As an expat, your ability to work in Australia will depend on the nature of your visa, and whether it confers your right to work in the country. Working visas are often regulated according to the skills required in a given country, and Australia is no exception. Regular updates are provided on the official government website. The kind of visa that you apply for will also depend on whether you require permanent or temporary work.
If you are an Australian citizen, from New Zealand, or have permanent residency, you will have full working rights in Australia. If you are from elsewhere and do not yet have residency, you will need a visa; and not all visas confer working rights. Your employer will need to conduct regular visa checks. The range of working visas extends from Skilled Migration visas to Business Investment Visas, with other visa permits for various categories.
You may be able to apply for sponsorship from an Australian company. Companies are said to prefer temporary skilled visas to permanent skilled visas, as there is a reduced risk factor with temporary permit holders. Ask at your interview if your employer would be willing to sponsor you after two years in the post. Some expats also use the Working Holiday Visa as a stepping stone to permanent sponsorship.
If you do not have employment arranged upon your arrival in Australia, then note that social security payments are rarely available to migrants and are restricted to residents of the country. You may be eligible up to four years after your arrival under the Newly Arrived Residents’ Waiting Period (NARWP).
The Government of Australia’s website lists skills shortages and which visas are available to cover these areas. This will show you if you qualify for specific occupations on the Skilled Occupations List.
Typically, you will be expected to work 38 hours per week for full-time employment: 7.6-8 hours per day from Monday-Friday. Overtime will be paid for hours worked beyond this range. Traditional working hours are generally 9am-5pm.
Most full-time workers will be entitled to four weeks’ paid annual leave for every 12 months worked. Part-time employees will be entitled to four weeks’ annual leave, paid on a pro-rata basis.
If you are a shift worker then you may be entitled to five weeks’ annual leave, but check with your employer: this is a suggestion, rather than a requirement.
The cost of living in Australia is higher overall when compared to the UK and USA. It currently has the 12th highest cost of living in the world.
Housing costs are somewhat cheaper in the UK, whether renting or buying, but it depends where you are based; London is more expensive than Sydney, for example. Eating out is more expensive in Australia, but running a car is cheaper.
Salaries are around 28% higher in Australia than the UK, however, and your purchasing power would be 16% lower in Britain. The overall cost of living is 9% higher in Australia than in the USA. The minimum wage is also substantially higher in Australia than it is in the States: AU$17.70 per hour in Australia as opposed to AU$10.08 for the USA.
Your spouse will have full working rights under a partner visa, which takes three forms:
• temporary partner visa
• permanent partner visa
• prospective spouse (fiancé) visa, if you plan to marry in Australia. This confers full working rights, but is restricted to nine months.
Check with the Australian government regarding your partner’s eligibility for a partner visa.
The main recruitment websites in Australia are:
All of these have experience with international hires.
Speculative applications to Australian companies are possible and can yield positive results: you can approach companies directly and do not necessarily need to go through a recruitment agency.
The main employment recruiting areas in Australia are currently:
• healthcare and social assistance
• professional, scientific and technical services
• education and training
Down Under Live is a large annual job fair held in the UK, aimed at recruitment in Australia.
Australian employers will appreciate a brief, engaging covering letter with the hiring manager’s details and title, along with a 1-3 page CV.
At your interview, it is illegal for an employer to ask you questions relating to the following subjects:
• Are you married?
• Do you have children, or do you plan to have them?
• What is your nationality?
• Is English your first language?
• Have you ever been arrested?
• What is your credit history?
• Have you used drugs in the past?
• Do you drink alcohol?
You may need to query any prospective employers regarding the transfer of your qualifications: for example, if you are a teacher you must hold a degree that equates to a minimum of four years’ tertiary study. The organisation Smart Teachers will enable you to apply for educational posts in Australia.
If you are a nurse, you will need to meet the registration requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). You will also need grade 7 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination. However, if you are qualified as a nurse in the UK or USA with a degree or a diploma as well as further education, and you are registered as a first-level nurse in either country, you will be eligible to take up a nursing post in Australia.
In construction, you will be required to hold a degree as a construction manager or be a member of CIOB with three years’ experience outside Australia, or one year of experience in Australia.
All foreign visitors, apart from those who hold a New Zealand passport, require a visa to enter Australia. For tourist purposes, most people can simply apply online for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority). ETAs are also available for some business travellers. They are valid for 12 months, and they allow you to stay in Australia for up to three months at a time. The business ETA covers conference attendance, business negotiations and exploratory business visits.
If you wish to spend a longer time in Australia, but will not be working or studying, you can apply for a long-stay visitor visa, which lasts for up to 12 months. You must be able to demonstrate you have funds to support yourself during your visit, and you may also be asked to undergo a medical examination.
If you wish to live and work long-term in Australia, or to become a permanent resident, there are a number of options. Most work-related visas fall under the Australian General Skilled Migrant Programme (GSM). In all cases, you must be able to pass the points test, demonstrate competence in English, and prove you are in good health and of good character.
Australian skilled migrant visa
Potential migrants, with skills and experience in certain areas, are eligible to apply for a skilled migrant visa. A list of the skills in demand can be found on the Australian Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), and you should consult this first. You must be under 45 when you apply, be fluent in English, and be able to pass the Australian points test with a minimum of 65 points. At the time of writing, skills in a variety of engineering, computing, scientific and medical professions, as well as some areas of education and the arts, are listed.
Once you have identified that you possess the relevant skills, you must apply for a skills assessment with the relevant authority – a list of these can be found on the website of the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs (DOHA). Once you have received a positive skills assessment, you may submit an expression of interest (EOI) via SkillSelect, on the DOHA website. This is a tool which allows you to register your skills and qualifications with a range of potential employers, as well as state and territorial governments within Australia. Your entry remains live for two years and can be updated as and when you gain new qualifications and experience and if your family situation changes. Candidates with the highest level EOIs will automatically receive an invitation to apply for a skilled migrant visa.
In addition, state and regional governments issue invitations to workers they wish to sponsor. Once you receive an invitation, you should proceed to apply for a skilled migrant visa. These are granted for five years and you may bring your spouse and dependent children with you. If you have been nominated by a state or territory, you must live and work in it for a minimum of two years after the visa is granted. The visa can be renewed if you live and work in Australia for at least two years in the five-year period. After four years’ continuous residence, you may apply for citizenship.
Business and innovation visa
If you wish to set up a business in Australia, or manage an existing one, and possess the appropriate skills and qualifications, you may be eligible for a business and innovation visa. As with the skilled migrant visa, you should register an expression of interest (EOI) via SkillSelect. You may then either approach the government of an Australian state or territory with your business proposal, or wait for an invitation. Once you have an invitation, you may apply for a visa. You must also be able to provide the appropriate business documents, and proof that you have at least AUS$800000 net in assets ($557000/£420000). You can also apply as a potential investor, if you can invest a minimum of AUS$1.5 million in an Australian state or territory, or at least AUS$5 million in certain Australian investments, and have an invitation via SkillSelect. All of these visas can be extended, and they all attract a significant fee. Details can be found on the DOHA website.
In addition, people with an Australian spouse or partner, or who are parents of Australian citizens, can apply for family migration visas. Your partner or spouse must be able to prove they can support you for at least two years. Parents must be sponsored by their child, who must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible citizen of New Zealand.
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer “Moratorium” or is it “Full underwriting” and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
Compare quotes from leading international health insurance providers
Property prices in Australia vary depending on size and location. City and beachfront accommodation can often be extremely expensive. Typically, you can expect to pay the following amounts per week in these areas:
• Sydney: 410-580 AUD
• Canberra: 390-560 AUD
• Melbourne: 320-455 AUD
• Brisbane: 300-440 AUD
• Perth: 270-385 AUD
• Adelaide: 270-390 AUD
• Hobart: 320-450 AUD
• Darwin: 320-460 AUD
Typical accommodation options include studio apartments, flats and houses.
There are numerous ways to find properties to rent in Australia, including through estate agents, Facebook groups and forums. Be aware that estate agents often refer to properties as “units”.
Typical lease terms in Australia vary. Before you can secure a property, you will have to go through the “100 point check.” This is an identification check that was put in place to prevent fraud or identity theft, and requires you to produce different forms of identification.
Each piece of identification carries a certain number of points, and the more you are able to produce, the more points you will get. For example, your birth certificate is worth 50 points, your passport is worth 50 points and your driver’s license is worth 60 points.
Once you have found a property you’d like to rent, and have completed the 100 point check, you will be asked to provide some or all of the following information:
• A reference – if you do not have a previous landlord in the country, then a reference from your employer may be accepted
• Proof of income
• Employment details
• A deposit – in Australia, there is no set rule on how much is required for your deposit (often referred to as a bond), but it is usually between one and two months’ rent, depending upon the length of your stay
Lease lengths vary, as many places offer flexibility. However, properties are typically rented out in six- to 12-month blocks.
If you are resident in Australia, then you will not face any limitations in purchasing property. However, at present, there are laws and stipulations regarding buying property for non-residents. Therefore, you may face some difficulties, depending upon your residency and visa status.
Legislation, introduced in 2015 by the Australian Government, limits what non-resident buyers can purchase. If you fall into this category, you are able to buy established dwellings (if it will be your primary residence), new dwellings and off-the-plan properties that are under construction. As a non-resident, you can also buy vacant land with a view to develop.
In order to purchase property in Australia, you will need to obtain permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB). This is not a step you can skip, as you may face severe penalties (such as a three-year prison sentence and/or up to $135,000 in fines) if you do. But the good news is that it only takes between two and four weeks to find out whether you have been cleared by FIRB and can therefore purchase property.
There are numerous ways to find properties that are available to purchase in Australia. Local estate agents are always your best option, as they come with a wealth of knowledge regarding the local area. This means they can prove invaluable for assessing your options with regards to schools, medical facilities and public transport. However, if you like to search for properties before you commit to viewing them, there are websites available for you to do so, such as:
Once you have obtained permission to purchase, and have found the property that you want to buy, the process becomes more straightforward. If you are looking for financial assistance with your property, you can either secure a mortgage from an overseas lender or apply to an Australian mortgage provider.
The terms and rates you will be offered by an Australian provider may vary, depending upon what your visa and residency status is. For example, you may be able to borrow an 80% loan on a 12-year fixed-rate mortgage. However, this will depend on your individual financial circumstances, so it is always best to speak to a lender directly to ask about pre-approval, and to find out how much you will be able to borrow.
Once you have the funds in place, or have pre-approval from your mortgage lender, it is time to negotiate your purchase price with the seller. Most properties are advertised at a price with wiggle room.
Once your offer is accepted, you will be required to put down a deposit to secure the sale. This is usually around 10%, but it can vary, so it is best to check directly with your lawyer and the seller of the property.
The buyer’s and seller’s attorneys will then proceed to draw up the paperwork. During this time, it is important to do any searches or surveys you are looking to get done. After all, you do not want to purchase a property to find out a few months later that it has a structural problem requiring a huge investment.
Once the paperwork is complete, you will need to pay the associated fees. These fees include:
• Real estate fees
• Legal fees
• Closing costs
• Transfer fees
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
Compare quotes from leading international moving companies
QUICK LINK: Australia health insurance
Medicare was founded in 1984 and operates on two guiding principles: it aims to be free at the point of delivery, and provide universal coverage for Australian citizens. In practice, patients must bear part of some costs under the public system. Healthcare is of a high standard; it is considered by the OECD to be one of the best in the world.
WHO statistics currently estimate life expectancy in the country to be on average around the ages of 81-85, and infant mortality is low. Both statistics have improved over the last few decades. Australia spends around 9.4% of its GDP on healthcare.
However, reports suggest that Medicare faces two main problems: (a) resource allocation, and (b) performance and patient outcome improvements. An ageing population is placing an increasing strain on the system, with a corresponding load on existing sources of funding. The system faces workforce shortages, and there are calls for a focused review on resources.
Australians can also sign up for private cover, either to top up any gaps between their medical needs and public treatment, or as a complete alternative in order to speed up access.
Around 50% of Australian citizens have subsidized cover: the government may subsidise your insurance premium if you are subscribed to private health insurance. The amount of your rebate depends on your income, and most people claim the rebate as an upfront reduction to their health insurance premium. If you do not do this, you can claim it as a tax offset in your annual income tax return. The amount will depend on your income and circumstances, and there are a number of online calculators to enable you to work this out.
If you are relocating to Australia as an expat and want access to the public system, you will need to apply for residency first, then register with Medicare, then sign up with your local GP, as outlined below.
Australia aims at universal healthcare coverage and Medicare applies to:
• all Australian citizens
• all New Zealand citizens
• Australian permanent residents
• anyone who is applying for permanent residency
• anyone who is from a country with a reciprocal healthcare agreement (currently Australia has agreements with 11 countries, including the UK and Ireland)
In order to sign up with Medicare, you will need to fall into one of the categories listed above. If you are eligible, you will need to visit a Medicare office within 7-10 days of your arrival.
If you are a resident or have applied for residency, you will need to bring the following documentation (original or certified copies):
• a current passport or Immicard
• a valid visa
• proof from the Department of Home Affairs that you have applied for permanent residency or proof of permanent residency from the DHA
You will then need to complete a Medicare enrolment form.
As soon as you have enrolled, you will be given a Medicare number immediately, and a card which should be with you within 2-4 weeks. However, you can apply for a digital version of the card at once, if you have set up a Medicare account online. This card will be valid for five years, unless you change address or have another child. Your dependents will be listed on your card.
You can backdate your Medicare registration to the date of your arrival in Australia, but if you need treatment before the card arrives and do not have a digital version, you will need to pay for any medical treatment in full and then put in a claim for reimbursement later on.
You are not obliged to sign up with a particular GP, but are free to visit any doctor. However, if you are covered by Medicare, make sure that your GP is also registered with the scheme. If they are, check first if the practice will bill Medicare or whether you need to make out-of-pocket payments. The practice of direct, or ‘bulk’, billing (where your GP bulk bills Medicare) is becoming less popular with Australian GPs, but you still might find that you have to cover part of the cost.
There are many banks in Australia; both local and foreign. The banking sector in Australia is highly competitive. Banks in Australia come up with a wide range of services to gain a competitive advantage. A few local banks including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), and Westpac Banking Corporation have managed to beat the rest and dominate the financial market in the country.
Major local banks
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)
CBA is the largest bank in Australia. It also operates in the United Kingdom, USA, Asia, Fiji, and New Zealand. It provides many financial services for Australian citizens and immigrants. These services include personal, commercial, and institutional banking, insurance, investment, and retirement planning.
Within Australia: 13 2221
From overseas: +61 2 9999 3283
Westpac Banking Corporation
Westpac is the largest bank in Australia based on the number of branches and ATMs. It offers personal, business, and corporate banking as well as insurance and superannuation. In addition, it provides clients including expats with a travel money card, which can be loaded with up to 5 different currencies and used to shop both in Australia and overseas.
General enquiries: 13 2032
Online and Mobile Banking: 1300 655 505
Overseas: (+61 2) 9293 9270
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
ANZ operates both within and outside Australia. It has been in existence for 180 years. It offers regular banking services such as retail, commercial, and institutional banking. It does not have unique products for expats, but it is known for great customer service. In addition, it provides clients with specific contact details for handling all kinds of customer queries on a 24-7 basis.
Within Australia: 13 13 14
Overseas: +61 3 9683 9999
US/UK Banks in Australia
Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)
HSBC is one of the largest and oldest banks in the world. It is based in the UK. HSBC Bank plc operates in Australia as a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings. Despite offering regular financial services with no particular distinguishing product, the bank differentiates itself from the others by focusing on expatriates and immigrants.
To become a customer of HSBC call: +44 1534 616 055
HSBC Premier Customers: +44 1534 616 313
HSBC Advance customers: +44 1534 616 212
Customers are advised to have their 10-digit PBN and 6-digit PIN at hand before calling.
Foreign exchange specialists can be reached through the following number: +44 1534 616 162
Lloyds bank is based in the UK. However, it has several branches outside the UK including in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The bank helps people moving from the UK to set up international accounts, enabling them to access their money easily. However, the bank’s Australian branch was acquired by Westpac Group on January 1, 2016.
For any enquiries regarding the Bank, please contact: (02) 8070 4000.
For any enquiries regarding Capital finance call: (02) 8884 8000.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
The Bank of America has its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has three branches in Australia. A good number of their clients in Australia are expats. It offers high quality customer service. Customers can contact the bank at any time and on any day.
Barclays Capital is a division of the UK based multinational Barclays bank. Its main target customers are large companies, institutions, and governments. It mainly offers advisory, financing, and risk management services.
Tel: +61 2 9334 6000
Typical bank opening hours in Australia
Monday – Thursday: 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Types of bank accounts offered by Banks in Australia
• Transaction account
• Savings account
• Cheque account
• Credit account
• Credit debit account
• Student account
Opening a bank account in Australia
You can open a bank account through an online application or by visiting the bank in person. For online applications, the bank can set up the account before you travel to Australia and then you can go and collect your bank details in any of their branches once you arrive in the country. If you prefer to visit the bank to open an account, this should be done as soon as you get to Australia.
Credit and debit cards
Credit cards are accepted for most payments in Australia, in stores, restaurants, online, and over the phone. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
Debit cards are used to pay for items through a system called EFTPOS. It is available at most stores and restaurants. You can also withdraw cash through EFTPOS at some stores (including supermarkets and gas stations).
How to Apply for an Overdraft
Many bank services are available through online and Internet banking. To apply for an overdraft, log in to your account, fill in an application form, and then follow up with the bank for a response. Alternatively, you can call or visit the bank for additional information about the application process.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them “on demand” whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic – your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up – ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution – many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine – but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent – many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money – such as the proceeds of a property – a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers
Australia, the fifth continent, is an independent English-speaking nation with a population of some 25 million, 85% of whom live in the major conurbations.
Although Australia has no official language, English is the de facto language of the country. All other languages are in a very small minority, with Mandarin being the largest at just 2.5% of the population. This reflects the number of Chinese immigrants there.
There are many other significant immigrant groups – almost one third of the population was born overseas. This makes Australia a cultural and linguistic melting pot, and a great multi-cultural expat destination.
Australia is a huge country, with a relatively small population, which is especially obvious in the hinterland and wilderness areas. Australia is also a very popular tourist destination, with well over eight million visitors annually.
The country has a diverse and active economy, and employment opportunities abound in certain sectors. You need to be aware that Australia operates a ‘points system’ for work permits, with certain occupations being given precedence. Student visas are relatively easy to obtain as Australia actively encourages foreign students.
Given the high percentage of immigrants, there is of course also a sizeable expat community, with many Brits and Americans choosing to live and work in Australia. Many Asians also choose to retire to Australia.
Australian slang is quite extensive, and needs to be mastered if you will be living there. A working knowledge of the sport of cricket will also go a long way to making conversation in social interactions!
If English is not your native tongue, then learning or improving it will help you to communicate and integrate better, and it will be vital in the workplace. Learning facilities for English in Australia are extensive, but it can be seen as essential to possess a level of confidence and proficiency in English before you arrive.
You may need to consider enrolling in an online course in English, or attending an international school, either in Australia, or indeed in your home country. This is especially important if you need occupation-specific proficiency, for example in banking, finance, or medical English.
All daily commerce and general conversation in Australia will be in English. These interactions will improve your level of proficiency fairly quickly, as you will essentially be immersed in the language and culture. You should also be able to find locals willing to coach you or encourage you by engaging in conversation over a coffee or a beer.
Linguistic experts recommend an immersive learning experience as the quickest and most reliable method to acquire or consolidate a new language. If you need to improve your English, this should be a matter of going about and engaging with the local population, reading English books or newspapers, and watching English-language TV or films without subtitles. Make a pact with your partner or friends to speak only English when you are together, and engage with locals at every opportunity.
Teaching standards in Australia are generally very good, with language centres and courses in every major city. Many advertise on the internet.
For English conversation or practice, try to rely on your own knowledge and a good phrasebook rather than digital translation: although there is a very good standard of internet connection throughout urban Australia, wifi is sometimes slow and you may not be able to access your phone at all times.
Employment opportunities abound in many sectors, although a high standard of English will be expected.
If you wish to work in Australia, teaching English to foreign students is a very popular choice of career. Several international schools offer language teaching posts on yearly contracts. These are available to anyone with a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate, and it is possible to gain certification in Australia – some schools offer the prospect of a job at the end of the course.
Please note that it is always easier to get work in international education if you have at least a certificate in either TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Most language teaching jobs would be in the major cities – particularly Sydney or Melbourne. Rates of pay may not be sufficient to allow you to stay permanently, but for a working holiday, it can be fun and rewarding.
If you intend to teach English in Australia, it is preferable if you have experience in teaching schemes such as the Cambridge English exams or IELTS (International English Language Testing System): the English test for study, migration or work. Some teaching experience in the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) will also be helpful. This assesses analytical, writing, quantitative, verbal, and reading skills in written English for use in admission to graduate management programs, such as the MBA.
You may also find work more easily if you are experienced in teaching English for particular sectors, such as tourism and hospitality. You are most likely, however, to find work in either public schools or private international institutions. You should be paid more in the private educational sector.
Education in Australia is compulsory for all children, the primary school starting age being 5 or 6 and continuing to 16 or 17 years of age, depending on the individual states and territories who are responsible for organizing and funding (with some additional central government funding).
Pre-school is not compulsory, but is well-established in all cities. There is a very high takeup in the year before school, with more than 80% attending some form of pre-school provision. The Australian school year starts in January and finishes in December.
A national curriculum is now in force, to standardize and equalize opportunities no matter where a child lives, or from what background they might come. Primary and secondary education is provided for by both public and private schools, of which there are over 10,000.
Roughly two thirds of Australian school attendees go to a public school. Two thirds of the non-government schools are Catholic schools. Whilst education in state schools is free, many parents are asked to contribute to special projects, supplies and school trips, which should be allowed for in cost calculations.
Foreign students are exceptionally well catered for. Australia, after the US and the UK, is the third largest provide of education for foreign students, whose numbers are approaching 900,000.
Tertiary education is generally funded via a student loan scheme, and there are almost forty public universities, plus a handful of private institutions.
Australian literacy rates are amongst the highest in the world, at around 99%. Furthermore, Australia ranks high amongst OECD reporting countries on the percentage of GDP spent on education (13%).
There are about 7,000 state primary and secondary schools in Australia, and in addition roughly half that number of private facilities. About one third of all pupils are enrolled in private education. Fees and waiting lists will vary considerably, and need to be checked locally. School curriculums may differ too in some aspects, but the education authorities’ emphasis is on a standard, well-rounded, multicultural education.
As a potential alternative to the state or private systems, homeschooling is recognised by all state and territory governments, and it is on the increase in Australia. There are as many as 20,000 children in Australia being educated at home. The procedure is relatively simple if you choose this route for your child’s education. You must apply to the authorities for permission to homeschool your child. Full educational plans must then be put forward, which will be expected to conform to the Australian curriculum as closely as possible. Regular reporting and home visits from the authorities will help to ensure the best possible result for the individual child.
However, almost all children in Australia will attend primary and secondary school. Additionally, there are independently run international schools in all major cities. These cater for expats and their children. Including state schools there are approaching 200 schools which now offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP). Graduates will receive an IB certificate, which is a recognized standard for those seeking further education in many countries.
In general, fees at Catholic schools can be relatively low, whilst private non-aligned schools and international schools may charge much more. Fees must always be established with the school itself.
Further education opportunities abound in Australia, and are organized via the vocational/technical college and university networks. There are large numbers of foreign students at all Australian universities.
Higher education is not free in Australia. A resident student loan system for undergraduates operates by providing the cost of the education at higher level in the form of a loan to be repaid after the graduate reaches a certain level of salary. Access to these loans is restricted for foreign students, who must fund their fees in full, although many governments, for example the US, will arrange and honour student loans for citizens who might wish to study in Australia.
Equally there are also many Australian students who choose to further their own studies elsewhere in the world. In general, the Australian system is well set up for allowing their academic achievements to be recognised, and to enable them to fit in wherever they go.