How to move to Australia: The guide for Kiwis

One of my good Uni friends is moving here in a few weeks! Very exciting!

When I moved over I read up on what I needed to get sorted before the move, but there was no one single resource that told me everything so I’ve put a little something together for my friends, and for strangers.



1) Tax file number (TFN)
One of the most important things you’ll need! Want to get paid? Yes, you do. The easiest way to get this number is online but you can only do it once you’re in Australia. I tried doing it from NZ before I moved, and it’s very smart and knows that you’re not in the country. So, to save yourself from any delays in getting your first pay, get your TFN when/if you’re visiting Australia before the actual move. 

2) Decide what bank/s you want to join
There’s a lot of choice! ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank (NAB),  St George Bank, Westpac, HSBC….
I went with NAB and I’ll tell you why: I like their logo and advertising. Yep, that’s pretty much it. Plus, they have a handy iPhone app, my credit card is pink, and they’re friendly on Twitter. It was easy to join, I did it online from NZ and then just went into a branch with supporting documents when I arrived.

3) Sort stuff out in NZ
Before you leave NZ, contact the IRD and tell them your intentions. I don’t understand the ins and outs exactly but depending on what assets/debt you have in NZ, it may be best for them to know where you are.
I would hold onto your NZ credit card for a while after your move because you can’t aways (if at all) get a credit card as soon as you move here. They need to make sure you have an income rolling in for a few months before they offer you an overdraft, but you’ll be able to get a debit card immediately.


4) Find a place to live
Easier said than done! If you’re looking for a room in an established place, it’s a lot easier. But finding a place of your own can be a challenge (in Sydney, anyway). There is so much competition, especially in the summer. You need to provide a lot of references and have copies of your passport, driver’s license (if you have an NZ Full License you can get this easily at the RTA in NSW – one year is $50), proof of income, etc. The best sites for finding places are or (Of course, you can start looking and applying before you move, but the likelihood is you’ll have someone to stay with for at least a few weeks when you arrive, and you’ll probably want to inspect the places you apply for).

5) Health insurance
Australians have Medicare which is the government healthcare system. You can get the form online and take it with you to a Medicare branch when you arrive. Tax payers in Australia fund Medicare with 1.5% of their pay. Medicare is great and covers many things, but you pay another 1% on top if you earn over a certain amount and don’t have private health insurance. Private health insurance in Australia is really good. For someone like me, with a bung back and short-sighted eyes, it’s very useful. My osteopath swipes my private health insurance card and the covered amount is deducted immediately – I don’t have to make a claim. I get my eyes checked for free, two dental cleans a year and a bunch of other great deals – just got prescription sunglasses for $57. Choosing a provider is hard because there are so many, but the iSelect site will help you. My shortlist was between HCF, NIB and MBF. You’ll know if it’s worth it or what’s best for you, but it’s quite flexible – you can choose between hospital only, extras only, or a combo. 

6) Superannuation
Superannuation in Australia is compulsory and 9% of your salary goes into it. Choosing a provider is tricky, again because there are so many! Read this or just flip a coin. I’m sorry I can’t help you more on this topic – I found it a particularly mind-numbing experience. 

7) Mobile phone
Vodafone, Telstra, Optus, 3….. which one? Go here for a very handy way to see what kind of plan you should go on. I went with Telstra because word on the street is that they’ve got the best coverage. I haven’t been disappointed.

8) Staying in touch
Moving countries, even when it’s just across the ditch or only for a short time, can be emotionally taxing. You’ve left your family and some of your closest friends in NZ, and you will miss them. But you’ll have many new experiences to look forward to, and you’ve got tools/apps like Skype, Heytell, Whatsapp that you can use for free/cheap to stay in touch with people. And if you need to fly over for a weekend, it’s only a few hours away and there are always deals on – check out Webjet or Expedia.

For those moving to Australia – and Sydney in particular – look out for my top money-saving tips in the next few weeks 🙂


Tagged ,

3 thoughts on “How to move to Australia: The guide for Kiwis

  1. esthercharlotte says:

    Why was this not around when I moved to Sydney? I really should have waited until you moved there first.

  2. Alex says:

    I would also add;Tax File Number: takes about 3-4 weeks to arrive, so apply for it immediately.Banks: If you’re an ASB customer in NZ, go with Commonwealth Bank in Oz because it’s the same bank and they can organize an account for you at an ASB branch before you leave. They also boast the most ATM’s in the country.Finding a place to live: Melbourne is also very competitive for rentals, and they have a pain-in-the-ass 100 point ID system, i.e. your driver’s license is 30 points, passport is 40, etc. When you’ve just moved from NZ and have no Australian documentation, rental history, or references, it can be very difficult to get a place on your own. I had to get a drivers license immediately just so I’d have enough ID to rent a place.Superannuation: I heard ING is crap but that’s all I know. I’m on some industry super my company organized for me.

  3. Solange says:

    Oh Esther, I would have liked to know some of them myself before I moved! ;)Alex – thanks for the extra feedback 🙂 Yes, the TFN takes its time which is why I suggest people getting it before the move. Mine took 3.5 weeks!The 100 point system applies to Sydney as well. I had to get my Driver’s License too! Don’t even have a car here!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: