Full of sunshine, opportunities and excitement, Australia is a popular destination for expatriate assignments as well as families looking to relocate, and it’s not hard to see why. From the coastlines, warm climate, friendly people and thriving cities and economies, the ‘land down under’ is consistently ranked as one of the most liveable countries in the world.
If you are considering a move to Australia, or are already locked in, it’s helpful to know some general information about your soon-to-be home, as well as the relocation process.
Despite New Zealand and Australia’s similar cultures, there are still unavoidable hurdles that come with moving countries.
An international move involves more than packing up some boxes and catching a flight; settling in to a new country, embracing local culture, and finding the right neighbourhood and school for your children are all key parts of the process.
Finding the right home
Finding a new home is quite often one of the more stressful aspects of moving countries. Proximity to work, schools and city centres are the main criteria which expatriates look for in a new neighbourhood.
Picking the right place goes a long way to ensure that kids and spouses are able to easily adjust to their new environment and hit the ground running, building new friendships and involving themselves with new activities.
Having a clear idea of your budget and ideal housing situation is important before diving in to the house hunt. Patience to wait until the right option is available may be required, as the general availability of rental properties that meet expectations is less than two percent.
The higher the budget, the availability of homes reduces considerably, sometimes to less than 0.5 percent, this is due to a major shortage of rental properties in most of the countries major cities.
Also, people often neglect to take in to account the time of the year they are relocating. In Australia, most arrivals come in January to be ready for the start of the schooling or working year. However, the real estate market is likely to be shut down for the first few weeks of the year as everybody is on holiday.
Finding the right school
Finding suitable schooling for your children is unquestionably a big part of any international move. Happy kids equal happy parents, right?
As in New Zealand, schools are divided between the public and private sector. Private schooling requires an application to be made, which should be done as early as possible. Costs will vary depending on the type of private level of education being considered.
Public schooling is the most popular option for expatriates and is government funded. There are school zoning requirements based on the proximity of surrounding neighbourhoods and residential areas.
The majority of Australian states allows the children of temporary ‘resident’ visa holders to access government and schooling facilities under the same conditions as permanent residents and citizens. However, the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory governments require a holder of a 457 visa to pay and annual fee for schooling.
Healthcare access to Kiwis
Similar to New Zealand, Australia has both public and private health care systems. The Australian public health services are provided by the Government Agency; Medicare Australia.
Australian taxpayers fund the public health system, and there is a specific levy in Australia called the Medicare Levy that is paid by each taxpayer.
As a New Zealander living in Australia, free emergency hospital care is available but generally you must pay full price for all non-hospital treatment (medicine, doctor visits) unless you hold a Medicare card.
Being a New Zealand citizen residing in Australia gives you access to enroll in the Medicare program, it’s advised to apply for this as soon as you arrive in the country.
Even if you don’t apply for Medicare for a while after arriving in Australia, you are entitled to claim a variety of medical expenses incurred since touching down in the country (so long as they are within Medicare’s umbrella). For more information visit the Medicare website.
Although Medicare covers public hospital visits and free or subsidised doctor and specialist visits, the Australian Government also recommends private healthcare insurance to be taken out.
This is to cover ambulance use in emergencies and for dental care, as well as receiving financial incentives from the Australian Government.
Australia and New Zealand have a lot of things in common, including laidback personalities, a love of sports and a knack for socialising.
New Zealanders moving to Australia shouldn’t find it too hard to assimilate in to the local community and culture – this is most commonly done through getting to know the local sporting teams of choice, whether it be cricket, rugby or Aussie rules.
Attending different games and getting kids involved in sporting leagues is a great way to kickstart the process of becoming a local.
Sporting aside, most cities in Australia have a strong café, restaurant and bar culture, making it easy to go out to socialise and meet new people.
With the right house, the right school and a comfortable local environment, the emotional turbulence of internationally relocating should begin to settle and smooth out.