Advice for Brits Abroad
- Sunscreen – ok all you sun worshippers like me you will be saying “ah it’s not that hot, I have sunbathed in hotter” but the one thing I did NOT release is that the hole in the Ozone everyone was bleating on about in the 80’s and 90’s is pretty much right over Australia. Australia has the highest skin cancer incidence rate in the world. Australians are four times more likely to develop a skin cancer than any other form of cancer. Approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70 – this is not scaremongering its common sense. Factor 30 at least even when its overcast!
- Housing - Look in the real estate market before you leave – getting an apartment over here is difficult due to the demand, for every place you look to rent there will be a queue of people behind you waiting for the same place! Destinations like Mosman, Bondi and North Shore are always popular. It is an idea to do some research from www.domain.com.au before you leave, check your budget and speak to the letting agents to find out when open houses are taking place. It is hard to apply from outside the country if you see somewhere you love. Usually it is a good idea to make the application in person but sign up for email alerts via domain.com.au to get ahead of the game. I event think they have a phone app! So you never miss out.
When moving your residence it is important to review your home insurance options to best fit your situation.
There are many websites offering a Home Insurance Comparison so make sure to use your due diligence and shop for the best deal.
- LAFHA – it stands for Living Away From Home Allowance. If you are lucky enough to be sponsored with an employer in Australia talk to their HR or accounts department about LAFHA, I do not understand the calculations but basically if you are working in Australia and working here means you are not in your normal place of residence i.e. 1 Smith Street, London, England – then you can apply for LAFHA which allows you to get an extra allowance on tax depending on the amount of rent you pay. There may be other conditions but it is worth investigating once you start working – more information can be found at http://www.lafha.com.au/Home.aspx
- Shopping – unlike the UK, Australia does not tend to have large supermarkets, or if they do they tend to be out of the city centre and could require a hefty bus trip to reach them. If you are lucky enough to owe a car it makes life a lot easier, although beware of toll roads! There are lots!
- Gumtree & Ebay – a god send if like us you are starting from scratch. We did not ship any furniture over from the UK mainly due to the cost so when we found a place to rent it was bare! Gumtree is bigger than ebay over here with lots of things for sale and some for free! But you will need to organise a way of collecting i.e. hire a car/van/ute. Beds and sofas are very very expensive compared to the UK and electronics like Fridges and TV are on the pricey side as well. Look at discount warehouses, house sales or notices in local shops to grab a bargain. We also found some of the cheapest clothes dryers, on appliancesonline.com.au which is another good site for assessing the prices of household appliances. Also if you are not proud (or can’t afford to be like us when we started out!) the residents of Sydney have a “clear out” about twice a month. So you could be going along a main road in a residential area and see piles of old furniture, tv’s computing equipment etc all by the side of the road. If you see something you think is in good condition you can simply take it before it is collected by the local council. We actually picked up a pretty decent coffee table this way. Be warned though, second hand furniture like this is not always in the best condition. Check out www.gumtree.com.au and www.ebay.com.au
- Cars – now we don’t actually own a car yet as they seem to be very expensive. Even the 25 year old bangers seem to go for $3000! Then there is the added expenses of Rego (registration, cars need to be registered to the state they are in), GreenSlip (Tax and 3rd party insurance combined), parking (most apartments in the CBD will not have parking and you can “buy or rent” a parking space if you need to) and Stamp duty (only really applicable on new cars). Public transport is pretty decent in Sydney and cheap and I recommend trying that first www.131500.com.au but another alternative we found was www.goget.com.au. Goget is a car share initiative which allows you to join as a member for about $49 a month then basically there are lots of cars parked around the city, you go online find one close to you pick it up and drive away for the day. You don’t pay petrol, tax, insurance or tolls! There are mileage charges but they are minimal.
- Alcohol – unlike us boozey Brits the Aussies do not allow you to purchase alcohol at your local supermarket. There are designated liquor stores if you want to buy alcohol but be warned compared to the UK it is expensive. Even in pubs you are looking at $7-8 for a “scooner” which is 2/3 of a pint.
- Creepy crawlies – now to be honest we have been pretty lucky in avoiding such encounters at the moment as I think I would be on the next plane home, but it is worth considering that the little beggars will get in your house (especially in Spring as flies are everywhere) so my advice is look at getting insect screens over your windows, or ask your landlord to look into it as an investment. In the summer months it can get hot on an evening and windows have to be kept open and this is when they will come in handy. Those living in high rises probably won’t have so much of a problem. Also invest in sprays and air fresheners that deter them from wondering into your house in the first place. Mosquitos are an issue especially near water we have found so invest in some sprays from the local shop to stop getting bitten.
- Removals – If you do not have a van at your disposal and you need to collect furniture (as bought on ebay or the like) it can be cheaper to hire “a man with van”. These guys usually advertise on Gumtree under removals or in local shops and charge about $30-45 an hour – which is cheaper than hiring a Ute or paying delivery charges from shops.
- Walking – Sydney is very hilly so if like me you are not used to walking it is always an idea to bring trainers with you in your bag for those steep climbs. The CBD is not so bad but the suburbs can be tough on the old calf muscles.
Anyway I hope this was helpful to those of you who have just arrived! Good luck and welcome to Sydney.