $60 (UPDATE: this is now $100)
  • (2018 added benefit) They now also reimburse for Global Entry!
  • my favorite thing about this card is how easy it is to redeem your points. I get better deals on sites like Skyscanner than I do in credit card travel booking portals. 

I also have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card which typically offers a solid sign up bonus but to redeem your points you need to do so in a portal. Sometimes this is great, but I personally prefer Capital One’s Venture Card. 

Advice for Property Owners

  • Look at local/similar rental properties to what you own and do some math. When you factor in the cost of your mortgage, HOA, PMI, property insurance etc. on a monthly basis, what do you come up with? How does it compare to the cost of renting a similar property in your neighborhood? 
  • Now factor in the cost of a property manager. The rate is 10% in my area, so tack that on to what you think you can get for renting out your property. If you can make a profit, then hellzzzz yea! I ended up renting my property as furnished, if you’re keen on doing this you can potentially charge more. 
  • Be flexible from the start and you’ll likely find a renter quicker. If you live in a city or close to an army base and can rent your place short term (check with your HOA) and furnished, you have the potential to make a large profit. It’s all what works for you. The key is to break even. If you can’t break even… does it make sense to sell?

Now that you're moving to Australia, it's time to get your affairs in order... 

  • If you rent, obviously you can either wait until your lease is up, sublease or pay to break your lease.
  • If you have a job, give your two weeks notice, or see if there is an opportunity to work remote. If working remotely is an option make sure HR is aware and aligned. The 6 month rule will still apply to you if you’re an American.
  • For your stuff, you can obviously either sell it or store it. A lot of people end up storing their stuff and never come back for it. If you can make some money on selling furniture and a car then that’s just more money in your pocket for travel!

Booking Your Flight to Australia! (AH!):

Once you have a plan for your life stuff book your flight.

  • The best time to book a flight is on a Tuesday 2-3 months in advance.
  • I checked and compared Skyscanner, Google Flights, Priceline, Expedia and CheapOAir daily to monitor flight price before finally settling on a one way ticket to Melbourne. Total price was a little over $800USD, this ended up being one of the higher flat rates when comparing airlines and flights on the sites listed above but because I went with United Airlines, I got two free checked bags. Make sure to take the cost of baggage into consideration when looking at prices. Some of the cheap airlines have so many add ons you end up paying more at checkout than you would otherwise.
  • Also, check the cancellation policy with wherever you end up booking. I booked with CheapOAir and not only was I able to save some money by doing this I was able to cancel or change my flight within a certain window of time.

My last tip of advice when moving to Australia is to either a. break it up or b. power through.

  • If you want to break it up I suggest looking into one way tickets from your original US location to Hawaii or Fiji then the cost of a ticket from the island to Australia. A lot of times the total cost ends up being the same as it would direct and this way you can see a beautiful, tropical destination and escape an airplane to take a breathe of fresh air. If you do decide to do this and have luggage, look into storing at the airport, some airports are cheaper than others so figure out if this makes sense for you.
  • If you decide to power through when moving to Australia and not take a couple day pit stop at an island along the way then try and keep your layovers as short as possible as long as you’re flying with the same airline. If you’re flying with two different airlines and have a short layover you run the risk of missing your flight and losing your luggage. If you’re traveling with the same airline they typically take care of you. Flights to Australia from anywhere in the world are long, so just be mentally prepared for what you’re getting into.

Book your flight now with skyscanner

Now that you're moving to Australia, tell the world...

I don’t mean post a status on Facebook, I mean tell the people that are going to come after you if you disappear.

  • Your bank: Let them know you’ll be living/ traveling abroad so they don’t freeze your account when they see you buying dumplings from Hong Kong house in Australia. Also let them know that you’ll be opening an account in Australia where you’ll be transferring funds to.
  • Phone Company: Once my AUS phone was set up I was able to freeze my Verizon account for 3 months but Verizon only allows you to do this once a year so I had to pay for the rest of the months even though I wasn’t using the service. Ultimately it was cheaper than canceling. Amen for family plans!
  • Health Insurance
  • Car Insurance: Cancel that ish and get yo moneys back!
  • The mailman: Change your address on the government site for $2 and have your mail sent to someone you trust in case anything comes through that you didn’t cancel or change or update.

Sorting Accommodation Before You Leave

  • Figure out where you’re going to stay when you are moving to Australia. I saved this until the very last minute and luckily was approved while I was waiting for my flight at LAX. I recommend booking a place for one to two weeks somewhere close to the city and public transportation. This way you can get a feel for the city before committing to an apartment.
  • If you’re looking to save money checkout hostels on HostelWorld, or you can stay in a hotel
  • I went with AirBnB because I wanted to meet someone that knew the area well and could provide me with some advice, I also was going to be working from wherever I was staying so I wanted to make sure it was quiet and I had a desk. Another perk for booking with AirBnB is that some places will give you a weekly discount. The host may even offer to pick you up from the airport. 

Getting from the Melbourne Airport to the CBD

If your AirBnB doesn’t offer to pick you up: 

  • you can take an Uber for about $50AU+ into the city 
  • or pay $18AU for a one way Skybus ticket. I think Skybus is the most convenient, they have shuttles into the city every 20 minutes, they’ll help you with your bags and it brings you right into Southern Cross Station.

Money in Australia

When you’re moving to Australia set up an overseas bank account. This is the one thing I would do over again. When you’re looking for a flat, no matter what, they’re going to want you to show them the money. I was a big dummy and failed to do this which caused a lot of stress when I finally found a house I liked. I had to borrow money to secure the room and kept having to tell the girl I was going to be living with that I was good for the rest of the money I owed and it should be arriving in my account “any day now!” 

Side note, things take a bit longer in Australia than they do in the US. My friends waited 3 months before their internet was installed. 

Get in touch with Commonwealth Bank (most popular bank here, it’s on every corner and they’re great to deal with) and open an account before you leave the US, then as soon as you get to Australia go into a branch and start the process with your US bank. I kept my US bank open because I was still working for a US company but you may want to close it or find out what the minimum balance is before you’re fined for having too low of a balance. How much you transfer will depend on your situation just keep in mind that you’ll be charged by both banks with every transfer. I ended up getting charged over $80 between the two banks just to gain access to my own money.

 

World remit

I always highly recommend World Remit when taking cash out abroad. I go into more detail on how and why I use this service in my Siargao, Philippines travel guide.

get that +61

If you know where you’re going to be staying when you are moving to Australia I suggest signing up for an account with an Australian provider prior to leaving the US so that the SIM card is waiting for you when you get there.

I went with Amaysim because it was recommended by a friend, had a great deal going on and was overall the least expensive option without a commitment. Another great bonus if you’re referred you and your friend both get a $10AU credit towards your account. Vodofone and Telstra are also popular phone providers in Australia.

Lock down Your New Home

Real estate in Australia is much different than it is in the US, for one it’s incredibly expensive. Definitely worth considering when moving to Australia. A lot of people end up having multiple housemates or even living with their parents well into their 30’s because the cost of living is so high. I had originally wanted to live alone but when the properties I was able to afford ended up looking like slums I reconsidered. 

If you’re a couple looking to live alone together I have a fairly brilliant suggestion but more on that later. Another difference is how lax they are about the length of their leases. I also never had to get a background check. 

However, I think the most important thing to note is the speed at which properties are scooped up in Melbourne. You need to be checking listings constantly, ready to run to a showing in an instant and make a decision on the spot. I went to all my inspections alone simply because I didn’t know anyone. I was scared at first because that wasn’t something I would have done in Tampa, but Australia is so much safer so after a few inspections and not being killed I started to feel at ease. 

Here are the best sites for property listings when you're moving to Australia:

  • Flatmatefinders.com and Flatmates.com: Long and short term lease’s in share homes. Make sure you sign up for the premium version so you see the early bird listings, also create a profile so people start seeking you.
  • Gumtree.com: This is like Craigslist in America, the listings are a bit slummier and the platform isn’t the most user friendly. A lot of the listings are for people trying to cram 4 in a bedroom.
  • Airbnb.com.au: This is on the more expensive side but if you don’t want to make a commitment it’s a great option. Your hosts are also almost guaranteed to be sweet because they want a good review. I also like this option because if you decide to travel you’re not paying for two accommodations at the same time.

My brilliant idea...

  • RealEstate.com: So back to that brilliant idea. It’s inspired by my American friends who moved to Melbourne and signed a year long lease for a beautiful 1/1 apartment in a high rise in the city right across the street from Southern Cross Station. It’s convenient, there’s a pool and a gym, a beautiful view, and it’s within the free tram zone, overall a tourist’s dream. The only issue for some people would be the $420AU a week price tag. 
    • What makes this a brilliant option is the opportunity to subsidize the cost of the rent and list it on AirBnB.
      • My friends bought an air mattress, some sheets and a couple extra towels and are now renting the space in their living room for $100AU a night.
      • By sharing this space a couple nights a week they’re basically living for free. They have had the best experience and have met some incredible people from all over the world that have even made them dinner.
      • This option isn’t for everyone though, I’d say it’d be wise for a couple for safety reasons, but also to share the responsibility, you also have to be open to sharing a small space with a complete stranger, open to the fact that they may be weird, messy and/or smelly, and you’d also need the funds for the bond and the rent without a guest.

That was a lot... I know

Once you have ALL of the above covered, the next step is finding a job, which I’m sorry but I have absolutely no advice to give on that topic. I know a lot of people struggle to find jobs because the 6 month visa limit doesn’t make for the most appealing employee. However, it absolutely is possible! Work your connections, tell everyone you know and meet that you’re looking and something will turn up. If you’re planning on working abroad checkout this article from Kate from the States for tips.

Now GO! Get moving to Australia!

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Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.
Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

Everything an American needs to know about moving to Australia. This article provides information on visas, flights, AUS phone numbers, housing, saving money, getting a job, choosing a city and credit card schemes.

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