The Ultimate Guide to Moving to Australia from Canada

By Arthur Dubois | Published on 12 Jul 2023

a map guide to moving to Australia with a group of pins on it

Moving to a new country can be a daunting task, but with the right preparation and knowledge, it can also be an exciting adventure. If you’re considering moving from Canada to Australia, there are many factors to consider. This article will take you through the process, from understanding the basics to settling into your new life in Australia.

Reasons for moving to Australia

There are many reasons people might choose to move from Canada to Australia. One of the most popular reasons is the warm climate. Canada can be quite cold and snowy, especially during the winter months. Australia, on the other hand, has a warmer, milder climate, especially in the north. Australia is, however, a large continent, and temperatures do vary. For example, summer temperatures can vary from 30℃ to under 10℃, depending on the region.  

Australia is also known for its beautiful landscapes. From the stunning beaches to the rugged outback, there is no shortage of natural beauty in Australia. Many people are drawn to the laid-back lifestyle and outdoor activities Australia has to offer. Whether it’s surfing, hiking, or simply enjoying a BBQ with friends, there is always something to do in Australia.

Another reason people choose to move to Australia is the Australian lifestyle. Australians are known for being welcoming, friendly, and having a relaxed attitude. They are always willing to help newcomers adjust to their new home.

Comparing the cost of living

The cost of living in Australia can vary depending on where you live and your lifestyle. Generally, Australia is considered to be more expensive than Canada. However, salaries in Australia are typically higher than in Canada, which can help offset the higher cost of living.

It’s important to research the cost of living in the specific area of Australia you plan to move to. Housing, transportation, and food costs can vary greatly between cities and regions. Here is a quick and dirty comparison of the average cost of necessities between Canada and Australia to get you started:

ItemAverage in CanadaAverage in Australia*
Housing$2,000+$4,000 (approx average)
Wages$59,300 annually$63,860 annually
2 tickets to the movies$31.00$35.37
Cell phone service$48.00/mo$33.00/mo
Minimum wage$15.50/hr$28.45/hr
Income tax29% maximum rate45% maximum rate

* Note that dollars have been converted to CAD.

Culture and lifestyle

Australians and Canadians are similar in that both are known for their friendliness and love of outdoor activities and sports. Both countries have a similar work-life balance, with Australia’s workers devoting an average of 60% of their day to personal care and leisure and Canadians devoting an average of 61%. There is also a general satisfaction with health care systems in both Australia and Canada

Something else to consider is the Australians’ love of coffee and alcohol. One notable difference you may notice when moving to Australia is the animals you will encounter there. Australia is known for having some of the most dangerous and deadly wildlife on the planet. Another difference that might cause some culture shock is that in Australia, Christmas is a hot and humid holiday! 

Overall, moving from Canada to Australia can be an exciting and rewarding experience. With proper planning and research, you can make a smooth transition and enjoy all that Australia has to offer.

Preparing for the Move

There are many things to consider when preparing for your move to Australia, such as arranging for the necessary visas, moving companies, and moving costs. Here are some important steps to take:

Obtaining the necessary visas

Before you can move to Australia, you will need to obtain a visa. There are several different types of visas available, including tourist, student, and work visas. 

Tourist visas allow you to visit family and friends or just be a tourist and take in the sights. The cost of a tourist visa begins at $190.00 AUD ($167.62 CAD) and can take 5-29 days to process. 

Student visas allow you to take courses in Australia and work up to 48 hours every two weeks for up to five years. Student visas begin at $710.00 AUD ($626.36 CAD), and the time to process them varies. 

Though there are over 20 different types of work visas, a visa for a skilled regional worker allows you to work or study anywhere in Australia, apply for citizenship, and sponsor family members, costs $465.00 AUD ($410.22 CAD) and up, and can take 7-27 months to process. 

For more information about visas, their cost, and timeframes, visit the visa list on the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs website for Immigration and citizenship. It’s important to research the different types of visas to determine which one is right for you. 

Finding a job in Australia

If you plan on working in Australia, it’s important to start looking for a job before you move. Research job opportunities and create a resume tailored to the Australian job market. Keep in mind that the job market in Australia may be different from what you are used to. While both Australia and Canada have a low unemployment rate, when considering where to migrate in 2023, it’s important to note that Canada has a reputation for being more open to immigrant workers with a job market in technology, finance, and healthcare,  while Australia’s job market is geared toward mining, construction, and finance.  

Networking is also important when looking for a job in Australia, so it’s a good idea to join professional organizations and attend industry events to meet people who can help you find a job before you move.

Choosing the right city or region

Australia is a large country, and the lifestyle and culture can vary depending on the region you choose to live in. Be sure to research Australia’s different cities and regions to determine which one is the best fit for you and your family.

Sydney and Melbourne are popular destinations for expats from all nations, but there are many other cities and regions to consider. Here is an overview of the most popular cities for Canadians to think about when moving to Australia:


As the capital city of Queensland, Brisbane offers a unique blend of urban sophistication and outdoor adventures. Its subtropical climate ensures warm weather almost year-round, which is perfect for enjoying its beautiful beaches, lush parks, and the nearby Gold Coast. Brisbane’s thriving arts scene, combined with its friendly, laid-back vibe, make it a welcoming place for Canadians. Housing can be more affordable here compared to Sydney or Melbourne.


Located on the western coast, Perth is known for its stunning beaches, expansive parks, and easy access to wine regions. With a Mediterranean-style climate, you can expect hot, dry summers and mild winters. Its booming economy, particularly in mining and construction, offers various employment opportunities. Perth’s isolation from other major cities contributes to its unique charm, combining big-city attractions with a relaxed pace of life.


Known as the “20-minute city” due to the ease with which you can get around, Adelaide offers a high standard of living with a low cost of living. It boasts a Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches, and close proximity to some of Australia’s best wine regions. Adelaide’s vibrant cultural scene, including numerous festivals, makes it a lively destination for prospective residents.


Australia’s most famous city, Sydney, offers an iconic skyline featuring the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. It has a vibrant economy, multicultural society, and access to stunning beaches, making it an appealing city for expatriates. However, Sydney’s high cost of living, particularly when it comes to housing prices, is a significant consideration for those planning a move.


Often ranked as one of the world’s most livable cities, Melbourne is known for its cultural diversity, excellent food and coffee, and a love for sports. The city boasts a temperate climate, a robust job market, and a vibrant arts scene. While Melbourne’s cost of living can be high, many find it more affordable than Sydney, and the lifestyle offerings make it a popular choice for immigrants.

Planning your finances and budget

Moving to a new country can be expensive, so it’s important to plan your finances and budget accordingly. Research the cost of living in the city or region you plan to move to and make a budget. Don’t forget to factor in expenses such as shipping your belongings, travelling to Australia, and fees charged when applying for permits and visas.

You may also need to open a bank account in Australia and transfer money from your bank in Canada to cover your expenses. Research the best way to transfer money and consider using a currency exchange service to get the best exchange rate.

By following these steps and doing your research, you can make your move to Australia a smooth and successful one.

Packing and Shipping Your Belongings

One of the most important aspects of moving is deciding which belongings to bring with you and how to ship them. Here are a few tips and considerations to keep in mind when packing and shipping your belongings to Australia.

Deciding what to bring and what to leave behind

When moving to a new country, it’s important to carefully consider what you want to bring with you. While it may be tempting to bring everything, shipping your belongings to Australia can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to sell or donate items you can easily replace once you arrive in Australia. Not only will selling off your replaceable belongings save you money, but it will make your move more manageable.

Consider the climate and lifestyle in Australia when deciding what to bring–consider leaving behind those heavy winter coats and warm boots so essential for getting through those Canadian winters. Similarly, if you’re moving to a smaller home, you may not have space for all of your furniture and appliances.

Hiring a reputable moving company

Once you’ve decided what to bring with you, it’s important to hire a reputable moving company to ship your belongings to Australia. Research different companies and get quotes to ensure you choose the best option for your budget and needs. Shipping times and costs from Canada to Australia vary depending on whether you choose to move by ship or air and can take one to three days on average. For transporting your belongings by ship, it can cost an average of $6,000 CAD for a one-bedroom flat up to $22,000 for a five-bedroom house. For transport by air, it can cost anywhere from $19,000 and up. Also, expect to pay around $12,400 for a 20-foot shipping container and $23,500 for a 40-foot one. Some companies to consider for the move include Seven Seas Worldwide, The Relocator, and Huli Shipping: International Movers. Before deciding on a company, be sure to thoroughly vet each one, check out the reviews, and get a quote. 

Don’t forget to ask about insurance and what happens if your belongings are lost or damaged during shipping. It’s also a good idea to check if the moving company has experience shipping to Australia and if they are familiar with Australian customs regulations.

Shipping your vehicle

If you plan on bringing your vehicle to Australia, it’s important to research the requirements for its import. You may need to make modifications to your vehicle to meet Australian environmental and safety standards. Additionally, you will need to obtain import approval and pay import taxes and fees.

The first step to obtaining permission to import your vehicle to Australia is to contact Australia’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts. ​Once you have been issued your approval, you can file an import declaration and make shipping arrangements. Your car will be released from customs once you have provided approval for import and paid all fees (including customs duty, goods and services tax (GST), luxury car tax (LCT), and other charges where applicable). Timing is essential–if your car arrives before your approval for import, you may incur storage fees until the necessary paperwork comes through. For more details on bringing your car along with you on your move from Canada to Australia, see the Australian Border Force’s Importing a motor vehicle webpage.  Expect to pay at least $5,000 to ship your car, plus taxes, duties, and fees

It’s important to note that importing a vehicle to Australia can be a complex and expensive process. You may want to consider selling your vehicle and buying a new one in Australia.

Customs regulations and import taxes

When shipping your belongings and vehicle to Australia, you will need to comply with Australian customs regulations and pay any import taxes required. Research the regulations and taxes to ensure you are prepared.

Some items may be prohibited or restricted from entering Australia, such as certain foods, plants, and animals. Make sure to declare all items on your shipping documents and be prepared to provide additional information or documentation if needed.

Import taxes and fees can vary depending on the value and type of items you are importing. Make sure to budget for these expenses and factor them into your overall moving costs.

By carefully planning and researching your options, you can ensure a smooth and successful move to Australia.

Settling into Your New Life in Australia

From finding a place to live, transferring funds to Australian financial institutions, healthcare coverage, and when to get a local driver’s license, here are some additional tips to help you settle into your new life in Australia.

Finding a place to live

When looking for a place to live in Australia, it’s important to consider factors such as proximity to work, schools, and transportation. Researching different neighbourhoods and housing options can help you find the best fit for your family. You may also want to consider renting a home before buying, as this will give you a chance to get to know the area and make sure it’s the right fit for you.

Australia has a variety of housing options, including apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes. Many homes in Australia have an outdoor space, such as a backyard or patio, which can be great for enjoying the beautiful weather and outdoor activities.

Enrolling in healthcare and insurance

Australia’s public healthcare system, Medicare, provides free or low-cost healthcare services to eligible residents. To be eligible for Medicare, you must be a permanent resident or have a valid visa. It’s important to enroll in Medicare as soon as possible to ensure you have access to healthcare services when you need them.

While Medicare covers many healthcare services, it’s also a good idea to have private health insurance to cover any additional healthcare costs. Private health insurance can give you access to additional services and shorter wait times for non-emergency procedures. 

You may initially opt to get a travel insurance policy from a Canadian insurer as a bridge until you receive your Medicare coverage, but note that this is a temporary option, usually limited to no more than 12 months coverage. 

Opening a bank account and transferring money

When planning your move from Canada to Australia, a crucial task to consider is setting up new banking accounts and transferring funds. The process of opening bank accounts in Australia is generally straightforward, paralleling the Canadian experience. Have the relevant identification and proof of address handy to make the process run smoothly.

The banking landscape does, however, vary significantly between these two countries. In Canada, the industry is predominantly controlled by the “Big Five” banks: RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC. In Australia, the banking sector, though led by the “Big Four”—Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ, and National Australia Bank—is complemented by smaller regional banks and non-bank lenders, offering a wider variety of choices. This competitive environment often translates into lower fees and diverse services, which might prove advantageous to newcomers.

Once you have a bank account in Australia, transferring money between Canada and Australia is easy. Several options are available, including Swift if you want to initiate a transfer from your Canadian bank account or Wise if you want to save on fees. Wise’s transparent fee structure and quick transfer times make it a popular choice for individuals needing to move money between Canada and Australia. 

Obtaining an Australian driver’s license

Australia allows you to use your overseas license to drive while visiting as long as you do not have a permanent visa and the overseas license remains current. Once you receive permanent visa status, you will have to apply for an Australian driver’s license

Driving in Australia can be a great way to explore the country and its beautiful landscapes. However, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Australian road rules and regulations before hitting the road.

Integrating into Australian Society

Here are a few things you can do to make a seamless transition when integrating into the Australian lifestyle and society. 

Understanding Australian slang and language

One of the first things you may notice when you arrive in Australia is the unique slang and language used by locals. From “arvo” (afternoon) to “brekkie” (breakfast), there are many words and phrases that may take some getting used to. However, learning these common phrases and words can greatly improve your communication with locals to help you feel more at home.

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. Australians are generally friendly and happy to explain their slang and language to newcomers.

Making friends and building a social network

Building a social network is key to feeling connected and supported in your new home. Joining local clubs or groups is a great way to meet new people and make friends.

There are many options to choose from, depending on your interests. Whether you enjoy sports, music, or art, there is likely a group that caters to your hobbies. You can also look for volunteer opportunities or attend community events to connect with like-minded individuals.

Adapting to Australian work culture

The work culture in Australia may be different from what you’re used to in Canada. For example, Australians tend to have a more relaxed attitude toward work, so it’s important to be open-minded and willing to adapt to Australian workplace culture.

One way to prepare for the differences in work culture is to do some research before you start your job. Talk to locals or read online forums to get an idea of what to expect. You can also ask your employer or colleagues for guidance on how to navigate the workplace culture.

Exploring local cuisine and traditions

Australia has a rich culture and history, and there’s plenty to explore and discover. Trying new food is a great way to experience the local culture and cuisine.

Some popular Australian dishes include meat pies, fish and chips, and Vegemite (a spread made from yeast extract). You can also try local delicacies like kangaroo or emu meat.

Participating in local traditions is another way to fully embrace your new home. For example, you can attend a cricket match or the Melbourne Cup Horse Race, which are both popular Australian events.

Overall, integrating into Australian society may take some time and effort, but it can be a rewarding experience. By learning the language, building a social network, adapting to the work culture, and exploring and participating in the local cultural traditions, you will soon feel more at home in your new country.

Tips for a Smooth Transition

Finally, here are some additional tips to help make your transition from being a Canadian expat to feeling like a full-fledged “Aussie” as smooth as possible.

Dealing with homesickness

It’s natural to feel homesick when you move to a new country. In addition to staying in touch with family and friends in Canada, try to establish a support system in Australia. This can include joining local clubs or groups that share your interests or even volunteering for a cause you care about. Not only will this help you meet new people, but it can also give you a sense of purpose and belonging in your new home.

Another way to combat homesickness is to explore your new surroundings. Take a walk around your neighbourhood, visit a local park, or try out a new restaurant. Immersing yourself in the local culture is a great way to start to feel more at home in Australia.

Staying connected with friends and family in Canada

Thanks to technology, it’s easier than ever to stay connected with friends and family in Canada. In addition to Skype and FaceTime, you can also use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share updates and photos with loved ones back home.

It is, however, important to remember to balance your time between staying connected with those in Canada and building new relationships in Australia. Try to limit the amount of time you spend on social media and focus on engaging with the people and experiences around you.

Watching Canadian TV Shows

Upon moving from Canada to Australia, you might find yourself missing the comfort of your favourite Canadian TV shows. While Australian television offers a plethora of quality programming, there’s something about the familiarity of homegrown Canadian content that can’t be replicated. Thankfully, there are ways to continue accessing Canadian television content even from abroad, notably via a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

VPNs allow you to connect to the Internet through servers located in different parts of the world, including Canada. By connecting through a Canadian server, you can still access subscription platforms like Crave and CBC’s GEM, which are geographically restricted to Canadian viewers. Moreover, you can unlock the Canadian Netflix library, which hosts different content compared to its Australian counterpart. This way, not only will you keep up with your favourite Canadian shows, but you can continue exploring new Canadian content on Netflix. Always ensure you choose a reliable and secure VPN service to enjoy uninterrupted streaming.

Embracing the Australian lifestyle

One of the best parts of moving to Australia is the opportunity to embrace a new lifestyle. Whether it’s trying out new food, exploring the great outdoors, or taking up a new hobby, be open-minded and willing to try new things. Don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in Australian culture to learn about the history and traditions of the country. Visit museums, attend cultural events, or even take a class to learn a new skill or language.

The Bottom Line

Moving from Canada to Australia is a big step, but with the proper planning, it can be an exciting and rewarding journey. Whether setting up banking, transferring funds via services like Wise, or staying connected with Canadian TV through VPNs, it’s entirely manageable. Not only will the process lead you to discover Australia’s unique lifestyle, but it will also let you remain in touch with your Canadian roots.

Arthur Dubois is a personal finance writer at Hardbacon. Since relocating to Canada, he has successfully built his credit score from scratch and begun investing in the stock market. In addition to his work at Hardbacon, Arthur has contributed to Metro newspaper and several other publications