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Matilda Bay in Perth, Australia

Moving to Australia

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Feb 01, 2023

Summary: Many expats and digital nomads move to Australia for its high quality of life, excellent healthcare system, and strong economy. The most popular cities for expats and digital nomads in Australia are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. People looking for a place to live in Australia can search online for rental properties, contact real estate agents, or look for shared accommodation. Additionally, many expats and digital nomads use online forums and social media to connect with other expats and digital nomads in Australia and find housing.

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What do I need to know before moving to Australia?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Australia, they said:

"It is important to research Australia's visa requirements to understand what your options are for living and working in the country. You will need to apply for an electronic visa before entering the country, and you may also need to obtain a work visa if you intend to work while in Australia. It is also useful to research the cost of living in Australian cities, as these can vary greatly. Furthermore, you need to be aware that most Australians use English as their official language and different states may have different accent and slang. Finally, getting to know the local customs can help you to adjust to life whilst living in Australia," explained one expat living in Australia.

"Look for an area convenient for your work and lifestyle. In Melbourne there's lots to choose from on both sides of the Yarra," said another expat in Melbourne.

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How do I find a place to live in Australia?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"Finding a place to live in Australia can be relatively straightforward. You may want to research different areas that appeal to you and search for online listings for potential properties there. You could also use online services, such as real estate agents, to help you find suitable properties. Alternatively, you may want to consider staying in short-term accommodation, such as a backpackers’ hostel or house share, while you search for a permanent residence," said another expat in Australia.

"We had recommendations from locals, we drove around quite a bit and we looked at the Sydney Herald. It is important to decide what type of area you want to live in, Suburb, Urban etc.. Also, it's helpful to decide about transportation, parking, schools. We chose not to have a car so we decided on a more urban area with good public transportation and lots of stores, schools within walking distance. Look carefully before you decide, you should visit the neighborhood at different times of day to see what it is like. Also ask people like taxi drivers about neighborhoods, they are very well informed," added another expat who made the move to Sydney.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Australia?

"Most expat homes in Australia are typically modern and mostly suburban, with large windows and high ceilings. Generally, living spaces are open plan and back and front yards are designed for outdoor living. Most homes are brightly decorated and are well-equipped with modern appliances and amenities. Living spaces often have access to natural light, with large balconies, patios, or terraces providing additional recreational spaces. Generally, homes in Australia provide plenty of room for entertaining guests, with some larger houses having separate entertaining areas, a swimming pool, and a large garden," explained one expat living in Australia.

"We live in an apartment on the fifth floor of a relatively new apartment building. Except for the traffic/city noise the apartment is very nice, a lot of amenities - pool, workout room, close to shopping, grocery, public transport, school. There are many different types of people living here, locals, students, expats," said another expat in Sydney.

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What is the average cost of housing in Australia?

If you are thinking about moving to Australia, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The average cost of housing in Australia varies depending on location and other factors. Generally, the cost of housing in Australia is higher than in many other countries," said another expat in Australia.

"Much higher housing costs here. Figure around $1000 per week. It will obviously be less if you don't need such a big place," added another expat who made the move to Melbourne.

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Should I buy or rent a home in Australia?

If you have not spent a lot of time in Australia, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"Buying a home in Australia is a major decision, requiring careful consideration of your individual situation. Some factors to consider when deciding between buying and renting a home in Australia include your financial situation, lifestyle preferences, long-term goals and local property market conditions. It is important to weigh the benefits of owning property, such as potential capital gains, with the greater flexibility provided by renting. Ultimately, you will need to assess your personal circumstances and make the best decision for yourself," explained one expat living in Australia.

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What should I pack when moving to Australia?

We asked people living in Australia to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"Essentials to pack when moving to Australia include clothing appropriate for the climate, including a jacket and umbrella for wetter months; toiletries, medications, and any other health/beauty products you may need; identification documents such as a passport; banking documents and credit/debit cards; a melbourne cup rental agreement or property deeds if you’re renting or buying; kitchen appliances and cookware; furniture; a laptop, cell phone, and other electronics; pet supplies if traveling with a pet; and a first aid kit," remarked another expat who made the move to Australia.

"Wish we brought: 1) relatives and friends 2) international newspapers 3) better choice of clothing Wish we left at home: 1) artwork 2) boxes photos 3) books," explained one expat living in Melbourne, Australia.

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What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Australia?

We asked people in Australia if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:

"In Australia, it is important to be conscious of people’s different cultures and faiths. It is considered insulting to make negative comments about someone’s culture, nationality, or religious beliefs. It is also considered rude to show up late to social events or gatherings without offering an explanation or apology. It is important to listen more than you talk and to use polite manners during conversations. It is also important to be aware of the different hand gestures used in Australia, as some may have different meanings in other countries. Additionally, it is polite to address people by their last name unless otherwise embraced by an individual. Finally, do not give someone a "thumbs up" sign, as that is an offensive gesture in Australia," remarked another expat in Australia.

"No I didn't. I'm not sure that is possible with Australians they are so laid back," said another expat in Brisbane.

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What are medical services in Australia like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Australia, they replied:

"After living in the Northeastern US and then Texas, coming to Sydney has been a dream for me and my family. My son broke his femur and required emergency surgery, a week stay in the hospital, 8 months of physical therapy and then another surgery, our cost was $40 to rent a chair for the shower. I will never willingly live in the US again," commented one expat who moved to Sydney.

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About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

Matilda Bay in Perth, Australia

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