By Suzanne Gavrilovic
THREE years ago my husband was offered the opportunity to work on the Olympic Games in London, running the handball competition. It was too good an opportunity to miss, so we jumped at the chance to live and work overseas. Although we’ve loved our time here, it’s now time to pack our backs and head back home to Australia.
Having worked in migrant banking for the Commonwealth Bank in London over the past three years, I’ve been intimately involved in helping others move to Australia. It’s a great service, assisting people in sending their money Down Under to help them start their new lives, and I have loved being a part of the London team (image: Suzanne on her last day with the London CommBank team). Thanks to the job, I have a great network of all the best companies out there to help with every aspect of the transition. Now it’s my turn to make the move.
If you too are about to make a break for the Lucky Country, here’s a few tips to make the task a little less daunting, plus a moving back to Australia checklist.
Packing up and shipping out
When my partner and I first came over, we didn’t bring that much with us. You accumulate while you are here though, don’t you. I’ve just shipped 50 — yes, 50! — chock-full boxes, plus a Pashley Princess bicycle. Oh, and my beloved Mini Cooper S.
As we all know, many times in life it is not what you know, but who you know. CommBank and Anglo Pacific have worked together for many years and as a result I know them very well. I went straight to them for help with the shipping. It was far easier than I expected and not nearly as expensive as I’d assumed. Sure, there’s a bit of paperwork, but most of this is for insurance and customs and necessary to ensure it all arrives back in Oz safe and sound.
The tricky bit was getting an import approval for the car from the Federal Office of Road and Safety in Canberra. Pulling all the documents together for this took quite a while and it takes several weeks for them to come back. So if you have a car that you just can’t let go of, get on to this early.
Itemising what you are going to ship can be time-consuming, but well worth the effort if you want your goods to be insured while they are travelling. The only down-side — your husband may finally learn just how many pairs of shoes you actually own. Compiling the final list from lists sitting on piles of clothes all over the flat, he had to ask, “Do you really have 10 pairs of jeans?” It would appear so.
Putting a value on things was difficult, so the list with suggested values that the shipping company provided us in order to complete the itemisation was extremely helpful.
You will probably have more ties to Blighty that need to be cut than you think. I use internet banking for everything so I just looked up all my direct debits and standing orders. This gave me a comprehensive list of all the things to cancel: council tax, utilities, gym, English Heritage membership, car insurance, telephone and internet.
Bank on it
I’ve left my UK bank account open for last minute squaring up of accounts. Check with your bank that it is okay to close it by letter from Australia.
With an FX transfer facility set up with the Commonwealth Bank’s London office, I can direct any unexpected payments (like a future tax refund cheque, don’t forget to file for that as well) to my Transfer Account.
When I want the money to be transferred to Australia, I just have to give the London CommBank office a call on their toll free number or send them an email. After three years of managing the team, I know how good they are at customer service and I’m confident my money will end up where I want it to be.
And so it’s time to quite literally close the door on your London life.
We agreed with our landlord a date and time to exit our apartment. You will want to leave not too long after your belongings — it can be a bit bare. We are also spending our last night in a hotel which will make us finish the job in time enough for us to actually enjoy our final day in London.
So, the bags are packed, our boxes and Mini are taking a cruise, and we will be setting off for home at the end of the week. Bye Britain, it’s been a blast. And g’day Australia … jeez we’ve missed you.
Moving back to Australia checklist
3 months out
– Organise a quote for shipping your goods.
– If you are taking a car, put your import approval application together. You must have owned the car for at least 12 months to be eligible to take it home.
– Let your landlord know of your intended exit date.
2 months out
– Send off your car import approval application.
– Complete the application form for an FX transaction account and Commonwealth Bank account in Australia.
– Book your flights home. I’m glad I maintained my Qantas Frequent Flyer membership.
– Get a Lebara SIM card from CommBank so you have a working Australian phone number when you land.
1 month out
– Cancel any subscriptions, phone plans, telephone and internet access, utilities, council tax, gym membership and the like.
– Book accommodation for your last few nights in London and organise a time to hand over your flat to the landlord or agent.
– Organise a going away party (of course!).
– Send some money over to your CommBank account in Australia so you can hit the ground running when you get home.
To find out more about how the Commonwealth Bank here in London can help with your move, email [email protected] or call 020 7710 3990.
To get a free quote on your shipping needs, go to AngloPacific.co.uk or call 0800 633 54 45