Australia’s lure is intoxicating for thousands of Brits thanks to its sunny beaches, friendly folk, impressive minimum wage and whacky wildlife. It’s no mystery why so many of us move to Australia from the UK.
There’s plenty on offer for both city-lovers hooked on the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle and country boys and girls infatuated with Mother Nature.
But upping sticks and taking the trip to the Land Down Under can be daunting. So, before you journey to the other side of the earth, tuck into our guide for all you need to know when moving to Oz from the UK.
Emigrating to Australia from the UK
Making the move from the UK to Australia does come with its challenges. First and foremost, you’ll need a visa to make the move permanent.
Most Brits tend to go down the SkillSelect route when applying for a permanent visa to Oz. The SkillSelect program is not a visa itself but is used to create an expression of interest (EOI). Successful EOIs will receive an invitation to all the visas applicable to them.
You should check to see if your occupation is eligible by searching it on the Australian government’s skilled occupation list.
General Skilled Migration visas
The most popular permanent visas for UK citizens are General Skilled Migration (GSM) visas. GSM visas are split into four sub-classes, and all require a suitable skills assessment as well as an invitation.
The skills assessment generates a point score based on your age (you must be under 45), education, work experience, English proficiency, state sponsorship and family members living in the country.
Your point score contributes to the type of GSM visa you will be eligible for. A Skilled Independent visa, for example, requires a high point score, as well as an invitation, and permits the holder to:
- Live in Australia permanently.
- Work and study in Australia.
- Enrol in Australia’s public health care scheme.
- Sponsor relatives moving to Australia.
- Travel to and from Australia for five years.
- Become an Australian citizen, if eligible.
State and territory nominated visas
If you didn’t already know, Australia is an enormous country and is split into various states and territories. These states and territories may view certain application criteria differently from one another. You may find your EOI is more successful in Queensland than Tasmania, for example.
State or territory governments may decide to nominate skilled workers they like the look of. Once you have submitted your EOI, state and territory government agencies can see your application and may nominate you for a Skilled Nominated visa.
This visa works similarly to the Skilled Independent visa but can only be achieved with a state or territory nomination.
Moving to Australia after 30
For Brits fearing the sun has set on their Aussie dream, fear not. There are still plenty of ways into the Land Down Under after 30.
Currently, the major working visa those in their 30s are ineligible for is the Working Holiday visa. This visa permits you to travel around Oz and work, initially for one year but can be extended to two. The age limit is set at 31, so there is a small window for those just tipping 30.
For over 30s looking to make Australia their permanent home, there are a few visa options still available.
As previously mentioned, the age limit for General Skilled Migration visas is 45, so you are well within the bracket to apply for one. However, you may face some issues the closer to 45 you are. This is mainly due to the role of age in your skills assessment.
Alternatively, you could apply for a Temporary Skill Shortage visa. This visa requires sponsorship from an employer but could earn you an additional four years in the country. It also means you can only work for the sponsoring employer for the duration of your stay. The cost of a Temporary Skill Shortage visa starts at around £690.
Moving to Australia after 60
Australia has always been a draw for UK citizens looking to put their feet up. So much so that over 230,000 pension-claiming British expats have made Oz their new home. The first step is finding a visa that opens the right doors for the over-60s.
If you are over 60 and have family already in Australia, you are eligible for a few more visas than if you do not. These visas include Parent visa, Age-Dependent Resident visa, Remaining Relative visa, or a Carer Relative visa.
For over 60s without any family ties, you can try applying through the Retirement Visa Pathway. To apply, you must already be living in Australia and have not held any other visa apart from a Retirement visa (which is not available to new or first-time visa applicants) or an Investor Retirement visa.
If you have never lived in Australia, you may be able to apply for a Distinguished Talent visa. This visa is granted to people who possess an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement. This includes a record of achievement in:
- A profession.
- A sport.
- The arts.
- Academia and research.
Accessing your UK pension shouldn’t cause many problems if you do retire to Australia. You can continue with your current UK bank account and have your pension payments paid into it or open an Australian bank account and arrange to have the payments moved.
Buying property in Australia
UK citizens can buy property in Australia – but there are some hurdles to overcome.
What follows is a brief overview. For our comprehensive rundown of purchasing Australian property, download our buying guide. It covers everything from choosing where to live, how to find a reliable estate agent, and renting. Download it below.Download our Buyer’s Guide to Australia
Anyone who is not an Australian resident must first receive a Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval before they can purchase a property. The exceptions to this are if the buyer is married to an Australian citizen or holds a permanent resident visa. Approval from the FIRB usually takes around 30 days after application.
A charge of AU$5800 (£3170) is applied to a property under AU$1m (£546,531). Your application relates specifically to the property you intend to buy and you will need FIRB approval to complete the house sale contract.
Legal fees and contract negotiations
You will have to pay around AUS$800 (£437) to AUS$2000 (£1093) in legal fees when you purchase a property in Australia. This contributes towards things like solicitors who assist in the purchasing process.
Once you have made and had an offer accepted for a property, your solicitor will help draw up the contract of sale. This differs from state to state and may include a cool-off period and a fee of up to 10% of the house price. Both of these can be negotiated if needs must.
The completion period for a contract of sale is usually around six weeks, assuming everything is as it should be.
Mortgage and deposit
Getting a mortgage in Australia is a fairly similar process to the UK. Factors such as credit history, the property and the portion of the deposit you can pay upfront, all contribute to the mortgage you’re likely to be offered. As well as this, your application will need to be backed by proof of income.
Mortgage approval takes roughly one week after your mortgage provider has received your house of sale contract.
Payments for your deposit can easily be transferred internationally from the UK to Australia. Take advantage of our leading pound-to-Australian-dollar exchange rates and you could save considerable amounts of money and hassle. Book a chat with one of our Currency Specialists. We can provide you with a quote and take you through some of our solutions.Book a chat with a currency specialist
Healthcare in Australia
Australia has a national healthcare system called Medicare. Medicare applies to any Australian resident and any non-Australian resident whose country has a Reciprocal Health Agreement with Australia.
Medicare covers essential hospital treatment, medicine and doctors appointments for no fee. Although the price for additional medical attention and services can be expensive. Medicare is funded by the Australian taxpayer. It works as a form of income tax, with every Australian employee contributing 1.5% of their income to Medicare.
As well as Medicare, Australia has a vast private healthcare system that is popular among its residents. In fact, over 50% of Australians have private health care, mainly because Medicare can become stretched. The private healthcare system covers things like additional hospital services, dentist appointments, physiotherapy, ambulances and more.
For Brits heading Down Under, it is advisable to sign up for Medicare as soon as possible and also consider private medical cover.
Sending money to Australia
So, now that’s emigration, property and healthcare covered. Once these are all ticked off your checklist, and you’ve got a clear idea of how to relocate to Oz, it’s then time to think about how to bring your assets with you.
There are a number of ways to exchange your funds from pounds for Australian dollars. The two most common are through a bank or a currency broker.
Although converting currencies through a bank may seem like an easy option, it does come with a cost. Banks rarely offer competitive exchange rates, and they often add on extra fees that are hidden from you.
All this can add up, and can take a considerable chunk out of your money when you move to Australia.
The smarter choice to go for a specialist currency broker. A good one will be able to offer you an exchange that’s far more competitive than a bank. An even better one won’t charge you any hidden fees. This all amounts to you making a saving.
At Privalgo, we help expats (or soon-to-be expats) like you save money and hassle when they send money to Australia. To find out more, book a chat with one of our currency specialists. They’ll be able to discuss your requirements, offer you a quote and take you through some of our solutions.Book a chat with a currency specialist