The devil is in the detail
Planning early is the key to smart moving. Be sure to carry out thorough research into work, pensions, visas, locations, shipping arrangements and finance as far in advance of your moving date as possible. Newly arrived expats can haemorrhage money during their first few months in Australia. A certain amount of expenditure will be unavoidable, but if you have planned well and drawn up an informed and realistic budget, you can be prepared for exactly how much you are going to need to spend and avoid paying out for unforeseen added extras.
Timing your move
If you are moving without children, relocating in the winter months (summer in the UK) can cut hundreds of pounds off the cost of your flights. If you are moving with children, however, try to plan your move to coincide with the beginning of the Australian academic year, which runs from January to December. Arriving in late November will give you time to visit schools and secure a place at your chosen institution before the summer break, ready for a fresh start in the New Year.
Avoid the hidden costs of education
Education in Australia is of an excellent standard (it ranked 9th in the world in a recent PISA survey, ahead of the USA in 17th and the UK in 25th place). It is also free to all Australian citizens and permanent residents. Depending on where you live, however, it is not necessarily free to temporary visa holders, such as those on employer-sponsored 457 visas.
At the time of writing, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia do not charge temporary visa holders for the education of their offspring at state schools. Institutions in Northern Territory and Tasmania are permitted to charge although many waive these fees for 457 and other temporary visa holders. Those relocating to New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory can expect to be charged between AUD $5,000 and $10,000 per child per year for the duration of their schooling or until they apply for and are granted permanent residence. Bear this in mind when planning where to live and you could save yourself thousands while accessing one of the best education systems in the world.
Don’t take chances with your visa
Consider seeking independent advice and help with obtaining your Australian visa. If you have your heart set on a new life abroad, you want to be sure that your paperwork is in order and that you won’t find yourself forced to return to the UK just as you are settling into your new adventure. Costs vary but are usually in the region of a few hundred pounds for assistance by a MARA registered migration agent, which would be offset in no time against the costs of decamping unceremoniously back to the northern hemisphere. That said, if you are confident that your case is straightforward there is nothing to stop you going it alone and saving the resources to help kick start your new life down under.
Make your pension work for you
If you are retiring to Australia, seeking financial planning advice before you go can potentially save you thousands. The recent relaxation of UK pension laws has led to many releasing all or part of their pension as a tax-free lump sum. While this undoubtedly has its benefits, such sums can be subject to up to 55%, so do invest in some specialist tax planning advice to make your retirement funds go further.
How to avoid unwanted banking charges
Whether you are working or living off private means, one of the first things you will need to do on your arrival is to set up a bank account. In Australia it is normal for a monthly fee to be levied on your current account or to make charges for individual transactions. Not all institutions charge, however, and some, such as the Commonwealth Bank, will waive the charges if you make a monthly deposit over a certain amount. Along with Westpac and the National Australia Bank, the Commonwealth Bank also allows customers to open a bank account prior to arriving in Australia, saving valuable time and ensuring you are financially fit and ready to go when you arrive.
The fastest routes to finding a job
If you are planning to find work, using a recruitment agency can save time and effort in your Australian job search, especially if you seek out recruiters who specialise in your particular profession or occupation. Online websites can provide a wealth of information about potential employers, opportunities, salaries and qualification requirements, saving you valuable time and effort. Seek, Careerone, My Career and the government-sponsored Job Search are some of the most popular.
If you can’t wait to make your move to Australia, you may want to consider obtaining a working holiday visa and heading straight for the sun. A 417 working holiday visa gives you the right to live and work in Australia for up to 12 months, but expats are increasingly using this as a route to obtaining sponsorship from an Australian company. While there is plenty of potential for those whose occupation appears on the skills shortage list to secure employment before leaving the UK, it is easy to see why those who are free to travel unencumbered may prefer to take the opportunity to impress a potential employer face-to-face.
If you are considering an Australian job offer, make sure you are clear about how much you will actually receive in your monthly pay packet. Aside from monthly tax and national insurance contributions, all Australian employers are obliged to pay 9% of your salary into your pension (known as your superannuation fund). Some employers quote this figure within your salary while others do not, so if you are lucky enough to be considering two or more offers, do check that you are comparing like with like.
Keep tax to a minimum
When you start work with a new employer, you will be required to fill out a TFN form. Amongst the questions you will need to answer will be “Are you a resident for tax purposes?” Answering “yes” will result in you paying a higher rate of tax, when in fact you may be eligible to answer “no” even if you are on a temporary visa. Visit the Australian Taxation Office website for detailed tax and residency information that could potentially save you thousands of dollars every year.
Cutting down your moving costs
Packing up your home and shipping your belongings to the other side of the world can be a daunting prospect. It can also be expensive, with costs reaching as high as AUD $10,000 and above. Services from a dedicated provider such as movehub can save you time and money by providing a single location in which to shop for the best deals from the most reputable and experienced international removal specialists. You will also be able to obtain valuable advice on how to speed up your shipment or how to save money by shipping a smaller container and replacing low-cost items once you arrive at your destination.
Finally, if you haven’t done so yet, moving to Australia is a fine time to give up smoking. Not only is it likely to prolong your new life in the sun, it will also save you hundreds of dollars of your hard-earned monthly salary. With cigarettes costing between $18 and $22 a pack, not to mention their adverse affect on your health, it is easy to see why smoking has long since lost its charm for the majority of the Australian population.
With so much to think about before making your move abroad, it is easy to get caught up in the hype and waste valuable time and money in the process. But with some careful research and planning, moving to Australia needn’t be as costly or time-consuming as you might think. So read up, relax and get ready for your new life down under.
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