Five years ago I embarked on a trip around Europe, leaving my home for twenty two years for a couple of months and starting an adventure. I had not left Australia before, why would you? Well, I decided to find out what other cultures existed on the otherside, so for two months I went backpacking.
I travelled to Italy, France, Spain, the UK, Germany, and Austria. What I found was incredible culture, history, communities, and some really amazing food. So when I returned to the land of Oz, I first felt the relief of seeing friends and family but I then got itchy feet and realised I missed my adventure, and more so the energy that I experienced in London.
So I started the long process of emigrating which involved a lot of organising. But my friends here in London have all asked what it’s like to live in Australia and how much they fancy emigrating there. Therefore I thought I would write my tips down for anyone else who seeks a new life down under.
Gaining a Visa
This is perhaps the biggest hurdle to emigrating. There are going to be differences between obtaining an Australian Visa to a UK visa, but the principal it seems is very similar. The most common ways to gain immigration is by either applying for a; study visa, skilled work visa, or a spouse or relative visa. In my case I had to get a skilled work visa, and I had to prove I had adequate savings should something go wrong, and that I had a letter of employment from a company I had applied for in London. It sounds obvious, but I had no idea I needed to have savings, so I opted to have a fundraising BBQ in true Aussie style.
When you apply for a Visa you are required to state how long you intend to stay in the country, and it is useful to undersell yourself in case you get homesick, you can always apply for another visa if you decide to stay longer.
Renting in Australia is much cheaper than in London, but even still you will be expected to go through extra checks as an immigrant. Like anywhere in the world, agencies will request a passport and proof of employment. I have found however, as a foreigner it takes more time for the checks to be processed, as they strictly analyse your passport, previous addresses, visa, and employment details.
For example, I slowed the move into a house down for me and my flatmates by 2 weeks, just because of the extra checks. Unless you have the finances to stay in a hotel or hostel for this amount of time, I recommend searching online and organising a short term let before you move.
Making the move
This can be utter chaos, it is unbelievable how many little things you don’t think about. For example, I had the dilemma of whether to pay for an international removal company to ship my clothes, or just take my essentials in two suit cases on the plane. I personally went for the latter and decided to just buy more clothes in the UK. This might not be an option for everyone though and you may need to consider getting quotes on moving timescales and prices. Alternatively, anything you are not precious about sell on Ebay or Gumtree before you move to raise that extra money. Be aware that there will be restrictions on what you can take into Australia, especially with pets as Johnny Depp found out.
Back to money, take enough cash to last you a few weeks in Australian dollars. The chances are you won’t be getting paid straight away, and switching accounts to another country took me a few days to get transferred. Again, thanks to extra checks!
Finally, get a mobile phone sorted as soon as you get to your new destination. Roaming charges are extortionate and I ran up a huge bill letting family know I had arrived and what was happening. Having a local network quickly will help you avoid this. Alternatively, learn to spend a lot of time in Starbucks and on their free wifi.
Getting used to the lingo
You would think that it is easier to move to another country that speaks the same language, and it is except there are slight variations. When I emigrated I would frequently say ‘G’day and Hooroo’ which in English is hello and goodbye, and you get some funny looks. The worst is thongs! In Australia you will see lots of men wearing thongs because believe it or not they are not underwear but ‘flip flops’.
The lesson here is, don’t be afraid to try and localise and people will appreciate it and it is likely to help make you friends.
About the Author: Jessica Sullivan is an Australian who emigrated from the UK. She works as a lawyer but likes to travel and write in her spare time.