Moving to Australia

Moving abroad can be a daunting prospect, and moving to Australia – the other side of the world for many people – can seem like playing cricket with a golf ball and a stump (that’s a Bradman reference; it’s important you become familiar with them). There are many things to consider, so we’ve put together a helpful guide to ease the transition. Of course, the process is different from person to person, depending on the visas required, the items you intend on bringing with you, what country you’re relocating from, among other considerations.

But don’t be put off! There’s a process to everything, and we’ll guide you through it all. And, believe us when we say, it’s worth it; once you’ve made the big move to Australia, you won’t regret it. A good healthcare system and a variety of education options, fantastic job opportunities, landscapes and vistas to suit every taste, and a climate made for the outdoors.

So, let’s get into it. Here’s what you need to know about moving to Australia.

Choosing where to live in Australia

It’s a sprawling country that encompasses an extraordinary array of landscapes and diverse urban centres. Choosing which part to settle down in is one of the hardest and yet most enjoyable tasks of moving to Australia.

Are you coming across for that classic beach lifestyle us Aussies are famous for? Are you more inclined towards forests and rivers, and want to have convenient access to Australia’s extraordinarily diverse national parks? Perhaps you’re drawn to the nightlife of busy urban centres, and want to discover your own favourite watering hole, whether it be a pub or a bar tucked down a laneway, hidden behind pallets and milk crates and an unmarked door.

Or maybe you have absolutely no idea which part of the country you want to start a new chapter in, and you came to this website looking for some bloody guidance!

Believe us when we say, it’s worth it; once you’ve made the big move to Australia, you won’t regret it.

Some bloody Guidance

Things are obviously made simpler if you have a job waiting for you in a particular city or town, but if you’re in need of a little help in narrowing things down, let’s start with a guide on the median property prices (as of March 2020) in Australia’s major cities.


Of course, median house prices are only a guide. Within each capital city are pockets of more affordable housing and more affluent areas.

Here are some questions to consider that will help you narrow down your search:

  • How much can I afford?
  • Do I want to rent or buy?
  • What lifestyle aspects are important to me (café culture, green spaces, beach life, etc)?
  • Will I bring my car or am I relying on public transport?
  • Will I rent somewhere first so I can look around before I buy?

Cost of Living in Australia

Daily living expenses can give a good snapshot of the cost of living in Australia. Of course, it also depends on your particular circumstances. Are you coming alone? With a partner? Do you have children and, if so, how old are they? Before we break it down state by state, here’s a view of the country as a whole:

The average Australian household spends $255 on groceries

The most spent on groceries is by couples with children aged between five and 14, forking out $336 weekly

The state with the highest average weekly grocery bill is New South Wales, coming in at $275

Here’s some more demographic breakdowns of weekly grocery bills:

Food & DrinkAlcohol
One person under 35$122$22
Couple under 35$239$39
Family of four (youngest 15 or over)$332$47

And average weekly grocery bills by state:

New South Wales$275
Australian Capital Territory$271
Northern Territory$256
Western Australia$240
South Australia$221

Of course, the price of individual grocery items vary from state to state. Here is the breakdown of what the average Aussie spends on particular foods.

Dairy products$15

Restaurants & Takeaway in Australia

The average Aussie gets takeaway around 65 times a year and spends about $880 doing so. But if you want some insights into what our dining habits say about the major cities and states, have a look at this:

  • Melburnians are fiends for takeaway breakfasts.
  • Sydneysiders are the most regular devotees of takeaway lunches.
  • When it comes to dinner, Melburnians are more likely to get takeaway, while those from Sydney are more likely to dine at the restaurant.
  • And those from Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia love to eat at their preferred fast-food outlet.

The average Australian spends $92 per week on restaurants, meals out and fast food.

Public Transport in Australia

Every Australian city has extensive public transport services that are generally well maintained and efficient. Of course, give any Aussie an opportunity to and they will gripe about delays and packed carriages and cancellations, but don’t let that fool you. Aside from the occasional breakdown in summer due to warped tracks (yes, it gets hot down under), the trains are regular, the trams even more so and there are buses to fill in the gaps.

Of course, there are differences between cities. Melbourne and Adelaide rely heavily on their tram networks, Sydney and Perth on buses.

All stations and terminals are monitored 24 hours a day, and uniformed and plain clothes security ride public transport to ensure safety and security.

Here’s the average cost of public transport nationwide:

TaxiStart at $2 to $3, then around $2 per km

Utilities in Australia

Those dreaded utilities. Just when you think you’ve managed your expenses well for the month, a most unwelcome envelope arrives in the mail. To avoid unpleasant surprises, here’s what you can expect to pay for electricity in the land down under:

Number of residentsAverage Annual Electricity Bill

Shipping and Storing Costs

Moving personal items when relocating countries is one of the biggest hassles of the entire process. Let’s break down the broad strokes.

Custom Regulations

Australia’s custom’s regulations are some of the strictest in the world, and for good reason. With a massive agricultural industry, as well as many endangered species that exist nowhere else in the world, harmful pests and diseases could be devastating. Let’s take a look at the restrictions on some items:

Bring ItDeclare ItDon’t Bring It
Dairy products (cheese, butter, etc)
Alcohol (more info under Duty Free)
Chocolate & Confectionary
Daggers & concealed blades
Dried herbs & loose herbal tea
Fake designer goods


Australia’s Prohibited & Restricted Items

There are several items on the banned list that require permits or permission to be brought into the country, and some that can’t be brought in under any circumstances. These include:

  • Homemade food, fruits, vegetables, some seeds and some spices
  • Medicine or drugs (unless prescribed, in which case they need to be declared)
  • Lighters
  • Laser pointers
  • Counterfeit credit and debit cards
  • Pepper spray
  • Firearms and weapons (unless accompanied with the necessary permits)

Duty Free in Australia

Certain items that are travelling with you can be brought in duty-free, up to a certain limit. For instance:

  • General goods: Adults – AUD900, children – AUD450. Personal goods include:
  • Watches
  • Jewellery
  • Gifts
  • Souvenirs
  • Leather goods
  • Perfumes
  • Electronic equipment
  • Tobacco: If your 18 years or older, you can bring in one unopened packet containing no more than 25 cigarettes or 25 grams of tobacco products, as well as one open packet of cigarettes. You can bring in up to 1.5kg of smokeless tobacco (requires a permit), such as chewing or snuff, for personal use, but you will have to pay duty on all tobacco that exceeds the 25 gram limit.
  • Alcohol: If you’re 18 or older, you can bring in up to 2.25 litres of alcoholic drinks duty free. Anything more, and you’ll have to pay duty on all of it, not just the excess.

You can find out more about the restrictions and policies around items you’re bringing in with you at the Australian Border Force website.

Bringing in Household Items & Belongings Separately

So, what about the big things, like furniture and boxes of clothing and books, that you’re having shipped across? These are called Unaccompanied Personal Effects (UPEs) and there are rules concerning them that you need to be aware of.
UPEs can arrive in Australia via ship, air freight or international mail, and typically include:

  • Clothing and footwear
  • Personal hygiene and grooming items
  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Sporting equipment
  • Books

The following are not considered UPE items, and their importation is controlled by the Australian government:

  • Motor vehicles and parts
  • Commercial goods
  • Bequeathed goods
  • Yachts
  • Items purchased over the internet

The goods news is that you may not have to pay customs duty or GST if you meet the requirements for a concession. The requirements stipulate that you arrive via ship or aircraft from outside Australia, that you meet permanent residency requirements, and that the UPEs are:

  • Your personal property that you’ve used overseas for at least 12 months
  • Intended to be used in Australia

To receive a concession for your UPEs, you must complete an Unaccompanied Personal Effects Statement form. This form is available in many languages but it must be completed in English. You can lodge this statement in person at a Department of Home Affairs office or, if you’re using a customs broker or other service provider, they can lodge it on your behalf through the Integrated Cargo System.


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