The shortest journey begins with the smallest step – and for expats going to Australia that first step is usually the idea of seeking a better life. What seems a simple plan is complicated by visa restrictions, even for skilled workers.
Many expats find help from a visa consultant is helpful in securing the move, unless they are off for a working holiday to see if they like Australia before making a more permanent move.
The move is easier for older expats, but they must prove that they are self-supporting without claiming social security top-ups. If you are serious about emigrating to Australia, then try the government’s online visa wizard to see where you might slot in.
When you arrive
Expats need to know the simple things – like how much they are spending in Australian dollars. Londoners will find spotting a cab tough – Australia has no generic cab colour like London’s black cabs.
Line up somewhere to stay before you go. Hotel rooms are expensive – much along the same price as those in Britain of £100 a night or more. B&Bs and hostels are cheaper, but you need to check the out after arrival as you generally get what you pay for!
Australia will not present a language problem – everyone speaks English but you can get words mixed up, such as thongs are not underclothing but flip flops.
Broadband and smartphone access is good in towns and cities, but patchy elsewhere. Don’t underestimate the size of Australia – with a 21,000-mile coastline and stretching almost 2,500 miles east to west and north to south, distances are vast. Sydney and Melbourne look close on a map but are a good day’s drive apart.
Living and working
The weather is great in Australia nearly all the time and the scenery is awesome. But tourists see a different country from expats who have made a permanent move. Housing can be expensive, and so can some food and household items – books are a surprising price.
Shopping brands are similar – Woolworth’s still trades in Australia, but as a supermarket rather than a general store. Australians drive on the same side as the UK, follow the same legal and tax systems and even watch a lot of the same TV.
Most expats say it takes a year to feel at home – and that’s mostly getting used to the weather and spending more time outdoors.