Not only do you need to budget for the cost of shipping your household to Australia but you also need to think about how much money you need saved for the first few months after you arrive especially if you do not have a job waiting for you in Sydney.
You’ll need to budget for the bond (or deposit) for your apartment plus first month’s rent, yearly tuition for public schools if you are moving on a 457 visa and other school fees like uniforms and books, any other cost such as mobile phone, internet and setting up house in Sydney.
The amount of savings needed to settle into life in Sydney will obviously be different for everyone depending on your rent and if you will be paying for tuition of public schools. There are, however, a few things that apply to almost everyone moving to Sydney.
I have listed a few tips below to help out with calculating your moving budget for when you arrive in Sydney.
Seven Budget Tips Every Expat Needs to Know When Moving to Sydney
1. Getting Paid Once a Month
One thing that we were not aware of before we moved was we were both paid only once a month.
In the States, it is more common to be paid every two weeks (or fortnightly, as they say in Australia). Once we start getting a regular paycheck, being paid once a month really is not that bad. It’s that period of time before that first paycheck that we needed to plan for better.
Not every company pays once a month in Australia but, I can tell you in all honesty, I do not personally know anyone that is paid fortnightly or weekly. So far, from feedback from SMG readers, it’s only those working on contract, or freelancing, that are paid fortnightly. Pointing this out as it’s something to ask your employer before you move and having that period between paychecks come as a surprise.
Plan on skipping that first payday when you start your new job. Don’t worry, it will be a nice fat paycheck the following month that will be equal to two paychecks but you need to be prepared for that period of time until you get that nice fat paycheck.
The 15th of the month is usually payday for most. It’s best to not put yourself in a position where you are in desperate need of cash to cover expenses like the bond on your apartment. Reimbursement for your travel and moving expenses will most likely, also be included in that first paycheck, if you are being relocated for work, making that first paycheck even more.
If you can pick your start day, consider starting a few days before the 15th, or whatever you payday is, that way decreasing the time until you get your first paycheck. If you start on the 1st of the month, there is a chance you will end up skipping the first payday on the 15th and have to wait until the following month for your first paycheck. Some companies accounting departments work faster than others but for us, we both ended up missing that first payday.
2. Calculating Your Bond and Rent in Sydney Correctly
Rents in Sydney are advertised per week but a one bedroom apartment that is $650 a week is not $2600 a month ($650 x 4 weeks). Since there are 52 weeks a year a $650 per week apartment is actually $2816.67 a month. How did I get that number? 52 weeks x $650 = 1 year’s rent ($33,800). Now divide $33,800 by 12 months and you’ll get $2816.67.
Therefore, if the bond on your apartment is equal to one month’s rent you will need $5633.34 just to move in. Man, that a lot of money! Of course if you move mid-month your rent will be prorated but you bond will stay the same.
Thinking of renting a furnished apartment? Bonds for furnished apartments can be as high as three months rent.
What about moving with pets? Plan on paying more for a cleaning fee to cover any damage your pet might be responsible for.
3. Temporary Visa Holders Pay Tuition for Public Schools in NSW.
The average tuition is about $5,000 per year. For private schools plan on paying more. For more about schools in Sydney CLICK HERE.
4. Paying Your Health Insurance
It costs less than it does in the States but still include it in your monthly budget.
As a 457 visa holder, you are required to have private health insurance.
For those with a Permanent Residence Visas, you can claim medicare in Australia.
There are ten countries that have a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia: Finland, Italy, Malta, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, The Netherlands and United Kingdom. If you are from one of these countries and have a 457 Visa you may apply for medicare ONCE you arrive in Australia. You will still need proof of health insurance for your visa.
Once you have medicare you can cancel your health insurance but I would recommend keeping some sort of private health insurance as a supplement to medicare.
Please verify this with the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Medicare Office.
5. Mobile Phones and Internet
Shop around for the best deal. (I don’t recommend Telstra! In fact I would say avoid Telstra at all cost. The customer service is awful. If you ever have a dispute about a charge it will take forever to get it resolved. We finally switched to Optus and were very happy with their service.)
Amaysim has been recommended by several SMG readers for their pay as you go plan, popular with Working Holiday Travelers, and their unlimited data plans that include 300 extra international minutes to selected countries, perfect for expats wanting to stay in touch with friends and family back home.
6. Buying Appliances for Your First Apartment in Sydney
You will probably need to buy your own refrigerator, washing machine and dryer.
Rentals in Sydney do not come with all the appliances. Be sure to ask the rental agents when you are looking at apartments if the fridge, washing machine/dryer are included. Appliances Online is a good place to go to purchase appliances that will be delivered to you for free the next day since they are located in Sydney. Just be sure you are there to receive your delivery.
Furnishing your apartment or house doesn’t have to be expensive. If you are shipping your household you will need enough to get by until it arrives.
We made a few trips to the Supa Centa at Moore Park after we moved into our apartment.
For delivery, I highly recommend using AirTasker. AirTasker does so many pickups and deliveries for Gumtree, Ikea and other furniture shops that they now have a Delivery and Removals section on their website. It’s also usually ends up being less than what a store charges for delivery. Highly recommend checking it out.
Looking for an air mattress to tide you over until your shipment arrives? There are several outdoor/camping stores on Kent Street between Liverpool and Druitt.
We decided to splurge and got an Aerobed since we knew that we were going to be having several visitors and wanted them to be comfortable.
Even though the Aerobed is over $400, it is far more comfortable than a regular camping air mattress plus we could easily store it in the closet until our next overseas visitor. Perfect for us since we used our second bedroom as an office.
7. Living in Sydney Without a Car
I wouldn’t recommend buying a car until you’ve been in Sydney for a few months. Public transportation is good in Sydney and cars are more of a hassle than they are worth.
If you find an apartment with a parking space then consider yourself lucky.
If you don’t have a car for your parking space, rent it out. People are more than willing to rent a parking space in Sydney.
Ok, I think that’s it. If you can think of anything to add to this list, PLEASE let me know! I’ll definitely add it. I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten a few things.
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