So you’ve got your money, got your visa, got on a plane, got through customs and finally find yourself on Australian soil, breathing in fresh Australian air and fresh Australian insects.
Of course getting to Australia is just the first step. Getting by in Australia is the next. There’s a few things you’ll find yourself needing soon after arrival, especially if you’re planning on finding work.
Most international phones work in Australia, and getting a SIM card for your phone is fairly straightforward, although first, you should ensure your phone is unlocked from your home network. SIM cards are readily available at supermarkets, convenience stores and phone shops – including those at the airport. Australia has three phone networks: Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone.
Some very affordable BYO prepaid phone plans are available which will suit a traveller’s budget. The Whistleout website outlines these options very clearly.
Employers will want to pay into an Australian bank account. The main banks are Commonwealth, ANZ, Westpac, and NAB, and all will happily take your money. You’ll need to take note of what fees they charge, as all banks have different monthly or ATM usage fees. You’ll most likely want to open a basic ‘savings’ account, and will need to do so within your first 6 weeks in the country (within that time you’ll only need to supply your passport as ID).
TAX FILE NUMBER
To avoid paying around 48% tax, you’ll need to organise a tax file number. When you get a job, you’ll be given a Tax Declaration Form, on which a tax file number will need to be entered. To get one, go to the ATO website. As it can often take 2-3 weeks to process, it’s advisable to do it as soon as possible after arriving in the country.
For those wanting to avoid long-term hostel stays, getting a room in a share house is the best option. Flatmates.com.au and Gumtree are good places to look for rooms. In cities like Melbourne and Sydney you should expect to pay between $130 – $240 per week for a basic room, depending on the area and the size of the house.
For Sydney’s trains, buses and ferries, you’ll need to get an Opal Card (from train stations or convenience stores), which you tap on and tap off for each trip.
For Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses you’ll need the much-maligned MYKI card, which you tap on and off on train trips, but on trams and buses, you only need to tap on. And note there’s no way of buying a ticket on board a tram – you need to get a MYKI beforehand.
On Brisbane’s trains, buses and ferries you’ll want a Translink Go Card, which is available at stations, 7-Elevens and on board the ferries and allows travel throughout South East Queensland.