Following on from part one of my emigration to do list (which covered everything we did before we left to UK for our new life in Australia), here is part two, which is an emigration checklist of all the things you need to do when you arrive in Australia. We were clearly deluded into thinking the hard part was leaving the UK. Of course, the emotional side of things was very difficult, and so was the sheer amount of admin we had to do to close our lives down. But nothing prepared us for the busy period when we landed. It wouldn’t have been too bad if we’d just been a couple moving abroad, or even a family with one child; our real challenge was doing it with three under fives to look after at the same time. Plus, Husband and I are a pair of research addicts and we have to know we’re getting the best possible deal from things which means we have to spend hours online researching every decision. Again, if you aren’t as geeky as us then you’ll find it easier to start your new life.
Anyway, let’s crack on to the list….
What do you need to do when you move to Australia?
Firstly, be prepared for a lot of boring admin. Or at least it’s boring for the kids…
Collect your hire car and buy or hire car seats and a sat nav. (We hired our car a couple of days after arriving to give us chance to get over the jet lag, then hubby took the car out shopping, firstly for a sat nav and then for car seats to save us paying to hire them all. We’d researched these online so he knew where he was going to buy them already to save time. You could easily use your phone as a sat nav though or even update your maps and bring yours with you.)
Buy a pay as you go sim for your phones.
Link up with your shipping company to give them your contacts in Australia.
Go to the bank and collect your cards. While you’re there get them to update your address to an Australian address and print off a statement for you. You will need something with your Australian address on it to do everything else I’m about to list, so this is really important. (We used our friend’s address instead of our holiday let address, as we didn’t want things going to a holiday address after we’d moved on but a holiday address will do if that’s all you have. Also, we drove into the city to our bank, but in hindsight we’d have been better asking the bank to send our cards to a branch that was local to where we were staying as some friends did that and it was much easier.)
Put together a folder containing: birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, your bank statement with your Australian address, your visa confirmation letter, your boarding passes from the flight and any other ID you can find. You will need this folder a lot over the next few days! Take it along to every appointment, and each time you get something new, add it to the folder.
Go into a Service Centre and register for Medicare. (We had printed off the form from the UK so we just took it along to our nearest office. The first office didn’t allow drop-in appointments, so we had to drive to another office. It’s worth double checking if you need an appointment at your local centre or not.) While you are there, ask for a CRN (Customer Reference Number) for Centrelink and ask if you are eligible for any of the benefits. (Different visa types won’t be eligible for certain things, but on a PR visa you can apply for things such as the Family Tax Benefit and help with childcare costs. You can apply for everything online once you’re set up on the system with a CRN.)
When you have a CRN, you can apply online for a MyGov account online. This is a central account that pulls all of your services together into one place i.e. Medicare, Tax Office, Centrelink.
Apply online for a Tax File Number. If you run a business or are self-employed, apply for an Australian Business Number.
Apply for your state driver’s licenses at the local office. (A tip from a friend was to stagger when you apply for these so when renewal time arrives you don’t have to pay out for two at once).
Research and buy cars. (All of the advice we had was to buy from dealers, not private as we know lots of people who’ve been stung with bad deals. It’s easy to get caught out when you’re exhausted and in a rush to sort out a vehicle before you have to shell out more money to extend your hire car. If buying private, definitely consider getting a check done with the RACQ as for a fee they give you a report back about the vehicle before you buy.)
Get car insurance. (There are comparison sites over here like in the UK, so it’s not too hard to sort out.)
Consider whether you want to take out roadside assistance.
Get your car windows tinted if they aren’t already (you may be able to get the dealer to throw this in with the vehicle for free if you’re a haggler like me!)
Drive around areas and start to think about where you want to live. Keep an eye online at rentals, and start to view some to get an idea of what the property market is like. Look around schools/kindys/nurseries in the area. It’s useful to pick your school first to make sure you can get in. Some state schools have catchment areas which will inform your rental search area, but others don’t and will take everyone that applies. Private schools don’t have catchments, but they do interview for places and also you might find they’re full already so don’t assume you’ll get a place just because you’re paying for schooling. )
Having a school place means shopping for uniforms, lunch boxes, drinks bottles etc.
Book viewings with a number of rental properties as many will be open house and you may be competing with other potential tenants. When you find a rental property you will need proof of ID – things like Medicare, driver’s license, bank statement so make sure you have applied for all of these so you have enough proof.
When you have a rental you’ll need to sort out utilities. Your real estate should be able to sort this for you (you just fill in a form) or you can use comparison sites to organise this yourself. (You can arrange for your electricity to be reconnected on the day you move in. In Brisbane, at least, you don’t pay any sort of ‘council tax’ – this is dealt with by the owner, and water charges are billed to you by the real estate as they are paid directly by the owner).
Find out if your house has had a bug treatment or not. Some owners pay for these, but if they haven’t then I’m told by our real estate office that it is the tenants responsibility. We opted to pay the $180 to have a treatment done which lasts for a year and covers spiders and cockroaches, among other creepy crawlies, as we found lots of these right outside the house. They weren’t dangerous, but I didn’t want the kids playing with them!
When you’ve moved in, you’ll need to update all of your addresses again with your new address.
Look at private health insurance.
Plan contents insurance for when your belongings arrive.
Buy things you left behind in the UK such as cleaning products, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, garden furniture.
Change plugs over on electrical items you brought with you.
Find an accountant, if tax returns scare you as much as they scare me!
Find local doctors and dentists.
Enjoy your new home! There are so many parks and beaches to explore, and the attractions over here are really great value – especially the annual passes. Make the time to get out in between the admin and enjoy your new surroundings.
Hopefully these lists of things to do when you emigrate will be helpful for some of you who have been following my Australia and New Zealand magazine column! Shout away if you have any questions.
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