Tips on Moving to Australia

Moving to Australia? It ain’t Kansas, and certainly not Christchurch!

Whether you have children looking at studying at one of the Australian Universities, you are moving for work or retiring here is a great compilation of experiences in three parts from Kiwis that have moved to Oz, but we stress this is not advice.

Part 1 - Before you leave your preparation and familiarisation can save yourself a huge amount of time and effort when you arrive.

1.         Cash is king. You will need to have more than enough cash to cover:

1.1    Renting a house or apartment (in NSW) – you will pay 1 weeks rent as a fee to the Real estate, 4 weeks bond and probably two or four weeks in advance. You can check rental rates at and

So, renting an apartment for $400 per week will see you shell out $400 to the agent, $1600 bond to tenancy services and $800 to $1600 in rent in advance. This could add up to $2,800 to $3,600. In some markets Kiwis are seen as bad risks.

    • Viewings are often with a group of people, and you may need to make a competitive offer ie. the rent stated in the advert for the property may just be an indication.
    • Rental applications are usually done online. Have letters of recommendation from your current and past landlord and if you have a job from your employer confirming you are employed and an indication of salary.
    • Leases are usually for 1 year and then become ‘periodic’ ie month by month.
    • Housing is a state matter so good to google what your local requirements are.
    • Make sure you understand what else you may be paying for e.g. water etc

1.2    At least two months living expenses even if you have a job to go to – if you miss the pay cycle you may have to wait for the following month. Some companies here pay monthly others two weekly. If you don’t have a job at least 6 months living expenses is a safety net.

1.3    Don’t forget Covid – it still is present so don’t expect you will get any support here, and

    • Pay off debts before you leave or make arrangements to pay them.
    • The cheapest way to send money trans tasman seems to be Wise (they have an app ) with rates better than the main banks. Shop around!

2.         Bank – open an account BEFORE you leave NZ. Do it now and if possible, within 6 months of your arrival.

2.1    If you can, apply for a credit card. ASB Bank is the NZ subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank (CommBank) and seems to be the best organised.

2.2    Opening an account in Australia is not as easy as you might think, and even with employment obtaining anything other than a debit card takes time until you are established – allow up to a year. You may want to keep your NZ credit card as debit cards cannot be used for some things e.g. reserving accommodation – you can usually pay with the debit card on arrival.

2.3    100 points: Almost every account opening event here requires what is referred to as “100 points”. E.g. you will need 100pts to get a mobile phone account – it’s the law on that one.

Have a look at ( or ). Your employer will 100 pt you.

    • If you have 2 NZ credit cards this plus your passport will usually get you over the 100 pts (70 +25 +25 = 120 ie more than 100 pts) but it will depend on the requirement of the person you are dealing with. Usually, the passport and AU drivers’ licence is enough (70+40 = 110)

3.         NZ Passport - if it’s got less than 6 months to run replace it before you go.

4.         Preferably have an address that you can use in Australia on arrival. If you are in Canberra work out if you will reside in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) or the state of NSW. This will determine which local laws apply to you eg. Where you get your driver’s licence (see below).

5.         Get proof that you have left NZ permanently – this may be asked for by Medicare or other agencies, see below, to ensure that you are not double-dipping. Examples could include:

    • A letter from your employer confirming that you have resigned you job, and helpful if it wishes you well on your new life in Australia
    • A letter from your accountant/lawyer confirming that your affairs are up to date and that final returns have been file – again wising you well in Australia
    • Don’t forget references from landlords!

6.         Proof of double vaccination for COVID showing the date of both vaccinations and the type of vaccine – make sure that you have this on official documentation. You currently need this as proof in NSW to enter a shop or restaurant. We have an online certificate in the Medicare app (see below). If you have kids, you will need this for access to schools (no jab no play)

7.         Until you are settled you may want to think about not cancelling your NZ:

    • Income protection insurance – you are entering Australia on what is know as a 444 visa (see VEVO below). This gives you the right to live and work in Australia. It does not give you access to government assistance through CentreLink (Work and Income). If you get sick here, you are on your own. If you have an accident outside of work there is no ACC – you are on your own. You can get Income protection and life insurance through your superfund (see below) and that can be the way to protect yourself. There is a National Disability Scheme (The NDIS) – you will pay 1% of your tax toward it but you are not eligible to apply as you are not a permanent resident.
    • Health Insurance – if you decide OZ is not for you or something happens in the first few months you can come home (I did once)
    • Life insurance – if you have any health issues you may not be able to get favourable cover


Part 2 - The day you arrive or the day after, and at the very latest before you start your job

  1. Mobile Phone number

1.1      Get a local sim card so you have a local number. You can get a prepaid cheap sim at Coles Supermarkets ( who have a great deal for $120 for a year with unlimited calls back to NZ or Vodafone.

1.2      Check with people where you a living as network coverage can vary. Telstra seems to be popular for its rural coverage.

1.3      You can ‘port’ ie take any mobile number with you to any other provider in the future, and it will mean that you have a local number and you will likely need this for 2 factor ID.

1.4      You can get a cheap handset at many places if you want to keep your NZ number but remember you will be paying for the incoming call.

2.         Download the relevant Covid apps for QR codes – you currently need to scan in (they check in NSW) before you can enter any building etc

3.         Download the VEVO immigration app – this is an Australian Government Visa verification app, which you shouldn’t need, but if you enter your details, it will enable you to email anyone confirmation of your immigration status. Usually, the NZ passport is enough but sometimes you need to prove you have the right to live and work in Australia.

4.         Go to the bank and pick up your EFTPOS and credit card. Ask them to print out (and stamp) your statement of account showing your address. This can be helpful until you get your drivers licence. Helpful if this has the Banks logo in colour on it!

5.         Federal stuff

    • Create a MyGov account ( Australia is moving most of the Federal Government and state government stuff online. This links you to the ATO (see below).
    • You will need a Tax File Number (“TFN”) or your employer will withhold 47% of your income until you get one. You can get a TFN (,-permanent-migrants-and-temporary-visitors---TFN-application/) online. Give your TFN ASAP to your employer.
    • Apply for a Medicare card -this is not private health insurance – it gives you access to the public health system.

6.         State and Territory stuff

    • Convert to an Australian driver’s licence. You have 90 days (extended by SOME states to 180 days) to transfer your licence.
      • You go in, they take your NZ licence and they give you an Australian licence. Simple!
      • But if you fail to do it in this time frame you will have to apply for and sit a test to get your L plates, then P plates etc etc. I know people who never quite got round to this who took two years to get a full licence back. Most employment contracts require a licence. – no licence they can let you go.
      • Have a look for state government online services e.g in NSW you can do a lot of things online at you will need to create an account!


Part 3 - Within the first week to a month

  1. Your employer must open a superannuation account for you. If you don’t choose one your employer will nominate one for you. 10% of your income will be put in there. Its compulsory.
    1. AustralianSuper is one of the largest, cheapest funds to join and a financial commentator (Scott Pape, author of The Barefoot investor” recommends HostPlus).
    2. They are all portable so you can move between funds when it suits. Your super fund will put you into insurance products including Income Protection, however you can nominate the level of cover. This can be the cheapest way to buy insurance cover if it meets your needs.
    3.  Remember you have no access to government benefits, so income protection cover to the level of your salary is sensible to consider.
    4. Make sure you read the PDS (Product Disclosure Statement) or T&Cs. You can often get very favourable cover within the first 90 days of joining, depending on the fund.
    5. Health Insurance –if you earn more than $90,000 pa (after your super payment is deducted) then you are up for 1% Medicare Levy (Australian Government slang for tax) this can be offset by buying private health insurance as they have entry level policies that start at, wow, this is a surprise – the Medicare levy! ie $900.00.
      1. In my view health insurance here, especially for extras is pretty much worthless. Scott Pape (it’s a great book) recommends private hospital insurance and avoiding iSelect and the comparison websites. Health insurance is a personal thing and everyone needs are different.

Some Extra Areas to Consider!

  1. Immigration status

1.1    Did you visit Australia (even as a child) prior to 1 September 1994 New Zealanders were automatically granted permanent residency upon entering Australia. A Resident Return Visa (RRV) enables them to reinstate that former permanent residency.

    • Twelve months after being granted RRV they can apply for citizenship, provided they have resided in Australia for at least four years immediately prior to applying.
    • If you meet the date criteria – this is worth doing on arrival!

1.2    If you are going to stay then there is a pathway to citizenship – check your dates on this website for the options.

    • Applications are done online, and you don’t usually need a lawyer.
    • The visa for New Zealanders to get permanent residence is called a 189 (NZ stream) and only requires that you meet the income threshold of $53,900 taxable income in any three income years of the five years immediately prior to applying, including the latest financial year.
    • This Visa takes 1-2 years to process (can be shorter) that gets you permanent residence – which gives you access to the national disability scheme and Centrelink benefits – and
    • 12 months after granting you can apply for citizenship. NZers can hold dual citizenship.

1.3      Understand that you will not be a permanent resident of Australia. New Zealanders are issued with a Special Category Visa (SCV) which is a temporary visa that allows New Zealanders to live and work in Australia, as long as you remain a New Zealand citizen. Anyone arriving in Australia on a New Zealand passport, without a visa, will automatically be issued an SCV, subject to meeting the health and character requirements. To get permanent residence you need to apply for it.

1.4      You are eligible for some support (see but these are pretty specific options eg parental leave.

1.5      You cannot vote or be employed by the Australian Commonwealth Government (you have to be a citizen) but you can work for state and territory governments.

2.   TAX and super sort of works like this:

2.1 Rates and calculators are here and the ATO has an APP which you can use to calculate your income. This is not advice just to get your head around how the system functions – but also whether your income is inclusive of super (usually) or exclusive (fantastic) it can make quite a difference to your cash in hand.


Say you earn $110,000 per year (this is back of the envelope so do your own calculations using the ATO calculator)

Your employer deducts $10,000 and transfers it to your super account.

The super fund deducts tax at 15% $1,500

Then your admin fee say $300

Premiums for insurance say $1000

Your balance at year end is say $7,200

What you get is $100,000 less tax but, if at the end of the year you don’t have health insurance, they will add $1,000.00 to your assessment subject to your age. On the ATO page above there is a calculator.


Provided by Brian Freestone, our Sydney based Consultant.

This is a compilation based on the experiences of many New Zealanders who have moved to Australia