Expat Life in Australia.

I’m fast approaching my 5th year in Australia since moving out from the UK. And honestly, I have never once looked back. I still love England (dearly), but for now I’m settled in Australia and more than happy to trade under the name; Expat.

So, why do I stay in Australia?

A lot of people, especially friends at home, ask me what drives me to stay in Australia? At first it was the sun. But then I got burnt.  It didn’t take long to realise it was the lifestyle that had gripped me.

  • Endless beaches (I went to 84 beaches in my first year)
  • Great people
  • Weekends away in paradise
  • Great job opportunities
  • One of the best work/life balance countries in the world
  • Amazing activities
  • Not to mention a super strong $AU.

At the time of my arrival in 2008, the world was in a financial crisis and yet Australia felt safe. Today I see a long term bright future for Australia, with its plentiful resources, space and growing economy. It is with these points in-mind that I would love to have kids here.

Is there anything I don’t like?

There are a few things. But they are more so little annoyances (#1stWorldProblems) than anything else. I have the up-most respect for this country and all who live here. I’d like to think I’m not the stereotypical whinging POME, so here are my gripes and how I currently get around them.

  • Transferring money home. It can be very expensive at times to transfer AUD$ to the UK with the terrible bank exchange rates and transaction charges on top. At times the banking can be a little primitive, but I guess the size the country and its low population can potentially justify the charges.

A tip for expat newbies, Western Union is currently running a promotion that allows you to send money to the UK with no transfer fee. I recently tried the service to send my spending money back to the UK ahead of my upcoming Christmas trip home. It was fast and certainly the cheapest way I found to send money home this season. Below are summary of the Western union rates versus the big 4 banks:

Exchange rate to send $100 to UK (all rates correct as at 11am, 19th Nov 2012)

WU                        =             0.6248

Westpac              =             0.6203

ANZ                       =             0.6189

CBA                        =             0.6191

NAB                       =             0.6202

  • Flight Taxes.It cost on average 30% more to book a flight to London to Sydney from Australia than it does within England.A tip for expat newbies, check out FlightFox. A concept similar to 99Designs where numerous people compete for your business. It costs $20 and they guarantee to find you the best deal. Alternatively, look at Adioso, a flight search engine which watches for when flights drop
  • Driving. I won’t get myself started on this one…
  • Private Health insurance.If you are a Brit or any non-permanent resident you will be subject to pay a 50-60% higher premium on your health insurance. It’s unfortunately standard, but I highly recommend you take up health insurance.A tip for expat newbies, shop around. NIB Health insurance and BUPA Health Insurance are pretty good. There are a few comparison sites too.

What’s next?

Well, I’m hopefully starting my application for PR very soon. Which will let me stay here for good. So, fingers crossed & *touch wood* that myself and my lady Morgan get it. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to live Australia.

  • Gillian
    Posted at 14:53h, 02 January Reply

    Australia is amazing there is not a day I don’t wake up happy to have the privilage to be here, but it has to be said a small trip home costs a lot more than needed with flight taxes and money exhanges. I did both of the recommeneded above and saved myself so much more, which in turn mean’t a bigger shopping budget back home. I really would recommend this to others to have a look at.

    • Phill
      Posted at 09:44h, 14 January Reply

      Hi Gillian, glad to hear I could help. Hope you enjoyed your trip home.

  • Mark Carmichael
    Posted at 14:45h, 11 January Reply

    I really enjoy being in Australia. But I agree, at times it can be frustrating when you need to fly home quickly – I seem to always get stung by horrible last minute fares hikes. Thanks for the tips, I checked out the WU offer, it looked decent.

  • Joe Madden
    Posted at 09:39h, 14 January Reply

    Nice tips, thanks Phil. I hate transferring money home, it’s always a last resort. Good to know there are some alternatives to bank transfer.

  • Ads
    Posted at 20:39h, 02 August Reply

    Hello Phill,

    Great views, I love it mate!

    Any idea if SEO can be used as a skillset while applying for PR visa from 457 under category i.e Marketing Specialists. I am just moving down there and need your guide if I can switch to PR on my own in like 1 to 2 yrs time as I have got enough experience of around 5+ yrs already. Thanks for your guide mate!


    • Phillip Ohren
      Posted at 10:00h, 06 August Reply

      Hi there, a 457 is only temporary residency. Not permanent. Basically, you need to come here on a 457, work for a single company for 2 years then you can stay here permanently.

      Send me an email to philllip at gmail and i’ll put you in touch with a fantastic recruiter.

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