Moving to Australia – A Guide for Expats

Around 1.2 million Britons have chosen to call Australia home. It may have something to do with those endless sunny images we have been bombarded with on television, the great coastal cities or the relaxed attitude of our southern hemisphere cousins. Whatever our inspiration, for many British expats the move Down Under is incredibly tempting.

With a great education system, good healthcare and a focus on enjoying the climate and the great outdoors, it’s not a bad decision either. So, if you want to try life in Australia, here are some things to take into account…


Australian Passport

How can you get a visa to live and work in Australia? Well it isn’t as easy as it once was in the “£10 pom” days, but there are still options depending on your situation.

Working Visas

There are various visas open to Britons who are sponsored by an Australian employer, such as the Employer Nomination Scheme or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme for those looking to work in regions outside of places such as Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and others.

And if you don’t already have a job offer, the Skilled Independent Visa is a points-based system that allows those looking for employment to apply. The points system is based on a list of eligible skilled jobs that is constantly updated and can be found on the government’s home affairs website.

Recent Visa Changes

The 457 Visa used to be a popular way for employers bringing temporary workers into Australia for up to four years at a time, but this has been abolished and replaced with a Temporary Skill Shortage visa, which sources foreign workers when an appropriate Australian worker cannot be found and can last from one to four years.

Unfortunately for retirees looking for a sunny life Down Under, Australia has just removed its Investor Retirement Visa, leaving it open only for those who already hold the visa and need to renew it.

These changes are all part of a government overhaul of the visa system announced in 2017, reducing the number of visa types from 99 to just 10. The aim is to make the system easier to follow and understand and include more transparent waiting times, so if you are looking to apply soon, keep an eye on news of changes.


What is it like to live in Australia as an expat? When it comes to quality of life, Australia is the third best country to live in the world, according to the UN Human Development Report, taking into account life expectancy, education and standard of living.

The cost of a life outdoors

It is the country of beach days, relaxed barbecues with friends, a love of sport and great, locally-sourced produce, similar enough to the UK in terms of values to make it easier to settle. However, you will need to take some things into account. The wages may seem higher than the UK, but so is the cost of living. Everything from rent, groceries and eating out at restaurants to cars and petrol are pricier than at home, so if you’re living off funds from the UK that can be a shock to the system.

Aussies are known for being open, friendly and fair, even if they may rib you a little for being a “whinging pom”. They are hard workers by day but love outdoor life on time off and have a strong focus on family life and their mates.


When it comes to travel in Australia, the distances are vast between cities (it’s often easier to take flights) and even within cities, it is probably easier to have a car as public transport isn’t quite as extensive as at home. This reliance on driving can lead to heavy traffic in some areas and is worth factoring in when choosing where to live.


One great benefit of living Down Under is the Australian healthcare system, Medicare, which is available to all Australians and permanent residents and is paid for through taxes levied from your salary. If you are a temporary resident, it is worth opting for private health insurance to ensure you have access to all the healthcare you need.

Where to move

Australia is a country of coastal cities but which city in Australia should you live in? The most popular spots with expats are Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. However, Brisbane, in tropical Queensland is another option, while the poor inland capital Canberra doesn’t seem to get a look in.

Life in Sydney

Of course, Sydney is the city that has adorned a thousand postcards, its opera house and harbor bridge becoming icons around the world. It is also a city where you can escape to the Blue Mountains or Bondi Beach. Housing here is expensive and keep in mind that depending on your budget you could well end up living in a suburb far from the beach. But Sydney’s lively, event-filled atmosphere certainly makes it a popular option.

Melbourne moments

Melbourne is known as the “cultural capital” thanks to its diversity of residents, interesting architecture and distinctly European feel – it has great eateries and coffee shops, too. The city is cooler than Sydney so keep in mind it won’t look like an episode of Home and Away every day and has less of a beach vibe.

Perth – the Brits’ favourite

Around 10% of the population of Perth is British, who often choose the city for its miles of pristine beaches and high standard of living thanks to the wealthy mining industry. However, its location in remote Western Australia can make you feel quite cut off from the rest of the world and adds hours to your international travel.

Quiet Adelaide

Adelaide is a quieter option for expats, with a pleasant climate and the feel of a country town rather than a big metropolis, with slightly lower wages but also a lower cost of living.

Whichever spot you choose, each of these cities offers nearby coastline, beautiful countryside and even neighbouring wine valleys, creating a great mix for expats looking to live the good life.


The Australian education system is similar to that of the UK, with pre and prep schools, then primary and secondary schooling followed by university.

Schools guide

About two-thirds of Australians attend public schools which follow a national curriculum that is implemented at state level. Faith schools (often Catholic) and private schools are fee-paying and private schools in particular can be very popular, with entrance exams and sometimes waiting lists.

When applying for state school you apply directly and should do so in plenty of time. The public school system is based on catchment areas, which could affect where you choose to live while those on a temporary visa could be asked to pay contributions towards your children’s schooling by the local state.

University study

Australian universities are well-ranked in the world and while they are government-subsidised, they will involve paying some fees. Your children’s admission will be based on the results of their Australian Senior Secondary Certificate of Education, or the school leaver exam equivalent such as A-levels, and the average bachelor’s degree can cost from £8,000-£18,000. There are some student loans and scholarships available to foreign students at and

Travelling With Pets

Australia has a strict policy on introducing outside animals to its fragile ecosystem. So if you want to bring your cat or dog with you, there are strict rules. All the information you need is on the website. We’ve also made a handy guide for travelling with pets to Australia that outlines the process. You will need to visit your vet to microchip and vaccinate your pet against rabies then take a resulting rabies test to the Official Government Veterinarian. From there you need to apply for a pay for your Australian import permit and book pet accommodation in Australia. A list of further examinations and tests are also needed from your vet and the exact details can be found on the website above. The whole process can take up to three months so make sure you plan in advance.

At 1st Move International we offer bespoke packing and removals services from the UK to Australia – so if you’re looking for an international removals service that you can trust, contact us today for a FREE quote.