How to set up your new Aussie life
The must-knows for setting up a new life Down Under; where to find everything from a dirt-cheap sofa to tonight’s chicken dinner.
No one expects you to Zoolander walk right into a new country and immediately find stability and routine. Things like a home, a job, a phone aren’t exactly as thrilling as attending obscure festivals or taking off on a road trip – which is why sometimes they can be side-lined.
That being said, there’s no need to prolong the discomfort if you come across shortcuts. And that, friends, is exactly what we’re doing.
In the interest of armpit-lifting you onto your feet, here’s a cheat sheet for how to get the basic necessities sorted Down Under.
Home is where the heart (/bed) is
Of course, you could side-step this dilemma from the outset by just staying in a hostel instead. In which case, take your pick from any of these.
On the other hand, if you’re ready to settle in and build a home environment, this country is full of options.
For a new lease, hit up realestate.com.au or Domain. For an existing lease and household, where you’re looking to take over a room, hit up Flatmate Finders or Facebook groups. In every city, there are Facebook groups dedicated to housemate replacement. For instance, check out these groups for Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney potentials.
Lock up your cash money
The old sock-full-of-cash-under-the-mattress move doesn’t really fly in a hostel situation. (Read: we highly recommend not doing it.) If you’re visiting Oz on a Working Holiday Visa, opening a bank account should be high on the to-dos. Your employer won’t be able to pay you until you’re set up, so if you want to get hired, be sure to get this done.
We agree, it isn’t a fun process, but it’s pretty straightforward. There are just a few things to remember: you will probably be charged if you try to withdraw cash from an ATM that’s not your chosen bank, but luckily, you won’t get charged for withdrawing cash during a transaction. Meaning, if you pay for a treat with EFTPOS (debit card or credit card), just ask the cashier if they’re cool with additional cash out.
Lastly, all you need in order to open an account is your passport and proof of address – something your hostel should be about to hook you up with.
Read up about the respective bank options here.
Furniture, appliances and other household spoils
When it comes to finding new digs for your house, there are two solutions that locals will recommend straight up: driving at 5 kilometres per hour through the suburbs during a road-side collection, or binge browsing Gumtree and Facebook groups dedicated exclusively to used goods. (Hot tip: those are always city-specific and titled something along the lines of ‘Buy, Swap, Sell’. For example, this one for Sydneysiders.)
The primary problem with furniture and appliances is picking it up. If you don’t own a car and can’t borrow one, we recommend Airtasker or get public transport there and catch an Uber back.
Hook up your phone
There are three major mobile phone (or ‘cell phone’, if you prefer) networks in Oz: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. There are many other smaller companies, and while they could be cheaper, they’ll also potentially be more difficult to locate and navigate.
If you’re not a fan of ‘eeny meeny miini moe’, we recommend basing your choice on which network best covers the areas you’ll be checking out Down Under. Each network provider has their own ‘coverage map’, which you’ll find on their websites.
The cheapest way forward from here, is to buy or bring an unlocked phone with you, and pop into a flagship store of your (wisely) chosen provider, where they’ll help you match a sim card. Just make sure you bring ID with you, because you need it to set up your sim (and you’ll need it for the pub detour on the way home).
Getting a job
For those of you hoping to make some coin (in between trips to the outback or dazzling white-sand beaches), you’ve come to the right place. The sky’s the limit when it comes to work opportunities in Oz. (As long as, you know, you’re capable of achieving the task at hand and people like having you around.)
Here’s something we prepared earlier: a 5-step guide to finding work on your working holiday visa.
Most of the cities in Australia have sweet public transport set ups, so depending on where you plonk yourself, a car may not be a necessary investment. But, let’s face it, when the landscape is this vast and bright, road trips are a main attraction.
You have two choices: rent or buy.
As far as renting goes, JUCY are our pick of the bunch. They have enough options to cater for the smallest to biggest of operations. Count your cling-ons and get booking STAT.
Buying a cheap car off Gumtree, and flipping it after you’re done (maybe even to another backpacker), is a common trick. Just as long as you know what to look for in a working vehicle. Be safe and if you don’t know what you’re doing, take someone who does.