At the TorFX desk in London we help hundreds of people that are moving to Australia every week and it’s given us some insight into what is important. We’ve put together a list of five things you should know about life in Australia that expats often overlook.
Australian rental prices are given per week
In the UK we’re often used to thinking about rental on a monthly basis. Rent in Australia is usually paid by the month, but properties are advertised using the weekly rental price. Many estate agents make this clear in the listing, but lots of expats still make the mistake of thinking the price given is monthly rent. They’ll be quickly disappointed; a property might seem like great value at first, but once the rental price is quadrupled to get the monthly value your wages may quickly disappear. The average letting agent will require one to two weeks’ worth of rent as a fee, while you’ll also have to pay a bond (deposit) and a month’s rent in advance.
Don’t forget about your super
The Australian pension scheme is called a superannuation – known colloquially as ‘super’ – and it’s the law that your employer must pay a certain portion of your earnings into a super for you. There are some exceptions, but many expats on a temporary visa may find their employers have to pay into the fund, even if they’ll be leaving the country again in a few months’ time. The good news is that you may be able to claim it back if you leave Australia, although the government will take a large cut of it when you do. If you have secured a permanent visa, make sure to look into the options you have for investing it.
You can save money on currency transfers to Australia
Going through a bank to get your pounds converted into Australian dollars may not be the most cost-effective method. A currency broker can secure you a highly competitive exchange rate and off a number of services that most banks can’t, usually without charging any fees.
You’ll be allocated a dedicated account manager and receive regular market updates to help you decide when the best time to trade is in order to get the most for your money. They can also provide tools such as ‘forward contracts’, which allow you to fix a favourable exchange rate for a period of up to two years, or ‘stop loss’ and ‘limit’ orders that help you wait for a stronger exchange rate without risking your money.
Australians work as hard as they play
Australian’s may have a reputation for being incredibly relaxed, but they like to work hard as well. Australia often appears near the top of lists for countries with the longest working weeks. If you’re moving to Australia for work, make sure you put the effort in and contribute to your team and employer. Australian’s aren’t fond of slackers, known colloquially as ‘bludgers’. It can reflect badly on you if you refuse extra work or claim to be too busy; Australians will often accept tasks even when their schedules are already packed. Your co-workers may be fond of relaxing, but they do so after a day’s hard work (‘hard yakka’), comfortable in the knowledge that they have earned their downtime. Don’t expect to take all the benefits of Australian society without paying your dues.
The Sun is Really Hot and Really Dangerous
And finally – we know it’s an obvious point; bear with us. Everyone knows the weather in Australia is particularly sunny, but people don’t always appreciate the risks that come along with that. Temperatures average 30°C during the summer and 15°C in the winter; it’s permanently hot, so life won’t feel like one of those rare British heatwaves where everyone races to the beach. You’ll have to live in it and with it. You also need to be aware of how damaging the sun can be; it’s a lot more powerful down under and without the right protection you could develop serious health problems. Cover up and always wear sun cream. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the great weather – Australians do, after all – but you do need to be aware of the risks.
If you’re planning to make the move to Australia in the near future, there are a number of things you need to be aware of before you take the plunge. By taking the time to do your research early on, your adventure down under is more likely to get off to the best possible start.