As much as I would love to have a crystal ball to forecast how much your move to Sydney is going to cost, down to the penny, I do not.
There are just too many things to consider, for example:
- Where you’re moving from?
- Are you shipping your household to Australia or arriving with only a suitcase?
- Are you moving with your cat or your dog or both?
- Are you paying for your visa, or is your employer in Sydney?
- And what about when you arrive? Do you have a job lined up?
Even with a job waiting for you in Sydney, there will be expenses to cover before you get your first paycheck.
In the post, I’m going to focus only on the cost of moving to Sydney and not cover how much money you will need to be saved once you arrive.
I have another post that focuses on how much money saved up you will need when you arrive in Sydney.
Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor, migration agent, international shipping company, or pet relocation company. All fees and prices listed below are guidelines. I will reference each with either a link to the source, when available, or let you know from whom I got the information.
If you have any resources you have found helpful, please do not hesitate to share in the comments below this post.
If you have any questions about a moving expense or charge, or maybe there’s something you don’t see on the list below, please ask in the comments below. I’ll do some more research and add it in an update. Cheers.
Australian Visa Fees
Here’s a list of the fees for the most common visas that I get asked about below. If you do not see the visa you are applying for, go to the Australian Department of Home Affairs website. That link will take you straight to visa fees.
All visa fees are listed in Australian dollars.
- TSS – Short Term Stream (Subclass 482) – for applications lodged outside of Australia. Base application charge $1,265, Additional applicant charge 18 and over $1,265, Additional applicant charge under 18 $320
- TSS – Medium Term Stream (Subclass 482) – for applications lodged outside of Australia. Base application charge $2,645, Additional applicant charge 18 and over $2,645, Additional applicant charge under 18 $660
- Permanent Residence (Subclass 189) – Base application charge $4,045, Additional applicant charge 18 and over $2,020, Additional applicant charge under 18 $1,015
- Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186) – Base application charge $4,045, Additional applicant charge 18 and over $2,025, Additional applicant charge under 18 $1,010
- Working Holiday visa (Subclass 417) – for applications lodged outside of Australia. Base application charge $485
- Work and Holiday visa (Subclass 462) – for applications lodged outside of Australia. Base application charge $485
- Partner (Subclass 309/100) – Base application charge $7,715, Additional applicant charge 18 and over $3,860, Additional applicant charge under 18 $1,935 (Note: This is the partner visa for those applying outside of Australia.)
- Student visa (Subclass 500) – Base application charge $620, Additional applicant charge 18 and over $460, Additional applicant charge under 18 $150
Again, if I didn’t list your visa, please go here for a list of visa fees.
Are You Using a Migration Agent for Your Visa?
Migration agent fees are in addition to the visa fees listed above. Each agent or agency has different fees making it hard for me to estimate for you. Most migration agents charge 1x to 1.5x the base visa application fee I listed above, except for Partner Visas. A good thing since Australia’s Partner Visa base application fee is so expensive.
For Partner Visas, migration agents fees usually start at half the base visa application fee and go up to equal to the base visa application fee. If you are considering having a migration agent help with your Partner Visa, then be sure you shop around as you could save thousands.
Going off that general estimate, here’s the approximate range for migration agent fees for Skilled Migration Visas, Partner Visas, and Student Visas.
- For a General Skill Migration, fees range from $4,045 to $6,068
- For Partner Migration, fees range from $3,500 to $7,715
- For Student Migration, fees range from $620 to $930
Why didn’t I include Working Holiday Visas or 482 Visas migration agency fees?
If you are applying for a WHV, don’t use a migration agent. You can do it all online yourself.
For 482 visas, negotiate with the sponsoring employer to cover the visa application fees AND migration agent services. Most companies do this and have an in-house migration agent or lawyer specifically for handling work sponsored visa applications.
When we moved to Australia on a temporary work visa, we didn’t pay for either the visa application fee or deal with any of the filing processes of the application. The only thing we had to pay for out-of-pocket was our medical requirement, our character requirement, and health insurance in Australia. I’ll talk about these expenses more below.
Be careful with visa sponsoring jobs in Australia.
There are many scams out there where an employer will agree to sponsor someone but for a huge fee. Now that you have an idea as to what the visa fees are, hopefully, you’ll not fall prey to one of those scams.
If you use a migration agent or agency, always, always, ALWAYS, check that they are registered here. If they are not registered, then go with someone else.
Other Visa Related Expenses to Include in Your Cost of Moving to Sydney Budget
Medical Examination and Chest X-Ray for Australian Visas
One requirement for your visa application will be the medical requirement. You may need to get a full medical exam or just a chest x-ray. It all depends on what visa you are applying for, where you are moving from, and how long you will be staying in Australia. For more on what health examination you will need for your visa, click here.
Most likely, the clinic you get your medical exam and/or chest x-ray will not accept your current health insurance. You will be expected to pay these at the time you get them done. I’m going to list how much ours was below. I should point out that we didn’t need an exam that included full blood work. I did I get the cost of a full medical with blood work when I emailed the clinic in Seattle because we didn’t know if we needed one or not at the time.
- Medical exam with full blood work – $436
- Medical exam without full blood work – $338
A few things to note about the Australian health requirements for visas.
- For an in-depth article that covers the who, what, when, where, and how – click here. That link will take you straight to the Australian Department of Home Affairs. Can’t find a better resource than that.
- To find a clinic near you where you can get your health requirements done – click here. You can do this now, so you know if a clinic is close by or if it will take some scheduling to get to. To find out how much your exam will be, email the clinic and ask them. It’s that easy. Also, be sure to ask how booked up they are. It could be several weeks until you can get an appointment.
- For when to get yours done, read the article I linked to above. Generally, your exam results are only valid for 12 months. And yes, everyone listed on the visa application will need to meet the health requirements. I am the secondary applicant on my husband’s work visa, and I had to get an exam done too.
Character requirements for Australian visas.
Police Clearance Certificate fees are dependant on what country or state you will get your clearance from. You may also need to pay for fingerprinting services.
You will need a police clearance from each country you have lived in for 12 months or more for the past 10 years.
For those living in the USA, you will need to get a police clearance certificate from each state you have lived in for the past 12 months.
To give you some idea of the fees for a criminal history record from the police, I have looked up the fees for Washington State since that’s where I’m from.
- Request for Conviction History in Washington State with no fingerprints – $32
- Request for Conviction History in Washington State with a full set of fingerprints – $58
- Request a Notary Seal – $10
- Fingerprinting Service done at a local police station in Seattle – $16
In addition to a police clearance certificate, you may also need an FBI clearance. For an FBI summary check, you will need to get fingerprinted.
- Identity History Summary Check by the FBI – $18
Your Flight to Australia
Obviously, you want to start shopping for flights sooner rather than later. As you probably already realize, it’s darn expensive to fly to Australia, and a one-way ticket can be almost as expensive as a round trip. I have no idea why, but it is.
If you have more time to shop for your flight, then check out AirFair Watchdog.
With AirFair Watchdog, you can track specific flight routes and set up email alerts for when the price drops. It’s pretty handy to have, and you can cancel the alerts after you book your flight.
Australian Health Insurance
Australia has Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia, and Norway. This means that you qualify for Medicare in Australia.
Note: Students from Norway, Finland, Malta and the Republic of Ireland aren’t covered by RHC agreements.
If you are applying for a work-sponsored visa and your country is listed above, you will still need proof of health insurance in Australia for your visa application. Then, when you are present in Australia, you can cancel your private health insurance. Most Australians have private health insurance to supplement Medicare, something you might want to consider.
- For two adults, no dependents, private health insurance ranges from $208 all the way up to $750 a month.
- For two adults with dependents, private health insurance ranges from $300 all the way up to $830 a month.
Wait. That’s a huge range.
Yes, I know, but when you start adding on extras, it adds up quickly.
Are there cheaper health insurance plans?
Yes, there are some very basic, budget plans but be careful. Most of the budget plans only cover in-hospital care and not out-of-hospital coverage, such as pharmacy or general practitioner. Also, watch out for waiting periods and restrictions.
Comparing Australian Health Insurance Plans
Canstar is a good comparison site for things like health insurance, credit cards, pet insurance, etc. I like Canstar because they don’t collect any contact details then spam you or cold call. You select what type of insurance you are looking for, and they display a list of plans that you can sort by monthly premium or CanStar rating. You can also compare policies.
If you are applying for a TSS visa (482 visa), or any other Australian working visa that you will need health insurance for, and you want to start shopping now, use this link. On that page of Canstar, scroll down a bit until you see a link to “View Results PDF.” Open the Working Visa Research Results PDF.
The Working Visa Research Results PDF by Canstar is a large table of all the working visa insurance plans worth checking out. It compares coverage, list premiums, and is sorted by the Canstar rating.
Here’s another link to an article on the Department of Home Affairs website for you about adequate health insurance for visa holders.
International Shipping Cost for Australia
I have a post titled “How Much Does It Cost to Ship Your Household to Australia?” that has a table that lists estimates for international shipping to Sydney from several major cities like London, Singapore, and San Francisco. I’m not going to repost that table here, making this post unnecessarily longer than it already is.
There are three related posts where I go over our shipping quote from Seattle to Sydney in detail, including our estimate.
Packing Supplies for Your Shipment to Australia
I know this isn’t going to be a considerable expense when estimating your cost to move to Sydney, but boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, sharpies, and labels will add up.
I have an Amazon storefront where I have selected, not just packing supplies, but all things related to moving to Australia. I know it’s a weird thing to do to, order a box from Amazon of boxes, but if it makes your life easier to have all your packing supplies show up on your doorstep, then by all means, make your life easier.
And yes, I do make a small referral commission when you order through my storefront link, but most of that commission goes straight back to Amazon to pay for the Amazon web services I use for the site. Thanks in advance for supporting SMG!
A Quick Note About Packing
You will have to get new, never used before, boxes for your shipment. I’m talking about larger, cardboard boxes here. Not your coffee machine or Kitchenaid mixer box that you have in storage. Those you can totally reuse. And good on you for saving it just for this move. Seriously, how did you know?
Pet Relocation for Australia
Moving to Australia with pets takes a minimum of 180 days to complete with a minimum of 10 days quarantine in Australia that is mandatory.
Go through the step-by-step guides available on the Department of Agriculture’s website.
The quarantine process in Australia is strict. Not filling out the paperwork accurately and completely can result in pets being exported back home or, heaven forbid, euthanized.
The Sydney quarantine facility has been closed, which means that you will need to transport your pet to Sydney from the Melbourne quarantine facility after the quarantine period is over. Something to include in your moving budget. You are not permitted to visit your pet but can email or call the quarantine facility while your pet is in quarantine. Sometimes the quarantine facility will even send photos if you email.
Most people hire a pet relocation company to help with all the paperwork and booking flights. If you think your flight was expensive, brace yourself as flights for animals to Australia are usually more. Think first-class.
Charges in Australia that you need to know about. All are listed in Australian dollars.
- Import Permit Application – first pet $480 – second pet $240 (This charge may be included in the list charges from your pet relocation company. Be sure to ask.)
- Quarantine entry $33 (Fee is charged for each animal.)
- Veterinary examination of animal and health certification $30 (Fee per 15 minutes. This fee is charged for each animal.)
- Document clearance $30 (This fee is charged for each animal. If additional information is required to complete document assessment, an additional $40 per 15 minutes will be charged.)
- PEQ importation charge levy $1200
- Accommodation fee $29 (Daily rate for each animal. Minimum of 10 days.)
According to the Department of Agriculture in Australia, “The minimum cost to import one cat or dog to Australia that undergoes the minimum 10 day quarantine period will be $2000.”
There are other charges to add to your pet relocation costs like travel crate and several vet visits plus lab work.
Accommodation in Sydney When You First Arrive
I always recommend booking a vacation rental in one of the areas you are interested in settling for the long term. See my post titled “Where are you going to live in Sydney?” for why and suggestions for Sydney suburbs to consider.
I am a big fan of Airbnb. It’s my number one go-to for booking rentals when traveling. Here’s a link to a $55USD credit with Airbnb for your first booking.
For expats moving to Sydney, the other benefit of Airbnb is having a local host who is familiar with the area, an excellent resource for anyone new to the city.
The average price for a two week rental in Sydney with Airbnb.
1 guest – $3,277 —– 2 guests – $3,325
3 guests – $4,144 —– 4 guests – $4,465
Mail Forwarding for Expats
Forwarding your mail to Australia won’t be a significant expense, but it is something that is often forgotten when estimating the cost of moving to Sydney.
Royal Mail offers international redirection services for different time frames. You can either apply in person or online. If needed, you can renew online to continue the service longer. The redirection service is for a maximum of 2 years, but check on that as I’m not from the UK.
- Up to 3 months – £ 120.99
- Up to 6 months – £ 169.99
- Up to 12 months – £ 243.99
Mail Forwarding Service for US Expats
Unfortunately, the USPS will not forward mail internationally. Traveling Mailbox is an excellent, reliable service with no hidden fees, such as a scanning fee on top of a monthly fee. Many other mail forwarding services add scanning in addition to their monthly payment plan.
Traveling Mailbox Payment Plans
- Basic Plan – $15/month
- Extended Plan – $25/month
- Small Business Plan – $55/month
Sorry, but I don’t have mail forwarding recommendations for other countries at the moment. If you have one, please share it in the comments below and I will add it here.
Wow, when I started writing this post, I had no idea it was going to be this long. I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you.
Is there anything that I need to add to help you better estimate the cost of your move to Sydney? I’ve tried to be as complete as possible, but I’m sure that I’ve left off something.
Have I overwhelmed you? Is there a way to make this more accessible, like a printable checklist or an example spreadsheet that you can download and add in your moving expenses?
Let me know in the comments below.