Moving to Australia Checklist

When we finally got the call that our visa to Australia had come through, we cracked open a bottle of bubbly. After months of filling out forms, answering awkward questions, numerous health checks, and copying and scanning countless documents, we felt we had conquered the mountain and had reached the summit. We were finally legal and allowed to move on to the next step of our adventure: moving overseas.

To help you set out on your own adventure, we’ve put together a moving to Australia checklist spanning six months before the move to the week after you’ve arrived in your new home.

Boxes filled with household items for a move.
Start packing for your move to Australia at least four weeks in advance. Photo © Kurhan/123rf.

Six Months Before the Move

  • Check out schools in Australia.
  • Review your relocation package, if you have one, and determine what expenses will be paid by your company.
  • Start a log of moving expense receipts; some may be tax deductible.
  • Get written estimates from moving companies, including their written commitment of pickup and delivery dates. Get references. Check the limits of insurance they offer, and if it covers replacement costs.
  • Purchase additional insurance if necessary.
  • Arrange for a storage facility if you plan to store any of your belongings. Again, check on insurance.
  • Check that your pets’ vaccinations are up to date.
  • Arrange an export service for pets and automobiles, if needed.
  • Get your medical and dental records prepared for transfer.
  • If you’re a homeowner, put your house on the market for sale or rent.

Two Months Before the Move

  • Secure temporary or permanent accommodations in Australia.
  • Enroll your children at your chosen school.
  • Contact your bank to arrange transfer of your accounts; order checks with your new address; clean out your safety deposit box.
  • Submit change-of-address forms to the post office; mail postcards to friends and creditors.
  • Give your day care center proper notice of withdrawal.
  • Contact schools and arrange for transfer of student records.
  • Contact your doctors to double-check that medical records are ready to go.
  • Change your insurance policies on property, cars, and health.
  • Organize all important documents in a fire-safe box. Include school records, home purchase and sale papers, wills, marriage and divorce papers, pet documents, financial records, stock certificates, Social Security cards, birth certificates, and passports.
  • Give notice of resignation to any clubs, organizations, or volunteer activities you belong to.
  • Cancel newspaper subscriptions, and change your address for any magazine subscriptions you intend to keep.
  • Arrange for hotels, rental cars, or temporary housing as needed.

Four Weeks Before the Move

  • Take a ruthless walk-through to determine what you really want to take with you.
  • Tag the rest of it and hold a garage sale, or call a charity to pick it up.
  • Clean out club, gym, and school lockers; pick up all dry cleaning.
  • Arrange for disconnection or changeover of utilities.
  • Have measurements taken of the rooms in your new residence and use floor plans to determine where everything will go.
  • Begin packing less-used items. Number and label each box, and keep an inventory.
  • Retrieve and return all borrowed items from neighbors and friends; return library books.
  • Clean out the cupboards and plan remaining meals so you can pack what you don’t need, and don’t buy any more perishables than you have to.

One Week Before the Move

  • Make an inventory list of all items going with you personally. Keep valuable and irreplaceable items such as jewelry and heirlooms with you, not movers.
  • Confirm arrangements and dates with moving and storage companies.
  • Confirm arrangements with auto and pet transportation companies.
  • Confirm hotel, rental car, or temporary housing accommodations.
  • Disassemble furniture or other items.
  • Sell your car.
  • Be sure to check yards and sheds for all items to pack.
  • Inform friends and relatives of your forwarding address.
  • Take pictures of furniture or get fabric samples for anything you will want to reference for color or decorating before your goods are delivered to your new home.
  • Set aside a box of cleaning supplies and the vacuum cleaner.
  • Have cards and gifts ready for the kids to give to their friends, complete with the new address and social media contacts.

One or Two Days Before the Move

  • Clean and defrost refrigerator and freezer.
  • Withdraw cash needed for the move, and convert currency.
  • Reconcile and close bank accounts, unless you will be using another branch of the same bank.
  • Conclude financial matters relating to the sale or rent of your home.
  • The movers or you should complete packing of all household goods for the move.

Moving Day

  • Confirm delivery address, directions, and delivery date with the movers.
  • Carefully supervise the move. Make sure boxes are clearly marked and your instructions are understood.
  • Clean the home and check the entire grounds before leaving.
  • Check the thermostat and make sure the temperature is set appropriately. Make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked, and all appliances are turned off. Leave your forwarding address, garage door openers, and any keys, if agreed to, for the new owners or renters.
  • If your home is going to be vacant when you leave, make sure a relative, neighbor, or real estate agent has the keys and can contact you. Also, notify your insurance agent and police department that the home will be empty.
  • Meet up with friends, relax, and look forward to your adventure. It’s really happening.

Arrival Day

  • Get a new SIM card at the airport or get a new cell phone, and let friends and family and your moving company know your new number.
  • Check to make sure all utilities are on and working properly.
  • Let family members or friends know you have arrived safely. Check in with your employer and real estate agent to confirm itineraries.
  • Check in with the moving company to confirm the exact date of arrival of your container.
  • For any airfreighted boxes, supervise the moving crew on the location of the furniture and boxes. Begin unpacking necessary basics first—kitchen utensils, bath toiletries, and so on.
  • Go over the bill of lading from the moving company very carefully before signing; check for damaged items first, as it is usually binding once signed.
  • Try to stay up until bedtime. It will help you cope with adjusting to the new time zone. Explore at least the block around your new place and point out exciting finds to the kids. You have arrived in Australia!

One Week after Arrival

  • Get a tax number in Australia and register with your local embassy.
  • Look into buying a car.
  • Organize school uniforms for the children.
  • If you have a pet in quarantine, go and visit so they know they’re not alone.
  • Meet the neighbors.
  • Check out some local sports clubs and log on to an expat forum or join the Australian American Association in your city. It’s time to make new friends.

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