If you’re anything like I was when we migrated to Australia, you’ll have about a million lists of things to do either written down, on your phone or just constantly going around in your head. What to do before the movers come, what to do before you leave, what to do as soon as you arrive and what to do once you’ve settled in – DO ALL THE THINGS!
To help you with yet another list, here are 6 things you can arrange before you leave and 6 things to do after you arrive.
Migrating To Australia – Things To Do Before You Leave
1. Open A Bank Account
As a migrant with a valid visa, you can open a bank account in Australia up to 12 months before you arrive in the country. Most of the major banks have an option to open an account online.
Once open, you can deposit funds into the account but you cannot make withdrawals until you are physically in Australia.
2. Transfer Money To Your Australian Bank Accounts
Once you’ve opened your bank account, you can then start to send money over, ready for when you arrive. That way, you’ve got dollars ready and waiting when you touch down.
3. Find Temporary Accommodation
Having somewhere to stay is crucial. If you have friends or family who are willing to put you up (or put up with you!), that can really help you save money in the early days.
If you need to rent somewhere, I have a list of some great options for short-term accommodation in Perth.
4. Arrange Your Airport Transport
Make sure you know how you’re getting from the airport to wherever you are staying. Whether it’s a taxi, picking up your rental car at the airport, or family or friends coming to fetch you, get it sorted before you leave.
The last thing you want after a long, emotional flight is to work out where you’re going and how you’re going to get there!
5. Rent A Car
The best way to get around most cities is by car. When you’re looking for place to live, going for job interviews and exploring your new surroundings, public transport can be useful but is always going to be limiting.
Renting a car will allow you go where you want, when you want, helping you to feel more in control of things. You can book your car rental before you arrive, and pick up at the airport when you arrive.
Some car rental companies also offer a pickup service from the airport to take you to your accommodation where your rental car is waiting for you. Now that’s service!
6. Get Your Mobile Phone Unlocked
If you’re bringing your existing phone with you, make sure it’s not locked to your current mobile provider. The last thing you need is to have to fork out hundreds of dollars for a new phone because your current one won’t work on any other network!
Most mobile phone shops are able to do this for a nominal fee and some networks even give you instructions on how to do this yourself. Head to your current phone provider’s website or give them a call to check how to do it.
Migrating To Australia – Things To Do After You Arrive
1. Pick Up Your Bank Cards
If you’ve opened your bank account before you arrived, you’ll need to go into the branch to provide your ID in person and pick up your bank cards. These are usually sent to the branch the week that you arrive.
The bank will then activate them, you set your pin number and you’re good to go and start spending your Aussie dollars (although you probably won’t as you’ll be constantly converting back and thinking how expensive everything is!).
In our case, there was a mix-up and our cards were sent to the branch months before we arrived. Because we didn’t pick them up within a week, they were returned and destroyed! We had to wait a few more days for new cards to be sent, so make sure you have some cash on you for the first few days just in case!
2. Get A Sim Card
Once you’ve arrived, you’ll probably need to get a pre-paid sim card for your phone as you will need to build up some credit history before being able to get a contract phone – called post-paid here.
Make sure your phone is unlocked (as per above) so you can choose any network when you arrive.
Telstra generally have the best coverage if you’re in more remote areas further away from the city, but in the cities, most networks are pretty decent.
3. Apply For Your Tax File Number
As soon as you are in Australia, you can apply for your Tax File Number. You need this to be able to pay the correct tax once you start working.
You can work without one but you’ll pay a hefty tax rate (currently 47%) until you get your TFN.
It is completely free and super easy to apply for your TFN online – do not pay anyone to do this for you!
Find out how to apply for your TFN here.
4. Find A Rental Property
While you can browse houses all you want while outside of Australia, most agents won’t allow you to rent a property until you have physically inspected it.
If you have someone who can view the property on your behalf, some agencies will allow you to rent it before arriving, but most will want you to see the property first.
Have some ideas of where you might want to live and keep an eye on home open times on websites like Real Estate so you can plan when you need to inspect ones you like.
5. Get Your Australian Driving License
An Australian driver’s license is a very handy form of ID.
If you have a South African driver’s license and are aged 25 or older, you can simply go to your nearest Department of Transport and exchange your SA one for an Australian one.
If you are under 25, you’ll unfortunately need to pass the theory and practical driving tests first.
Find out more about transferring your overseas driving license in WA here.
6. Register With Medicare
If you’re eligible for Medicare, apply for this as soon as you can. Medicare means that you can access free or reduced healthcare – things like doctors’ appointments and referral appointments and even hospital treatment.
You might be deciding whether to get private health insurance, but definitely register for Medicare if you are entitled to it. If you’re on a permanent visa, you’re likely to be eligible for Medicare.
If you’ve got kids and will be using childcare, register with Centrelink as well so you are eligible for the childcare subsidy. This will seriously help your childcare costs each month!
One Last Thing
And one more thing – don’t forget to relax!
Australia has so much to offer so in between all the admin and to do lists, make some time to enjoy being here!
Head to a park or the beach, enjoy the sunsets, swim in the sea or just admire the views.
And treat yourself to a drink, take away or meal out – after all the stress, you deserve it! Just don’t think about what it converts to!
For more helpful links, check out my migration resources page.
If you want a list of things to do in your first week in Australia, don’t miss this post!