Moving to Australia: A Guide to Moving from the US

Moving to Australia is a big decision. Do you want to join the 200,000+ US citizens living and working in Australia? With this guide, we hope to make your move as easy as possible.

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Moving To Australia

For a long time now, Australia has been a popular place to relocate to. Its sheer size makes it instantly appealing. From incredible cities like Melbourne and Sydney to popular expatriate destinations like Adelaide and Brisbane, Australia has its urban metropolises and stunning natural landscapes. Of course, everybody knows about famous natural sites, like the Great Barrier Reef, the Blue Mountains, and Uluru, but day-to-day life in Australia is also excellent. 

With sunshine, a healthy outdoor lifestyle, good work prospects, and fair pay, skilled professionals are lured to Australia. 

You may be wondering, "How to move to Australia?" Then, you're in the right place. Whether you're just beginning to think about moving to Aus or have already decided on a life in the southern hemisphere, this guide will help clarify things.

About Australia

Australia – or as it is often referred to, OZ or the Land Down Under – just so happens to be one of the most popular holiday and emigration destinations in the world. Each and every year, thousands of people travel to and from Australia for numerous reasons; whether it is to relocate with family, work, study abroad, or to enjoy a relaxing holiday.

Australia Quick Facts
Population:24.13 million
Capital City:Canberra
Largest City:Sydney
Currency:Australian dollar (AUD)
Timezone:UTC+8:00, UTC+8:45,
UTC+9:30, UTC+10:00,
Date Format:dd/mm/yyyy
Dialling Code:+61

Australia is a unique and diverse country in many ways, including but certainly not limited to the culture, climate, geography, and history. The country’s broad diversity is reflected in its food, lifestyle, cultural practices and experience; making it a one-of-a-kind destination.

How to Move to Australia

Want to move to Australia? It's a big decision. It's easier to move to Australia if you have a skilled trade or significant experience in your field.

Around 70% of people starting immigration applications either fail or give up. Therefore you must meticulously organize your visas, finances, and application.

Other considerations when moving to Australia include:

How to Move to Australia from the US

Around 200,000 to 300,000 US citizens live in Australia, but why are they moving to Australia? Excellent healthcare, quality of life, and a better work-life balance are alluring factors for US expats.

US citizens can migrate to Australia provided they meet one of Australia's visa subclass requirements:

  • General Skilled Migration (GSM)
  • Employer-sponsored visas
  • Distinguished talent visas
  • Student and graduate visas
  • Business visas
  • Family visa

Requirements for moving to Australia

Understanding how to move to Australia from the US requires a lot of thought. Why are you moving? What will you do there? Understanding the requirements for moving to Australia is critical to your success.

Aside from tourist visas, there are three main visa categories, these include:

  • Studying and training visas
  • Family and partner visas
  • Working and skilled visas

These categories have numerous subclasses; you can see all the specific subclasses here on the Australian Department of Immigration's website. In addition, a handy visa-finding tool makes it easier to find the correct visa for you. The seven main visa types are:

  • Working Holiday Visa
  • Skilled Work Visa (sponsored or nominated)
  • Skilled Work Visa (not sponsored or nominated)
  • Distinguished Talent Visa
  • Business Innovation and Investment Visa
  • Parent or Child Family Member Visa
  • Partner or Spouse Visa

The working holiday visa (subclass 417) allows 18 to 30-year-old applicants to enjoy a 12-month stay in Australia. You can travel and find work to support yourself.

If you are moving to Australia for work, there are more than 20 different work-related visas you can apply for. The skilled nominated visa (subclass 190) allows skilled workers to live and work in Australia as permanent residents; this visa will enable you to sponsor eligible relatives for their permanent residence. The skilled independent visa (subclass 189) also falls under GMS and follows the points-tested stream. This visa allows workers with valuable skills to live and work permanently in Australia. 

The distinguished talent visa (subclass 124) allows individuals to work, study in Australia, and stay permanently. To obtain this visa, you must have internationally recognized talents or outstanding achievements in a specific field.

Consider the business innovation and investment visa (subclass 188) if you have specific business talents. With this visa, you can own and manage a business in Australia. You can also conduct business activities and invest in or undertake entrepreneurial activities in Australia. 

 The parent (subclass 103) and child (subclass 101) visas are self-explanatory. The parent visa allows you to settle in Australia if you are the parent of a settled Australian citizen or permanent resident. The partner visa (subclasses 309 and 100) allows the partner or spouse of an Australian permanent resident or citizen to live in Australia.

What is the points system?

Some Australian visas require applicants to complete a points test. This test is used to determine whether an individual will be beneficial to the Australian economy. The test considers the age of the application, work experience, English proficiency, and, if applicable, their partner's credentials. To pass the points test, you must score more than 65.

For example, those with less than three years of work experience will score 0 points, whereas eight or more years will score 15 points. A bachelor's degree is given 15 points, whereas a Ph.D. will earn you 20 points. The optimal age for applicants is between 25 and 33 years old (30 points) compared with 40-45-year-olds who score 15 points.

Benefits of moving to Australia

For many, the benefits of moving to Australia far outweigh any negatives.

High quality of life is one of the benefits of moving to Australia. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit's (EIU) Global Liveability Index, Melbourne ranked joint 10th in terms of best cities to live in 2022. Quality of life, in general, is determined by several factors, including healthcare, financial stability, and general happiness.

 Australia offers migrants a place to create a better work-life balance. Though working hours are increasing, it's a federal law that employees are entitled to two weeks of sick leave and four weeks of annual leave.  

 Australia is also a vibrantly multicultural country. With this diversity comes an assortment of fascinating cultures and customs. One in four Australians were born overseas, and around 20% of Aussies speak another language other than English. So Australia is somewhere you can embrace differences.

 Australia has a strong economy with a variety of employment opportunities. As a result, Australia offers economic potential for overseas visitors with the right qualifications and experience.

 For many moving to Australia, healthcare and education are big priorities. The CEOWorld Magazine ranked Australia's healthcare system at number six globally in 2021. In addition, domestic and international students regard the country's education system highly. With free education at government schools, their system accommodates all income levels. According to the QS World University Rankings, Australia also has six universities in the top 100.

 Any list of the top 10 reasons to relocate to Australia would only be complete with a mention of the nation's beautiful natural environment. Australia has beaches, deserts, rainforests, mountains, and more. Its vast and diverse landscape means there is always somewhere unique to visit and live. 

Moving to Australia for work & the cost of living

One of the most common ways to move to Australia is for work. Australia seeks individuals to add to its economy, culture, and everyday life. However, with a population of only 25 million, Australia often faces critical shortages in specific fields of work. In 2022 Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the following jobs as being above high demand:

  • Civil engineers
  • Construction managers
  • Early childhood teachers
  • Nurses
  • ICT specialists
  • Software and application programmers
  • Electricians
  • Chefs
  • Child carers
  • Age and disability careers

Other high-demand jobs include university lecturers, management consultants, plumbers, solicitors, actuaries, and chemists.

Some of the highest paying and in-demand jobs in Australia are:

  • Computer programmers
  • Marketing managers
  • Registered nurses
  • Software developers
  • Business analysts
  • IT managers
  • Aged caregivers
  • Construction managers
  • Project managers
  • Human resource managers
  • Psychologists

Cost of Living

Of course, judging the cost of living is a highly individual concept with no one size fits all figure. However, the estimated cost of living for just the bare essentials for an individual is around 51,816 Australian dollars (roughly US$34,667) and around $92,388 (US$61,809) for a family of four.

The following table shows a breakdown of living costs in seven popular Australian cities (all figures are in Australian Dollars). Though they mostly have similar costs of living, Canberra, Australia's capital, and Sydney are the most expensive in terms of rent.

AdelaideBrisbaneCanberraHobart MelbournePerthSydney
Rent per month (1 bedroom) in the city centre$2,121.18$2,491.81$2,734.86$1,325.00$2,176.12$2410.03$2,987.82
Essential utilities (electricity, heating, cooling, water, garbage) for 85m2 apartment$445.36$361.18$300.00$251.85$251.85$327.31$262.38
An Inexpensive meal in a restaurant$35.00$25.00$40.00$25.00$25.00$26.00$24.00
Monthly bus ticket$110.00$208.70$150.00$91.45$162.00$168.00$217.39

While it is expensive to live in Australia, salaries are higher. The average annual salary is around 68,000 AUD (USD$ 45,488). The following figures show the average salaries by profession in Australian dollars: 

  • School Teacher - 70 000 – 160 000
  • Registered Nurse - 62 000 – 87 000
  • Design Engineer - 90 000 – 140 000
  • Real Estate Agent - 55 000 – 115 000
  • Junior Architect – 65,000 – 85,0000

Another factor you must consider is the cost of getting yourself and your belongings to Australia. Find out more about sending your belongings abroad using My Baggage. 

Where to move to/live in Australia

You may be wondering where to move to in Australia. It's a big decision to make. The country is so large and its cities so diverse it's challenging to know where to start. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Hobart are among some of the top destinations for new resident holders.

Melbourne has just overtaken Sydney as the largest city in Australia. Despite this, Sydney is a great place for US citizens to move to. Western Sydney, in particular, has become a popular place among American expatriates. Iconic landmarks and the famous Bondi Beach make it a beautiful place to live. While expensive, it also comes with many job opportunities and an unemployment rate below the national average. Check out this link for information about the practicalities of moving your stuff out to Sydney.

If you are considering moving to Australia, consider Melbourne. Its multiculturalism, arty vibe, endless museums, and fantastic bar scene make it a popular place for locals and foreigners to enjoy life. In addition, Melbourne is a mecca for football, cricket, tennis, and F1 fans if you love sports. 

Brisbane is often considered the more affordable version of Sydney and Melbourne. There's a thriving down metropolis and a ton of green urban spaces. Capital of Queensland, living in Brisbane means you can easily access the Sunshine Coast. Moreover, other famous attractions like the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsunday Islands, and Daintree National Park are in the same state.

Adelaide is South Australia's capital and is popular among people migrating as part of the skilled workforce. Adelaide recruits 5,000 skilled overseas workers annually, particularly in education, manufacturing, and healthcare. As a result, there's an ever-growing expatriate community. As a result, Adelaide has a sleepier feel than other big cities, and with lots of green space and some of Australia's best wines, it's perfect for laid-back couples and families.

Perhaps the least known of Australia's big cities, Hobart is a historical city. It's Australia's second oldest city, located on the banks of the Derwent River. Those looking for work opportunities may consider Hobart. It has a rapidly growing employment market. Moreover, Hobart offers some of the most affordable housing in Australia.

Australian Real Estate

When considering where to move in Australia and with house prices rising again, it's essential to consider the housing market. 

The current median prices (in AUD) for capital city houses across Australian cities in descending order are:

  • Sydney - $1,230,581
  • Canberra - $944,809
  • Melbourne - $898,644
  • Brisbane - $772,020
  • Adelaide - $694,818
  • Hobart - $691,859
  • Perth - $593,385
  • Darwin - $582,415

Admittedly, being a foreigner and navigating the Australian real estate market is more challenging than being a local. One top tip is to use a buyer's agent to help with many of the nitty-gritty parts of purchasing a property. You can find more details about the Australian property market for foreigners here.

Pros and cons of moving to Australia

No matter how much your heart may be set on life down under, it's crucial to weigh up the pros and cons of moving to Australia.

Since 1945 more than 7.5 million people have settled in Australia from overseas. There's a reason (or many) why so many people seek to call this enormous country home. A better quality of life, fantastic healthcare and education systems, a strong economy, blossoming multiculturalism, and awe-inspiring natural landscapes are some pros of moving to Australia.

But what about the cons? There's no denying that from one capital to another, the US is 15,934 km from Australia. The potential move away from loved ones is an obvious con of a move down under, but it's also a fantastic opportunity for unforgettable family vacations.

While salaries are generally high in Australia, there's no denying that the cost of living is high. Australia is 12th on the global cost of living index. This is why finding a good and stable job is so important when considering a move to Aus.

While the weather is one of the nation's pull factors in recent years, bushfires and floods have been increasing. It may take some getting used to the extreme changes in weather and you'll need to learn what to do in certain emergency situations. 

Things To Do In Australia

Whatever your interests might be, there is a wealth of things to see and do in Australia. It’s the perfect destination if you crave the adrenaline rush of extreme sports, or perhaps if you’re an avid animal lover, or even if you simply crave quality time at the beach.

Surfing and Snorkelling – Without a doubt, one of the most popular draws of Australia is the stunning Great Barrier Reef. It is bestowed with a massively diverse and vivid marine life, making up the world’s largest coral reef system. You can literally immerse yourself in the world of the Great Barrier Reef through activities such as snorkelling and scuba.

If surfing is more your thing, you might be enticed by some of Australia’s incredible coastlines. The beaches in Australia range from epic, to downright heavenly. The Twelve Apostles in Victoria is undeniably one of the most spectacular stretches of coast to be found anywhere on earth. Even the big city beaches are great – and how many places can say that? Though, arguably, one of the best beaches in Australia is Bondi; a world-famous beach and a surfers’ paradise. Located in Sydney, Bondi Beach boasts favourable weather all year long and offers other activities, too, such as shopping and coastal walks.

Witness the wildlife – Australia is world-renowned for its wildlife, and getting to see it up close is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can witness massive whales and adorable bottlenose dolphins in Monkey Mia, or you can watch the world’s smallest penguins in Philip Island, or spot emus, koalas, kangaroos, and more in Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve.

Touch the sky while skydiving – If you crave adventure and adrenaline, skydiving is one of the most popular adventure-seeking activities to partake in Australia. Some of the best places for skydiving in Australia includes Wollongong, Rottnest Island, Sydney and York.

20 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Australia:

  1. Australia is as wide as the distance between London to Moscow.
  2. Australia was the second country in the world to allow women to vote.
  3. Each week, an average of 70 tourists overstay their visas.
  4. The Great Barrier Reef is the planet’s largest living structure.
  5. Melbourne has the world’s largest Greek population outside of Athens.
  6. Kangaroos and emus cannot walk backward.
  7. The average Aussie drinks approximately 96 litres of beer per year.
  8. An Australian man once tried to sell New Zealand on eBay.
  9. The biggest property in Australia is bigger than Belgium.
  10. In 1880, Melbourne was the richest city in the world.
  11. There are three times as many sheep than people living in Australia.
  12. The legal drinking age in Australia is 18 years old.
  13. People from Queensland are often nicknamed ‘Banana Benders’.
  14. Thongs in Australia aren’t what you think they are – they’re flip flops!
  15. Australia is the direst of any continent on earth other than Antarctica.
  16. Australia is the only continent covered by a single country.
  17. The Australian state of Tasmania has the world’s cleanest air.
  18. Melbourne has the largest public tram system in the world.
  19. Australia has a larger population of camels than Egypt.
  20. Sydney is NOT Australia’s capital – Canberra is.
Top 10 Reasons To Relocate To Australia:
1. Numerous career opportunities available to expats.
2. It has one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world.
3. Known for its laid-back lifestyle and perfect work-life balance.
4. The favourable climate all year round.
5. The diverse, multi-cultural society.
6. The universal use of the English language.
7. The breathtaking, unparalleled outdoors.
8. The world-renowned, top-notch education system.
9. Australians are renowned for being some of the world's friendliest people.
10. The country boasts some of the world's most liveable cities.

10 Top Tips For Relocating To Australia:

  1. Start planning as far in advance as possible.
  2. Make checklists to stay on top of what you need to do.
  3. Get started on getting your immigration sorted as early as possible.
  4. Set up an Australian bank account as soon as you can.
  5. Get your healthcare in Australia sorted early to avoid any problems.
  6. Keep a record and stay on top of your finances – save, save save!
  7. Sell/donate goods that you don’t really need to free up space.
  8. Do plenty of research on your new area (social media is a great tool!)
  9. If you’re moving for a job – don’t be afraid to ask your employer for help.
  10. Compare different quotes and choose your movers wisely.

Moving Your Possessions

There’s no denying that the idea of moving yourself and all of your possessions to a new country is daunting. Thankfully, when it comes to moving all of your worldly belongings, there are a number of options out there to choose from which can ensure your whole relocation process runs as smoothly as possible. It’s important to make yourself aware of the different options available; as some will suit your personal needs better than others.

My Baggage

My Baggage offers a convenient and affordable international moving service to Australia and to over 200 countries worldwide, across over 1,000 routes. With hassle-free door to door shipping, full online tracking and dedicated, unrivalled customer support available.

We understand that when it comes to your luggage and personal belongings, it’s only natural to feel some apprehensive about handing everything over to a removals driver. At My Baggage, we strive to provide an international moving service you know you can trust.

How does it work?

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Moving to Australia with Pets

Making the move down under but want to make sure your pets will be just as happy too?

Luckily for you, we’ve ranked the top five pet-friendly cities in Australia based on no. of vets, pet stores, pet friendly hotels and annual cost for a dog. With approximately 280 days of sun a year, sunny Brisbane takes the top spot, with a score of 416, thanks to the huge number of vets in the area, as well as a whopping 51 pet-friendly restaurants!


With the top five including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast, you can move to Australia knowing you’ll be surrounded by beautiful scenery, glorious weather and your four-legged friends can enjoy it too. However, the average cost of owning a dog is on the higher side with yearly costs setting you back by $1,198.

Take a look at our study for more information and a full ranking of the best cities to live in with your pets.

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