This is the second installment of a three-part series by Annemarie de Villiers giving practical advice on steps to take before emigrating to Australia. She speaks from experience as an expat born and raised in Johannesburg. She left South Africa nine years ago for the Netherlands, but after six years decided to go on a fabulous adventure and moved to Seoul, South Korea. A year ago they relocated to Sydney, where she lives in the Hills District. Annemarie is also the editor of a blog called Austrangelia: http://austrangelia.blogspot.com/
To read the first part of this series visit http://www.sabona.com.au/www.sabona.com.au/0307
Go on an LSD trip: It is a good idea to go and see the city you are planning to move to. Familiarize yourself with the different areas and if possible meet people....read more in next instalment
Be clear on the negatives
Don't be fooled by all of the beautiful pictures of beaches, sunsets, poolside parties and BBQ gatherings you will no doubt find plenty of when researching Australia. Yes, all of this is a part of living Down Under, but there are also plenty of downsides. Be sure to familiarise yourself with the negative aspects!! Speak to as many people as you can find, and get all sides of the story. It is not always as easy as it sounds! Many of the top information sites are sponsored by organizations that will benefit greatly from having you here. Australia is a massive place and cities are very far apart. Don't think research on one city will cover the general disadvantages of all places, try to research as city specific as you possibly can.
Research cost of living
One of the biggest traps you can fall into is to organize your immigration based on the figures/budget given by one individual! Unless you know for certain that your budget and standard of living are exactly the same, be very careful not to base your decisions on their advice. Best thing to do when setting up your budget is to research exact numbers in Australian Dollars. Start with the big monthly expenses, for example housing, tax and car payments.
A good tip when comparing the Aus budget to your current situation is to work in percentages. If you are currently paying 30% of your salary towards housing, you should stick to a similar model in Aus to keep your cost of living on the same track.
Also keep in mind things like third party insurance for you and your kids, which you wouldn't have needed in South Africa. Cars and white goods are generally cheaper than back home and administration costs are generally high. Because it is such a redtaped jungle you should count on administration costs on almost everything, for example your car will need yearly registration. My car is worth $44 000, insurance is $70 per month (a tank of unleaded petrol is around $80). Yearly admin costs to keep her on the road are $340 for rego and $320 for the green slip (NSW).
Research work conditions
This could be a deal breaker. Some industries in Australia deviate quite a bit from the norms you may be used to. Investigate this properly before signing on the dotted line. Look at what your Union determines minimum pay, work conditions, work hours, overtime, overtime wages, required medical tests, etc. Pre-school teachers in NSW for instance are all expected to have an up-todate First Aid certificate, current qualifications and a police check done within the last six months. Some industries expect regular medical check-ups, others will demand continued studies or membership with professional specific associations. It is good to know what your industry will expect of you.
Get rid of all of your current support (temporarily)
Nothing is a bigger shock to women when they immigrate, than losing their support structure! Some miss the helping hand of a nanny, a cleaner, a gardener, while others miss having family and in-laws to help with watching the kids or just having some support and an extra pair of hands to help. Best thing to do is to test yourself. Ask all of your friends, family and all of your domestic staff to not help or come round or contact you for two weeks, while maintaining your normal weekly schedule. This trial run should give you some indication of how you will cope without the support network you are used to. Domestic help in Australia is extremely expensive. Our gardener charges $45 per visit, (for only mowing the lawn) ironing costs an average of $1 per item of clothing (it is the cheapest service in the neighborhood); pool cleaning costs $45 per visit and house-cleaners $70 per visit. As you can see services don't come cheap!!