Tips for making a smooth move to Sydney

Sydney, Australia

When we moved to Australia nearly three years ago, it was a big move for our family but the opportunity to explore Australia was too good to miss out on! Whether you plan to move abroad or across the country, relocating to Sydney is a big decision. Whatever your reasons for moving, collecting information is a vital and beneficial part of the process. Making a move involves planning, resources, and determination; the following tips are provided to help ensure a smooth transition.

Getting to Know Sydney:

The Commonwealth of Australia includes six distinct states within two large mainland territories. The ‘business gateway’ to Australia is Sydney, well known for its international flavour, incredible shopping, beautiful beaches, historical landmarks, and expansive wine-country.  Public transportation makes for uncomplicated travelling around the area via a network of buses, trains, ferries, monorails, and trams. The Sydney Airport (Kingsford-Smith Airport), referred to SYD, is situated about ten minutes to the east of the city. An integrated systems of underground tunnels and highway helps connect the airport to the region.

Preliminary Visit:

Whether or not you have already landed employment, a preliminary trip to Sydney is advisable. If you are looking for a job you can take the opportunity to meet with people, present your resume, and get a feel for career opportunities. If you already have a position, this is the perfect time to scout the area, take a look at housing, schools, and get a better sense for what your move to Sydney will entail.

Checklists and Documents:

As information is gathered and your plans develop, start compiling a checklist. Jot down every detail so as not to overlook major and minor considerations. Continue adding to the list, working through items systematically. A small portable file (with dividers) will allow you to keep information and documents close at hand. Organize the tasks in your native country to make certain you have all official documents. Visas, passports, important records, and identification cards need to be readily accessible. (The Australian immigration office can help clarify visas requirements.)

Sydney, Australian Flag

Packing, Shipping, and Storing Household Items:

Shipping household goods can be very expensive. However, in the long run, this generally proves less expensive than replacing your belongings once you arrive in Sydney. Transporting items internationally involves potential risks, so it is important to research companies and check reputation ratings. Prices are typically based on cubic dimensions, weight, or a combination of the two. Downsize wherever possible; it is well worth looking into mobile self-storage if you plan to store household goods while looking for temporary housing.

Travel Insurance:

Travel insurance is strongly recommended, covering the period between leaving your original home and settling into your new life. Health insurance that covers you and your family is necessary until you receive Australian coverage. Additionally, it is advisable to insure your possessions during transit.

International Moving:

Moving from one continent to another requires the shipment of items by air or sea. Therefore, you will need movers in both locations. The summer months (January through March) are usually not the best time to move; as this is the peak holiday period and prices may be more limited and costly.  If you plan to look for housing once you arrive, it is advisable to reserve temporary space either in a hotel or a serviced apartment while you search for something more permanent.

Sydney harbourside, Australia

Housing and Rentals:

Serviced apartments, rooms, and apartments afford an excellent short-term solution during the transitional settling period. Many apartments provide fifteen minute weekend viewings. During the week it is possible to schedule an appointment with a real estate agent. When renting a unit, estimate the cost of the monthly rent; take the weekly price times fifty-two weeks, then divide by twelve months. Most rent is paid by the month or fortnight. While several properties allow credit card payments, you will be assessed a nominal transaction fee.

Job Hunting:

Job listing on websites may help in searching for a new job. While many locals suggest using a recruiter, this is just one of several options. In Australia, employers are required to place 9% of the employees pay into a superannuation plan, similar to 401Ks.  If you plan remain in Australia until retirement, you will receive this money. On the other hand, if you move away from the country, you will receive the accumulated amount minus taxes. Typically, employee compensation includes superannuation along with your salary so, during negotiations, be explicit about what you expect in the way of a salary, and clarify whether or not the superannuation is included in the offer.

Phone Plans, Appliances, and Internet Services:

The primary phone service deliverers include: Optus, Telstra, and Vodafone. A good option when you first arrive is to acquire a pay-as-you-go plan. Later on, a monthly plan will require documentation in the form a rental agreement, a passport, and/or an Australian credit card. In Australia, each type of documentation receives a point value; therefore you will need to determine each provider’s requirements by checking their website when you are ready to establish a phone plan.

Home internet providers include: TPG, iiNet, Internode, and iPrimus. Once you’ve selected your residence decide on the services that match your needs and buy a plan, as it may take several weeks for a technician to complete the installation.

Purchasing a Car:

Vehicles in Australia are expensive. Aside from getting past sticker shock, the process is usually fairly direct. New and used cars can be purchased from the dealer or privately from the owner. There are companies that inspect cars prior to purchase, a service that is strongly recommended. In order for a vehicle to be driven legally, you will need to obtain pink/green slips and hold a valid driver’s license.


You will need to establish your own private health insurance before you can receive a visa. With private medical insurance, referrals are not required. Doctor visits are paid up front, and then you must submit an itemized claim to your insurance company.

Sydney Opera House and harbour, Australia


Sydney provides every type of educational service imaginable. Students may attend public, religious, private, coeducational, and independent schools. Following the completion of high school, graduates can matriculate to a wide variety of trade schools, colleges, and universities.

Banking in Australia:

It is important to investigate the banking options in Sydney, as services and rates differ. The major banks in Australia include the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ Bank and the National Australia Bank. Most banks welcome new customers and attempt to meet financial needs accordingly. To open an account, you will need proof of your residential address, three months’ worth of previous bank statements, and a certified copy of your passport.

Final Considerations:

Relocating to Sydney requires planning and diligence. As with any major endeavour, acquiring essential information can save money, frustration, and disappointment. A final tip for making a smooth move to Sydney is to relax and enjoy the experience of a lifetime!

By Natasha von Geldern

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One Reply to “Tips for making a smooth move to Sydney”

  1. Kathy Nunn

    Sydney is a fantastic place! It’s the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia with an enviable reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful and liveable cities. Thank you for sharing these interesting tips on moving to this great city. There are a number of stunning coastal walks that allow you to take in the breathtaking natural beauty of Sydney Harbor.


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