The 411 on living in Sydney, Australia
By Renee Evans
Moving to a new country is always a tad bit stressful. You have to think about how will you get around, how much will an apartment costs, and also how are the race relations within that country. Here is the 411 on the basic questions that may come to mind when you’re transitioning to Australia.
Taxes are HIGH in Australia, there is no way around not paying taxes. Even on a work holiday visa, you can file taxes as a resident. If you file as a resident, you do not have to pay the 29% tax rate that is charged to nonresidents. If your pay is between $0-$80,000, you’re paying between 9.1%-20.1%. When you leave, you can file to get your taxes back. As a teacher, you’re on the higher end depending on if you’re a private school teacher or public school. A teacher in Australia makes pretty good money.
On a work holiday visa, you are do not get public healthcare. If you’re on a sponsored visa, you do get healthcare. You will have to pay a medicare tax once you do opt into the system.
Whether you’re on a work holiday visa, or a sponsored visa, you’re opted into Australia’s superannuation plan. Superannuation is the pension system for Australia. As of right now, you pay 9% and your employer pays 9%. You can decide to allow the employer to hold it for you, or you can set up your own superannuation account at your bank and you can watch the deposits. (it’s going up to 12% next year)
The hardest part about coming to Australia for me was looking for housing. Finding a job, no problem, finding housing, a big problem. Housing is REALLY expensive. When you’re looking for housing you have to ask yourself, does location matter? If it doesn’t, then you can work outside of the CBD(central business district) and commute to work. You will save about 30% in your rent if you do not live in or near the CBD.
Next, you have to ask yourself, how many roommates do you want. In Sydney, it is very common to do a room-share, that’s right, a ROOM-SHARE. (There is also living room share)That would split your rent in half if you decide to share your room with someone. I wasn’t about that life of living.
After you pick a place from gumtree or another roommate site, you have to call for an inspection. During the inspection, you view the property and the owners may ask you a series of questions to get to know you more. Housing is very limited in Sydney, so may find yourself competing with two or three other people for that particular room. You may have to provide references for some of the nicer places.
Transportation can become expensive. In Sydney, you can get a monthly, weekly, or daily transport card. I have a monthly card that is for two zones. Sydney has zones that are divided up by the distances. The further your zones are from the CBD, the more expensive your card is for that month/week. With that card, you can ride trains, buses, or ferries within those zones that you purchased. I have a two zone card. My zones 1 and2 it is for the area withing 18Km of the CBD. That card cost me $199, but that is unlimited travel on trains, buses, and ferries within my two zones.
Cost of Living
There a few things that do cost more, but the pay is more here. I find that shopping at a grocery store is cheaper here than in Korea. It’s a little more expensive than America. For imports, of course they’re more expensive. Transportation may be more expensive, but you’re getting more for your money. There may be a tax for everything, but at the same time, this country offer social services for their people. Everything balances out if you know how to budget your money. You will still have plenty of money left over if you’re sharing your rental (regular roommate situation, not a room-share) and not eating out all the time. The restaurants may be a tad more expensive than America, but not as expensive as Korea.
Taxis are expensive in Sydney. I do not know about other areas. If you’re comparing it to Korea, it’s about three times more expensive to ride in a taxi.
One of the first questions I’m asked is about racism. Yes, Australia is 85% white. Sydney, is like a different WORLD. Sydney is so diverse and mixed, you feel like you may be in Asia, India, or even the Middle East some times. It’s AWESOME! I have not experienced ANY racism since arriving. When I walk around the CBD, I experience a nice mixture of diversity. As you leave the CBD area, different parts of Sydney have their own patches of immigrants/towns. So will you experience racism, most likely not. It’s almost impossible because of the diversity of the city. If you have an American accent, people may give you a double take. As a black American, I get a lot of people stopping and listening to me talk.
How do I feel about Australia?
Australia is an AMAZING country. I find myself falling in love with Sydney more and more everyday. I cannot imagine living anywhere else. I do have plans to file for permanent residents here. Aussies are REALLY nice people and I have not had a problem with anyone at all. Everyone I have met thus far have been really helpful. I get lost a lot when I go out, so I usually have to stop people and ask for directions. Every time so far, people take out their phones and show the the gps route to get there.
Sydney is a fit city. I enjoy walking around during lunch and seeing people running, biking, or relaxing in the park. There are a lot of parks and open spaces in Sydney, so do not be surprised to see people relaxing at all times a day at the part.
Australia is one of those places where you just have to take a leap and go for it. There is always something to do or s big festival to visit. You will not be bored while you’re here.