Relocating to Australia is a dream that unfortunately comes with a price tag. Some costs are compulsory and simply need to be paid. When emigrating many of us naturally concentrate on these expected costs, trying to navigate and negotiate them as best we can. Whilst our time and attention is focused elsewhere, a number of small hidden costs can be chipping away at our bank accounts. These little annoyances can add up to a much larger financial burden that can be easily avoided with a little forward planning.
Avoid costly exchange rates
Moving money across currencies can secretly cost you far more than you think. When moving large amounts of money and assets, you should always speak to a financial advisor with experience in dealing with international and Australian relocations. Whilst this is an obvious financial step for moving abroad, it can be smaller day-to-day amounts which can sting your pocket without you realising. Traditional high-street banks often don’t specialise in international transactions and give you a poor deal. Many will offer uncompetitive exchange rates and then charge you a 2-4% fee on transactions when using your card in Australia. What is worse, is they will then add an additional fee on top if you want to get money from an ATM!
Explore your options and take time to look into the online banks who can help solve this problem. Digital app-based challenger banks, such as Starling and Monzo, undercut traditional banks and offer the actual exchange rate on all foreign purchases with no fee attached. Many have limits on the total amount of money you can take out at ATMs per month, but these are clearly stated. Other benefits include 24/7 app based support and advanced spending analytics. If you need an Australian bank account before you go, TransferWise is another online bank account which provides you with bank details in Australia and hundreds of other countries. They charge a small transparent fee to move money between currencies, making it easy for you to clearly see any costs you incur.
Roaming with your phone in Australia
Similar to the banking system, many telecom providers have been slow to meet the needs of those travelling or moving internationally. We’ve all had the horrible surprise of coming home to an extortionate phone bill after a few calls we had to make on holiday. When relocating to Australia, these fees could seriously cost you. For example, UK providers such as Vodafone can charge you as much as £6 per day to use your phone in Australia.
Forward thinking networks and a number of online providers have stepped in to help solve this problem. For example, networks such as Three UK offer a ‘go-roam’ SIM which allows you to use your phone plan in over 80 countries at no extra charge (including Australia). If you’re looking at travelling before you get to Australia, companies like Surfroam offer data SIMs that can be used around the globe for an easy transparent fee per megabyte depending on your location. It’s normally cheaper to arrange a domestic phone plan when you get to Australia, but whilst you’re settling in it’s helpful to be able to contact people locally and internationally.
Depending on your country of origin and your relocation plans, some options will suit you better. In the long term, many will still want to call their home country at low cost. Dual sim phones can be a great solution for this. A dual sim allows you to have two numbers on the same phone using both a physical SIM and an interchangeable e-SIM. Alternatively, messenger apps like WhatsApp can call other smart phones for free using their in-app call function.
Cancel bills in your home country
Utilities and domestic bills may feel like an obvious piece of admin for anyone moving overseas, but so many people still end up overpaying for services they didn’t need to. Providers typically have a cancellation notice period that needs to be adhered to. This period can typically be between 30 to 90 days depending on the service. Read through your contractual obligations for all of your regular bills and time your various cancellation periods to coordinate with your moving date. This will ensure you don’t forget any bills or pay for services you won’t use.
These cost savings aren’t glamourous, but incremental changes made early to your finances can protect you from unnecessary deductions from your hard earned relocation savings. Planning for all unwanted surprises is almost impossible but by spending a little time on your money now, you will have a little more money to spend on your time later.