Part Three of Three: Once You Get Here

You’ve figured out where you are going to live and how you are moving all of your things – what next?! Part Three in the three part post on moving to Australia. See Part One: Planning the Move and Part Two: The Actual Move
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Once you arrive – some things you’ll want to handle:

Healthcare: You might actually have to take care of this before you arrive in Australia – as it’s required that you have some sort of health insurance to process your visa. McKay went with Medibank’s health insurance for 457 visa holders which costs about $200 a month. Australia provides its citizens universal health care via Medicare so employers don’t often provide health care benefits. I have an Aussie passport so I am covered under Medicare, and since I work for an American company now, they cover private health insurance for both of us, but this will depend on your employer.

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Doctors: Once you have some sort of health coverage, the easiest way to go about seeing a doctor (if you have prescriptions to fill and whatnot) is to go to your local clinic. There are clinics in most neighborhoods and the system is quite convenient. They don’t take appointments, but they are open 7 days a week and till quite late – 9PM or so. You go in, put your name down and wait for the next available doctor – easy. It’s a little different if you need to see a specialist (Dentist, Chiropractor, etc). You’ll need a referral from your GP at the clinic to see a specialist and the co-payment for specialists is usually $300+ (which is usually reimbursable but till annoying).
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Setting Up a Bank Account: You’ll want to do this right away when you get here if you intend to put a deposit down for an apartment and as far as we’ve come technologically – money doesn’t move instantaneously over the interwebs. We visited all of the big banks to see what their options were for opening accounts – fees involved especially international transaction fees. In the end, we went with Commonwealth Bank (over ANZ, Westpac and NAB). Perhaps it was the brand awareness from working at GS&P, but either way – Comm Bank ended up having the most ATM’s around the city so we chose them mostly because of that. It took about 5 business days for money to be transferred over from our American accounts and it was perfect timing to get a bank check ready for our apartment deposit.
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Cell Phone: Another necessity that you’ll want to organise right away (especially if you want to have a smart phone for getting around the city and looking up apartment-hunting information on the go). Unfortunately, getting a cell phone can be a bit tricky here when you no longer have credit history. Instead of buying your phone (at a discounted price) upon signing up for a service contract like you do in the states, it’s typical here for the service provider to lease you your phone (which involves checking your credit). You can avoid this by going for a prepaid plan, but only Virgin Mobile and maybe Optus offer these plans and to be perfectly blunt – as much as people complain about how expensive Telstra is – it’s the only way to go if you want decent cell reception. Also – unlimited data plans are not an option here which really had me bent out of shape because I’m a pretty frequent data user on my phone, but how much data? I had no idea – I had the unlimited plan. Even for someone who uses their cell phone 24/7 – 2GB’s ends up actually being plenty. Another tip – while you are awaiting your wi-fi installation (see below) you can very easily tether internet from your phone for a week or two to hold you over.
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Internet and Cable: Again, Telstra is the best option in my opinion, but other providers that people recommended to us are iiNet and Internode. We had a terrible experience with iiNet attempting an installation and in the end went with Telstra which I think was the right choice even though it is a bit pricey. Key thing to keep in mind – internet is not magically installed the next day like it is at home. Be prepared to wait upwards of 14 business days. What happens in those 14 business days? Great question…cause in my mind that’s a helluva long time to get one guy over to Surry Hills to flip a switch, but I’m not a scientist…We went for a bundle package – 200 gigs of internet (which is more than plenty) + a land-line + Foxtel Cable for about $240 a month.
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Refrigerators & White Goods: Apartments do not come with refrigerators. The whole thing is quite strange to me, but when people move from one place to another – they take the fridge with them, so more often than not – you will have to buy or rent a fridge. The same is true of washers and dryers (and a lot of people don’t have dryers here – they hang dry their clothes). We decided to buy our fridge. It was $750 at Bing Lee’s (including delivery). The other option was to rent it which will run you about $10-15 per week (they price things by week here) and we just decided we wanted to have a brand new one that we wouldn’t have any issues with. We do rent our washer and dryer from Radio Rentals. It’s $16 per week for both of them, but we figured it’s better to rent those knowing that we can just call the rental company if they break and also because it’s likely that if we decide to move, the space for a washer dryer will be different than our current setup.

Any other tips for future ex-pats that I’m missing? Leave them in the comments!