Sample page

What follows is the table of contents and the first paragraph or two from each chapter in the guide. Each chapter (in the guide) starts with the generalities of the topic and then works down toward the detail. What you see below represents less than 1% of the total content. The really useful information in the guide will obviously never appear on this sample page.

If you learn anything useful from what you read below, then multiply that by 100 and you're starting to get an idea of the time-saving, stress-avoiding and money-saving help that this guide gives you today.


The Australian Visa System and your options - page 7

The Final Countdown - Packing up - Page 49

Arrival in Australia - The first few hours - Page 61

Institutions that you will want to deal with - Page 67

Finding a permanent home in Australia - Page 76

What do things cost? - Page 81

Working in Australia - life in the workplace - Page 84

Employment in Australia - finding a job - Page 89

Managing your finances in Australia - Page 97

Schooling and further education in Australia - Page 102

Practicalities of life in Australia - Page 109

Australian social life, customs and etiquette - Page 115

- Chapter 1 -


Why Australia? It's plain for all to see.

Congratulations on making the exciting decision to emigrate to Australia. This will be a major move in your life and is perhaps even the biggest decision you'll ever make.

Australia is famous for its political and economic stability. Its democracy is amongst the most mature in the world while its education and healthcare systems are envied by many countries. Add to this backdrop its great food, beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and a relaxed lifestyle and it's easy to understand why so many people from around the world want to call Australia home. The benefits are plain for all to see.

Australia was an early adopter of the concept of a global economy and encourages educated, highly trained young professionals from around the world to work and settle in Australia. Although the salaries paid in Australia for highly-skilled technical positions are somewhat less than what their counterparts in the USA or Europe may earn, the cost of living is lower and the pace more relaxed. For some the lifestyle alone is priceless. There are things that money can't buy.

If you are reading this from outside of Australia, don't rush to pack your bags just yet. It can be very difficult to obtain the visas needed to live and work in Australia and only a few possess the necessary requirements. All the world can see the benefits of life in Australia - and they can apply for visas too. It's a very competitive world out there, but if you're at least adequately prepared then you have a slight advantage.

- Chapter 2 -


Your visa application will take several months to be approved. During this time it is prudent to start making arrangements for your 'Big Move'. What follows is a suggested plan of action that starts off with the most time-consuming tasks and ends with the last minute things best left until your day of departure.

Most people moving overseas have usually only had the experience of a domestic move within their home country. It is understandable to imagine that an international removal is much the same - it isn't. It is far more complicated, costly, stressful and time-consuming. It also comes with an unpredictable watershed point where you cross over to unfamiliar terrain where you are very much on your own.

- Chapter 3 -


Clearing Immigration Control

The vast majority of people arriving in Australia do so at Sydney and Melbourne International Airports. Just about everything is well signposted and finding your way around isn't too difficult. If you are overawed or feel lost, just follow the crowd.

The procedure involves clearing Immigration Control first, then on to collect your luggage with the finale being a walk through a corridor of Customs officials. If your papers are in order, you're visibly in good health, not carrying anything illegal in your luggage and don't look like you're hiding something, then you have nothing to fear. This process should be a formality taking just under an hour to complete.

As you get off the plane, look up toward the ceiling to spot the signs pointing to Immigration Control.

When its your turn at the counter of an Immigration Control official you will need to present your passport and an Incoming Passenger Card (or Advanced Passenger Clearance Card). This latter card should be given to you on the plane shortly before landing. These documents will be returned to you after immigration processing.

- Chapter 4 -


Moving to a new country to settle - irrespective of how many times you may have visited - can be daunting and very stressful. It's a well known fact that moving home (never mind emigrating) is one of the most stressful events in a person's life. To prevent your emotions overwhelming you when you need a clear head the most, take the time to write down everything you need to do once you're in Australia. Perhaps even do this well before you even get on the plane. This will ease your mind and give you a clear path to follow. There will be many distractions between when you read this advice and when the time comes to carry it all out.

There is a series of small but vital tasks which need to be done if your time in Australia is to be a success. These are:

- Chapter 5 -


Where to live is a function of your personal circumstances. It comes down to what you will accept, what you can afford, where you work, when you work, what transport you require and how long you want to stay. Schooling for children might also be needed. If you're single, a couple or a family with children also plays a large part in this decision. Deciding where to live is not an easy matter to deal with and nor is it speedily resolved in most cases.

The longer you want to stay creates more options for you. Short-term accommodation is relatively easy to come by, but will be in two extremes - very nice or very horrible. The latter is cheap and is anything from dingy hostels, crowding in with friends or family (an emotional "horrible"), sharing with strangers or to sleeping on the streets. "Nice" would be expensive and encompasses hotels, B&Bs or serviced flats.

Longer-term accommodation takes longer to secure for a variety of reasons. Once people find a nice place to stay, they hold on to it for as long as possible. In Australia people change jobs far more frequently than they do changing homes. The process of signing up to a new lease can be lengthy too. The quality of accommodation in an area can vary greatly, so many viewings of properties are called for. Expect to see at least a dozen places before finding a place you will sign up to.

If you have a permanent position workwise you will most likely work at the same location on a daily basis. You can then look for the most suitable way of commuting to work. The cost and time involved in commuting must then be considered. This in itself is a function of what you earn. If you earn at least an average salary, you can afford more in the way of transport. Lower-wage workers can't afford to lay out a few hundred Dollars a month on commuting in from outside a city. The best way to get to work usually involves having your own personal car because it is the quickest way. Travelling the same distance with public transport will take several times longer. Don't forget to factor in the cost of parking your car for the day at work.

- Chapter 6 -


What is "affordable"?

Doing direct comparisons of price levels in any country is really an exercise of little value. Consumer goods in Cuba are expensive to Cubans, but the same items in Japan (at a higher price in any currency) are cheap to the Japanese. How can this be? What we can afford to pay for goods is a function of what we earn. What we can spend is after tax has been deducted and other essential needs have been paid for. In a country like Australia you don't spend as much money on healthcare and safety as in other countries. Those items are already included in the taxes paid. Taxes can be high in Australia, but that is slowly changing.

So how do we make a meaningful comparison? The only item everyone worldwide has the same amount of, is time. Consider "time" to be a universal currency. Thus a good measure of affordability is how long it will take you to earn the same item. (The fact that items vary in quality and need replacing more often in some countries will be ignored for now). Calculations for your doing the same job in Australia is obviously necessary to conduct a meaningful review, so see the chapter on employment.

- Chapter 7 -


The bigger picture with the forces involved

There is no queue to join outside the airport that leads to your dream job in Australia. Because of the immense size of the landmass that is Australia, being in the right place at the right time to find a job takes a bit of effort on a jobseeker's part. Australia might have a well-publicised sub-6% national unemployment rate, but in some parts of the country it can be double that. Within certain industries it can be much higher. On the other end of the scale, there are industries that just can't find people to fill the roles even though they pay well above the average rate. At the same time a skill that may be in demand today in one location can be redundant tomorrow. Such is the fluidity of the workplace in Australia.

Economic, technological and demographic changes are the most significant causes of skills shortages in Australia. At the same time these forces also can threaten the demand for certain skills. The Australian government believes that the long-term trends in place in Australia for the last 20 years are likely to continue. This implies that employment will continue to grow slowly or even decline in manufacturing industries. Employment growth will be highest in the service industries, which is especially the finance, healthcare, retail, accommodation and restaurant industries.

There are also three significant long-term demographic trends within Australian society that are set to continue. These are: 1) the increasing amount of part-time work, 2) a "middle-ageing" of the workforce and 3) an increased proportion of women in the workforce. As Australia's birth and immigration rates slow, the average age of the workforce will gradually rise. This 'workforce ageing' will be characterised by more middle-aged women joining the workforce.

People with information technology (IT) skills are in very high demand in Australia. The total number of job vacancies in the IT sector in Australia is generally believed to be around the 30 000 mark (which is similar to the UK). Other skills are in high demand as well, such as chefs for instance. Construction trades, accountancy and auditing are perennial areas of strong growth. IT shortages are thought to exist because of the attraction of higher rates of pay elsewhere in the world coupled with the mobility of IT skills.

- Chapter 8 -


The state of play as an immigrant

The Australian labour market is very competitive. The rate at which people change jobs is lower than in countries such as America and Britain. How quickly you are able to find a suitable job depends on a number of factors:

  • which part of Australia you live in
  • economic conditions prevailing nationally and locally
  • the overall demand for your particular skills and/or qualifications
  • the number vacancies in your industry nationally and locally
  • your skills, qualifications, experience and their recognition by the relevant Australian organisations
  • your ability to find job opportunities and to position yourself so that jobs find you
  • your skill at using your CV to market yourself
  • your ability to interview well
  • your ability to retain a position, perform well in it and to build your prospects from there

With the last five points above you have much more influence over, so concentrate on doing those well and quickly.

Having been given permission to migrate to Australia does not guarantee a job. Think of it instead as having been told that you are eligible to compete in the Australian labour market. Be prepared for a scenario of it taking some time to find work in Australia. It would be much easier for you (and your dependants) if you or your partner have work of some kind lined up waiting for you when you do arrive in Australia.

- Chapter 9 -


Getting money in to Australia

Once you have your Australian visa then you can start planning to transfer funds into Australian currency. Even if you don't have all your funds available you can reserve a good exchange rate using a forward currency contract. Such a product is available from currency brokers who should be able to give you a better rate than a regular bank would. Like with anything else, it pays to shop around. You could be dealing in a lot of money and percentages make a difference. By arranging a forward currency contract to buy Australian dollars at an agreed rate you eliminate the risk that the rate will drop by the time you have your funds ready. In a sense you are buying certainty. It could work out in your favour or it could not. You can then have the monies transferred to your Australian bank account when required, usually shortly before your arrival in Australia.

If you have a pension then may wish to consider transferring it to Australia. This can be complicated and your pension fund may attract Australian tax if it is frozen in the country of origin. It is recommend that you get professional advice on how to go about transferring a pension to Australia. By transferring your pension, you are removing the element of currency risk from your pension pot.

There is no restriction on the amount of foreign or local currency which may be imported to Australia. There is no exchange control on currency in Australia. Cash amounts in excess of A$ 5 000, either being brought into or taken out of the country, must be reported to customs authorities or to the Australian Transaction and Analysis centre. The required forms are available at Australian ports and airports. Regulations are prone to change and expatriates are advised to consult their banks before departure.

It isn't necessary to exchange all your money before your arrival in Australia. You may want to bring some cash as an exchange rate hedge. Western currencies such as the British Pound, European Euro, Canadian and American Dollar, are easily converted in Australia. Approximately 20 different forms of currency can be changed at any airport or city-based bureau de change. Traveller's cheques can be converted at many locations such as banks, but at a poorer exchange rate than cash. Traveller's cheques in Australian Dollars are hard to cash outside of the city centres. Airports generally give the worst exchange rate and/or have the highest commission charge. Some hotels will change money at rate very profitable for themselves. Banks and bureau de changes will give better rates than hotels. Exchanging money in the outback or in small towns can be difficult, but ATMs are practically everywhere.

- Chapter 10 -


The Australian education system seen in totality

Education is provided to children aged from approximately four to eighteen years. The exact age of compulsory education varies from state to state, but is generally for children aged approximately six to fifteen years. Australian government education is provided free-of-charge by all of Australia's states at primary and secondary school level. However, most 'government' schools do ask for a small voluntary annual fee to help cover extra activities.

Responsibility for education is divided between the state and federal governments. State governments are responsible for school education and to provide and manage government schools. They also have to support non-government schools. The federal government, through the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) provides supplementary funding to support certain strategies and priorities such as literacy and numeracy programs and is responsible for higher education. Vocational education and training is shared between the state and federal governments.

About 15% of school-going children attend 'private' or 'independent' schools. These charge tuition fees which can sometimes be very steep. Many provide boarding accommodation and usually cater for boys and girls separately. You often get what you pay for, but sometimes the price is not worth it. There are many good free state primary and secondary schools throughout the country. Most private schools fall into one of two categories. They are either schools administered by the Catholic Education Office or are independent schools of other religious persuasions administered by their own boards. Private or independent schools do have their own fee structure and do receive some form of subsidy (usually small) from local and national government. Many private schools are single-sex schools.

The Australian education system is divided broadly into five levels:

- Chapter 11 -


The postal system

Australia Post ( is a government-owned corporation which operates all the standard national and international post. For urgent deliveries there is a 'priority paid' facility for next-day delivery both inside and outside Australia. Ordinary mail between Europe and Australia is almost always transported by airmail. This takes around 5 to 7 days between Australia and continental Europe and 3 to 4 days to the UK and USA. Private companies operate separate parcel delivery and courier services.

All addresses on letters and packages need to reflect the abbreviated name of the state as well as the four-digit post code for the actual delivery destination. Abbreviated state names are as follows:

  • New South Wales = NSW
  • Queensland = Qld
  • Victoria = Vic
  • Australian Capital Territory = ACT
  • South Australia = SA
  • Western Australia = WA
  • Tasmania = Tas
  • Northern Territory = NT

Post offices are open between the hours of 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday. In Melbourne and Sydney, main post offices (GPO's) and several other busy offices are also open on Saturday from 09.00 - 12.00. Postage stamps can be bought at the reception desks of hotels and motels as well as at some stores and news stands. Mailboxes are easily recognisable and are a large metal box painted red with a white stripe.

- Chapter 12 -


Social trends

Australians in a social setting tend to lean towards informality. First names, which are often shortened, are used from the start of an acquaintance. This casualness permeates Australian society and leads to a generally relaxed atmosphere between people. The most common greetings are 'How you doing?' or the world-famous 'G'day' (short for 'Good day'). Australian humour is often laced with irony and sarcasm and can they do make fun of themselves sometimes if they're comfortable with your presence.

The country is a relatively classless society and has a strong egalitarian theme to it. There is also a discomfort with hierarchical structures and perceived authoritarianism. Anyone having a big opinion of themselves or being bossy will quickly become an object of derision and will be bombarded with humorous barbed comments.

Multiculturalism is being actively encouraged by the Australian government. The idea behind it that new blood is beneficial to the country and leads to new ideas, new perspectives and a dynamic economy. Immigrants are not forced to assimilate, but are given the right to rather maintain their own cultural identity. Television and radio programmes are broadcast in over 50 different languages, with a great many 'ethnic' publications available.

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