Let’s recap on what we have so far. First you have the idea. It’s a simple idea which that says “I want to live in the paradise known as Australia”. Then you decide on the basis of your application having looked at the various Visa options. Now you need to start the application process. The dreaded paperwork.
Before we go any further, let me tell you what you need to know immediately.
How much does it cost to move to Australia?
The process is not cheap, you will need deep pockets. May as well get used to that now and learn to smile as you write out cheques. Please do also note that our costs were incurred way back in November 2007 or before. Prices of everything have certainly changed a lot since then, upwards, of course. I can’t tell you exactly what it will cost you now, but I can tell you what it cost us back then for me, my wife and our three-year-old daughter.
Here they are in order of ouchiness:
- Shipping a container load of furniture £6,000
- Bringing your dog, (you’ll be so glad you have a dog), £3,000
- One way flight tickets for the family £1,400
- MARA migration agent professional fees £1,200
- Fees to the Australian government £1,000
- Medical fees (including two x-rays) £800
- Skills assessment fee (if you need it) roughly £675
- Admin fees, certifications, criminal record fee, postage £150
So far that’s about £14,225.
With the exchange rate of the dollar to the pound at the time, it cost us something like $35,000 AUD.
What will it cost you?
It’s probably best if you ignore my costs and use my list is to get quotes for yourself for each of the major expenses mentioned above. For everyone the total cost will be different. What I can tell you though is that many of these expenses have risen in price quite substantially since 2007.
Most notably, the government fees for the applications. Ours, for example, have more than trebled. We paid $1990 back then; right now (March 2014) it would cost us over $6000! See my page about Visas for more information.
Flights have certainly gone up and I’m sure shipping a container is more expensive now than it was in 2007.
I also want to make it clear that the expense of a MARA approved migration agent is just a small percentage of the overall costs and for most people will now be below the fee payable to the Australian government. As MARA fees come early in the decision and cheque writing process, you may be tempted to try and do it yourself. I say don’t.
Remember, you will lose the fee paid to the government if your application is unsuccessful and there’s no better way of ensuring your application has the best possible chance of success than by using a MARA registered migration agent. The bottom line is though that it’s an expensive process, it’s worth doing your maths to see what you are going to be in for.
By the time you get to the end of this process you will be numb from writing out cheques, you will be past caring. What I am suggesting is to start this process from a position of numbness and carry on from there.
Choosing Your MARA Migration Expert
This is how I think it works. The migration experts are registered with the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) and must adhere to a strict code of professional conduct. They do not work for the Australian government, they get paid direct by you as their customer.
But the Australian government do not want to have to wade through thousands and thousands of poor quality applications. So they expect these agents to filter out applications that do not meet the standard required.
So, for a MARA registered migration expert to put forward your case, they have to believe your application will succeed. Because if they put through too many failures, I believe they will lose their licence. So these agents won’t just take you on to earn a fee, they will only take you on if they think you have a good chance. On that basis I believe it is best to use these people. Most will do a preliminary assessment for a small fee. I think it’s the way to go.
We made a mistake when we selected our agent. We were given the name of someone who was supposed to be very good. So we contacted her and asked if she would represent us. To cut a long story down to a medium story, things moved slowly.
She would ask for more information which we would send. But she wouldn’t respond so we would chase. She would make various excuses and apologies and promises to get on our case “next week”. Before we knew it, three months had passed and she still hadn’t actually agreed to represent us, let alone get the application underway.
We had seen this coming and my wife and I had agreed that if we did hit the three-month stage without any concrete action we would ditch her. We did and we did. We didn’t write to her formerly to tell her, we just stopped communicating. She never chased us or contacted us again either. It was a silent mutual ditching.
Don’t make our mistake
It’s easy to say this particular agent was unprofessional, but looking back the mistake was ours.
We are the clients; we should not have allowed ourselves to be treated so shoddily. Who knows what our agent was thinking, maybe her personal life was in turmoil? Maybe she didn’t believe in our case? Maybe she really wasn’t any good? Maybe she was being visited by extraterrestrials at night and found it hard to concentrate on her day job.
It doesn’t matter, we should have moved on after a couple of weeks when we realised communication between us wasn’t good. In truth, we were a little bit in awe; this was a “MARA registered migration agent” we were dealing with. They are busy people? They are important people? Surely we must be patient?
The answer to all three questions is “No!”
They are professionals, yes, but as such should treat you professionally. If they don’t, find another agent and move on.
The worst of it all was during this time we convinced ourselves that our agent didn’t believe in our application. When we began to think like that it was a shattering blow to our confidence. Here was an expert who didn’t even think our application was even worth starting. Living in Australia now seemed further away than ever.
But we didn’t give up, we got another agent. She did a great job. Well, we’re here!
My recommended agent
Many people have asked who my agent was, the good one that is, with a view to using her for themselves.
I did try to contact my old MARA agent to see if she could work with my readers who might need help with the visa process. I could not track her down; she had left the company she used to work for and has maybe now even retired. But I do now have an Australian-based migration agent who is MARA registered and I highly recommend him and my Visa Assessment service.
You can read more about it on this page…
Visit: Visa Assessment
If you want to know more, read Moving to Australia Part 4
For a full chronological list and brief description of all the posts in this series about how I moved to Australia, please visit my page How to Move to Australia.