Why Brisbane is worth the Move….
Australia, rated as one of the worlds leading countries for lifestyle, drew us to make the break and leave behind all that we knew and loved about Europe. Giving up our secure jobs, family and friends we decided to come to the land reputed for space, safety and family time.
I am from England and my husband is from France. We both had good steady jobs in Switzerland, commitments and I was pregnant with our first child. We had a lot of reasons to stay where we were. What we longed for however, was a home we could afford on one salary, an interesting international job experience, safety to walk in a park, space away from crowds, less commuting and the rarity of a bit more quality time together.
According to the Australian immigration department, people go primarily to Melbourne or Sydney for work or family reasons, with Brisbane listed as the third most popular settlement destination. Brisbane however, is a growing city with a vibe. Growing in self generated opportunities in addition to a large over flow of work from the two other major cities there are plenty of opportunities.
There are a lot of attractions and inexpensive things to do in Brisbane. BBQ and picnic areas litter the national parks, beaches and numerous green open spaces. There are city festivals virtually every month to celebrate anything from the river life to a new show opening. Australians love an opportunity to get together, have a beer and get to know new people.
Our first 2 years in Brisbane….
The first 3 months for us were blissful. We flew into Sydney and drove up the coast to Brisbane stopping off to see the sights along the coast on the way. We chose to head to Brisbane due to wanting to live close to the water, close to the city for work and have a good balance between the facilities provided in built up areas and open space.
I found a casual job teaching almost as soon as we arrived and worked 3 days a week. This paid for our initial rent and gave us the time we needed to re-take a theoretical driving license, sort out a Medicare (medical) card, my husband to sign up with job agencies and have several job interviews, me to have check ups at a midwife/doctor birthing center to monitor my pregnancy and generally get a feel of the suburbs.
We rented a house in a well kept, green, friendly suburb and made friends with our neighbours. We slowly started to build on our somewhat limited social life. Our son arrived healthy and well. It was easier with a baby than I had imagined because there are many activities for new moms and pre-schoolers.
Networking is the name of the game to source information, make job contacts and find out how Australia works. It is difficult to find information that caters for new immigrants that explains the systems, work ethics, social ideas etc and how to make the first step when wanting to fit in.
My husband found a job in IT within 6 months of being here. This is the typical time it can take. It has taken him 2 years in total to work his way back up, changing jobs three times, to the position he was at in Switzerland. 18 months after arriving we bought a house not far from the sea, near to the train line and now have a life. We’ve been here two years now and haven’t looked back. The move has been made easier by the helpfulness of Australians. The positive relaxed attitude they have about themselves, their country and life tends to rub off after a while.
If you’re dreaming of the same, take a look at Australia. One of the main reasons many people are now deciding to move down-under, other than moving to be near family or being moved by a job, is for the work and lifestyle possibilities and here are a few pointers on how to go about it.
Step 1: Getting a Visa
There are several paths possible to take when thinking of applying to immigrate or relocate down-under. Aussie Migrant (www.aussiemigrant.com) or The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMA) (www.immi.gov.au) can provide detailed information on all types of visas (websites listed below) but in brief, aside from business options, there are four basic possibilities:
1) A Family Migration, meaning the applicant has a relative in Australia willing to sponsor them.
2) Skilled Migration, which is where the applicant must have skills or special abilities which will contribute to the economy of Australia and other areas of Australian life.
3) Job Sponsored Migration, which is when an Australian company sponsors your move.
4) Refugee, Humanitarian and special assistance programs.
Since the process of applying can present many individual questions, and ask for evidence and information, it can be worth enlisting the help of a local or an overseas specialist immigration agent. It is a very do-able and not so daunting process once you get started and take on guidance.
To get sponsored by a company to move it is best to either apply direct for a transfer, to a company you know of in your field or again, seek out an Immigration specialists. Australian companies find it too hard to recruit from overseas themselves, even though there is a skills shortage here in many professions, so immigration specialists generally do the recruiting on behalf of them
With “Skilled Migration”, we submitted an application to immigrate and filled in forms giving information about our education, level of English language, work history, health, marital status and finance. At this point in time, work skills such as accountants, nurses, IT Professionals, midwives, teachers, and pastry chefs among many skills are of interest to the country.
Step 2: Immigration Specialists v Agents
An immigration specialist can work with you on all steps of the immigration process, visa, jobs/sponsorship, moving, selling up a business, purchasing property, businesses etc. Immigration Agents on the other hand only assist with visa applications, once the visa is obtained their job is done – this can leave you a little lost on arrival.
We took a simple immigration agent and have since wandered why we didn’t research out a specialist. An immigration application file is valid for two years, and if the file doesn’t reach the top of the pile of immigration applications by this date, it goes in the bin. We heard we were to be granted a visa just as the two-year deadline arrived! This is the risk; gather a lot of paperwork, wait for two years and pay 5000$AU.
When we did get our visas and permission to immigrate, we were given roughly 8 weeks to enter Australia and have our passports stamped. Normally there is more time, anything up to a year is common, but short notice does happen. The day after we were granted our visas we started to sell furniture, pack, buy plane tickets and get organized for the “BIG MOVE”!
Job sponsorship visas have a different process and involve a shorter waiting and moving time.
Step 3: Moving / Customs
During our preparation time we discovered that the expense of shipping a container from central Europe to Australia is more expensive than the items we planned to take. It’s worth shopping around for a moving company. We only brought sentimental items in several small boxes sent by airfreight. It can take a while to get your container off the dockside and through customs so pack all important documents in your hand luggage.
Something we became aware of upon arrival is that the Australian Government is very protective of the Australian eco-system. The list of goods to declare at customs can be a surprise. It ranges from outdoor boots or clothes which may have soil on them, to camping equipment, food, seeds and plant matter and any many types of wood. The entire luggage we took with us on the airplane was checked and inspected.
Once arriving after a long flight we checked into a youth hostel for a week to sleep, visit Sydney and wait for our boxes to arrive. It was in a way a bit of non-event. No big signs saying “you’ve arrived” or “New Immigrants this way”. This is again where immigration specialists to check in with, after you’ve slept off the jet lag – they can talk through the stages you will go through within the first twelve months (excited, concern, reality, new start, finance etc) and help establish a realistic plan of action.
Step 4: Finding Work
Whilst I found it easy to pick up casual work it did take my husband 6 months and several trips around employment recruitment agents with streams of interviews. This is fairly typical for professional new comers, unless you come with job sponsorship. Some recruitment agents are sympathetic and helpful with new arrivals some aren’t, it is worth visiting and enlisting with as many as possible.
The big on-line sources for local job adverts are www.careerone.com and www.seek.com Applying direct to companies as well as via recruitment agents can bring a quicker result from one direction or the other.
Networking, getting help with the recruitment process –tailoring your C.V. to the local market, being willing to get your foot in through the door at any level in your chosen field and build you way back up with determined persistence in our experience has been the way to go.
Alternatively to this, at the moment the good news is that there is a Big Skills Shortage here in Australia. Local companies are outsourcing their overseas recruitment and sponsoring international applicants to relocate. A quicker option if you’re in a rush to move.
Other links and resources for Australia:
Medical Tourism in Australia
Addresses & Website Details:
For more information about the writer: www.writeup.com.au
Department of Immigration Multicultural Affairs: www.immi.gov.au
Immigration Specialist & Agents
Level4, 371 Queens Street, Brisbane.
Telephone: +61 7 3221 0808
Independent Job Searching
For more information about Brisbane as a city: www.brisbane.qld.gov.au