10 Things I Did to Get Settled in Australia

Kangaroo

Personal experience of things that I needed to get before this trip and upon arrival to make the rest of my trip easier.

  1. Visa – I got a Work Holiday Visa which allows you access to the country for one year, of which you can work for a single employer for up to 6 months and take up to 4 months of courses. If you work in the farms / agriculture / anything outside of the city, your visa can go for up to two years. Click here to apply for your Work Holiday Visa or go to http://www.immi.gov.au/ for details on other types of visas. Cost for Work Holiday Visa (462) is $365. Refer to this page for details on costs of each type of visa.
  2. Tax File Number – If you plan on working, file for a Tax File Number before you get here. Once you land into the country, they’ll finish the rest of the processing (7 to 10 days; but can go up to 28 days). Go to http://taxfilenumberaustralia.com.au/ to apply for your Tax File Number.
  3. Bank Account – I had Chase prior to coming to Australia. Chase does not have any sister branches or international branches so I closed my chase account. I could have kept the account, but I really wanted to set myself up to be ready for future travels, not just this trip to Australia. I opened a bank account with Simple because they do not charge fees to maintain the account (except for a $5 inactivity fee if there is no activity within 180 days/months) and uses the All Point System that ING Direct uses as an ATM. There is a 1% Foreign Transaction Fee as opposed to Chase’s 3% FTF. As for a bank account in Australia, when you file for your Tax File Number, you have the option of having them set up a bank account with Commonwealth Bank for you. I did that for the sake of ease. Commonwealth Bank is an Australian multi-national bank and has branches in the UK, Fiji, Asia, and the U.S. Other options are ANZ (another big bank), Nab, etc.
  4. Credit Card – Along with closing my Chase bank account, I closed my credit card. The major reason being the 3% Foreign Transaction Fee. I did a little bit of research online and found Capital One VentureOne Rewards to suit me best. No foreign transaction fees, no annual fee, and 1.25 miles earned per dollar. You can definitely go online and search for other cards that suit your needs.
  5. Phone in Australia – My iPhone was still on AT&T’s plan when I came here and AT&T refused to unlock it unless I pay that ridiculous cancellation fee. There are little shops here that would unlock it as well, but with the price of $50. I was waiting for iOS 6.1 to be released so the jailbreak can be released as well. Luckily, Andrey found an eBay seller who provides factory unlock services for $5.50. Click here to see. It looks a bit tacky, but for $5 I was willing to give it a shot. And it worked! Afterwards, I just bought a $30 prepaid plan which comes with free text messaging to anyone in Australia, 500MB of data, and $450 of phone credit via Vodafone.
  6. Contacting people back at home – I have a Google voice account which allows me to call anyone in the US and Canada for FREE using my computer. You need a US or Canadian phone number to set it up. There is also Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangout as other options.
  7. Internet – I bought a prepaid mifi plan from Vodafone for $79. The price comes with the Pocket Wifi device as well as 3MB of data. Although, with my gchat and video chat usages, 3GB runs out quickly. Recharge is a bit expensive, I bought the $75 for 8GB (90 expiration). Obviously there are other recharge options but I feel that this is the best for me. The pocket wifi is definitely a useful thing to have just in case (considering I carry my laptop around with me everywhere). This was more of a required purchase since the house I’m living in does not have wifi.
  8. Personal Documents – I have a Dropbox account and the iPhone App installed. I scanned copies of my passport and other official documents into a Dropbox folder so I would always have access to them.
  9. Transportation – The public transit system is pretty simple. You can purchase the SmartRider card from any of these Transperth InfoCentres location or other designated areas that sells them. It works like any public transportation card in large metropolitan areas. It can be used on the trains, buses, and ferries. There is a $10 deposit for the card and you can put however much credit onto it. Within the city center and a couple of suburbs, there are the Cat Buses which operate for free. The Cat Buses are only for travel within a specific city or suburb and their routes are not designed for transportation between suburbs.
  10. Housing – Use Gumtree.com.au (community online marketplace) or RealEstate.com.au.

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