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Life Admin Abroad

July 22, 2020

Hey all! I know we’re still living through a pandemic and you might not be considering a move anytime soon, but if you’re seriously considering a move to Australia [or any country for that matter] at some point, I’ve thrown together a list of some things that might be helpful to think about or look into [aside from all the other things - you know, like a visa, a job, & a place to live]. These are definitely things I didn’t look into or research before I came out here, but have tackled as they’ve come along.

  • Superannuation or “super”
    • This is your retirement fund
    • Employers pay a percentage of your wage or salary into a super fund for you
    • If you’re self-employed, you can choose whether to contribute super for yourself
    • There are different super funds - you can choose to combine into one fund if you have multiple funds
  • Taxes
    • Tax File Number – you apply for this, if you don’t have one you pay more tax
    • You need to file taxes between July 1 to October 31
    • Tax returns cover the financial year from July 1 to June 30
  • Driving [you’ll be on the left side!]
    • Licence
      • Laws and regulations may vary depending on the state – however, all states [except the Northern Territory] allow you to drive on an overseas licence as long as it is current – check the individual state regulations to for more detailed information
    • Leasing a Car – it’s not a thing [at least that I know of]
      • When I landed my locum [short-term, 10 week] position in Darwin, I thought I’d look into leasing a car – apparently that’s not really an option here [or at least in Darwin], so I ended up buying a used car
  • Bank accounts
      • I set up a bank account while working as an au pair – check into the various banks here – I use Commonwealth
  • Transferring Money
      • If you’ll be needing to transfer money to another country, I found Transferwise [get a free transfer if you use my link] to be pretty good with low costs for transferring money between the US and Australia
  • Credit Cards
      • Will you get a credit card in Australia? I got an American Express card here that earns Qantas points [which can be used for flights]
      • I also use my Chase Sapphire preferred card from the US on occasion or when traveling internationally, as there isn’t a foreign transaction fee
  • Professional Licensing
      • I keep up my Speech Pathology Australia membership, my ASHA membership, and my Michigan SLP License – yeah, it’s a bit pricy $$$ and a bit of a pain to keep them all up, but I do it just in case I were to need to go back to the US for an emergency situation
      • Do some research to see how easy or difficult it might be to get re-certified or re-licensed if you let it lapse
  • Health Insurance
      • If you have permanent residency or citizenship, you will be eligible for Medicare
      • Private health insurance – if you haven’t taken out and maintained private cover from the year you turn 31, you’ll pay a 2% lifetime health cover loading on top of your premium every year you are over 30
      • When I initially came over to Australia, I just did travel insurance as I wasn’t sure how long I would be staying here
  • Phone plans
      • I use my unlocked iPhone which was purchased in the US
      • I use the carrier Optus and do a monthly pre-paid plan that allows unlimited calls to the US [and some other countries]

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