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You won't regret moving to Australia from the UK.
It's a decision you won't regret, and it will change your world more than you might have imagined. While much of the culture in Australia is similar to that of the UK, there are also a lot of differences and you will have a lot of fun getting to know them.
With that said, there are practical things to consider. You will find many a checklist around the web of things you need, but I have tried to talk about a few of the things that we Brits should be aware of when moving to Australia from the UK.
Practical Stuff to Consider Before Moving to Australia
If you have been living on your own (or with a partner) for any amount of time, you have probably accumulated a lot of junk right? – unless you are fresh out of uni! Well now is the time to get rid of all those things you just don’t need.
I suggest taking at least three months before leaving the country to get rid of anything you are not taking to Australia with you. Sell your furniture, get rid of any clothes you don't really need, or wear, and just generally get rid of anything you don't plan to take with you. Travelling is more fun when you're not weighed down by baggage.
Keep the Money
If you plan to eventually return to the UK, why not try to sell all of your stuff on eBay and keep the money safe in a savings account? This can then be your fund to buy new stuff when you return.
If you have some bits that you really can't bring yourself to get rid of, you will need to think about storage. You may be able to use a friend's garage, but if you would rather not put out your friends and family, renting storage space is a good plan.
Plan this in advance, and figure out how much it will cost – then multiply that by how long you might be spending in Australia – you may find you want to reconsider the “flog it” option!
There are many companies around the UK who can help with self-storage – using a search engine will help you find those nearby. If you go ahead with this options, here’s a really handy article by Britannia Harrison and Rowley – tips for using self-storage.
Shipping Stuff to Australia from the UK
Finally, of course, you need to figure out which stuff you’ll take with you. There will be various small bits that you want to take, English chocolate, plenty of underwear (it's surprisingly expensive in Australia), and any home comforts. But you also need to figure out whether you need to take any bigger stuff.
If you have more than a big suitcase worth of stuff it may well be cheaper and easier to get it shipped out later.
As a rough guide, a company like Seven Seas will ship a surfboard by Sea for around £100 (GBP), although it can take up to three months to arrive, so again, plan in advance. Shipping by air is much faster but costs about three times as much, so planning ahead will save you a lot.
Mental Stuff to Consider Before Moving to Australia from the UK
It's Really Hot
This applies to anyone really, but no one more than a Brit. We spend all year complaining that it's cold and then complain even harder on the three days a year when it's a little bit hot! Well, Australia is very hot, all year!
As an expat from the UK, you should try your best to mentally prepare yourself. There's no room for being macho here, sun cream is essential if you want to avoid third-degree burns. Temperatures vary between the mid-30s to the mid-40s depending on the month.
Find Other Expats from the UK Living in Australia
When living in another country, you will inevitably get homesick sometimes, and having a community of expats near you is a big help, especially early on. So it is worth finding a local expat hub near to where you plan to be living. Do this in advance and try to make friends early; this will help you to enjoy your first few weeks.
But Not Too Many
Of course, we Brits have a tendency to cling to such expat hubs, which is why there are entire towns full of English people in certain parts of Spain! So please do go with an open mind and resolve now not to completely cocoon yourself in an expat hub.
Getting Your Finances Sorted Before Moving to Australia
Keep a UK Bank Account
It's a good idea to simplify your accounts before you leave, so I would recommend getting rid of any credit cards, paying off any loans, etc. But it is a good idea to keep one main bank account open because you will undoubtedly want to send money back home at some point, and it's nice having a foothold back in the UK, even if you don't plan to ever return.
Set Up an Australian Bank Account
Of course setting up an Australian bank account is vital too. Make sure you have all the required documents ahead of time so that you can set up your account as soon as you arrive. You can do this in advance, but it's probably easier to just do it in person when you arrive – assuming you have all the right paperwork. Your wages in Australia will undoubtedly be paid into this account, so this should be a top priority.
Find a Money Transfer Service
Hopefully, you have at least a reasonable pot of savings to tide you over while you find a job and settle in. You might even be planning to buy property in Australia. Whatever the case, you will likely want to transfer money between countries at some point, and if you are transferring any medium to large amounts, paying bank rates is expensive.
Services like OFX and XE Money Transfer will handle currency transfers at much more competitive rates, so you will save a lot of money by using such a service. Find a provider now, and use them every time you need to – the savings will soon add up!
Note from Lauren: For more about transferring money overseas read through my post “An Expat's Guide to Transferring Money Overseas”.
Proof of Credit History
In the UK, agencies like Experian track your financial history and each time you apply for a loan, or even just a bank account your credit file will be checked. Unfortunately, this credit history doesn't necessarily follow you to Australia, meaning that getting credit may be tricky.
If you have recently had and paid off, any credit in the UK it is worth asking the credit provider for a letter confirming that you have kept your payments up to date and have paid off the loan. This may help you the first couple of times you need to apply for credit in Australia (and that may include things like phone contracts, utilities, credit cards, etc).
This may or may not be necessary, but it's certainly worth having – just in case!
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1. Your passport and visa details.
2. Know where you're going to live.
3. Be arriving within the next 3 months.