If you have ever wondered about whether you should make the move “down under”, then it is time to start researching and gathering advice. My family and I made the move from South Africa (Durban) to Australia (Sydney) 7 months ago and what a whirlwind of an adventure it has been!
As much as I had heard, before we arrived, that Australia was similar to South Africa, it really isn’t. There are a few similarities, but it is a relatively new experience. If you can adjust, you are likely to get into the swing of things quite quickly.
When I knew that Australia was a possibility, I googled like crazy trying to find out some advice and answers to questions I had and honestly, I cannot say that I was prepared enough, but I learned a lot along the way and I just wanted to share my experience.
If you have been given the opportunity to work in Australia or are deciding to make the move, it can be a very daunting task. Every person’s situation is different, so I am only referring to our first-hand experience. (Please note that I am not a professional in this industry and am only relating to my own experience).
So many people have already asked me how we were able to move to Australia or how they can make the move themselves, and the simple question is, my husband was head-hunted by a recruitment agency. Yes! Updating your Linked-in profile is a must. This is your online CV.
Before we were presented the opportunity, moving from South Africa (our home) was not on our minds as something we would do at the time, but when we looked at the opportunity it provided for the future of our family, it was a no-brainer. Honestly, it is not a decision you can just make “willy-nilly”, it is a decision that needs thorough thought, advice and careful planning. Even if you plan, there are always hidden costs and hurdles and the wait for the visa approval is THE hardest part – as you spend the money and the time hoping that it was not all for nothing.
We applied for a 457 work visa (this has now been abolished and replaced with a 482 visa. Click here for more on this).
It did not take us very long to get visa approval but it did take quite some effort and funds from our side.
If you are considering moving to Australia then it is best to start researching if you are eligible by checking the skilled occupation list . All costs and details are provided on the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs website.
What to know:
Apart from paying the visa fee, there are a number of other factors/costs that need to be considered before applying.
You need a sponsor. Contact a recruitment agent that specializes in international recruitment or visit https://www.skillshortagesolutions.com.au/ which is specific to those with a trade. There are others, so researching is your best bet to fit your situation.
Getting help from an Immigration agent
You are likely to be directed to an Immigration agent, however if not, there is an approved website of migration agents, you can refer to. It is quite a scary feeling when you are paying a person for a service, whom you have never met and hope that the job is done correctly. TIP: I cannot promote any other Immigration agent than the one we were assisted by. Hilda Dhanaraj and her team at Aus Visa Specialists, were very helpful and professional. They gave us realistic advice along the way and provided the answers to our questions the best way they could. We did all of our contact via email, but the only tricky part was the time difference.
Proving your skills
Before any documents can be filled out or signed etc, the applicant has to undergo a skills test to prove their capability. This is generally dependent on your skill and more information can be provided by your Immigration agent.
Dotting your i’s and crossing your t’s
You are required to fill out a lot of documentation and are required to scan your documents to be uploaded to the Australian Government Department of Immigration website (ours was handled by our agent).
The main applicant is required to complete and IELTS English test, which cost around R3400 at the time (2018). You have to book a date to sit the test and may be required to make 2 sittings, due to the number of people applying. If you do not meet the band score required for your visa, then you are able to re-book, but you pay each time. In preparation for the IELTS test you can refer here or here . It then takes about 14 days to get your results. Your certificate is then couriered to the address you provided upon application.
Costs involved (but not limited to) are as follows (referring to my situation): Visa fees, Immigration fees, getting updated passport photos done per applicant (Ours were about R 40 per person), update of passport if needed (refer to SA Home Affairs website for prices), flights & accommodation (if not part of the sponsorship), medical testing (through Shipmed – it is quite costly per applicant. It cost us roughly R 6000 for 2 adults and 1 child, but the costs may have been increased since then). You will also need to save money for when you arrive. Remember: the Australian Dollar is roughly 10:1 to the South African Rand, so if you save R 10 000, it only equates to $ 1000. Bottom line – save as much as you can!
What to pack?
When it comes to what to pack into you luggage, this is dependent on you. I found this article quite interesting.
We went through SAA and were allowed 2x 23 kg bags and a carry on each, so we only packed clothes and shoes and our most important documents and photographs; etc. We did not ship any household items, so I don’t have experience with this, but friends of ours used Seven Seas and they were reasonably priced – only thing is that it takes about 3 months to get your stuff.
However, there are ways of getting reasonably priced or even free household goods to start you off with if you do not have anything. Try Facebook marketplace; Gumtree and you can even pick up really nice furniture that is left on the kerbside for council collection. These are free goods that will end up being dumped and you can find out more about that here.
For your Visa application, you are also expected to take out health insurance before you arrive. Our agent helped us with this and we went through Medibank. As a temporary or non-resident, you do not have access to free government benefits, such as Medicare healthcare. You pay your own way. This is also relevant to education/ schooling in New South Wales. Every territory in Australia have their own rules. So check your region’s website to gather more info. (Click here to find out more).
When you arrive
Transport from the airport: We arrived in the evening and had not booked transport prior to our arrival. We just collected our bags and made our way to the taxi area. We advised the marshal on duty about what we needed (a large taxi to carry our 6 large bags and 3 small carry on cases and a car seat to comply with the legal requirements of transporting a child). We went with a cab company and used the maxi cab (a large quantum mini bus). TIP: Make sure that you have some cash on you when you arrive at the airport (we landed in Sydney) and needed to pay $2 in order to use the luggage cart. There are other ways of getting transport to your destination, just ask for information regarding this at the airport information desk.
Accommodation: If you are being sponsored accommodation, then this will help you out until you can find some place to rent, however, please be advised that you will need to meet the 100 point criteria to be able to rent. Basically, you need to provide evidence of income, a character witness and rental history. But seen as you are new to the country, this is difficult. P.s: I will touch on this in another article in this series.
So, there is quite a lot that you need to consider if you want to emigrate, but it is an adventure.
Look out for part 2 of this series and why not click the follow blog via email button to get updates on new posts.
Disclaimer: The above information is taken from my own experience and as mentioned, prices and information may have changed.