6 Things You Need To Know After Moving To Australia

By Morgan Reardon
26th Feb 2024

So, you’ve finally taken the plunge and moved to the pristine shores of Australia. Congrats! Now that you’re here, there are a few things you ought to know. 

While the experience of relocating to a new country—be it for a short time or a more permanent life change—can be overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. To ensure you hit the beach sooner, we’ve teamed up with the legends at Westpac to suss out the top things you need to know about setting up your new life in Aus. Take note.

Set Up A Bank Account 

The first thing you need to get sorted when you touch down in Australia—aside from throwing a towel down at the beach and floating in the ocean like a starfish—is to figure out where you’re going to bank your coin. Everyone from your new employer to the real estate agent you rent your new digs off will need to know your Aussie bank account deets. Fortunately the crew at Westpac—aka Australia’s oldest bank—have a range of options to choose from. Pop into a local branch and the friendly crew will help you out—then get back to the beach.

After setting up your bank account, the next life admin step you’ll want to take is getting yourself a Tax File Number (TFN). You can apply for your TFN so long as you are already in Australia, have a valid passport and either a Permanent Resident visa; have a Working visa; have an Overseas Student visa; or a visa that allows you to stay in Australia indefinitely—that includes New Zealanders who are automatically granted a visa on arrival. Once you’ve completed the online registration (it’s really easy), the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will post (yes post, not email) you a copy of your TFN to the Australian postal address you put on your application. FYI this can take up to 28 days to process. And while you can still work without a TFN, the ATO will tax your income at the maximum rate, so you’ll want to get this baby sorted asap. Just remember that banks will require you to have a TFN so you are not charged withholding tax on interest earned, so don't sleep on this one. Once you have that setup, apply for a Medicare card if you're eligible. 

Use Facebook Groups To Help Find A Place To Stay

So you’ve got your bank sussed and a TFN is on its way, next stop is finding a new home. Forget trawling rental apps, Facebook is where you’ll want to head to see a wide range of housing options. Simply search ‘room for rent’ and the city you’re after and you’ll be hit with various groups where you can peruse everything from sublets and apartments to house shares. You can even put a post up for what you’re looking for and members of the group can contact you if you seem like the right fit. Plus, you get the added bonus of being able to check people’s FB profiles out which can help to see if they’re the right vibe for you. 

Get Your Aussie Phone Sorted Out 

If you want to start making your mates back home jealous with all your TikTok content,  you’ll need to get yourself set up with an Aussie phone stat. While you might be tempted to keep your old digits, it’s much easier to set up a new account when you land in Aus because those international rates will sting you over time. If you’ve already got a phone, you can grab a prepaid sim from the post office, supermarket or a phone retail store and top it up as and when you need. Amaysim, Lebara, Aldi Mobile and Boost are some of the most affordable and popular for international students. If you’re looking to upgrade, you can get a new phone with a 12-month or 24-month contract from a bunch of phone retail stores, with Optus, Telstra and Vodafone being the biggest phone providers. To activate a prepaid mobile service you'll need to show a valid ID, be that a passport, student ID card, or driver's licence. 

Join A Team Or Community Group To Connect With Like-Minded People

Moving to a new city means the chance to create a whole new friendship group. The quickest way to connect with people you’re more likely to vibe with? Join a local community group. Like to dance? Jump online and search for dance groups nearby or check out a local hall to see if they hold classes. Get active and make new mates at the same time (bonus) by signing up to the midweek touch footy tournament at the local park or branch out and find a new hobby at the nearest art studio. There are dedicated Facebook groups, like ‘Kiwis in Sydney’ or ‘Kiwis in Brisbane’, who have thousands of members posting everything from trivia night get-togethers to free live music gigs you might want to check out. Have a search and you’ll soon find your social calendar is filling up.

Stock Up On Sunscreen

Low key, we don’t want to alarm you but Australia gets hot, like, really hot. In fact, it holds the unenviable title of having the world’s highest rates of invasive melanoma—aka skin cancer. So whether you’re on the beach, exploring the Red Centre or cruising around our buzzing cities, you’ll want to ensure you’ve doused yourself in sunscreen. Fortunately, we’re kind of pros at making the good stuff. Trust us, and stock up so you can start enjoying our beautiful sunshine.

Things you should know: This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness of the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Editor’s note: this article was produced in partnership with Westpac. Thank you for supporting the partners who make Urban List possible. To read our editorial policy, click here.

Images: Urban List.

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