John, 64, and Margaret Schofield, 65, swapped their three-bed home in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, for a self-build bungalow in Sorell, Tasmania in Australia. Here they tell us how they made the transition.
Why did you move to Australia?
During John’s 23 years in the forces, we had been fortunate enough to travel much of the world and always planned to retire abroad. He was demobbed in 1991 and during a trip to Tasmania to visit our daughter, who had emigrated with our grandchildren, we fell in love with the warmer climate and more relaxed pace of life. So in 2008, we decided to make the move “Down Under.”
What is your property in Australia like?
“Our visas took two years to finalise, and after much house hunting we decided to have our new house built in Australia, so we spent the first 18 months living with our daughter and son-in-law, whilst we looked to sell our property in the UK. We eventually sold our property for around £150,000 and purchased a 650 sq m block of land in Sorell, a town in north-east Tasmania, near Hobart for around $95,000 (£50k).
Sorell is one of Tasmania’s oldest farming towns, with historic churches and architecture on the main street, and next to a big nature lagoon. Over the next two years we spent just under $200,000 (£106k) building our detached three-bed bungalow, with a garage, car-port and most importantly, a sea view.
What costs were involved with moving?
“All in all, the move to Australia cost around £55,000 – the majority of which went towards organising our Contributory Parent Visas.
Other costs included medical and security checks, application fees, flights, a 20ft container to transport our belongings, and a $14,000 (£7,440) surety into an Australian bank account, as we are not allowed any Australian benefits until we have lived here for 10 years. This surety will be refunded after this period.”
What do you miss most about the UK?
“There’s not a great deal we miss about the UK, aside from our friends and family we left behind and a good old pint of English bitter. The beer isn’t quite the same over here. It took me a while to hunt down a good English bitter from the UK, but it was expensive. I don’t miss driving in the UK. I have now started to enjoy driving once again here in Tasmania as the roads are a lot less congested.”
How did you transfer your UK funds?
“We hired a financial advisor who was experienced in helping people emigrating to Australia and they recommended Moneycorp as a foreign exchange specialist, who helped us with all our currency transactions. We wanted to transfer the money from our property sale in the UK, as well as six month’s worth of pension payments across to an Australian bank account we set up. At the time, the pound to dollar rate wasn’t as strong as it is now, so getting the best exchange rate was important, and we found Moneycorp offered a far better rate than our bank.
Seek financial and currency advice
As mentioned above I would highly recommend anybody looking to emigrate to seek professional financial advice.
Apart from using an FX broker for transferring funds for the purchase we have continued to use Moneycorp for all our currency transfers. My wife and I receive UK Employment and State Pensions; all of which are paid into our UK bank account. Each month I have a conversation with our currency dealer in the UK on how to maximise the value of our pension payments.
If the pound is particularly low against the Australian dollar then we might decide to hold off for another month or two to see if the rate becomes more favourable. At times when the pound is considerably low, I have used a forward contract to lock in the rate of exchange to protect against any further decline.
We have a number of expat friends who have their pensions paid straight into their Australian accounts. Because the money is transferred at the live rate on the day of payment, they have no control over the rate of exchange.
Use a migration agent
“To ensure the move went smoothly, we also engaged the services of a registered migration agent, who helped us through the entire process and advised us on the best way to submit a successful visa application.”
Visit an expo
Migration expos and property exhibitions – like A Place in the Sun Live! - are a great way to find out all the information you need to know about buying a property and emigrating abroad. We visited a number of expos where we made some really useful contacts who helped us get everything in place before we moved.
Be prepared for additional costs
It’s important to budget for additional costs such as healthcare, which is both privately and government funded in Australia. A typical consultation with our doctor costs around $70 and you are recommended to take out private health care insurance.
Stock up on sun cream
It’s no secret that Australia is much hotter than the UK, but there’s also a hole in the ozone layer over Tasmania, which means it’s extremely important to protect yourself from the sun.
Don’t worry about your tumble dryer
If you’re happy with hanging your washing on the line then don’t worry about bringing your tumble dryer with you. We haven’t used ours once yet! Tasmania is known to have the cleanest air in the world.