Have you just landed here down under or in the process of planning your move? Are you preparing a checklist or making mental notes of the things that you will have to do once you land? I’m sure everyone does this and at some point it all might just sound too overwhelming or complicated and can have some really unforeseen surprises that may impact our plans. This is my attempt at documenting my experience and information that may help you in making a list of possible DO’s and DONT’s once you are here.
However awesome you might be at being spontaneous, this is a migration move and you will have to plan everything. From finances to documents and at times even apparel or even technology. It comes down to what phase of life you are and how specific you want to be.
Here is a high level list of things that you might want to do when you plan to arrive and after you arrive that might help you.
Managing your documents
Try to scan all your documents and sort them on an online storage for easy access. Ensure that you are able to download them on your phone. Consider every possible document from your birth certificate to your education documents, residential proofs, financial records, etc. You would want to optionally also scan your property documents, utility bills, etc. Do not forget key documents such as local driving licenses and ID proofs. Some of these you will have to carry with you such as your driving license.
Renting a Property
When you land you should have booked yourself a hotel or crash at a mate’s for a few days until you sort out your own place. Renting a place is tricky and especially if you have moved without a job, even more trickier. It a no-brainer that you will need to accordingly plan your finances so that you are able to sustain yourself until you are able to find a job. Usually the timeframe to get a property is anywhere from under a week to about a month.
You can visit realestate.com.au to find property listings and start applying for them. It is mandatory for you to physically inspect the property and hence you having to be here is key. Hence you can line up a few inspections before you land. Inspections are time-bound and hence having a focused checklist at hand on what your priorities are, is critical. Go in, check the area and if it meets your needs, check the heating and cooling, check if they have gas cooking, parking, are pets allowed, are they okay for family with children, etc. You can ask all your specific questions at these inspections.
Every house member will need to be mentioned on the application form and you will need to provide a 100-point-ID-check. A 100-point-ID-check is where a combination of ID proofs that gives you 100 points is the minimum requirement to be able to rent the property. Sometimes this rule can be broken with an advance rent or some additional guarantee.
The rent is usually in weekly format i.e $400 per week which equates to ($400 x 52 weeks) / 12 months = $1734 per month. At times they will ask you or hint that you can increase the rent to increase your chances at securing the property. You DON’T have to. It comes down to the number of people competing for the property, how strong your finances are, how low your risk is, etc. Always remember increasing $10 per week is $520 increase in annual rent.
You will also have to provide bond money. This is usually a month of rent or more depending on the fact if it is a furnished or unfurnished house. This money is held by a government institution called RTBA (Rental Tenancy Bond Authority) and provides the owners a guarantee if you decide not to pay up. It also provides a guarantee if you decide to damage the property. Please be aware that some dodgy property agents will try their best to point out at minor damage and send you a big bill for it. If you feel they are in the wrong, you can approach Consumer Court.
Back to inspecting a property – once you have been given the keys and enter the property you will be provided a condition report. You should prepare your own condition report with photographic evidence and email the property manager if you find minor or major damage if it has not been mentioned in their condition report. It is key to bring this up soon because later when you vacate the property, this may become a point for concern and you may be asked to cough up some money.
Getting a Drivers License
I hope you plan to drive. It is key to getting you around town. But we do have good public transportation too incase you decide otherwise. When you move here with an International drivers license, you can use it to skip the pre-defined wait periods on different license levels. Always remember you can still drive on your International license for 6 months on your PR visa once you arrive but I highly recommend getting a license. This helps into the 100-point-ID-check and also acts as a good ID proof when required.
In Victoria you will have to visit VicRoads to ask them if your license can be converted to a Victoria License. You will have minimum 3 tests that you will need to sit before you get your permanent drivers license.
- Learner permit test
- Hazard perception test
- Drive test
It is key to read the handbook seriously. The first two tests are quite simple but at times simple questions can be a reason for your failure. So it is key to prepare. VicRoads has an online mock test that you can give several times. They rotate the questions so you might end up answering about 70% questions if you attempt the test quite a few times.
For the drive test, it is recommended to hire professional drive school lessons (min 3 of them) to get a hang of the situations. Always remember you might be a good driver, but this is a test and you got to know the tricks to pass a test and not only how to drive. Enjoy it.
Open a Bank account
To open a bank account – you can do this while already outside Australia or just when you arrive. You will need your passport + visa + photographs + address proof or a guarantor to open an account. Opening an account is relatively quick 15 min process. They collect basic information and you’re on your way. You can then apply for a TFN (Tax File Number) and provide them the number.
Once the bank account is open you will receive the kit (either immediately or after a few days by post at your given postal address). Bank fraud here in Australia is quite prevalent. Please be cautious when using your card for transactions.
Banks don’t offer good interest rates as compared to countries like India. Hence it is key to apply for Savings accounts to get some benefits if required.
Private Insurance or Only Ambulance cover
When you arrive on a PR, you will have access to Medicare. Your doctor visits are covered. So are most govt hospital visits.
But if you have not taken out and maintained private hospital health insurance from the year you turn 31, you will pay a 2% LHC loading on top of your premium for every year you are aged over 30 if you decide to take out hospital cover later in life.
For example, if you wait until you are 40 years old you could pay an extra 20% on the cost of your hospital cover. If you wait until you are 50 years old, you could pay 40% more. The maximum LHC loading that can be applied is 70%.
And some more …
I will also be talking about these topics in this blog later
- Groceries and Markets
- Applying for Centrelink
- Building Credit history
- Getting your Child into School and Day Care
- Make a Will
I’ll be writing another blog on how to manage your wealth and property from overseas soon.