Prepare well and get the most out of a move to Australia

Around 87,000 Irish people a year are now emigrating. Donna Walsh gives her advice on going to Australia

According to the Central StatisticsOffice, emigration from Ireland in the 12 months to April is estimated to have increased to 87,100 from 80,600 in the year to April 2011.

I was one of those statistics in 2011. My choice of destination: Australia. It is expected that between 30,000 to 35,000 will travel from Ireland to Australia next year for work.

I have been living in Sydney for almost two years now and I am working in one of the leading investment banks.

I often get asked questions on how to prepare sufficiently for relocating Down Under. Besides the obvious necessities such as booking a flight and obtaining your working/holiday visa, there are a few things you can do now to make your life all the easier when you arrive.

My biggest piece of advice — save. Australia is expensive. It can be quite daunting at first. You can’t help but notice the cost of groceries, alcohol, and rent relative to Irish prices. Ensure you have sufficient cash for a bond (deposit) on an apartment and to allow for a few weeks of not having any earnings.

Contract work is the way of life in Australia. Have your CV prepared and send it to recruitment agencies a few days before you arrive in your chosen city. You can search for the agencies online that are most appropriate to your industry. Don’t forget your cover letter, which should detail when you are available for interviews. Note that you must be interviewed by recruiters before they take you on their books. If you are anxious to start working as soon as possible, this will save you waiting for an email/phone call when you get there.

Consider a temporary position. This allows you to familiarise yourself with the market and earn Australian dollars in the meantime. Be prepared to start from the bottom. If you work hard, it will be recognised.

Apply for an Australian bank account before you leave. You will need to transfer money to this account before you depart. This will save you on international fees and you will need an Australian bank account for your new employment. If you plan on using your Irish phone, make sure it’s unlocked by your phone providerbefore you go. Apply for an Australian SIM/phone number — this is often a service offered by the visa issuer.

Securing accommodation in Australia is an interview in itself. It’s based on a “100 point” documentation check. Essentially, the more documentation you provide the more points you get. In turn this increases your likelihood of being chosen as a tenant. Preparation is key — make sure you have plenty of photocopies of your passport, driving licence (you can obtain an international driving licence for a small fee in Ireland), bank statements, previous employment and accommodation references, rental ledgers and proof of income (if you have secured work). Most estate agents will require an application form to be completed, so it’s best practice to download this before the viewing so you have all your paperwork ready for the inspection. Note: the majority of houses and apartments come unfurnished in Australia.

Get your full driving licence before you leave the country. It’s quite cumbersome to do so over here. Ensure you have your Irish internet banking details and PINs written down safely. You can easily forget these when you haven’t used them in a while. Advise your Irish bank of your departure date and what countries you are visiting on the way so they don’t cancel your cards for suspicious activities.

Insurance is fundamental (health, travel, etc). Ensure your passport, debit and visa cards are in date for as long as possible as it makes for a smoother process when you head back home.

If you are not already — be a social media fanatic. It really is terrific for keeping in contact with people. Even “liking” a friend’s status from 10,000 miles helps you to stay in touch. It may also assist you attaining the perfect employment.

We Irish tend to speak fast. Australians do not — practice slowing down, especially if your work is client-facing.

Spend as much time as possible with friends and family before you leave. You will miss out on important events once you emigrate.

It’s not all Home and & Away over here — the Australians do get a winter. Pack for every occasion.

Relocating your life is not easy. Do everything possible to get as organised as possible before you leave. Be excited. Australia is a wonderful country to live in. The people, the lifestyle, the food, the weather, and the natural beauty of the land are things that are hard to give up. To conclude, my best advice to avoid an embarrassing situation in Australia: when your Aussie boss tells you not to wear “thongs” to work — don’t be alarmed, he is referring to what us Irish call flip-flops, and not skimpy underwear.

* Donna Walsh is a credit and arrears executive with Macquarie Specialist Investments


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