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Moving to Australia is Expensive! But You Also Need to Have Enough in Savings When You Arrive.
There's no way around it. Even if you're moving to Australia with just a suitcase, it's still going to cost you thousands.
And that's just for your flight, visa application fee, and accommodations when you arrive.
I've a post here that lists all the moving expenses you need to plan for. Bringing that up here because you might want to read it before digging into this post where I'm focusing on expenses when you arrive.
Not all of the expenses I'm going to list below are expenses you will need to pay for asap.
I've included as many as I can think of so that you can plan for what's coming up, not just that first month, but the following months also.
My goal here is for you not to have any financial surprises.
Rents in Australia are Advertised as Per Week, NOT Per Month.
Several things caught us off guard financially when we first arrived, but there is one that I wish we knew when budgeting how much we needed saved up to move into our first apartment in Australia.
I started looking at rental listings back in Seattle to check out prices and see what we could afford. I'm guessing you've probably done this too.
Did you notice that some rental listings say per week and some don't?
Here's an example from Domain.com.au for a search I did recently for a two-bedroom rental in Bondi.
My stupid mistake was I assumed that if it didn't say per week, then the rent listed was monthly.
Not the case at all.
Even if it doesn't clearly state per week, it's per week and not monthly.
Realizing this changed everything because $650 per month isn't even close to $650 per week. Our apartment search quickly went from a beautiful two-bedroom to a small cramped one-bedroom that we felt lucky to find.
How to Calculate Your Rental Deposit and First Month's Rent Accurately in Australia.
You'll pay your rent monthly, not weekly, but don't assume that to calculate your monthly rent, all you need to do is times that weekly rate by a factor of four.
Here's how to calculate your monthly rent and deposit correctly.
Let's say you find a two-bedroom advertised for $650 a week.
$650 per week x 52 weeks = $33,800. That's one year's rent.
Yeah, I know, it's sobering to realize just how much you will pay in rent for a year, something to think about when you're negotiating your salary in Sydney.
Now divide $33,800 by 12 months, and you'll get $2816.67, your monthly rent.
Your deposit to move in is four times the weekly rent. In this case, $650 x 4 = $2600.
Assuming you're moving in on the first of the month, your rent plus deposit will bring the total to $5,416.67.
Man, that a lot of money!
Of course, if you move mid-month, your rent will be prorated, but your bond will stay the same.
Fully furnished deposits and pet-friendly rental cleaning fees.
If you are looking to rent a fully furnished apartment, then your deposit may be equal to as much as three month's rent.
For pet-friendly rentals, plan on paying for an end-of-lease cleaning fee to cover any damage your pet might be responsible for during your occupancy. This fee is usually non-refundable and due at the same time you pay your deposit.
When you start your search for a pet-friendly rental in Australia, you might need a pet resume.
Yep, you got that right. In Sydney, the cost of living is so expensive that even pets are expected to get a job and contribute to the household income.
No, that's not true.
It is true that you'll most likely need a pet resume.
I have a post that includes an example of a pet resume that you'll want to check out if you're moving to Australia with pets.
I have another post that lists median rents in Sydney by suburb that you might want to check out after reading this to estimate more accurately your deposit and monthly rent before you arrive.
Are You Thinking of Sharing an Apartment Instead of Renting by Yourself?
It's not a bad idea. I have two expats friends, both in their mid-thirties who share a flat in Pyrmont, with a fantastic view of Sydney Harbour Bridge, that neither of them would have been able to afford on their own. I have a few flatmate sharing sites that I recommend here.
A quick note about roommate vs. flatmate: in Australia, roommate means just sharing a room in a house or apartment, whereas flatmate means sharing the whole flat or apartment.
You Will Need to Purchase These Appliances for Your Rental in Sydney.
Most unfurnished rentals in Sydney do not have a refrigerator, washer, or dryer. Yes, there are apartment complexes in Sydney that have communal laundry, but not many. And yes, there are laundromats scattered throughout the city, but again, not many.
The good news is you can purchase these appliances online and have them delivered. (Seriously, what did people do before the internet?)
AppliancesOnline.com.au has pretty much everything you will need and free delivery, sometimes even next day delivery if in stock.
A new fridge will be anywhere from $400 to $2,000. A washing machine ranges from $400 to $1,500. A dryer will start at $300 up to $1,200.
Don't want to buy new appliances if you can help it?
Then try Gumtree, Australia's version of Craigslist.
I'm unable to give you a price range because it's all over the place and dependent on the seller. I can tell you that prices are negotiable, so don't be afraid of a little haggling. Australians love to haggle.
The only problem with using Gumtree is getting things delivered.
There are a couple of delivery options if you find something on Gumtree you want. One is to hire a delivery person to go with you to pick it up and deliver it. The best and most affordable way to hire someone to deliver from Gumtree is to post a job on Airtasker. Airtasker does so many pickups and deliveries for Gumtree, Ikea, and other places that they now have a Delivery and Removals section on their website.
Another option is to join a car share and reserve a van.
Check out GoGet Car Share. If you are going to be buying a lot for your new home, then it may work out to be a good investment to do a car share and not have to pay a delivery fee or schedule an Airtasker for each time you purchase something through Gumtree. It's also nice to have a GoGet Car those first few months to get around and see the city or search for a rental in Sydney without the hassle of owning a car.
Yes, you can use GoGet with a foreign license as long as it is current. For foreign licenses not in English, you will need a certified translation. After you send in your application online, you have to give them a call to finalize your details.
GoGet's Starter plan has a minimum total cost of $49 and a preauthorized transaction of $250, which will show up as a pending transaction until it's released back to you, four weeks later. Think of it as a deposit.
Furnishing Your New Place in Sydney on the Cheap Until Your Shipment Arrives.
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 your shipment arrives.
There are two Ikeas in Sydney, a Target and Kmart at Bondi Junction and elsewhere in the city. As I just mentioned, Gumtree is a good option for second-hand things.
Thinking of getting an air mattress to tide you over until your mattress arrives? You might want to think again.
We got an old school air mattress from a camping store in the city on Kent Street. It lasted for about a week.
We would blow it up just before going to bed, but by morning, we were always sleeping on the floor. The thing was a piece of crap.
We decided to splurge and got an Aerobed justifying the $299 price tag because we knew that we were going to be having several visitors from home and wanted them to be comfortable when they stayed with us. A bonus we didn't think of at the time is it's easily stored in the closet until our next visitors arrive. Perfect for us since we used our second bedroom as an office.
I should also point out that it took our shipment about six weeks to arrive and one week until it was through quarantine and customs, ready to deliver to us. Seven weeks sleeping on that crappy air mattress was not going to happen. I have never regretted purchasing that Aerobed. We've definitely gotten our money's worth out of it.
Another option is renting some furnishings until your shipment arrives.
Pabs Furniture Rentals has relocation packages, especially for expats moving to Australia and waiting on their things to arrive. To furnish a two-bedroom apartment – not including kitchenware, towels, and linens – it's $279 a week for a one to two month rental. The prices go down the longer the rental period is.
Approximate Monthly Prices for Internet, Water, Gas, Electric and Mobile Phone.
Ok, so you won't have to pay for these services until the following month, which means you will have time until that first paycheck shows up. That's assuming you have a job waiting for you in Sydney. If this is the case, then consider yourself lucky as most don't.
Utilities and internet service in Sydney.
Internet service for your new place in Sydney will range from $60 to $120 a month. Water about $60 and gas about $50 a month.
Electric will fluctuate with the season. In the winter, electric is approximately $60 a month and then doubles in the summer if you have air conditioning.
Oddly enough, central heating is not common in Sydney. You might not believe me now, but it can get chilly in the winter.
Almost everyone we know has at least one space heater and an electric blanket or mattress cover. Of course, neither of these will add up to the monthly cost of running air conditioning.
Mobile phone plans in Australia.
For mobile plans, several service providers ranging from the truly awful and expensive to decent and affordable. Plans usually start at about $20 per month and go up to $120 a month.
Amaysim is popular with newcomers to Australia as they have “bring your own” phone plans and no locked-in contracts. Plans start at $20 a month for 5GB data and go up to $50 a month for 60GB data.
Some of the plans include unlimited international calling perfect for expats wanting to stay in touch with friends and family back home.
Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Holders (TSS Visa Subclass 482) and Other Temporary Visa Holders are Required to Pay Tuition for Each Child Enrolled in a Public School in NSW.
TSS Visa holders that have children going to public (or government, as they say in Australia) schools in Sydney will have to pay tuition. In addition to the tuition, there is a non-refundable administration fee of $120 per child enrolled.
- Primary school (years K-6) for the 2020 school year is $5,600 per child enrolled.
- Junior high school (years 7-10) for the 2020 school year is $5,600 per child enrolled.
- Senior high school (years 11-12) for the 2020 school year is $6,400 per child enrolled.
Other School Fees You Need to Know About When Enrolling Your Kids in an NSW Public School.
Other school-related expenses like uniforms, books, stationery, and additional school fees will easily average out to be about $130 month, but you will need to plan for the initial investment.
Uniforms start at $60 and go up to $120. You will also need to buy a hat ($20) and a school bag ($50 – $60) from the school uniform shop that has the school crest on them.
Oh, and shoes. They don't sell shoes at the school uniform shops, but they do have guidelines on what kind of shoes are acceptable. Be sure to ask when you enroll.
Pay attention to when the school uniform shops are open so you can pick up supplies before the first day of school. Very important as uniforms are required.
If you have questions about schools in Sydney, then don't miss my post here, it covers all the most frequently asked questions I get from nervous parents.
Childcare Costs in Sydney. Brace Yourself for This.
Childcare ranges from $100 a day to $200 a day, depending on the age of the child and the type of care needed.
I have a post on childcare in Sydney that has resources to help you locate one either near work or close to home. Most childcare centers require payment for the month upfront or sometimes a month in advance. Childcare centers in Sydney can also have very long waiting lists.
This is the “WTF! Seriously?” point in the post for parents moving to Sydney. Sorry for the shock, but I am as serious as that minor heart attack you just had.
Quarantine Inspection Fees and Port Charges When Your Shipment Arrives in Sydney.
The main charges you will be responsible for when your shipment shows up in Sydney are port charges and quarantine inspections. Quarantine inspection fees depend on the time it takes to process your shipment.
There is an in-office fee of $30 per 15 minutes and an out-of-office fee of $50 per 15 minutes. The in-office fee applies to all work done from the time they receive your paperwork to when the details for your shipment are entered into their cargo import tracking system, and they determine what boxes in your shipment to inspect. The out-of-office fee applies to the time it takes to inspect those boxes.
The larger your shipment, the longer your quarantine inspection will take. The other factor that will affect your quarantine inspection is how organized you were when you packed.
For example, boxes labeled Christmas decorations and shoes will most certainly get flagged for inspection. Be sure you pack these items in separate boxes clearly labeled. Don't pack several boxes labeled bedroom closet. The inspector doesn't know which of these boxes has your shoes. Therefore they may end up inspecting all boxes labeled bedroom closets where instead they could have just checked a single box of shoes.
If any items in your shipment are found to have a biosecurity concern, then you will be responsible for fumigation, cleaning, or destroying charges. Yes, destroying. We had two pairs of shoes with foreign dirt on them that we were given the option to either have cleaned or destroyed. We chose to have them destroyed because it was less than having them cleaned.
Here are the charges we had to pay when our shipment arrived.
- Quarantine Inspection Fee – $550
- Port Handling Charges – $115.50
Are You Planning on Buying a Car in Sydney? Other Options to Consider.
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're worth.
I already mentioned GoGet Car Share for picking up purchases you make on Gumtree, but GoGet has many other advantages that make it worth checking out. GoGet covers the cost of fuel, registration, insurance, and maintenance the car might need. You also don't have to worry about parking as they have reserved spaces throughout the city. Parking in Sydney is a nightmare and can be expensive.
What GoGet is not suitable for is day trips or road trips. The cost of a GoGet car for longer trips works out to be more than getting a rental. But, other than that, it's an excellent option for running around the city or getting to rental inspections.
If you end up finding 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. We have some friends that rent out their parking space for $450 a month to one of their neighbors.
Are you moving to Sydney with kids? Here are some options to consider instead of buying a car.
First off, child car seat requirements are different in Australia vs. the United States and the United Kingdom. Australia has one of the most stringent child car seat standards in the world.
GoGet does have cars that come with child car seats, but not all of them. Of course, you can use your car seat with GoGet.
Hire for Baby rents car seats and boosters for children under eight years old, an option to consider until you purchase a car seat in Australia. You can rent by the day, weekly, or monthly.
Uber does not accept children without car seats that are under eight years old. Now, oddly enough, taxis will take kids under eight years old without car seats. I'm not sure many parents are comfortable with that, though.
An alternative to Uber is Shebah, an all-women rideshare, that works like Uber, including a similar app. You can book a car with a car seat or booster. Shebah is all-women, but they do accept male passengers when accompanied by a female adult and a child in a car seat. So, Dads, you're cool.
There is also Ladies Running Errands, which is excellent for Airport Transfers, but they do other things like daycare pickup and drop-offs and house sitting.
Are You Moving to Sydney for Work? Negotiate with Your Sponsoring Employer to Cover These Relocation Expenses.
Most employers in Australia that are hiring people from overseas have relocation packages or bonuses depending on the company. In our case, the company in Sydney was stingy. They did reimburse us for the cost of our shipment up to $5,000 and covered all our visa costs plus the two weeks we were staying at a hotel. We were happy at the time until we heard of others who negotiated to have their monthly health insurance costs covered since it was a requirement for their TSS visa in Australia. That was good thinking and sounds reasonable.
BTW – I didn't include monthly health insurance costs here because I did include it in my post on how much it costs to move to Sydney. Most of my readers are moving to Sydney on a TSS Visa and health insurance is a requirement for that visa. In that post, I also included a good resource to help you find the best health insurance for your needs.
I would definitely add on tuition, especially if you are moving with a couple of kids and looking at over $10,000 for your kids to go to school.
Don't forget about your medical exam for your visa health requirement. Those can be a couple hundred bucks, depending on what kind of exam you need to get.
Oh, and be sure to include the Quarantine Inspection Fees and the Port Handling Charges since those are part of the cost of your shipment.
Ready to Get Started with Your Move to Australia?
Australia Moving Checklist
39 pages, packed full of resources you need to kick start your move to Australia. Plus invite-only access to my Private Facebook Group with over 2,300 members. The group is a great place to get answers to all your questions, from visa applications to moving with pets and schools.
Lock-In Your Exchange Rate
Did you know the Australian dollar is a commodity currency? This means the value of the Australian dollar is linked to the price of iron ore and other Australian exports. It also means that it's HIGHLY VOLATILE! When a good rate comes along, you need to be ready to jump on it and lock-in that exchange rate.
Have You Started Packing Yet?
No, not yet? Still got several months to go? Ok, but have you at least started thinking about what you're taking? Maybe even started a list? The truth is you don’t need to know what's going with you before getting your shipping quote. Why? Scheduling a shipment to Australia can take as long as 6 months.
Open Your Bank Account
In 5 minutes or less, you can open both a checking and savings account BEFORE you move to Australia. There are only 3 things you need to get started.
1. Your passport and visa details.
2. Know where you're going to live.
3. Be arriving within the next 3 months.