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Moving to Australia checklist

A young woman is standing at the base of a waterfall canyon with a backpack on her back.

There’s always plenty to consider when moving to a new country, so what do you need to know before you can really call Australia home?

What we'll cover

  • Visa considerations
  • Preparing for employment or education
  • Health insurance, logistics and paperwork
  • Setting up your new life, including an Australian bank account 


Australia is an attractive destination for many people across the world who want to start a new life. With its relaxed lifestyle, beautiful beaches and national parks, and countless work and study opportunities, it’s easy to see why. 


If you’re thinking about moving to Australia, you’re not alone. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics some 454,000 people chose to migrate to Australia in the year to March 31, 2023.


We’ve created a checklist to help go through the essential steps for moving to Australia in a countdown of five different phases: the planning phase, pre-migration preparations, final preparations, arrival in Australia and long-term settlement. 

Planning phase: 24-12 months prior to departure

Two years before you leave to move to Australia might seem like a long time, but visa wait times, university applications, and doing your due diligence can all take time. 

Initial preparations

So, you’ve decided to make the move down under? Fantastic! As part of your initial preparations, it’s all about defining your goals. What’s the purpose of your move? Is it for employment, education, joining family, or a change in lifestyle? Are you coming alone, with a partner, or with family and children in tow?


Once you have clarity on your purpose, it’s time for research, research and more research. Look at exactly where you’d like to move, whether it's a city or regional town, and start to explore different educational institutions and employment opportunities. 

Visa considerations

There are a number of different Australian visa options, so make sure your visa application aligns with your objectives. Some examples include student visas, visas for skilled migrants, family reunion visas, employer sponsored visas, and business visas.


Each visa will have specific waiting times and eligibility requirements, so it’s important you meet these criteria in the planning stage to avoid disappointment later. 

Financial preparations

Creating a budget that covers expenses such as visa fees, travel costs and accommodation is crucial. Researching the cost of living is also important, as living costs vary greatly depending on the city or region you plan to move to. Housing, transportation, healthcare, utility services, groceries and education will all have associated costs.


It’s also worth contacting your current financial institutions, pension funds, and insurance providers to get an understanding of what you may cancel, what can be transferred to Australia, and what you may still need to manage remotely online - for example, superannuation.


In Australia, superannuation, or ‘super’, is money put aside by your employer while you work so that you can live on it when you retire. In other countries, this might be called a retirement fund, pension fund, retirement savings plan, or similar. It may be possible to transfer money from a foreign fund into an Australian super fund, depending on your home country fund.

Pre-migration preparations: 6 months countdown

With six months to go, make sure to get your health checks in order, sort out employment or education in Australia, and begin dealing with packing and the logistics of moving.  

Employment and education

If you’re coming to Australia and plan to work, but don't have work lined up as part of a visa sponsorship, now could be a good time to start searching for job opportunities and reaching out to potential employers, your existing network, or recruitment agencies. 


If you’re a student, admission to an Australian educational institution will be necessary before your visa application, so confirm deadlines and academic requirements, including English language proficiency tests.

Organising health insurance

When it comes to health, it’s a good idea to schedule a comprehensive medical and dental check-up before you depart for Australia.


You’ll also need to organise private health insurance so that you’re covered in Australia. Depending on your visa, this may be a condition of entry, although it’s advisable for visitors to have Australian health insurance.


There’s Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) if you’re a student, or Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC) as options. Be sure to review all the details of your coverage so it suits you and your specific healthcare needs. 

Logistics and paperwork

Six months before you move to Australia is a good time to decide whether you want to sell, store, or ship your belongings. Look at shipping companies and costs if you’ll be taking your big-ticket items – such as furniture – with you.


When it comes to packing your belongings, decide whether you'll use a moving company, or rely on your family and friends.


Make copies of essential documents including your passport, academic transcripts, and identification. Speaking of passports, ensure yours is up to date, with full validity. 

Final preparations: 1 month to go

After months (or years) of planning, the month before you go is the chance to tie up loose ends. This month will go the fastest!

Essential arrangements

Book your flights to Australia if you haven’t already, and ensure you have all travel documents, including your visa grant notification. Finalise your initial accommodation in Australia, whether it’s a hotel, temporary self-accommodated apartment, or student housing.


Australia has strict quarantine laws, so check what you can and can’t bring with you. For example, you may need a letter from your doctor for prescription medication. 

Arrival in Australia

After all the planning and preparing, you’ve finally made it! Congratulations! 

Initial steps upon landing

As soon as youarrive, you’ll go through customs and quarantine regulations, before making your way to your initial accommodation via public transport, taxi or pre-arranged airport transfers. 

Setting up your new life

Once you’ve settled into your initial temporary accommodation and become familiar with the surrounding area, it’s time to open a bank account, apply for a tax file number, and get connected. 

Opening a bank account in Australia

A bank account is one of the first, and most important things you should set up. Westpac, Australia’s first bank, has a range of banking options for people who have just arrived in Australia.

Once you arrive in Australia, you can open a Westpac Choice account online or in a local branch in just a few minutes. If you open online, you may still be required to visit a branch to verify your ID.​


For a list of documents that we accept, refer to  Identification Checklist. (PDF 657KB)


Applying for a Tax File Number (TFN)

If you’ll be working in Australia, you’ll need a TFN.


You can apply for a TFN if you’re a foreign passport holder, permanent migrant, or temporary visitor, on a permanent resident visa, a visa with work rights, an overseas student visa, or a visa allowing you to stay in Australia indefinitely (including New Zealanders automatically granted a visa on arrival).


You can only apply for a TFN once you’re in Australia. It’s free to apply, and you can do it online. 

Get connected

It’s possible to purchase a mobile SIM card for your phone so you have an option for local communication and, while you’re at it, check out internet providers so you can stay in touch with friends and family.


Then, try and meet some people face to face! Introduce yourself to neighbours, colleagues and other expats. Join the local library, find a convivial café, join a sports club or special interest group. 

Long-term settlement: 3 months onward

After being in Australia for three months, you may now be in your permanent accommodation. It’s time to explore beyond your local neighbourhood. Make sure you have some fun, enjoy yourself, think about taking short or longer trips to see Australia’s many natural wonders from the Great Barrier Reef to Uluru!


After three months and beyond, if you’re planning to send money back home, it’s a good idea to stay on top of foreign currency rates and look at international money transfers. Westpac has $0 transfer fees to send foreign currency overseas to more than 200 countries online. 

To sum up

Embracing a new adventure in Australia is an exciting journey, and a little preparation can go a long way. It’s all about obtaining the right visa, and making sure you’ve done your research on employment, education, logistics and bank accounts. Start packing, follow this countdown checklist, and prepare for your adventure!

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.