Moving to Australia from the US

The land down under is an enticing place. Lush rainforests, stellar work-life balance, and nice hot weather await anyone brave enough to move from one hemisphere to another. But before you receive a warm embrace from the verdant greenery, golden beaches, and crystal blue seas, you’ll need to deal with the red tape.

As you can tell from the existence of Nothing to Declare – a documentary show following the trials and tribulations of Australian border security, which has been airing for 15 years – Australia takes its borders seriously. You’ll have to go through the correct channels, or you risk being detained, deported, and maybe restricted from returning.

Despite being an English-speaking country, if you go there without knowing what you’re in for, you might be in for some good old-fashioned culture shock. But fear not! We are here to help guide and instruct you in any way we can. Here is our comprehensive guide when it comes to moving to or living in Australia.

If you’d like to find out how much it costs to ship your things to Australia, fill out our short webform, and our professional shipping partners will get in touch.

Moving to Australia

The sunny Sydney harbor is a bustling business and tourism center, wrapped up in a cool breeze

Cost of shipping to Australia

Australia is commonly classified as an island, which means a lot of the country’s goods go in and out via boats. Australia are clearly pros at receiving cargo, so you should have faith in their ability to handle your incoming goods with care.

According to Admiral Insurance, the worth of an average household’s contents adds up to around $53,000. Using this figure, coupled with the WorldFreightRates.com estimates based off of a 20ft container, we can calculate the potential cost of a shipment from the US to Australia. Durations were sourced from www.searates.com.

OriginDestination20ft Container CostDuration
Los Angeles, USAMelbourne, Australia$1,056.023-4 weeks
Los Angeles, USASydney, Australia$1,076.503-4 weeks
Los Angeles, USAAdelaide, Australia$1,066.264-5 weeks
New York City, USAMelbourne, Australia$2,672.915-6 weeks
New York City, USASydney, Australia$2,724.795-6 weeks
New York City, USAAdelaide, Australia$2,698.855-6 weeks

Data updated as of August 2019

Please note: these container shipping costs exclude typical add-ons such as door-to-door delivery, professional packing/unpacking, and basic insurance cover. Our shipping suppliers normally incorporate these services into their prices, so expect some discrepancy between the rates given here and the quotes you receive. These estimates should be used as an indication only.

Cost of flying your goods to Australia

But what if you can’t wait that long? What if you haven’t yet adopted the “no worries” Australian attitude, and are instead operating on New York time, where things need to be done in five minutes, or it takes too long. If you’re in this much of a rush, you could always fly your things over.

We’ll use the same $53,000 benchmark as before to figure out the logistics behind having your belongings soar across the skies to land in your backyard.

These estimates are based off of a single meter-cubed 250kg container of household goods. Keep in mind, it’s a lot harder to transport a heavier shipment by air than by sea.

OriginDestinationCostDuration
Los AngelesSydney$2,286.311-3 days
Los AngelesAdelaide$2,286.311-3 days
New YorkSydney$2,526.971-3 days
New YorkAdelaide$2,526.971-3 days

Data updated as of August 2019

Cost of living in Australia

Now that you’ve landed and all your stuff is safe in your new home, you’ll have to start looking at the cost of living in Australia. While it’s not a significant amount, you’ll find that Australia is cheaper than America overall, with around a 25% drop in living costs. This data comes from Numbeo.com, and is measured in US dollars.

MetricAustraliaUSA
Basic groceries (assortment of milk, bread, eggs, cheese)$11.93$20.01
Coffee$2.96$4.08
Basic restaurant meal$13.59$15
Single beer$3.93$2.84
Movie ticket$12.23$12

Data updated as of August 2019

Public transport in Australia

Australia has some big urban centers, and with every urban center comes public transport. Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Adelaide all have their own transit systems that we’ll be looking at, but most Australian cities have a train system or buses.

Nothing in this world is perfect, but these systems all have pretty positive feedback from citizens and tourists alike. A big plus for these cities is their variety. Trains and buses are commonplace, but Melbourne and Adelaide have a robust tram system, and Sydney’s harbor is complemented by cheap ferries that are a nice alternative to the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge.

CityCostAvailabilityQualitySpeed
Sydney★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
Melbourne★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
Canberra★★★★★★★★★★★★★★
Adelaide★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★★

These ratings are based on online reviews and interviews with citizens

Australian climate

Australia is known for being blisteringly hot. In some areas, this isn’t wrong, but it’s not widely right. With such an enormous landmass, having one consistent climate across the whole country would be unheard of – it would be like Texas having the same climate as Minnesota.

So, yes, some areas can have borderline unacceptable heat. This past summer, temperatures hit an absurd 48.9 degrees in Port Augusta. “Oh that’s not too bad,” you say, “that’s actually very cold!” Then you remember that Australia uses the metric system, and that 48.9°C is equal to 120°F. Then you realise that that’s almost halfway to the boiling point of water.

But some parts of Australia are nice and temperate! In some places down south, it even snows in the winter! Rain isn’t rare, especially in Victoria (the southernmost state,) and – even though 70% of the country is classified as semi-arid or worse – there are plenty of lovely wetlands and rainforests.

CityAvg. summer temp. (°C)Avg. fall temp. (°C)Avg. winter temp. (°C)Avg. spring temp. (°C)
Sydney23181319
Perth25191317

This data was found at www.currentresults.com

Australian expat healthcare

Australia has some of the greatest healthcare in the world. According to the Better Life Index – a metric that measures various important aspects of a country’s lifestyle – Australia has an incredible 9.4 when it comes to its healthcare. This puts it at third in the world, just behind Canada and New Zealand.

This quality extends to natural-born citizens and expats alike. While private insurance is recommended, part of your taxes go toward the nation’s healthcare system. This system allows a good-quality baseline of healthcare for any person living in Australia.

Moving to Melbourne

Australia’s second biggest urban center, Melbourne, is a more relaxed city

Working in Australia

If you’re still working-age, what kind of money will you be making? Before we touch on that, we’ll have a quick look at the rules of working in Australia.

Australia has some of the strictest borders of any country, in order to protect its environment and citizens. You’ll need a specific visa to even visit the country, let alone to work and live. These aren’t too tricky to apply for, but they’re absolutely crucial. Living or working in Australia without a visa could mean deportation or even being stopped from entering the country.

Now we’ll have a look at the average salaries of an Australian worker.

CountryAverage monthly salary
Australia$3,014.98
USA$3,138.99

Data updated as of August 2019

Living in Australia

Finally, where will this money be going? What kinds of bills will you need to pay, and how much will you have left over for fun?

As seen above, the monthly Australian salary is slightly less than the average US salary, but looking at the table below, you can see that outgoing costs are also slightly less. This means that your income and costs balance each other out to around the same level as they would be in America.

CountryAverage rent (1 bedroom flat)Average utility costs
Australia$1,146.48$135.93
USA$1,288.27$152.91

Data updated as of August 2019

Australia overall

As you can hopefully see from this article, Australia is an amazing country worth moving to. If you’re at all interested in moving from hemisphere to hemisphere, fill out our form to get free quotes on moving your possessions from our professional suppliers. Safe travels!