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ok so here the deal.
my wife and I moved from Doha, Qatar to Canberra about 6 month ago and i wanted to help all the people planning to move to Canberra by giving a first hand account.

Things that I will be covering in this post:
Getting here / Customs
Housing
Banking
Tax File
Medicare / Centrelink
Job Search
Cost of Living

Getting here
We landed at Sydney airport and took a Murrays Bus to Canberra.
Don't take GreyHound - their service is not very punctual we had a bad experience and ended up wasting 3 hours and in the end buying a Murrays Ticket
Book the bus ticket online if you can as its half the price you will pay at the airport. At the airport around $43 each - online would be about $50 for two.
Don't bring any food items of any kind through customs. it will be confiscated. people tend to bring spices, herbal tea and other herbs - its a big NO NO .. it will all be confiscated and destroyed and you might possibly be fined.
Also there are restrictions on wood items and medicines so please be careful and do your research.
And most importantly - when you are about to land you will be given a declaration card - where you declare any questionable items you might have - like wooden items, medicine, amount of cash etc etc....
please be honest and declare whatever you are carrying ... if you don't declare and it is later found on you.. there are huge fines. so be honest.
If you are a smoker - don't bring more than 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of tobacco with you on person - you will be asked to pay tax/levy on anything over 50 grams or leave it behind at customs.
cigarettes here are extremely expensive and probably the best place to quit ;)
just to give you an idea - pack of 25 Marlboro is $27 (give or take a dollar depending on where you buy from)

Right, now for Canberra.

Housing
A lot of you would consider getting a hotel or a hotel apartment or even a bed and breakfast for a couple weeks until you find yourself a place of you own. My advise is to avoid all that and try to share with someone initially. Its a lot cheaper and getting your own place can take a lot longer than you might think.
Go to Gumtree.com.au and you will find plenty of flatshare / houseshare options. Another good things about sharing is that you will have company and your flatmates might be able to guide/help you getting a job, finding the shops, restaurant, butcher etc. Not knowing anyone in a new place is stressful and daunting … so again my advise is to share with someone if you don’t mind compromising on privacy for a little while. Although if you have small kids it might be harder to find someone who would want to share with you but all depends. Go through Gumtree and speak to people.
And most importantly if you go into a hotel/motel you would pay around $1000 for 10-12 days. where as if you share you would pay between $150-220 per week depending on the area.
As for the areas - the major commercial areas, where you are most likely to work (again depending on your industry and type of work) would be Civic, Woden, Belconnen. These are good areas but can tend to be a little expensive.
We are currently living in Gungahlin and we love it here. Its the newest of all the suburbs and has pretty much everything you could need. Its not very cheap but then the whole of Canberra is round about about the same prices and currently its a buyers/renters market.
We shared for 3 months and paid $220 a week with all the bills. And now we have our own 2 bedroom apartment in Franklin for $325 / week.
Getting your own place can be a bit lengthy. if you get it through agents they would want to see some references, source of income, bank statement etc to make sure you will be a good tenant and will pay your rent on time. You could rent directly from the owners and possibly avoid all this but then you will be greatly limiting your options.
So again, its best to share for a month or so, get established, possibly find work as well and then get your place.
because remember, you are new to this city … you don’t know where you might end up working or which area might be the best for you .. so you don’t wanna get locked into a 6/12 months contract without knowing anything about the city.

Bank Account
Upon getting here one of the first things you should do is get your bank account setup. I recommend opening a migrant account with ANZ or Westpac or any bank that offers the service. what that allows you to do is open an account and transfer your money/savings BEFORE you arrive to Australia .. and the moment you arrive you will have your ATM card waiting for you at the branch of your choice.. this is what I did and it was very easy.
And make sure to take your passport with you when you go to the bank.

Tax File
Apply for this as soon as you can. As sometimes they can take unto 28 days to process you Tax File Number (TFN). Everyone coming to Australia to live/work needs a TFN so get this done asap as you need to provide to your employer and bank for tax purposes. You can apply on the Australian Tax Office’s website but you need any Australian address where your TFN will be sent to you.

Medicare/Centrelink
This is another important aspect of starting your new life in Australia.
Go to one of the offices in your area as soon as possible to apply for the service. Make sure to take you Passport, Visa Grant and Proof of Address with you (letter from the bank that has your name and Australian address should be sufficient).
Depending on what visa you have arrived on will determine what Centrelink payments you are entitled to. Whether you are single or married or have kids, all factors considering they will let you know what you are entitled to.

Job Search
Right .. first of all make sure you Australianize your CV. I know in US theres a trend of 1-2 page CV. In the Middle East its normally 2 pages. but here in Australia a normal CV is about 3-4 pages. Do a google search on how to Austrlianize your CV and you should get plenty of help.
Secondly - make sure to put your Australian phone number and address on your CV. so let the employer know you are in town and available.
Most jobs in Canberra require you to be an Australian Citizen or have baseline Security Clearance as these jobs are with the Federal Government and obviously new migrants are not eligible for such jobs.
New jobs are posted daily on websites such as Seek, CareerOne, Adzuna etc keep checking them and keep applying. almost for every job advertised there is a phone number and a name .. make sure to call the number and speak to the relevant person … make a personal contact rather than blindly sending your resume .. let that person remember your name and then upon having up within minutes send in your resume .. it does the trick for a lot of people.
And of course this goes without saying, don’t wait for the perfect opportunity or the perfect job, do whatever comes your way initially build your network and build your australian experience.
A lot of people have come here and thought.. well i was a manager / senior executive .. I’m not gonna work in 7/11 .. well then you are better off staying where you are a manager …. if you gonna come to a new place and start fresh .. you need to leave that mentality behind
obviously I’m not saying that everyone who comes has to start at that level of spectrum .. what I’m saying is .. come with an open mind and take whatever comes your way initially .. at least you won’t be out of pocket and your expenses will start taking care of themselves
One of the most important things here is having Australian experience and/or qualification - regardless of the field.
If you are keen on getting a job within your industry .. sign up for a certificate / diploma with a local institute … this shows the employers initiative and enables you to acquire australian education in the field.
look at Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) .. they offer government funded / subsidised courses in almost every field you can think off and of course they are all nationally and internationally recognised.

Cost of Living
Well everything here is expensive .. lol … no it depends what part of the world you are coming from but in general we find everything here to be quite expensive (we came from Qatar). So the sooner you stop converting prices in you home country’s currency the better it would be for you. Things are expensive here because generally salaries are high as well.. so it kind of balances out.
But there are tricks to tackling higher prices as well; major supermarkets have special offers on specific days, if you buy bigger boxes of everything it turns our cheaper, every saturday/sunday there is farmers market in different parts of the city where you could get some items for cheaper so on and so forth.
Once you start earning in Australian dollars … you don’t feel it as bad.

Heres a small list of things we pay for … we are just 2 ..so it could differ greatly for you .. but just to give you an idea
Rent (2 bedroom in Gungahlin): $325/week
Electricity: $180 / quarter
Water: included in the rent
Gas (water heating only) : 180 / quarter
Grocery: round about $100/week
Traveling: We don’t have a car yet .. we use the bus .. I pay about $30 / week for getting to work and back
Internet : $65/month - 25MB download speed on NBN fibre with 200gb download limit. (iiNet)

I can’t think of anything else to share at this moment other than the fact that the weather here is amazing (all 4 seasons - for real). People of Canberra are really nice as well. Kind and caring people and this place has a very community/small town feel with the perks of being a major city. Its a wonderful place to live and defo one of the best to raise kids.

If you have any questions or anything in particular you would like to know that i didn’t cover .. please don’t hesitate to ask.

Goodluck to all.

N. Ahmed
 

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thanks for sharing..im in sydney, but very informative
 
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Hi,
First of all thanks a lot for the information. This is very informative for first time travelers.

I have a question. From what hear it can take even a few months to get a decent job.
What I was wondering is what kind of temporary jobs one can get relatively easily to improve time utilization as well as give income enough to survive until one gets a job more suitable to settle into?
 

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Excellent writeup :thumb:. I am glad to see a family of two managing comfortably on approx 2000 AUD per month budget.

Can you please answer a few queries:
1. Housing: Regarding the 6/12 month contract - Is there an option to prematurely get out of the rental contract with, say, a months notice?
2. Mobile phone plans: Which one would you recommend? Especially for overseas calling.
3. Internet: Does NBN also give you a landline phone number?
4. Temp jobs: How easy would it be to get a casual job for someone who is physically well built/ fit, does not mind hard labour, has experience working on a farm, cold storage, restaurants, garages, can cook, etc... basically willing to take up any kind of work to get by.
5. ICT: I presume you won't have an idea on the IT job market in Canberra, but still, just in case, if you can shed some light on this topic, please do.
6. Education: You mentioned subsidy from the government. Is it the government HELP programme that you refer to? Do PR immigrants get this benefit?

Thanks,
TT.
 

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Dear TT
With regard to the , personally I have taken the offer from Optus of Aud 90 pm which gives u unlimited internet , a VoIP line to call a lot countries (free) all Aussi landlines are free ;
With regard to education , if you are on a PR visa , the govt schools fees is waived off , you only have to pay for books and uniforms - the condition being you need to living in the same suburb .
I hope this helps
 
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Discussion Starter #6
Hi,
First of all thanks a lot for the information. This is very informative for first time travelers.

I have a question. From what hear it can take even a few months to get a decent job.
What I was wondering is what kind of temporary jobs one can get relatively easily to improve time utilization as well as give income enough to survive until one gets a job more suitable to settle into?
well.. to tell you the truth .. its a lot about luck and timing .. it took me just under a month to get a 'decent' job .. and my wife even less.
so it all depends on your industry / timing / luck etc etc .. everyone has a different story to tell.
As for the temp jobs ... theres heaps of things one can do ranging from petrol station attendants to call centre to pizza delivery to events coordinator .. it all depends on what skills you have and what you are after .. theres plenty of work in Canberra
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Excellent writeup :thumb:. I am glad to see a family of two managing comfortably on approx 2000 AUD per month budget.

Can you please answer a few queries:
1. Housing: Regarding the 6/12 month contract - Is there an option to prematurely get out of the rental contract with, say, a months notice?
2. Mobile phone plans: Which one would you recommend? Especially for overseas calling.
3. Internet: Does NBN also give you a landline phone number?
4. Temp jobs: How easy would it be to get a casual job for someone who is physically well built/ fit, does not mind hard labour, has experience working on a farm, cold storage, restaurants, garages, can cook, etc... basically willing to take up any kind of work to get by.
5. ICT: I presume you won't have an idea on the IT job market in Canberra, but still, just in case, if you can shed some light on this topic, please do.
6. Education: You mentioned subsidy from the government. Is it the government HELP programme that you refer to? Do PR immigrants get this benefit?

Thanks,
TT.
$2000 is by no means a concise monthly budget we manage on .. its just the basics I mentioned .. of course theres other things on top like eating out / clothing / entertainment & sport (movies, gym, etc) ... so it adds up pretty quickly ..
as for your questions.

1. yes you can get out of a contract. theres usually some penalty for it but if you can manage to find a tenant that will replace you its becomes easier.. to be honest I'm not too sure how that works and i don't wanna give you the wrong info.

2. theres plenty of phone companies here offering heaps of different packages / bundles with home internet / mobile / landline etc
have a look at these companies and their website to get an idea
Telstra (Generally more expensive than all the others)
Optus
Vodafone
Virgin Mobile
iiNet / TransACT
Lebara
Lyca
Amaysim
but personally we use google hangout for international calls ... pretty decent rates. check that out too

3. again different companies have different packages some offer landlines some don't .. check the names above and you will get an idea

4. someone who is able and WILLING (i emphasis on willing as most people come with a bad mindset) it shouldn't be too long ... if you are willing to make the effort (talking to people, spreading your CV in the local shops/petrol stations/restaurants etc) its only a matter of time .. temp/casual jobs are plenty here.

5. i think the biggest IT market of all Australia is in Canberra. since canberra is the capital and has all the federal government institution here .. every second person i meet works for the govt in some IT field ... plenty of casual / contracting work in IT here as well .. lots of IT work here in all govt depts from data mining to system upgrades to system administrations to whatever other things the IT folks do lol

6. There various different types of govt HELP programs when it comes to education. something known as VET Fee Help which is like an education loan (study now, pay later) sort of something .. people on PR are NOT eligible for it ..
but as for schooling for kids .. of course that fully govt funded regardless of you citizenship status
 

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Hi Ahmed,

Thank you for all the information provided and for the excellent writeup.
 
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5. i think the biggest IT market of all Australia is in Canberra. since canberra is the capital and has all the federal government institution here .. every second person i meet works for the govt in some IT field ... plenty of casual / contracting work in IT here as well .. lots of IT work here in all govt depts from data mining to system upgrades to system administrations to whatever other things the IT folks do lol
Are you sure about this ? Cos I am boarding the next flight to Canberra then! Most ICT work in ACT requires varying levels of clearances. Clearance are only provided to citizens. Ergo, if you aint a citizen, the chances of finding a job are less
 

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Are you sure about this ? Cos I am boarding the next flight to Canberra then! Most ICT work in ACT requires varying levels of clearances. Clearance are only provided to citizens. Ergo, if you aint a citizen, the chances of finding a job are less
HAHAHA

Happy Buddha !!! Someone rightly suggested you to change your name to unhappy Buddha in this forum. 95 % of your posts are discouraging and negative.

No need to be sarcastic. The guy is just giving his opinion on the job market. by no means he is implying what you have got.

Let people share their experiences and suggestions and dont discourage them.

Hope you take it positively !!!

Regards
 

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Excellent write up N Ahmed. Keep posting and thanks for your help.

Regards
 
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HAHAHA

Happy Buddha !!! Someone rightly suggested you to change your name to unhappy Buddha in this forum. 95 % of your posts are discouraging and negative.

No need to be sarcastic. The guy is just giving his opinion on the job market. by no means he is implying what you have got.

Let people share their experiences and suggestions and dont discourage them.

Hope you take it positively !!!

Regards
So if this guy gives his opinion, its alright, but if I give mine, its sarcastic and discouraging ? What a princess ! Grow up and look around. I would have thought immigrants aren't that naive anymore. And yeah, don't bother giving your opinion on my opinion :rolleyes:

Although I am flattered you have read a 100% of my posts on this forum, if this is what you took from my post, I feel terribly sorry for you.
 

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So if this guy gives his opinion, its alright, but if I give mine, its sarcastic and discouraging ? What a princess ! Grow up and look around. I would have thought immigrants aren't that naive anymore. And yeah, don't bother giving your opinion on my opinion :rolleyes:

Although I am flattered you have read a 100% of my posts on this forum, if this is what you took from my post, I feel terribly sorry for you.
Wish you happiness !!! Happy Buddha !! :D
 
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Discussion Starter #14
Are you sure about this ? Cos I am boarding the next flight to Canberra then! Most ICT work in ACT requires varying levels of clearances. Clearance are only provided to citizens. Ergo, if you aint a citizen, the chances of finding a job are less
yes you are right ... many jobs in ACT require clearances which like you mentioned only citizens are eligible for ..
but i also have friends who are not citizens but on PR and they got clearances done through their embassies / home country .. coz they are good and they companies really needed them ..
but i agree with you to an extent it does limit the options .. but if you end up working as a contractor you might be alight ..
i think initially its just about getting your foot through the door .. rest is all upto your abilities !
 

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HAHAHA

Happy Buddha !!! Someone rightly suggested you to change your name to unhappy Buddha in this forum. 95 % of your posts are discouraging and negative.

No need to be sarcastic. The guy is just giving his opinion on the job market. by no means he is implying what you have got.

Let people share their experiences and suggestions and dont discourage them.

Hope you take it positively !!!

Regards
HappyBuddha pointed out the right stuff in fact.. nothing about it is discouraging. Canberra jobs required govt security clearances and only citizens are eligible for that. Isn't it a fact? If the facts start discouraging us, then there's something wrong with us I guess and not HappyBuddha.
 

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Excellent writeup :thumb:. I am glad to see a family of two managing comfortably on approx 2000 AUD per month budget.

Can you please answer a few queries:
1. Housing: Regarding the 6/12 month contract - Is there an option to prematurely get out of the rental contract with, say, a months notice?
2. Mobile phone plans: Which one would you recommend? Especially for overseas calling.
3. Internet: Does NBN also give you a landline phone number?
4. Temp jobs: How easy would it be to get a casual job for someone who is physically well built/ fit, does not mind hard labour, has experience working on a farm, cold storage, restaurants, garages, can cook, etc... basically willing to take up any kind of work to get by.
5. ICT: I presume you won't have an idea on the IT job market in Canberra, but still, just in case, if you can shed some light on this topic, please do.
6. Education: You mentioned subsidy from the government. Is it the government HELP programme that you refer to? Do PR immigrants get this benefit?

Thanks,
TT.
On the above question - yes you have the option, but it is a very expensive option. As a tenant, if you want to break the lease agreement, it is your responsibility to find another tenant. If you have rented through an agent, they will recover any costs that they incur to find a new tenant (advertising etc). Also you will have to pay the rent TILL the time they / you find a new tenant.
 
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5. i think the biggest IT market of all Australia is in Canberra. since canberra is the capital and has all the federal government institution here .. every second person i meet works for the govt in some IT field ... plenty of casual / contracting work in IT here as well .. lots of IT work here in all govt depts from data mining to system upgrades to system administrations to whatever other things the IT folks do lol
Happy to hear that you secured a job in a short while. Are you in IT as well? If so, can you please let us know how you managed to get a job, even if it's a contract? Every job I wanted to apply there wanted some kind of clearance and all applied to citizens only. If there is something for PR holders, things should look up for people who are moving there.
 
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Thanks nsahmed. This post is very informative for me as well. I am also planning to land Canberra on July from Doha (Civil Engineer). Do you have any idea about Civil Engineering Jobs there?
 

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Hi nsahmed

This is a really informative post since my husband and I will be moving to Canberra by this years end as well and we haven't heard very encouraging things about finding a job over there. I guess the only saving grace is that my brother has been living in Canberra for several years now and can help us out in the beginning. Both of us have been working here in Pakistan for the past 5 years in International banks but even so we are ready to start from square one after our move. I have a couple of questions and hope you can take out some time to answer them:

- What's your field of expertise and have you been able secure at least a couple of interviews in the relevant job category?
- Have you considered moving to Sydney to explore their job market? I know with a 190 visa we need to work in the state of our sponsorship for at least 2 years but I keep reading that it is more of a moral obligation and has no legal implications
 
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