A Complete Guide to Moving from California to Australia

A Complete Guide to Moving from California to Australia

Jun 11, 2024

The city skyline of Sydney, Australia. Circular Quay and Opera House. touristic points, travel photo, sunny day

Making a move to Australia as part of the Great Californian exodus? Not a bad move. Australia is among the most immigrant-friendly countries with positive attitudes towards immigrants. And the island nation boasts of a high standard of living.

But lately, it’s undergoing significant changes to its immigration policies, which some dub as Draconian. This means you need to follow the immigration process to avoid deportation and penalties strictly. In this California to Australia relocation guide, learn everything you need to know to make a safe overseas move to Down Under.

It All Starts With an Australian Visa

Woman filling visa application form for immigration at table, closeup

As you may already know, moving to foreign soil requires you to obtain a visa from the respective country. Visa-free travel to certain destinations is possible, but not to Australia. The country doesn’t allow visa-free travel to anyone.

Therefore, the first and most important step is to apply for an Australian visa.

Note that there are different types of visas. The visa to apply for depends on your specific case. Here are some of the most common pathways Californians use:

Skilled Visas

Perfect for professionals with qualifications and experience in occupations Australia needs. These include:

  • Subclass 189 – Skilled Independent Visa: This points-based system rewards age, qualifications, work experience, and English proficiency. No job offers are needed!
  • Subclass 190 – Skilled Nominated Visa: Nominated by a state or territory government based on their specific needs.
  • Subclass 491 – Skilled Regional Visa: Encourages skilled workers to live and work in regional areas (outside major cities). This can lead to permanent residency.
  • Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme: Sponsored by an Australian employer who needs your specific skillset.

Student Visas (Subclass 500)

These are for the Californian scholars! If you want to pursue higher education in Australia while experiencing the country firsthand, apply for the Subclass 500 visa.

Visitor Visas

If you’re looking to visit Australia on a temporary basis or for tourism purposes, here are your options:

  • Subclass 600 – Visitor Visa: Ideal for short-term stays like holidays or visiting family (up to 3, 6, or 12 months depending on your nationality).
  • Subclass 462 – Work and Holiday Visa: Combine work and travel experiences in Australia. Perfect for recent graduates or those seeking an adventure.
  • Family Visas: These visas are for reuniting with family members who are Australian citizens or permanent residents. Here are all the Australian family visa types.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it gives you a good starting point. Remember, the best visa for you depends on your individual circumstances.

Valid Documents are Equally Important

While the visa is your key to entry, there’s a treasure chest of documents you’ll need to crack open for a smooth move to Australia. Here’s a checklist to keep you organized:

  • Valid passport: Make sure your passport has at least six months of validity from your intended arrival date in Australia.
  • Birth certificate: The original or a certified copy.
  • Proof of Identity: Documents like your driver’s license or social security card.
  • Educational qualifications: Diplomas, transcripts, and certificates translated into English (if necessary).
  • Work experience documentation: If you’re traveling for a job, you’d need employment letters, payslips, and references that verify your experience.
  • Medical checkup results: There are a few medical checkups needed for Australian immigration. So, you’ll likely need a health assessment from a doctor approved by the Australian government.

Make sure to have these documents handy while applying for a visa and traveling to Australia.

Understand the Australian Customs Laws

brisbane skyline and people in lawn against a blue sky,queensland, Australia

Just like the United States, Australia has stringent customs laws in place. Your belongings will be scrutinized and checked for potential prohibited items. Therefore, you need to declare all of your belongings to the customs officials.

When packaging your belongings, it’s important to label everything and prepare a checklist of items. This will save you time down the road.

Even if you think an item might be okay, it’s always best to declare it on arrival. Australia has biosecurity officers and sniffer dogs at airports and ports who can quickly identify prohibited items. Failing to declare something could result in fines, confiscation of the item, or even being denied entry.

So, take some time to research the Australian customs laws before relocating from San Diego, CA, to Australia.

Pack Your Belongings For International Relocation

Happy african young woman with cardboard box moving to a new place

International moving from California is radically different from moving within national borders. Other than the issues mentioned above, there are half a dozen things you need to be aware of.

First and foremost, your belongings are in for a long haul – potentially weeks at sea! Australia and the US are miles apart, 15,175 km via the Pacific Ocean, and even more the other way around. So expect bumps, vibrations, and maybe even some rough weather.

Therefore, here are the additional packaging precautions for Down Under:

  • Ditch the perishables: Those California avocados won’t make the trip. Focus on packing essentials and leave behind anything considered a biosecurity risk by Australian customs.
  • Double the boxing: For extra protection, use sturdy double-walled cardboard boxes. At a minimum, select two boxes. The inner box should be sturdy and slightly smaller than the outer box. Ideally, the outer box should have 2-3 inches of space around the inner box on all sides.
  • Cushioning is important: Fill the empty space between the inner and outer boxes with packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or other cushioning materials. This creates a shock-absorbing zone that protects your belongings from bumps and vibrations during transport.
  • Seal it tight: Heavy-duty packing tape is your friend. Securely seal all boxes to prevent them from bursting open during transit. Apply the tape in an H pattern across the top and bottom flaps and then down the seams for maximum reinforcement.
  • Stuff it smart: Fill any empty spaces in boxes with packing peanuts, bubble wrap, or crumpled paper. This prevents items from shifting and getting damaged.
  • Label like a pro: Clearly label every box with its contents and the room it belongs to on both sides. This will save you from unpacking headaches later.
  • Declare with care: If you’re unsure about an item, declare it on your customs form. Better safe than sorry!

More importantly, take your time to pack your belongings. It’s more crucial than you think, especially if you’re relocating abroad for the first time. And stay away from moving brokers. Instead, take the services of a reputed San Diego international mover.

Arrange Accommodation and Transportation in Advance

People moving from California to Australia leave accommodation booking after leaving for their destination. But it doesn’t turn out well for many.

Knowing you have a place to stay upon arrival in Australia can be a huge stress reliever. Especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area, having pre-booked accommodation eliminates the worry of scrambling to find a place after a long flight.

Moreover, popular areas and travel times can fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons. Booking in advance ensures you get your preferred accommodation and flights, especially if you have specific needs or a tight budget.

Make Use Of Expat Groups For Easy Transition

Despite being a Western country with a fluent English-speaking population, Australia often gives Californians a fair amount of cultural shock. Also, as a Californian, Australia can feel lonely at times.

Californian expats in Australia can help. Many folks from California and different parts of the US relocate to Australia and form close bonds. There are many Facebook and Meetup groups dedicated to American expats Down Under. So make use of these groups to find Americans on Australian soil.

Move From California to Australia with Atlas Allied

So, are you ready to relocate from California to Australia? Rely on Atlas Allied, your trusted moving partner since 1925. Our full-service moving solutions guarantee a smooth transition. Contact us today to get a moving quote.

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