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Exiting the EU & Setting Up Down Under

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

Moving to Australia had been in the back of our minds for 6 or 7 years. We are outdoor people and the Irish weather was sending us to the brink of depression. It had always been one of those “I’ll regret not doing it later” conundrums. So once we were hitched and had finances and work experience behind us, emigrating was a no brainer. We just needed to execute the whole thing, and bring our dog Roa of course. Non-negotiable.

In the end I was pleasantly surprised at how little work is involved in human emigration to Australia, visa, flight, hand in notice and go. The struggle is leaving friends, community and family behind. My approach to this was to be objective, not look too far down the line and not to make any conclusions. This limited the emotion and pain of leaving, but there were still pangs of realization at the key goodbye mile stones.

A different story is Canine emigration and a novel could be written on the process. That novel would be a horror Stephen King would be proud of. Roa, our 6 year old Boston Terrier, went through a near year long preparation process ultimately failing the final blood test one week out meaning no travel on D-day. This was a huge kick to the gut, particularly for Lucy who had meticulously project managed the move and was undone by nothing more than bad luck. There was no time to cry about it, we were off in a week and Roa would follow a couple of months later. Boo.

Lucky for us my cousin Laura had made the move to Australia years ago and settled well there, starting a family and living in Geelong, an hour from Melbourne. They were happy to support us on arrival and this took away a lot of stress and meant we could have a base when we landed as well as catch up with them and the kids.

We landed bright and early on a Friday morning and with the whirlwind of leaving home and saying goodbyes, we had literally nothing planned for our first few days in Australia. There was plenty of red tape to keep us busy, and I’d recommend thrashing through this as quickly as possible because it was painful and we spent a lot of time discovering rules, fees and charges. Here’s a condensed version of what we did to set ourselves up:

  • Mobile Network– Telstra Prepaid, all we needed was a passport

  • Bank Account– NAB simple to set up with ID & address to use

  • Transfer of funds– TransferWise (via Euro N26 account) DO NOT transfer direct from your bank to Australian bank or you will be shelling out. Remember this takes days to hit your Oz account so best get on it asap. Also, no need to transfer all your funds.

  • Buying a car– easy to buy privately via CarSales website. Viewing, offer, transfer.

  • Car Registration (rego) caused a delay as VicRoads (county council) appointments were booked out for 2 weeks. This was also far more expensive than expected, it is essentially your Road Tax + Stamp Duty (% of vehicle value) + the lowest level of Car Insurance you’ve never heard of covering injuries to other people. Long process.

  • Car Insurance proper– AAMI, you realistically need to have this, but not legally I believe. When you add it to the mandatory insurance you paid to VicRoads it ends up similar to Ireland (high).

  • Buying a caravan– easy to buy via CaravanSales website. This also required a trip to VicRoads to transfer the ownership. Rego (registration) needs to be paid on this too as well as more Stamp Duty if the caravan is of significant value, ours wasn’t.

Fascinating stuff right? Wrong. Australia is a country of rules regulations and once you think you’re done there is usually some sort of charge that will leave you annoyed. I appreciate there is a trade-off between quality of living and enforcement of rules and taxes but there is some work to do on communications and positioning that will create a friendlier user experience. The above took two weeks to complete during which time we laid low, had a few day trips around Melbourne and acclimatized to the new surroundings before hitting the dusty trails.

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