The longest journey for an expat starts with a single step – and that’s usually deciding to leave home to seek a new life overseas. Australia is one of the most distant but most popular destinations for British expats.
Besides a sunny climate and healthy outdoor lifestyle, Australia presents no language problems and has financial and legal systems that run along the lines of those back home. But moving countries is not as simple as making that decision and flying out to a new home.
Australia, in common with just about every nation, has strict border controls and the government is somewhat selective about who they let in. However much you want to go to Australia, you must meet the entry requirements.
Cost of living
Australia wants skilled workers who have the capability of supporting themselves and their families without becoming a social security burden. Even if you meet the working visa requirements, think carefully about other factors.
Australia has no national health service and most expats must have the compulsory private medical cover which can work out expensive. Housing in Sydney and Melbourne costs around the same as back in Britain, and although food and fuel are cheaper, the cost of living is high as most goods are imported.
Simple purchases, such as books and DVDs cost much more than in the UK. Distance is another issue to consider. London to Edinburgh is an overnight stay. Sydney to Perth is like travelling from New York to LA – around 2,500 miles. Driving is easier than in most countries as Australians drive on the same side of the road as Britain.
For older expats, Britain pays the state pension in Australia but without any cost of living increases. The amount you receive in your first pension payment is what you will get forever. That soon shrinks in spending power as inflation bites.
You can find out about living in Australia on government or expat web sites. An official visa wizard can help with if you qualify as a skilled worker, while a British government guide gives the low-down on several points new expats might overlook about moving to Australia. Other places for reference material include HSBC Bank’s Expat Explorer and the Internations website.