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Moving to Australia

Your guide to expat life in the land down under

Want to move to Australia?

The promise of an endless summer sees Australia perform consistently well as a top destination for expats drawn in by the warmer climate. As a result, most expats feel physically healthier upon moving there. New residents can expect a warm welcome to add to the already warm weather. The laid-back, friendly Australian reputation is well earned, and newcomers usually settle quickly and make friends easily.

Expats in Australia enjoy a much better work-life balance, and a seemingly endless list of magnificent places to visit in their free time. Although prices are relatively high in the cities, expats are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. Melbourne in particular offers a taste of almost every world cuisine. The quality of food is reflective of the high quality of life down under. Expats with children also rate the country highly for education and children's development.

Most expats don't choose the Australian life to help progress their careers. But it’s one of the reasons they often end up staying long term. Expats are impressed with the salaries on offer in Australia, which make it easy to fund their adventures across the vast country.

Basic info about Australia

  • Population: About 26 million
  • Capital city: Canberra
  • Largest city: Sydney
  • Main language: English
  • Main religion: Christianity
  • Political system: Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
  • Time: There are 3 main time zones – Eastern (GMT+10), Central (GMT+9.5) and Western (GMT+8). In all states except Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, clocks move forward an hour in October and back an hour in April
  • Electricity: 230V, 50Hz. Plugs with 2 or 3 flat blades are used
  • Currency: Australian dollar (AUD)
  • International dialling code: +61
  • Emergency number: Dial 000 for police, fire and ambulance services. You'll find other 24-hour emergency numbers online and in your local phone directory
  • Road traffic: Drives on the left

Weather in Australia

Home to big cities such as Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, Australia's southern coast has the most pleasant weather. Temperatures average in the mid to high twenties (70°F to 80°F) between December and February. The northern and north-western regions have tropical climates with heavy rainfall and occasional monsoons in summer. The sparsely populated central region is hot and dry.

Winters in Australia, from June to August, are mild and sometimes rainy with temperatures rarely dropping below 10°C (50°F). Australia is known for its abundant sunshine, but it also has one of the world's highest skin cancer rates. Make sure you always wear sun protection.

Shipping to Australia

Australia's remote location means both air and sea freight are costly. With many of its major cities on the coast, the country's ports are efficient and well managed – and shipping goods by sea is usually hassle-free.

You can import household goods duty-free as long as you've owned them for 12 months. You may be asked to prove this, so take receipts and insurance papers when you go to collect your shipment.

Banned items

To protect its biodiversity, Australia has very strict import controls. Banned or restricted items include endangered plant and animal species, pesticides, drugs and narcotics, weapons, asbestos and tobacco products.


There are tight restrictions on importing pets. All cats and dogs have to be microchipped and vaccinated and will be quarantined on arrival for at least 10 days.

Top tips for Australia

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey think about living in Australia.

Consider the type of environment you wish to live in. Australian cities can be surprisingly suburban and long commuting can be involved, so do some research and have a good look around.
Be prepared for massive changes in the weather. It can be very hot, very cold or very wet!
Have a good work life balance so that you see as much of Australia as possible since it's such a big country. Too many expats make the mistake of not seeing enough of Australia due to work commitments.
Join a local business networking group and offer something for free to get to know other businesses. This is a good way to establish yourself initially as a trusted and friendly business.
Plan your accommodation as that was the hardest part for us especially if you are in a family. Take enough money to last at least 2 to 3 months as it can take that long to get a job.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

All other content is provided by, Globe Media Ltd and was last updated in September 2021. HSBC accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

This information is purely for orientation and to inspire further research, it does not constitute advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

Always remember to ensure you're aware of and comply with any laws in your host country or country of origin that apply to gift giving and bribery.

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