Moving to Australia – Part 1

I moved to Aussie just over an year ago from Sri Lanka. Since then I’ve had quite a few Sri Lankans ask me about the move and other information about this place. I’ve tried to help them out where I can. I thought of sharing this information here so it might help out some newly migrating folks.

There was a very real-world blog post on Kottu sometime back about moving here and how it really was as opposed to what migration seems like from a Sri Lankan perspective. If you know about it please comment with the link and I’ll add it as a related post.

Here goes nothing, as with any advice take it with a pinch of salt. Some things are more relevant to the Gold Coast where I live.

Australia is definitely a good place to move to if you are planning to move somewhere. I’ve considered Canada and New Zealand and I think this was the better bet.

First off there are a couple of scenarios to move. a. as a student b. get a work visa c. as a skilled migrant. As a student its pretty expensive, what you can do is start a course in Sri Lanka that ends in the last year here or something. After you graduate and work for an year you can apply for Permanent Residence (PR).

Getting a work visa is a bit tricky. You could look for jobs on seek.com.au and apply from Sri Lanka but most of the time you are expected to show up for quite a few interviews before you are hired. So either you have to come here on a holiday visa and look for a job or you have to go with the skilled migration route.

If you manage to get a job somehow (through a contact maybe) you have to submit some documentation about how your skill is unique and how you will come and train a local person those skills etc.

Last way I know is though skilled migration. That is you need a degree and about 4 years 1 year work experience. It used to cost about 2000AUD to apply if you are doing it alone, quite a few more times that if you are going through an agent.

(I’m trying to keep the points short so if you want more details please comment and I will try to expand it with any more details I can find in later posts)

Okay lets say you somehow got here. A good time to move is around June cause the end of financial year sales are on. You can buy stuff on the cheap.

Most people I know move in with friends or family before settling down on their own. This is a good idea. That way you can find a job, get a car and place from here and move out.

If your going to wing it alone you need to carry some serious cash. First you need a car (carsales.com.au) and place (realestate.com.au). You might not be able to rent until you are actually down here. So be prepared to get a holiday apartment or something for a few weeks. It’ll be the same for the car, rent one at the air port for a few weeks or longer until you buy.

If you are coming down alone and don’t mind bussing it it might work in some cities, but I don’t recommend it in the Gold Coast. At least get a scooter ;)

Finding a job is the main thing. Seek.com.au is your friend. Also count in any friends or contacts you might have. Generally most IT jobs are in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane probably in that order.

Coming out of the recession the job market seems to be picking up right now so good luck to you.

Don’t go nuts and apply for every job you can find. Usually there are 2-3 interviews per job and you’ll be running around like a mad-man. Pick your battles wisely, apply for what is most suitable, and where you don’t mind moving to.

In the interviews you’ll most likely be asked for “Aussie Experience” don’t laugh they are serious. Try to convince them you will get up to speed quickly. Be prepared to take a step back from what your position was in Sri Lanka. You will probably have to work a few years to get to where you were back home.

Don’t get down if you can’t find your perfect job right away. Sometimes it takes months. Meanwhile get a job, any job. Something simple that pays the bills at a cafe or checkout it doesn’t matter. Leave your Sri Lankan ego at the terminal seriously no-one cares here, its just a job.