Woweee, I cannot believe I have been in Sydney for a month already. The time has flown by in a whirlwind of fun, excitement, confusion and exploration. If I’m honest, mostly confusion!
There are a lot of things, practical things, that I wish I had been told before I left the UK and during my first few weeks. So here I am, your ‘fairy godmother’ of relocation. I wanted to share a quick, and hopefully easy to understand, run through of a few of the things I have learnt and achieved since I’ve been here in Sydney. Feel free to share any helpful tips you learnt along the way.
I have put the following in order of importance or what to do first to get to the next stage:
Find your space
First things first, and this can be done before you leave home. Sydney, like most cities, is made up of lots of different nooks and crannies. They are all wonderfully diverse and you are bound to find somewhere that suits you and your quirks perfectly.
Now you have done your research and you are pretty certain of where you want to set up base it’s time to start looking. I would really recommend to ‘try before you buy’ – a hostel can allow you that week or so to confirm that you like the area and to find a flat. The best websites to find a house share would be Flatmates and Flatmate Finder . Living with someone when you first get here is great;they’re bound to have some helpful hints and tips about the area and boom, you’ve made your first friend!
It is important to remember that you need a permanent address in Australia in order to open a bank account and open a phone contract. Which leads me swiftly on to…
This has by far been my biggest headache since I have arrived. Whatever you do, do not leave the UK without unlocking your UK phone. What may cost you £10 at home can cost more than $200 in Australia. Once unlocked you will be free to use the handset with an Australian SIM. See, I’m a silly billy and lost my phone in my third week (Doh!) so had to buy a new handset.
There are three main service providers in Aus: Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone . It is worth bearing in mind that your contract length (12/24 months) will be restricted by your visa, i.e. you cannot open a 24 month contract on a 12 month visa.
Vodaphone are kind to people on a Working Holiday Visa because they offer 12 month contracts (yeyyy), the drawback is that they do not allow you to commence a contract with any less than 12 months left on your visa – meaning you will have to set this up before leaving the UK.
Optus allows you to pay for a handset over 12 months, this is an expensive option and depends on a credit check.
I’ve put a phone in second because you’ll need an Australian number in order to crack on with the next steps but yet you ‘ll need proof of your new home before you obtain an Aussie number. Don’t forget to take your passport along too.
Your Aussie Dollar
There are three main retails banks in Australia: NAB, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ . They are all pretty much the same. I was astonished at the service I received from Maurice at ANZ in Bondi Beach. He spent at least 45 minutes with me going in depth into all the online facilities, how best to save, the pros and cons of all of my accounts, how to save money on transferring money back home and explaining the a-z of my superannuation.
Superannuation acts a bit like a pension; it is quite common for employers to pay you a base salary and then super on top.
When you pay with your debit card you week be given three options; debit, savings or credit. All quite self explanatory just make sure you press the right button for the right account! There is also ‘Paypass’ which is essentially ‘contactless’ in the UK. Remember you will need a passport and a proof of address to open your account.
Getting started on finding your new and exciting careers can be a daunting process. I’m a firm believer in recruitment consultants, they really do take the hassle and confusion out of it all.
Firstly, head to either Seek or Career One; both the most popular job board websites in Aus. Recruiters post new roles on there everyday, register your CV and you’ll be meeting with agencies in no time. From then you can let them do the hard work while you work on your interview technique.
If like me you are on a Working Holiday Visa you can only work for any one employer for six months, a pesky and annoying visa condition. This means that you may find the most success in temp or contact roles.
Lastly, and most importantly…
DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF. Relocating is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in life and you’re already doing so well. There will be times when you wonder why you didn’t make the move years ago, but then they’ll be times when you can’t stop staring at pictures of your family and friends or you find your finger hovering over the Facetime button at 3am GMT! (trust me, they do love you but never appreciate that call!). The fact is, this is bloody hard, but the good is already outweighing the bad.
You’re an honorary Aussie now so warm up the grill, soak up that sun and kick back with an esky (coolbox) full of cold ones. It’ll all be alright in the end.