centrefortowns.org logo

Moving to Australia from the UK: A Beginner’s Guide

Embark on your journey to Australia and navigate the relocation process smoothly with our guide

Share this post :


Are you thinking about starting anew in Australia?

You’re in good company. Australia is the top choice for UK expats, with over 1.2 million Brits[1] calling it home.

The country appeals to those from the UK thanks to a common language and cultural ties, despite the distance.

Australia is known for its sunny climate, high quality of life, stunning beaches, welcoming locals, and ample outdoor spaces. But what does it take to move there?

This guide will walk you through all the stuff you need to know for relocating from the UK to Australia, covering visa requirements, living costs, housing, and more.

Moving to Australia Guide

Obtaining Australian Visas

Obtaining Australian Visas

Australia’s strict immigration rules, based on a points system, make moving there challenging for non-citizens.

It’s achievable, particularly for those with Australian family ties, skilled workers, or those sponsored by an Australian employer.

Several pathways can lead to Australia, including:

  • Family-stream permanent residence visa for those with close family members who are Australian citizens or permanent residents.
  • Work-stream permanent residence visa for individuals sponsored by an Australian employer or those possessing skills in demand in Australia.
  • Business or investment-stream permanent residence visa for entrepreneurs planning to start or invest in Australia, often requiring government agency sponsorship.

You can check out all the Australian visa categories available[2]. Securing an Australian visa isn’t straightforward or fast, and you should expect to deal with plenty of paperwork. Going through the necessary steps and submitting a thorough application is of the utmost importance if you’re aiming to begin anew in Australia.

Visa Type Purpose Key Requirements
Family-stream Permanent Residence Visa Joining family in Australia. Proof of relationship, and sponsorship by family.
Work-stream Permanent Residence Visa Skilled work or employer nomination. Skill assessment, employer nomination.
Business or Investment-stream Permanent Residence Visa Starting or investing in a business. Business history or investment funds, business proposal.
Student Visa Studying in Australia. Course enrollment, evidence of funds, English proficiency.
Visitor Visa Tourism or short visits. Proof of funds, the reason for the visit.

How Much Money Do You Need for Relocating?

How Much Money Do You Need for Relocating?

First off, there’s the price tag for applying for your visa.

Here’s what you’re looking at, all in Aussie dollars:

  • The fee for applying for a permanent residence visa through the Department of Home Affairs is $3,670.
  • Then there’s the fee for getting your skills assessed[3], which varies depending on your job. It could be anywhere from $300 to $1,050.
  • You might also need to take an English test like the IELTS or PTE[4], but not everyone has to do this.
  • Don’t forget about the medical exam you’ll need to pass.
  • And there’s also a fee for getting a police clearance certificate.
  • Plus, any costs for translating documents or getting them officially certified.

Shortest Way to Get There?

The flight duration from the UK to Australia varies based on the final city and whether the flight is direct or includes layovers.

Direct flights from London to Perth, including one stop for refueling, usually take about 20 hours.

But more affordable flights with around three stops can extend travel time to between 35 and 38 hours.

Retiring in Australia for UK Citizens

One approach is applying for a permanent residence visa, particularly if you have family in Australia, which might streamline the process.

Alternatively, there’s a retirement visa route leading to permanent residency, suited for those who’ve previously held specific Australian retirement visas or are considering a parent or contributory parent visa.

The Australian Government has created a pathway to permanent residency for eligible retirees.

The Pathway was announced by Government on 8 May 2018 as part of the 2018-19 Budget and was introduced on 17 November 2018.​

This pathway provides options to long-term residents who have contributed to, and are well established in, the community.

The government has built the pathway by setting aside a portion of places from the permanent migration scheme for parents.  Australian Government Department of Home Affairs[2.1].

Pension is another critical reason for UK retirees moving to Australia. The UK state pension can be claimed in Australia through the International Pension Centre. Transferring private pensions is also an option, but it’s crucial to opt for a scheme recognized by HMRC (QROPS) to avoid hefty taxes.

You can claim State Pension abroad if you’ve paid enough UK National Insurance contributions to qualify according to International Pension Centre[5]

What You Need to Know Before Moving to Australia?

here are some key details to keep in mind:

  • Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
  • Primary language: English
  • Population: around 26.2 million
  • British expat community: roughly 1.2 million
  • Top cities for expats: Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Adelaide.

With a significant British expat presence, you’ll find a welcoming community and ample support upon arrival.

Cost Of Living?

Cost Of Living in Australia

For starters, in grocery stores, expect to pay up to 40% more for your shopping as per Numbeo[6] .

And it’s not just food – getting around and finding a place to live might also take a bigger bite out of your budget.

On the bright side, your monthly bills[7] for things like electricity and gas could give your wallet a little break.

  • Dining out for a three-course meal with someone special? In Australia, you’ll be spending about £55, which, interestingly enough, is exactly what you’d pay back in the UK.
  • If you’re looking to grab a draught beer, it’s slightly pricier here at around £5, as opposed to the £4 you’d spend in the UK.
  • For something as basic as a loaf of bread, expect to pay about £1.55 here, compared to just £0.92 back in the UK.
  • Getting around town with a monthly public transport pass? That’ll cost you approximately £83, a bit more than the £65 you’d be used to in the UK.
  • Thinking of renting a cozy one-bedroom apartment in the city center? That will set you back around £1,120 here, while in the UK, you’d generally pay around £894.
  • Monthly utilities for a typical apartment are somewhat cheaper here, around £131, compared to the UK’s £185.
  • And if you’re considering buying property in the city center, be prepared for it to be about 17% more expensive per square meter than in the UK.

Average rent in the major cities, according to ABC News Australia:[10]

  • Sydney – $745
  • Canberra – $651
  • Perth – $630
  • Brisbane – $627
  • Darwin – $611
  • Melbourne – $565
  • Adelaide – $565
  • Hobart – $535


Australia's Healthcare System

Australia’s healthcare system is pretty impressive and known for being both effective and top-notch. But if you’re new to the country or not a citizen, you might wonder if you can tap into it. Well, thanks to a sweet deal between the UK and Australia, UK folks visiting Down Under can get into the Medicare system. This system hooks you up with cheaper doctor visits, medication, and essential hospital care.

Now, if you decide to make Australia your new home, you’ll start contributing to Medicare through your taxes, which is how this system keeps running. There’s a specific tax levy for it. Despite this solid public healthcare setup, lots of Australians mix things up with some private health insurance on the side, complementing what they get from Medicare.

Medicare and the public hospital system provide free or low-cost access for all Australians to most of these health care services. Private health insurance gives you choice outside the public system. For private health care both in and out of hospital, you contribute towards the cost of your health care according to Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care[8]

For newcomers, picking up a private health insurance policy might be a smart move. Not everything, like dental services and certain medications, is covered by the public system. Getting that extra coverage means you’re set from the moment you land, with no nasty surprise medical bills throwing a wrench in your plans.

Opening an Aussie Bank Account

Opening an Aussie Bank Account

Setting up a bank account in Australia can smooth out your transition, especially for handling rent and daily expenses. Plus, if you’re planning to work or have any income streams, having a bank account becomes a must.

British expats will find the process fairly straight to the point. Big banks like NAB, CommBank, ANZ Bank, and Westpac often offer the convenience of opening an account online or by phone before you even leave the UK.

To kick off the process for an everyday account from outside Australia, you’ll need to pass the 100-point ID check—a common requirement among Australian banks. Different forms of ID score different points towards this total. However, once you’re in Australia, your passport is typically all you need.

Reaching out to your chosen bank ahead of time to check which documents you should prepare is wise. Usually, you’d want to have these on hand:

  • Your passport
  • Visa and any immigration documents
  • An Australian address
  • Your expected arrival date in Australia (if you’re not already there)
  • Details about your employment and salary.

Choose Where You Want To Live

Hobart in Tasmania

If you’re thinking about making the move Down Under, you’ve probably already got Sydney, Melbourne, or Perth in mind since they’re among the top picks for new expats. But if you’re on the hunt for something a bit easier on the wallet, there are heaps of other great places to consider.

Martin Lee from Pacific Prime Insurance says that Adelaide[9] is a huge hit with many Brits thanks to its affordability and tight-knit expat community. Or, if you’re after something with a more laid-back, country vibe, Hobart in Tasmania might just be your spot.

It’s a smart move to pop over to Australia a few times if you can, to get a feel for the place and check out potential homes to rent or buy in your favorite area.

And for those early days of planning from the UK, there are some really useful websites to kickstart your housing search from afar:

  • Realestate.com.au
  • Domain.com.au
  • Rent.com.au
  • Realestateview.com.au
  • Onthehouse.com.au

Just a heads up, you can buy a place in Australia even if you’re not a citizen, but just be aware there are a few rules and hoops to jump through.

men choosing where to livinvg in australia


Can I Work in Australia While Holding a Student Visa?
Yes, you can work in Australia on a student visa, but there are restrictions. Typically, you’re allowed to work up to 40 hours per fortnight during the academic semester and full-time during semester breaks. It’s important to check the latest visa conditions as these can change.
Is It Necessary to Have a Job Offer Before Applying for A Work-Stream Visa?
Not always. While having a job offer can make the visa process smoother for certain types of work visas (like employer-sponsored visas), skilled workers can apply for some visas based on their occupation, skills, and points without a job offer.
Do I Need to Live in Australia for A Certain Amount of Time Before I Can Apply for Citizenship?
Yes, typically you need to have lived in Australia on a valid Australian visa for four years immediately before applying, including one year as a permanent resident. There are exceptions and different requirements for certain situations, so it’s advisable to check the latest criteria from the Department of Home Affairs.
Can I Bring My Pet with Me When I Move to Australia?
Yes, but Australia has strict biosecurity laws. Pets must meet specific health requirements and undergo quarantine. The process includes vaccinations, health checks, and an application for an import permit. It’s a detailed process that can take several months.
How Do I Convert My UK Driving License to An Australian One?
The process varies by state in Australia but generally involves passing a written and sometimes a practical driving test. You’ll need to apply for a state driver’s license within three months of arrival. Some states require you to start as a provisional (P) driver, regardless of how long you’ve been driving in the UK.