Moving to Australia

Moving to Australia? We have all information you will need to plan your move. Find moving guides, custom regulations, instructions & related documents.

How it works

Why Australia?

An increasing number of people are moving to Australia. In fact since 1945 over 7 million people have migrated to Australia for a new life. Here are just some of the reasons people might consider relocating to Australia.

  • Unspoiled nature & very low pollution
  • Low population density
  • Great climate
  • Excellent healthcare system
  • Employment opportunities
  • A wonderful place for study
  • Friendly / laid back lifestyle
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Moving Requirements

When moving to Australia from Dubai, importation of Household Goods and Personal Effects

Prohibited Items

Prohibited/restrictions include but are not limited to;

  • Alcohol
  • Anabolic and androgenic substances (those that enhance muscle and bone growth and may include health supplements)
  • Antibiotics
  • Cigarettes / tobacco
  • Growth hormones and substances of human or animal origin
  • Knives and daggers
  • Laser pointers
  • Pornography and other objectionable materials
  • Radioactive substances
  • Therapeutic drugs and substances (abortifacients, aphrodisiacs, etc.)

For more information and a more extensive list of items visit IAM – moving to Australia

cleaning bicycle
When moving to Australia, it is very important to ensure all items are squeaky clean, this includes, dirt & mud on shoes, or on bicycle tires.

Taking your Pets

Australian rules on the importation of animals are very strict. There are controls on both the country where the animals come from and what types of animals you can import. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service is the government body that protects Australia’s unique environment from unwanted pests and diseases. They inspect all incoming luggage, cargo, mail, animals and plants and their products, and provide inspection and certification for a range of exports.

On their website under Import Conditions Search (ICON), you can access information about Australian import conditions for more than 20,000 animals, plants, microbial, mineral and human commodities. It can be used to determine if a commodity intended for import to Australia needs a quarantine permit and/or treatment or if there are any other quarantine prerequisites. The database is easy to navigate and is updated immediately when changes are made to the import information, providing a quick and easy way to stay in touch with Australian import requirements.

It is not easy to relocate a pet to Australia, and it is quite expensive. There are many conditions that a pet has to satisfy, from how long has it been resident in the country of origin, to having current vaccinations, being examined by a vet surgeon prior to shipment and having a microchip inserted on arrival. Conditions for importing dogs and cats vary depending on the country of origin and detailed information can be found on the AQIS website, under Animals and Reproductive Material>Importing animals and reproductive material>Importing Cats and Dogs. Some dogs are considered dangerous and are not eligible for importation in Australia.

Generally, dogs, cats and horses may be brought in from a number of countries, but are still subject to quarantine controls (minimum 30 days after arrival to maximum 120 days). Dogs and cats from New Zealand, Norfolk Island and the Cocos Islands are not subject to quarantine conditions. Pets must be shipped by air in an approved container and can only arrive at major airports in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. It is the owner’s responsibility to pay fees and accommodation for their pet in quarantine. The fee is calculated after your pet arrives in Australia, and you will be invoiced for these services. The fee structure can also be checked on the AQIS website under Import Fees and charges.

Dog in Pet Carrier for Shipping

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Climate & Weather

The Australian continent is in the Southern Hemisphere and its seasons are the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere, when it is summer in Europe and North America it is winter in Australia. Broadly Australia has just two climatic zones, 40% of the continent is in the tropical zone, with the remaining regions (south of the Tropic of Capricorn) being in the temperate zone.

The tropical zone has two seasons: hot wet season from November to April, and warm dry from May to October. The temperate zones have four seasons: spring (September to November), summer (December to February), autumn (March to May) and winter (June to August). Due to its size, the weather across the continent can range from below zero temperatures in the Snowy Mountains to intolerable heat in the north-west.

Australia is considered to be one of the driest continents on earth, with the lowest rainfall after Antarctica. Snow is rare except in the Australian Alps, across the New South Wales and Victorian border, where skiing is possible between June and October. The Australian climate is also known for its extremes – cyclones along the coast, severe droughts inland and bushfires. The most pleasant seasons in most of Australia are spring and autumn, except for Tasmania where closeness to Antarctica makes summer the most enjoyable.

Seasonal Climate Infographic - Moving to Australia - Autumn

Cost of Living

Cost of Living

Just as people’s incomes vary greatly, so does their ability to spend, and giving a meaningful ‘one-for-all’ guide on the cost of living is quite difficult. It is also worth bearing in mind that Australia places 4th on the Numbeo – Quality of life Index as a country.

Sydney (23), Perth (39) are both in the top 40 countries in the Cost of Living index, however they are both cheaper than most European capitals and major US and Far Eastern capitals. Whilst Canberra (42) Melbourne (52), Brisbane (53) Adelaide (94) all score right at the top of quality of life despite

Cost of living in Australia is comparatively less expensive than in Europe, especially the UK. However, earnings are also lower and taxes higher. What will have a big bearing on your cost of living is your individual lifestyle. Prices for essentials such as food, drink and clothes are relatively low, with manufactured goods being generally expensive because many are imported. At the same time you can expect to pay more per year for property, rent, transport and food in Australia’s east-coast cities, with Sydney being the most expensive.

Average Expense Distribution Living in Australia

Healthcare & Medical

Australia’s health system offers a comprehensive range of public and privately funded health services. You can choose whether to have Medicare cover only or a combination of Medicare and private health insurance. Medicare, the Australian Government health scheme, provides help with basic medical expenses like free treatment in public hospitals, and free or subsidized treatment by general practitioners and some specialists.

All permanent residents are eligible to join Medicare, with restricted access granted to citizens of certain countries which have a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia. To enroll in Medicare you should wait approximately seven days after your arrival and then go to any Medicare office with your passport or travel documents. If all enrolment requirements are met, you will receive your Medicare card with your number, in the post. A Welcome Kit, translated into several different languages, is available from Medicare offices, explaining Medicare and other government health services and the eligibility requirements for benefits and payments.

Healthcare Chart
Canberra (1) Adelaide (2) and Brisbane (9) in the top 10 Quality of Healthcare Index. The analysis was based on an evaluation of wide ranging life criteria for each city, including political, social, economic, and environmental factors, personal safety and health, education, transport, and other public services.

Renting Property

Homes can be rented privately or through public housing. Most major newspapers have a section ‘To Let’, usually on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There are also a number of websites you can search for properties. The larger online property website are Real Estate, the Newcomers Network and Challenging Directions, who provide more advice on this topic.        

Most agents will ask for a written application and a couple of references from previous landlords. This can be difficult for newcomers. Sometimes agents will accept a reference from a friend or a family member who has credible information on themselves. For further advice and assistance contact your local Migrant Resource Centre as they can provide advice and assistance.

You will need to wait for your rental/lease application to be approved (or not). If approved, you will have to sign a lease agreement, pay a refundable deposit called a ‘bond’ of typically one month’s rent, plus some rent in advance.

Rental properties in central business district, Melbourne Australia
Rental properties in central business district, Melbourne Australia

Buying Property

Prices on property vary greatly not only from city to city, but within cities from suburb to suburb. Most buyers purchase homes by taking up a bank loan and repaying it over 25 to 30 years. The initial deposit can be anything between 10% and 20%.

Most often properties are sold by Real Estate agents, advertised in newspapers and online the same as for rental properties. Sometimes properties are sold directly by private owners (in which case there is no agent’s commission).

People moving with school age children generally look for a home that provides easy access to the children’s school and then ‘commute’ to work.

Properties at Surfers Paradise beach on Gold Coast, Australia
Properties at Surfers Paradise beach on Gold Coast, Australia

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Education & Schools

Schooling is compulsory in most states and territories until the age of fifteen. Most students stay at school until they complete Year 10 qualification (School Certificate approximately 16 years of age), and an increasing number of students stay to complete their Year 12 studies (High School Certificate or International Baccalaureate approximately 18 years of age).

Public and Private Schools: Parents choose to enroll their children in public (state government) or private (independent) schools. Education at public schools is (almost) free, with most schools charging a small annual fee to cover extra activities, school building funds (tax deductible) and library costs. Parents will also have to purchase some books and uniforms, and pay additional fees for excursions and camps. Most public schools are co-educational, and girls and boys are encouraged to participate equally in classes and activities.

Most often properties are sold by Real Estate agents, advertised in newspapers and online the same as for rental properties. Sometimes properties are sold directly by private owners (in which case there is no agent’s commission).

People moving with school age children generally look for a home that provides easy access to the children’s school and then ‘commute’ to work.

Utilities

Electricity

The cost of electricity in Australia has risen over the past decade. In fact as of 2018, in most Australian states the cost of electricity is higher than any European countries with the exception of Denmark, Germany and Italy. The Australian domestic standard voltage is AC 240/250 volts, frequency of 50 Hertz. People relocating to Australia with UK and EU appliances are mostly safe to use, but check with the manufacturer or a licensed electrician.

Source Australian Government: ACCC Electricity pricing inquiry.

One appliance you will certainly need a lot in Australia is a refrigerator. Given the warmer weather, you will want to keep everything in the fridge, even foods that in Europe or North America you might store in the cupboard/pantry. A good time to buy is at the end of the financial year (30 June) and following Christmas, when most retailers have big sales. If you need something to get you to that time, you can rent appliances, and you can also purchase second-hand ones through various buy/sell websites like Gumtree.

When you move into a new home in Australia the electricity supply will probably be turned off by the local electricity company. As soon as you move in contact your local electricity company and ask to be reconnected and have the meter read. Reconnection is usually done within 24 hours.

One of the largest electricity suppliers is Energy Australia (also supplying gas). Another large supplier of electricity is Integral Energy.

Gas

Australia’s great natural gas reserves make it available in all major cities. Gas is very popular for cooking and it also costs less than electricity. When you move to a home that has a gas supply, contact your local gas company to reconnect you and transfer the account to your name. There may be some cost associated with it, like a security deposit and establishment of the account.

Water

 

Australia is the world’s driest country, where regional areas are regularly subject to droughts. Water is very precious and at times of drought there may be restrictions applied to water usage. These are often announced on social media, in newspapers, on radio and television. Each city and major region has a water board operated by the local government. In some areas you will be billed for water at a fixed charge, whilst in some others you may actually be billed for consumption. Check with your local water board.

Whilst Australian drinking water is one of the cleanest and safest in the world, the quality varies. Some people have water purifiers fitted to their home drinking tap to improve its taste, some buy bottled water. Fluoride is added to the water in most cities as a preventative measure for tooth decay.

Public and Private Schools: Parents choose to enroll their children in public (state government) or private (independent) schools. Education at public schools is (almost) free, with most schools charging a small annual fee to cover extra activities, school building funds (tax deductible) and library costs. Parents will also have to purchase some books and uniforms, and pay additional fees for excursions and camps. Most public schools are co-educational, and girls and boys are encouraged to participate equally in classes and activities.

Public and Private Schools: Parents choose to enroll their children in public (state government) or private (independent) schools. Education at public schools is (almost) free, with most schools charging a small annual fee to cover extra activities, school building funds (tax deductible) and library costs. Parents will also have to purchase some books and uniforms, and pay additional fees for excursions and camps. Most public schools are co-educational, and girls and boys are encouraged to participate equally in classes and activities.

Most often properties are sold by Real Estate agents, advertised in newspapers and online the same as for rental properties. Sometimes properties are sold directly by private owners (in which case there is no agent’s commission).

People moving with school age children generally look for a home that provides easy access to the children’s school and then ‘commute’ to work.

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Communications

Phones

The Australian system is one of the most efficient and easy to operate telephone systems in the world. There is an extensive network of public phones throughout the country, and phone booths are easy to recognize by the orange and blue Telstra logo. Local calls are inexpensive with most phones accepting coins and prepaid telephone cards. You can call long distance; however charges vary depending on time of day and distance. The best day to make interstate or international calls is Sunday, when all day discount rates apply. Prepaid Telephone cards of $2, $5, $20, $20 and $50 can be purchased from news-agencies and Post Offices (not open at weekends). Public phones also offer SMS services.

When contacting Australia from overseas you first must dial the country code (61), then the area code without the zero – for Sydney (2), followed by the residence number. When calling from Australia you need to dial 0011, followed by the country code of the country you are calling, area code and residence number to dial outside of Australia.

Vodafone shop in Melbourne Australia

There are three main telecommunications companies that provide mobile phone services: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, with a number of small market players (3, Orange, Hutchison etc.). The digital network is very efficient and covers the entire country. Overseas mobile phones will also operate in Australia, but it is much more cost effective if you purchase an Australian SIM card, than if you call with your overseas one. Rates for mobile phone calls vary considerably, and shopping around is essential. You can also purchase pre-paid mobile phone credit at newsagents, petrol stations and most supermarkets. Some people find that mobile phone calls are much more expensive in Australia than what they have been accustomed to.

Internet

Whether you just want to stay in touch with your family overseas, or start looking for jobs, property, or any information, it is essential to connect to the Internet as soon as you can. There are a number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), national and local, with a large number of plans to choose from catering to light/heavy usage or packaging Internet with your phone plan.

Driving & Public Transport

Driving

Australians drive on the left hand side of the road. Tourists may drive in Australia on a valid overseas driver’s license and the same class of vehicle. When driving you must carry your license with you as well as a valid passport.  It is not sufficient to have just an International Driver’s Permit. If you migrate to Australia as a permanent resident visa holder and have a current driver’s license from another country (in English or with an official translation), you are allowed to drive for the first three months after arrival. After the three months, if you want to drive, you will need to have the appropriate Australian driver’s license. This will usually require you to pass a knowledge test, a practical driving test, and an eyesight test.

Maximum speed limit in cities and towns vary from 50 km/h in residential areas, to 60 km/h on main city roads. There are also strict school-zones where you can only drive 40 km/h (couple of hours in the morning and afternoon), and these zones are frequently monitored by police. Outside cities the speed limit is between 100 and 110 km/h, unless a sign indicates otherwise (never above 110 km/h).

Petrol is sold by the liter and the cost varies during the week with Monday and Tuesday being the cheapest. In mid 2019 the cost of 1 liter of unleaded petrol was around $ 1.40 per liter. Prices are often higher in country areas. There are many petrol stations that also sell confectionary and basic household items. They operate from early morning hours until late at night and almost always on the weekend.

Australia is a very big country with huge distances between major cities. Whilst traveling by train between the cities can be a visually impressive experience, it can also become dull as in some parts of the country the scenery doesn’t change very often. Flying from city to city saves time and is relatively inexpensive if booked well in advance, particularly during school and public holiday seasons.

Trains are the fastest form of transport when traveling within Australia’s major cities. This is particularly important during peak-hours when traffic jams in Sydney can halt you for up to an hour!

Taxis operate 24 hours a day in most Australian cities. Your fare is shown on a meter displayed on the dashboard, and sometimes you will need to pay an additional fee for a motorway, tunnel or bridge toll. Some outer suburbs are only serviced by local taxis.

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