A guide to Australia as an expat
Are you planning on making a long-term, or perhaps even permanent move to Australia? To help you prepare, we’ve compiled some information on everything from how you can get around easily, to what you can do to connect with others just like you after you’ve settled into your new home abroad. Here are a few things that you should know if you are thinking about moving to Australia.
Population:25,247,643 according to a 2019 estimate. 
Largest city: Sydney
Capital city: Canberra
National language: English
Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
Language and diversity in Australia
The official language of Australia is English however, Australia is a very diverse country. The Australian government estimates that almost one in four Australian residents were born outside of Australia, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that in 2016, over 300 spoken languages were identified.
Australia has a diverse cultural make-up, with a wide variety of backgrounds spanning first or second-generation immigrants, refugees and Indigenous Australians, making it a popular place for many to call home.
Healthcare in Australia
Australia has a strong and efficient healthcare system called Medicare. Medicare provides subsidised health care, which is done through a Medicare levy, a compulsory tax, with the government subsiding the remaining funding where necessary.
Unfortunately, this is only accessible to Australian Citizens and permanent residents, however, you may be able to get financial assistance if your country has a reciprocal health care agreement with Australia. These countries are listed below:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
Visa requirements and work in Australia
Many people around the world will need a visa to be granted access to Australia. whether it is for a short holiday, business trip or extended entry. Visas in the visitor subclass are usually processed relatively efficiently and are finished within 1 month.
A popular Visa for young travellers is the working holiday visa, which allows you to work in Australia for 1 year, with the possibility of extending the visa another year with 3 months of specified (generally manual work) in rural areas. For incoming expats, who have already secured work, you will need to apply for a skilled visa where your employer will sponsor you to receive the visa in Australia.
There are a range of other skilled visas you can apply for even if you don’t have sponsorship from an employer. Acceptance will depend on whether your skills align with what is needed at the time. The skills needed are listed on the skilled occupation list outlined on Australia’s Home Affairs website.
Australia can be quite strict with visas and their immigration laws are regularly reviewed by the government, so it is recommended to check the updated information on their website.
Paying for goods and services in Australia
It is a good idea to open a new bank account in Australia once you’ve settled in. By doing so, you could easily use an international money transfer service like OFX to move money between your previous account and your new account. And when you use OFX for your international transfers, you could get the money you need without getting hit with the high margins and fees that your bank would charge for the same type of transfer.
When it comes to paying for goods and services in Australia, whether you are shopping for clothes, eating at a restaurant, or paying for a ride in a taxi, credit and debit cards are an option. However, cash is also widely accepted, and many people use ATMs to get cash fast whenever they need it.
Schooling options in Australia
Both state and private school education are of a high standard in Australia, with roughly two-thirds of the population sending their kids to public schools. So, we will leave it up to you to compare the minor differences.
Each state is responsible for regulating its own public and private schools. It is worth looking at the relevant education website of the state you will be residing. If you have children in their final years of high school age and you would like to send them to a school with a more international focus, there are a range of international schools and schools who offer the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, which are world recognised.
If your children are looking at universities, Australia is known for its high-quality tertiary education, student support and research. In fact, many expats migrate to Australia for that reason alone, with 5 universities ranking in the top 50 universities in the world accord to QS University ranks.
Please be advised that while every effort is made to keep this information up to date, OFX does not provide employment, immigration or tax advice or the like, and you should always consult employment, immigration or tax professional about your unique circumstances.
IMPORTANT: The contents of this blog do not constitute financial advice and are provided for general information purposes only without taking into account the investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any particular person. UKForex Limited (trading as “OFX”) and its affiliates make no recommendation as to the merits of any financial strategy or product referred to in the blog. OFX makes no warranty, express or implied, concerning the suitability, completeness, quality or exactness of the information and models provided in this blog.