Moving to Australia: Financial Winners and Losers

Last month I told you that my article Hard Yakka and the Cost of Living in Australia appeared in the November edition of Australia and New Zealand magazine.

It didn’t.

What did appear in that magazine was the article I am about to print below, which is the third and final part of my miniseries about the hard yakka for the magazine.

ANZ OctoberSo as the following article DID appear in November’s edition, it would only be right that I have an image of the magazines’ cover from that month appear here. But instead, to the right, is the cover from October’s magazine, which is the image that should have appeared with last month’s article but didn’t.

I always think if you’re going to be wrong, be consistent.

Winners and Losers…

Last month I explained my hard yakka theory, which is a kind of unit of currency. If you have to work for 10 hours to earn enough money to buy something, that something has cost you 10 hard yakkas. I then went on to show you how things that might appear more expensive here in Australia can actually turn out to be cheaper in hard yakka terms.

I also promised to help you to calculate whether or not you’d be better off here. But first, let’s talk about the winners and losers, depending on your current financial situation, for those looking to move to Australia.

Let’s start with the losers…

loserAustralia is not a great destination for those who have built up a nest egg and who are hoping to retire here. The current poor exchange rate between the pound and the Aussie dollar will make everything here seem really expensive. Holiday makers visiting Australia from the UK are also losers for the same reason.

I’m sure many have visited here and thought to themselves “No way! I’m not moving to Australia, it’s too expensive!” If you’ve recently been here on a recce and made that decision, understanding the hard yakka will probably change your opinion about that.

So who are the winners…

winner… and how can you tell if you’d be better off here or not? In a strange twist of fate, those with little or no savings and perhaps no equity in their houses have the least to lose from the poor exchange rate. They also have the most to gain from the higher wages paid here in Australia.

To see if you’d be better off in Australia, here’s my stunningly simple formula. I know I briefly mentioned this a couple of months ago, but that was just in a one-liner and I think it’s worth saying more about it than that.

It’s this:

whatever you are earning in the UK in English pounds, look to secure a job here in Australia that earns twice that amount in Australian dollars. Currently earning £40,000 in the UK? Then go for a minimum of $80k here.

Funny thing is that’s usually not hard to do, depending on what you do for work.

The bottom line with Australia is some things are more expensive, some are cheaper and a lot of things are more or less the same price. Noticeably more expensive here is alcohol, distinctly cheaper is petrol, for example. Drinking petrol isn’t the answer.

Some things appear more expensive with a direct currency exchange comparison, like housing, but then become cheaper here in Australia when looked at in terms of the hard yakka. According to a recent survey by UBS called “Prices and Earnings”, in Sydney, the only Australian city included in a survey of 73 cities worldwide, salaries were the fifth highest in the world. In the same survey, Sydney had the second highest “domestic purchasing power”. Those two together suggest that Sydney’s workers see their money stretch further than anyone else on earth.

It’s likely other towns and cities in Australia would have fared just as well, had they been included. So, Australia isn’t as expensive as you might think, and if the pound ever climbs above two Aussie dollars again, even the losers will become winners.

Visa Assessment Service
{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Gem G February 28, 2013, 6:50 am |

    G’Day Bob! I’m thinking I would like to emigrate to Oz on my own, but I’m weighing up whether it would be right for me. I’m a reporter on a regional newspaper with five years’ experience and a 1st class degree. I have no children or much in the way of assets, except a car. I want an easy, slow-paced way of life but I’m not great with big creepy crawlies!! The idea is fairly new to me and I’ve only started researching in the last week – your blog was one of the first things I came across! I also love animals and conservation so would love to get involved with that in some way. How hard do you think it would be for me to get a visa? And how do people go about finding work there when they’re on the other side of the planet?! Many thanks.

    • BobinOz March 1, 2013, 8:21 pm |

      Getting a visa to come to Australia to live is never a stroll in the park, it’s quite a lengthy and costly process. Applicants need to have enough points to qualify and with over 130 visas to choose from, it’s also quite a complex process.

      Getting a job is easier when you’re here than it is when you are on the other side of the world, so that’s another hurdle. My migration agent offers a Visa Assessment Service, you might want to consider doing that, it will tell you whether or not you have a chance and if you do, how to proceed.

      Hope that helps and good luck.


  • Cal January 30, 2013, 6:54 am |

    Hi Bob,
    Ive been advised to ship my car over to WA, is this really a good cost effective way?? its a ford focus on a 57plate and probably worth about £3k at a push. Any advice would be helpful 🙂 Thanks Bob!!

    • BobinOz January 31, 2013, 3:01 pm |

      I wouldn’t have thought so Cal, I believe there would be quite a lot of expense involved not only with transporting your car, but also with import taxes and, I think, you’ll need safety certificates to be able to drive the car in Australia.

      I know some people have brought over some classic cars, but that’s their passion, I don’t think you’ll find it’s worth it for a car that’s got a value of around £3000.

      Get a second opinion, by all means, but I love you to come back here let me know what you find out in your final decision.



  • Tracy January 27, 2013, 10:54 pm |

    Hi bob
    I’m looking to move to oz in the future. Looking at the mine field of visas. If anyone has any info would be greatly appreciated, I’m a midwife hoping to move with my partner and daughter who’s 10.
    Things I need to know
    1. The cost of visa and which type do I go for ????
    2. If you get sponsored from employer do you get any relocation costs ???
    3. Roughly how much does it cost for shipping furniture etc and is it possible to bring car from uk ??
    4. Roughly how much relocation to oz from uk ??

    Any info greatly appreciated as finding it a minefield haha

    Tracy xx

  • BobinOz January 16, 2013, 9:32 pm |

    Funnily enough I read an article a short while ago that said that Australia’s population increased by 331,000 last year. Two thirds of this increase was down to people moving here from other countries. They didn’t give specific figures for the UK, but apparently 25,000 people moved here from Europe last year, that’s up 10,000 on the previous year. I would imagine a pretty hefty percentage of those Europeans were from the UK, so my guess is it is again pretty close to 20,000 a year.

    If the pound hadn’t have crashed as bad as it has against the AUD, I’m sure it would be much more than that!

  • Lynn January 15, 2013, 10:13 am |

    I remember buying a copy of the magazine you write for in 2007 or 8, a long time ago but I think I might have read that over 100000 people emigrate from the UK every year, and 20000 of those people head for Aus and NZ. Are the figures down from those days since the rise of the dollar and fall of the pound?. I was watching bbc iplayer last night and I see they are still making reality ‘move to Oz’ programs, the latest is called Wanted Down Under. I watched two episodes, and they were both set in Brisbane. The TV company set both families up in the Redlands area, Capalaba, and found them properties to view in that area, not sure why the fixation with that area, not the best place to ‘sell’ the beach dream most people move for.

  • John January 12, 2013, 9:35 am |

    Bob, interesting, having lived here for three years myself now in Brisbane.
    First the bad….
    Between emigrating in 2009 and arriving here in Jan 2010 my wife and I decided to take a year out to travel. During that period the Australian dollar smashed the English pound to absolute pieces (and savings in the bank adversely affected when I finally gave in and moved the money over….whilst sobbing quietly…, and house prices rose by something mad like12 – 15% in the suburb I am renting in now (and prices were already too high, add 12% to numbers like $450 000, and 12% in a year is shocking leap). Although house prices did dip back a bit after 2010, and now seem to be static.
    And now the good…..
    Wages for professionals are indeed, good. My wife worked for the NHS in the UK, and we’ve worked out (taking into account the higher cost of living here) that she earns at least a 1/3 more money, actually it’s probably more. It’s enough that I am able to go back to study to change career and we are able to live modestly. We could not have afforded to do that on just her NHS wage back in the UK.
    English couples I know here that have two wages coming in have a great lifestyle, and the cash to nip back to visit friends and relatives in the UK, often once a year or 18 months.
    The cost of living can be ridiculous in Oz, but just don’t buy groceries at the IGA! You have to work out were the authentic delis, real grocers and butchers are relative where you live, then the prices come down and quality improves. Incredibly, where we live it’s actually cheaper to let the local Thai restaurant cook you a takeaway than buy the ingredients and cook yourself! The same is true of other types of food, once you find the right suburbs to look in that is. It takes a while.

    • BobinOz January 12, 2013, 8:36 pm |

      Hi John

      Yes, the AUD/GBP movements the last four or five years have made a lot of people wishing to move here from the UK sob, often out loud. I think it’s one of those you just have to take on the chin, if you can.

      But you’ve also seen the good side, most people do earn more money here and that does soften the blow. And yes, everybody should definitely shop wisely, prices can vary quite massively from shop to shop and I think you are right, you will get better value from the local butcher and greengrocer, etc, then you do in some of the supermarkets.

      And those takeouts, $11 a meal! Lovely.

  • Andy Painter January 10, 2013, 3:47 pm |

    I’d like to agree with the rule of thumb which is multiple your UK salary by 2 and try and get that as your Oz salary in pounds and you should be well set up…. but I wonder if there is a point when if you were on a fairly high salary where this doesn’t quite work. For example lets suppose that I’m a well paid IT person from the UK who was on approx 100K GBP (including any employer pension payments), in the UK, should i really be looking/expecting roles that are going to pay 200K AUD. The top rate of tax in Oz starts at 180K AUD, whereas in the UK it’s 150K GBP. I guess i’m getting to the point where either the formula has to be changed at higher levels of pay …. or i’m being underpaid in Oz in comparison to the cost of living …. which might be the case! 🙁 Any thoughts?

    • BobinOz January 10, 2013, 9:26 pm |

      Interesting question and I see what you’re getting at Andy. If you can earn £100,000 per annum in the UK, which will all be earned without hitting top rate tax, then I reckon you would at least need to earn $200,000 here in Australia to be as well off, especially as a small part of that will hit the top tax rate.

      That said, as mentioned in the previous comment I made above, you can’t put a price on the benefit you get from the change of lifestyle here and anyway, which ever country you live in, you are certainly not going to struggle on those salaries.

      I can’t see why this situation would need a different formula, maybe we just have to accept that it might be difficult in some occupations to double your salary from GBP to AUD? Is that how you see it?

  • Sean Foster January 9, 2013, 11:55 pm |

    Hi Bob,

    I’ve been looking into moving for quite sometime now (currently on the expression of interest list for skills select) and as I’ve said a few times before on your site, from my research the cost of living for someone in a skilled job is pretty much the same between the UK and Oz if you bear in mind that you are earning Oz dollars and spending them in Oz shops. From what I can make out, the benefits clearly are the lifestyle change.

    On another note, I was looking at the costs of flights from London to Melbourne and after doing a bit of detective work basically found that the costs again are pretty similar. I found a flight with Royal Brunei in March economy class for roughly £825 buying from the UK and equivalent of £865 if bought from Australia.
    How would that equate in hard yakka’s?

    • BobinOz January 10, 2013, 8:53 pm |

      You are right, you can’t put a price on the benefit you will get from the change in lifestyle moving to Australia. Simply by exchanging grey and damp for hot, sunny with clear blue skies you have already changed your life.

      As for those aeroplane tickets, if by doing a price comparison using a straight currency exchange rate calculation they come out at about the same price, then yes, they are definitely cheaper here to Australians earning Australian dollars according to the hard yakka.

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