Temporary visa holders moving to Sydney for work need to think about other expenses besides the cost of shipping and flights.

Today’s Email

If everything goes on well, I will be moving to Sydney this coming August. Right now, I am still waiting for the visa application to be done. Currently, I am in New York City.

You’re in Australia because your husband was on a sponsored work visa, right? Did the company paid for you to relocate to Australia? Flights, shipping etc?

Also, what would you recommend expats do for accommodation during the first few weeks before settling down with a place to rent?

I was also wondering if there is a large American Expat community in Sydney?

Thanks so much for your help.

Lauren’s Reply

Yes that’s correct, we moved on a subclass 457 work sponsored visa. The company that sponsored our visa did pay for shipping our household, our flights to Australia and two weeks accommodations in Sydney but not our private health insurance which is a requirement for a 457 visa.

Negotiating the Perfect Relocation Package

When my husband first started negotiating with the company they didn’t offer anything. He just flat out turned them down if they didn’t. Quite simply there was no way we could afford to move to Australia at the time without financial help.

I think they, the company my husband got hired by, do this to everyone they hire because as soon as he said no they came back with an offer to reimburse the cost once we got to Australia. Still money out of pocket but it turned out to be a good thing to get the reimbursement in Sydney as we needed an immediate source of Australian funds for our first apartment deposit.

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He was smart to ask for a signing bonus and that the bonus plus reimbursement for our moving costs were paid asap we when arrived. If we didn’t have that money we would have been hurting financially.

The standard for company relocations in Australia seems to be two weeks stay in a hotel. That’s what we had and it was a very stressful only having two weeks as apartment hunting in Sydney is competitive and, for the second week, my husband had to start working. I was on my own running around Sydney to apartment viewing after apartment viewing making a big decision that would affect the both of us.

It was also our first time in Sydney so narrowing down where we wanted to live added to the stress of signing a year lease.

I would definitely ask about the company’s relocation package and/or for a signing bonus that kicks in when you arrive.

Negotiating is always a difficult thing to do. To be honest, I’m not very good at it but if I were a smart negotiator I would ask for the company to cover flights, the cost of the move (international shipping), one month accommodations in a short term rental, private medical insurance coverage since that is required by law, and, if moving with children that will be attending public schools in Sydney, tuition for each child per year as 457 visa holders children have to pay tuition to go to public school here.

If you’re really good at negotiating then I would throw in a relocation agent to help orientate you with the city and finding your first apartment.

Getting all of that would be top notch but most likely will not happen. The minimum covered, what I hear of from my readers and from our experience, is international shipping up to a limit, accommodations at a hotel for two weeks and flights.

Short Term Rental vs Hotel Accommodations

One thing I would recommend is trying for the short term rental in Sydney for a month. If the company usually pays for two weeks in a hotel then fine ask for them to cover the first two weeks of the rental or equivalent value of two weeks in a hotel as vacation rentals can often be less than a hotel.

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This way you can select a rental in a part of the city you’re thinking of living and get a chance to see how it feels, what the schools are like, how long your commute is, etc. It’s also much easier for when you’re searching for apartments, granted you have some time before starting work if you’re going to viewings close by.

Do NOT secure a rental without seeing it first.

Don’t stress and think you can get ahead of the game but securing an apartment while still in NYC. I’ve had a few readers that have done this and it has been a disaster. One was a complete scam and they lost their money.

I know this sounds completely obvious and you probably don’t need to have it pointed out to you but when we’re stressed out and overwhelmed we tend to make bad decisions.

My husband asking for a signing bonus to be paid upon arrival was genius since we did not set up our banking before arrive and would’ve had to wait for funds to be transferred. Precise time wasted. Having the signing bonus meant we could cover our rental deposit start away.

This might not sound like a big deal right now, especially coming from New York as I’m sure the rental market is competitive, but with the Sydney rental market timing is everything and being able to move quickly will give you an edge. A small edge but much better than waiting a week if not more to set up your banking and have funds transferred.

What You Can Do Today To Make Your Move to Sydney Easier

I have several posts on Banking for Expats here that cover how to set up your account before you leave home (super easy, takes about 10 minutes online) and what Australian banks offer expat accounts.

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Once your account is set up, you can start transferring funds.

I have a post that rates the forex brokers we have used since living overseas. One of the companies has reached out to Sydney Moving Guide with an offer of Free Money Transfers for LIFE.

Here’s a link to that post: Expat’s Guide to Currency Exchange and Transferring Money Overseas.

Have a bank account with money already transferred is something I wish we had done!

I know recommend it to everyone moving to Australia. It will probably be the easiest part of your move.

Being an American Expat in Sydney

There are more and more American expats in Australia. We are still outnumbered by UK expats but definitely making our mark.

Ok, kind of a long reply. Sorry about that. Hope it helps.

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Every Monday I pick a question from an SMG email subscriber along with my reply, directly my inbox to share with everyone here.

I don’t promise to have all the answers, but I will do my best to point you in the right direction or help you with your research as I know there is a lot of noise out there on the interwebs and good resources are hard to find.