Moving to Australia from the US

Moving to the land down under? Congratulations, it’s a unique corner of the Earth with everything from lush rainforests to golden beaches, through to vast deserts and bustling cities.

There are a few things you’ll need to sort out before you get to experience all of this however – and if you’ve ever given Australia’s border rules a quick glance, you’ll know they’re pretty strict.

We’ve written this guide to give you everything you’ll need to know about your move, including the cost of shipping, healthcare in Australia, how to transfer money, and finding work once you’re there.

If you’re keen to find out how much it’ll cost you to ship your belongings to Australia, fill in our easy-to-understand form. We’ll put you in touch with our trusted shipping partners once you’ve entered a few details. They’ll get back to you with free, bespoke shipping quotes for you to compare.

Cost of shipping to Australia from the US

Australia is the world’s smallest continent (it’s still a massive place), but it’s often easier to think of it as one big island. That naturally means the goods and items making it into the country arrive either by boat or plane – both of which you can choose to ship your belongings.

Although shipping costs vary, the table below shows a rough idea of what to expect. The rates were sourced from iContainers, and are based on the port-to-port transportation of a 20 ft container of used furniture worth $40,000 (the typical value of the contents of a three-bedroom home).

OriginDestination20ft Container CostDuration
Los AngelesMelbourne$5,0643-4 weeks
Los AngelesPerth$6,1383-4 weeks
Los AngelesSydney$4,9324-5 weeks
New York CityMelbourne$5,9345-6 weeks
New York CityPerth$6,4575-6 weeks
New York CitySydney$5,5975-6 weeks

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. This information is up to date, as of January 2023.

Cost of flying goods to Australia from the US

If you want to get your goods to Australia fast, then air freight is the best and most convenient option. But this comes with an added cost, so be prepared to pay more to fly your goods to Australia — air freight is roughly 12–16 times more expensive than container shipping.

To get a rough idea of how much air freight would cost you, take a look at the prices in the table below.

These figures come from Freightos, and they’re based on 250 kg of household goods (typically valued at around $40,000). We’ve outlined the average cost of flying goods from both New York and Los Angeles to Melbourne.

Los AngelesMelbourne$4,4122–4 days
Los AngelesPerth$3,4902–4 days
Los AngelesSydney$3,7142–4 days
New YorkMelbourne$4,9562–6 days
New YorkPerth$5,2152–6 days
New YorkSydney$5,5602–6 days

Data updated as of January 2023

Moving to Melbourne

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

Healthcare in Australia

Healthcare in Australia is world class, with the Better Life Index giving the country an incredible 9.3 score. That puts Australia firmly in third place for healthcare globally behind Canada and New Zealand — no mean feat indeed.

The quality of healthcare extends to natural-born citizens and expats alike. You’ll give 2% of your taxable income toward the nation’s excellent healthcare system, which allows a high-quality baseline of care for any person living in Australia.

We still recommend private healthcare for expats moving to Australia. That way, you can absolutely guarantee not only the highest quality, but also the quickest access to healthcare in an emergency.

So before your big move to Australia, it's wise to think about medical cover for when you're out there.

We've partnered with Cigna for this reason, who provides private medical insurance to people living in Australia and around the world. With four levels of annual coverage to choose from and extra modules for more flexibility, Cigna will sort you out with a plan that suits your needs.

Start building a customized plan with a free quote to protect your most important assets — you and your family.

Cost of living in Australia

You’ll want to get some idea of how much it costs to live in Australia before you make your move.

Thankfully, the cost of living is similar to what it is in the US, with a few minor differences. For example, the price of utilities and gasoline are slightly higher, and groceries and restaurants are slightly cheaper.

The table below shows the cost of living in Australia compared to the US, measured in US dollars.

Basic groceries (assortment of milk, bread, eggs, cheese)$16.15$19.71
Gasoline (1 liter)$1.39$1
Basic restaurant meal$15.93$17
Single beer$4.35$2.65
Basic monthly utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment$194.43$180.82

Data updated as of January 2023

Transferring money to Australia

If you’re thinking of moving to Australia, you’ll probably need to convert some of your US dollars into Australian dollars.

That’s why we’ve teamed up with Wise, an easy-to-use online international money transfer service which uses the real exchange rate, and charges low fees.

How much could you save? Well, its service can be up to eight times cheaper than high street banks.

Join more than 7 million people and start using Wise today.

Working in Australia

You’ll need to take a quick look at the rules of working in Australia if you’re planning on moving there.

The country has some of the strictest borders around, put in place to protect its environment and citizens.

You’ll need a specific visa to even visit the country, let alone to work and live, but thankfully these aren’t too tricky to apply for. Living or working in Australia without a visa could mean deportation or even being stopped from entering the country.


Getting a work visa for Australia

There are a wide variety of work visas US citizens can apply for, which is by far the most common way to move to Australia.

As a US citizen, you can apply for the Working Holiday visa (subclass 417), and the Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462).

The Working Holiday visa is particularly popular for backpackers, who often find themselves picking fruit to supplement their stay in Australia. In order to qualify for the working holiday visa, you must be between the ages of 18 and 30.

A business visa is another type of working visa, but as it only allows three 90-day stays in a year, it’s not ideal for those looking to permanently relocate to Australia.


Average salary in Australia

The average salary for full-time work in Australia is $47,438 (USD), as of January 2023, which is slightly lower than the average salary in the US — $58,260.

Salaries vary a lot between industries and locations, and if you’re looking for the highest salaries in Australia, it’s worth searching for work in Sydney, Melbourne, or Perth.


Income tax in Australia

Like many other countries, income tax in Australia is progressive — the more you earn, the more you’ll pay.

An individual will be taxed according to their assessable income, which is money earned from salaries, dividends from shares, renting, etc., and what tax deductions are removed from their total income.

So if someone earns $80,000 but has $10,000 allowed in tax deductions, the income they can be taxed on is $70,000.

Taxable incomeTax rate
Up to AUD$18,200 ($12,674)0%
AUD$18,201 – $45,000 ($12,675 – $31,338)19%
AUD$45,001 – $120,000 ($31,339 – $83,568)32.5% plus a flat fee of AUD$5,092 ($3,546)
AUD$120,001 – $180,000 ($83,569 – $125,353)37% plus a flat fee of AUD$29,467 ($20,521)
Over AUD$180,001 ($125,354)45% plus a flat fee of AUD$51,667 ($35,981)

Job hunting in Australia

If you need to find a job in Australia before you move, there are plenty of sites you can use to search for a role you’ll love.

SEEK is the best place to start, then Jora and CareerOne. All of these are excellent resources that help people find jobs across the country.

Climate in Australia

Thinking of Australia usually means imagining high temperatures, bright sunshine, and clear, blue skies — and this is typically accurate.

It’s a big nation though, and that means there’s plenty of variety in climates. Central Australia is an arid desert, but you can head southeast and southwest for the slightly cooler coastal areas.

The cities in these regions benefit from milder winters, and temperatures rarely drop below 44°F. Summers are hot with average highs of 86°F, so be prepared with plenty of sunblock.

Further north in Australia gets much more tropical — that means high humidity in summer and warm, drier weather in winter. Darwin, for example, has an average high above 86°F all year round.

Don’t forget that Australia’s seasons all happen in the opposite months to countries in the Northern Hemisphere. January is the peak summer month, for example, which will feel a bit strange for anyone unfamiliar with a beach trip after Christmas!


Does it snow in Australia?

Yes, which sounds unbelievable given Australia’s reputation for extreme heat, myriad beaches, and tropical rainforests.

The Australian Alps — a 43,370mi² mountain range in the southeast, where you can go skiing, hiking, and mountain climbing — has truckloads of snow.

And you’ll get some snow showers in Canberra in the winter months — Tasmania too.

Keep your eyes peeled in Kosciuszko National Park when the mercury drops to catch a glimpse of kangaroos hopping around in the snow.

The best places to live in Australia

Melbourne: best for culture

Melbourne is Australia’s second-largest city, but its reputation for cool is certainly the biggest. Multicultural, friendly, creative — Melbourne boasts more reasons to live there than you can shake a stick at.

Shopping involves independent outlets, vintage stores, markets brimming with local art, and when you’re ready to cool off, check out the numerous craft breweries. This is a city proud to still wave the hipster flag.

Into your food? Melbourne delivers in spades, and then some. Brunswick is the place to go for pure foodie heaven — Rude Boy Burgers provides the tastiest patties around, Choukette French Bakery is like being teleported into the best Paris has to offer, and Scopri is Italian cuisine elevated to ridiculous heights.

Melbourne also boasts enough entertainment to purge the concept of boredom forever. Live theater, music, fashion shows, and comedy clubs are abundant, and it’s almost impossible to see it all within a lifetime. No harm in trying though right?


Brisbane: best for families

Family life can be expensive, so with Brisbane being more affordable than both Sydney and Melbourne, it’s a great place to save some money.

And thankfully, you won’t be doing this at the expense of your quality of life. Take the kids to see the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary for a who’s who of Australian wildlife. Then visit the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, which are especially beautiful in the spring when the flowers are in full bloom.

The gardens are located on Mount Coo-tha, which is an excellent spot for hiking, cycling, and other outdoor activities. Visit the Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium in the evening if you’re a fan of stargazing — it offers truly spectacular views of the Milky Way.

Brisbane itself is brimming with family friendly entertainment, so you’ll never be short of things to do over the weekend.

And the city boasts that all-important aspect for raising a family — great education options. Schools here are of the highest quality, and there’s top choices starting at kindergarten right through to University.


Sydney: best for work

Australia’s biggest city is comfortably the best place to live for fulfilling career opportunities.

It’s got plenty to offer in finance, media, and exciting startups — with the likes of Google, Microsoft, and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia among the best known.

All these work opportunities do mean Sydney is the most expensive city to live in Australia, but the salaries are also the highest. Its average GDP per capita is AUD$84,700 ($59,330), which is some leap over the closest average in Perth at AUD$72,800 ($50,994).


7 quick facts about Australia

  • Australia is both a continent and a country
  • There are over 50 million kangaroos in Australia — roughly double the amount of people
  • The iconic Great Barrier Reef is the biggest of its kind in the world
  • Australia hosts some of the world’s deadliest animals, including the most venomous snake on the planet (the Inland Taipan) and the equally deadly blue-ringed octopus
  • Indigenous Australians have existed on the continent for over 65,000 years
  • 90% of the population lives by the coast
  • Tasmania has the cleanest air on the planet


Next steps

You’re ready to make your move to Australia! With its incredible weather, endless opportunities for adventure, and breathtaking nature, you couldn’t have made a better choice.

You can take the next step by filling in this short form to get free shipping quotes from our trusted suppliers. They’ll move your belongings with confidence and care, wherever you choose to live.