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Ultimate USA to Australia Relocation Guide: 2024 Essentials

Ever dreamed of swapping stars and stripes for kangaroos and the Outback? Before you leap over continents, here's your ultimate checklist for a smooth move to Australia from the USA.

Tobi Miles
June 1, 2023

Australia, long known as the "Lucky Country," is a firm favorite with tourists and each year attracts around 10 million visitors from all over the world. It is of course very easy to see why Australia is so popular with travelers.

The nation-continent boasts extensive stretches of golden beaches, breathtaking arid deserts, and some truly vibrant cities. The flora, fauna and wildlife is unique and the Australian's themselves are a fun loving bunch.

Travel Guide to Australia

While many of the visitors to Australia pop in for a 2 - 4-week itinerary, a considerable number arrive on working-holiday visas looking to take advantage of Australia’s high wage economy and ready abundance of casual and seasonal work. Basically, Australia is rightfully regarded as a giant land packed with opportunity.

As such, Australia has also long been regarded as a favourite destination for expats from all over the world. While banishment to Australia was once the punishment for British and Irish criminals, these days Brits and Irish citizens alike are clambering to get into the country and lay their hands on a prized residency visa!

And as the United States continues its descent into dystopian oligarchy and struggles to maintain its reputation as a land of opportunity, more and more Americans are also now thinking about heading down under and starting a new life in Australia.

In this post we are going to take a closer look at the practicalities of moving to Australia from the USA. In this moving to Australia from USA checklist we will look at where to live, how to find work, cultural differences and everything else you need to know about relocating to Australia.

Where To Live in Australia

Australia is technically an entire continent and its land mass is huge. In fact, from coast to coast it stretches 60,000 kilometres, takes 4 full days to drive across and straddles 3 different time zones.

However, much of the land is arid desert not suitable for human inhabitation and as such, the population centres are very much concentrated around the East and West coastal regions. Choosing where to live is not a decision you should take lightly - getting around Australia can be prove time consuming and costly, there are considerable climatic changes between regions and the economic opportunities available vary between different cities.

Melbourne and Sydney are perhaps the most sought-after destinations and as such, property prices can be eye wateringly high. Other popular expat destinations include Brisbane, Adelaid and Perth - the latter of which was recently actively encouraging skilled expats to come to the city by offering visas, and resettlement packages.

For many expats heading to Australia, where exactly they end up living will largely be dictated by job opportunities - something we shall explore in the next section.

Finding Work in Australia

Australia is renowned for offering high wages across various industries. This is particularly evident in the hospitality, service, and tourism sectors that even offer unskilled workers a generous minimum wage and strong employee protections unlike in the US.

That said, while there are plenty of employment opportunities available in Australia, getting a work visa is not always straightforward. For example, the working visa scheme is ideal for backpackers seeking low skilled, flexible, temporary jobs but it is not suitable for expats looking to settle long term in Australia.

Instead, prospective expats usually have to demonstrate that they can fill a prescribed skills shortage, or else secure sponsorship from an Australian company.

Apply Work Visa for Australia

Work visas are usually issued on a 12- or 24-months basis and there is never any guarantee that visas will be renewed. There are many stories of would-be expats who felt that they had made a new life and settled in Australia, only to find that they had to leave the country after failing to secure a visa extension.

In Western Australia and Queensland, which are home to Perth and Cairns respectively, the mining industry reigns supreme. Entry-level positions are available and often come with very attractive salaries.

However, it's important to be prepared for extremely demanding working conditions and extended periods away from home - again, not ideal for those with young families. That said, if you can stand a stint out in the mines, it can be a great way to get a “foot in the door” into the Australian workforce.

Employment Opportunities in Australia

Agriculture is another major industry present in every state and territory and also provides a lot of employment opportunities for expatriates who either have skills, or can take the physical work. Additionally, the finance and healthcare sectors employ a significant number of expats and can serve as a stepping stone for career advancement - in fact, the Australian tertiary services markets are often very keen to speak to professionals from the UK and the US.

Note that Australia is a highly educated economy and a dream destination for expats - as such, the competition for jobs is fierce, with a surplus of highly qualified applicants vying for positions.

Schools in Australia

The education system in Australia enjoys global esteem. Public school standards are generally considered to be much higher than those in the US. In fact, easy access to good education is a driving factor that expatriates with families often consider when contemplating a move to the country.

Note that while Australia's public school system is free (or at least tax payer funded), this only applies to Australian citizens and permanent residents and temporary residents may have to pay school fees if they wish to send their children.

As well as the public school system, all major cities in Australia boast numerous private schools which are quite popular among international students.

Healthcare in Australia

Australia boasts one of the highest life expectancies globally, owing to its emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, fresh food, and a world-class healthcare system. Both locals and expatriates benefit from this thoroughly progressive balanced approach to healthcare.

The healthcare system in Australia meshes a combination of public and private sectors, and many residents avail themselves of both options. Medicare, the public healthcare system, is accessible to citizens and permanent residents.

It covers all visits to public hospitals and most consultations with general practitioners. However, temporary residents or those on working visas will need to pay for their (and their families) healthcare in Australia.

One point to note is that due to Australia's vast expanse and open landscapes, some community hospitals in remote areas may face challenges such as limited access to advanced equipment or staffing shortages.

Therefore, any prospective expat with existing health conditions should think carefully about where they decide to live to ensure that they have ready access to healthcare facilities.

Bringing Your Stuff

If you are looking to move to Australia, you need to decide what to do with all of your earthly possessions. Rest assured that household items such as tables, chairs and washing machines are all readily available in Australia so you can sell yours in a garage sale before you leave!

That said, it may prove more cost effective to fill a container and bring your belongings with you especially if you have a large number of sentimental items or high value furniture that you wish to keep.

Note that Australia has strict customs rules in place and importing items can prove to be a complicated process. As such, choosing a top removal company is crucial in order to minimise the risks of running into problems.

Pros and Cons of Relocating to Australia

Let's look at some of the pros and cons of moving to Australia;

Pros:

  1. Quality of Life: Australia offers an irresistible combination of excellent weather and great working opportunities, making it an attractive choice for expatriates seeking a high quality of life.
  2. High Wages: Australia emphasizes strong, livable wages. This is particularly beneficial for those engaged in temporary or low skilled work.
  3. Great Healthcare: Australia's universal healthcare system ensures high-quality medical services, with free (to citizens) public healthcare options and an availability of affordable private healthcare alternatives.
  4. Nature: Boasting natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu National Park, residents can enjoy the country's breathtaking natural beauty.

Cons:

  1. Geographical Isolation: Australia's geographical distance from many countries can result in a sense of isolation. The significant time zone differences can make it challenging to stay connected with friends and family abroad. Flying home to visit relatives can also prove to be extremely expensive.
  2. High Cost of Living: The celebrated quality of life in Australia comes at a cost. The country has a very high cost of living, including worryingly expensive housing prices.
  3. Lack of Options: Outside of the clutch of major cities, expatriates may encounter difficulties in finding diverse career opportunities, as job prospects can be more limited in regional areas.
  4. Citizenship: The path to Australian citizenship can be lengthy and demanding. Even after obtaining a work permit, there are few guarantees and many expats spend year living in an effective state of limbo.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there is a lot to be said for Australia and starting a new life in the lucky country is a dream for many with very good reason. While finding a job and securing the right to live and work can be tough, it is more than worth the struggle.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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