Monday, 9 January 2012

What we learned from our Australia trip in October 2011

I am sooooo overdue with this blog post and have to apologies for the delay.  With year end and Christmas time, I just did not have enough time to do this translation.  The Afrikaans blog has been posted some time ago.
The main reason for our Sydney visit last year end October, was three fold as follows:
1.    To do our 1st “entry” to “activate” our Permanent Residency Visas
2.    We wanted to meet other expats to get info. My sister in law arranged several meetings with friends of theirs and we loved meeting all the different people and to listen to their individual stories
3.    We wanted to see schools, neighbourhoods, and general “shopping” – to compare prices. 
Well, herewith a summary of our observations. Remember this is my interpretation, thus if you have something to add, change, or need to let me know I am on the wrong path ….. please leave a message.  I will appreciate all feedback.

·         Take as much of your SA stuff as possible with.  Furniture, crockery, linen, hobbies, tools, etc. Do not feel sorry for the domestic worker and give her tons of  stuff.  Everything you give away, needs to be replaced in Australia and it may possibly be at a much higher price than in SA.  Especially expensive while you are not earning dollars!  Look at furniture prices on Freedom’s website and you will see the furniture is more expensive.
·         If you really want to have new stuff like pots, pans, or furniture, rather purchase it in SA and send with the container.
·         Australian retail websites are in general a bit more comprehensive than SA’s (especially with regards to prices).  You can do your homework with regards to comparison of prices etc.
·          All the money you save by not replacing something in Australia can be better used to buy those necessary groceries that need to be replaced in Australia, or to spend it on yourself, family or kids to make the adjustment easier (like a week-end away) or for school clothes and supplies.
·         Some SA books are not important in Australia.  E.g. Afrikaans books, Church or industry specific books (which has no relevance in Oz), SA garden, animal and bird books are not necessary to bring with.  Obviously, if the book has personal or practical relevance, bring it with. I have heard about a person who brought 4 Afrikaans bibles and several Afrikaans hymn books – could not do tooo much with all those books. Sort your books, donate to the library/school or give to the family
·         Remember your house in Aus will most probably be much smaller than your house in SA, thus think carefully about the furniture you are taking with.   Bulky furniture may not be as practical. 
·         Also, do not buy too much new furniture/stuff.  If you survived without it in SA, you will most probably be able to live without it in Oz.
·         New furniture warning – The immigration guys may ask for evidence that your furniture is older than 1 year. Thus, if you still have your receipt, take it with.  If you can not produce a receipt and it looks like the furniture is new, you may be charge an importation tax (or something like this)
·         Australia has a very comprehensive storage retail industry.  There are several shops which specialises in storage solutions such as Howards Storage World and IKEA. (find them on the internet)  Plastic containers may be a bit cheaper in SA, but the quality and efficiency of these products in Australia is in my opinion much better.  Thus, don’t’ buy extra storage solutions in SA – come get it in Australia.  Have a look at especially Howards Storage World to see the type of solutions I am talking about.
·         It is preferable to buy your expensive appliances in Australia.  The most important reason for this is that you will have an Australian guarantee (not the extended guarantee which they try and sell you – just the regular one)  This is applicable for items such as TV, Vacuum Cleaner, Lawn mower, etc. The prices of these items are not too expensive (compared to SA) and at least you’ll have a valid guarantee. Thus, what I am trying to say is not to buy expensive new appliances in South Africa. What if you new SA Guarantee TV breaks in Australia?  Then you do not have a guarantee to get it fixed or replaced.
·         Don’t purchase new washing machine, tumble dryer or dishwasher.  These items are relatively well priced in Australia and most houses come with these appliances.  If yours are still in a good working condition, bring it with.  Just remember that you are most probably going to rent the first few years and most houses comes with at least a Dishwasher and Washing machine.  Thus, if you bring your own, you may have to store it (for a long time) in a garage or other storage solution before you are able to use it. I suggest you find out form the local retail agent what will be in an average house and then decide what you are going to bring with and what you are leaving behind.  But, I suggest you do not buy ones before you move to Australia.
·         If you have to purchase new appliances, purchase a brand name that is big in Australia (for repair purposes). Look at websites such as Harvey Norman and Bee Ling to see which brand names are popular.  I heard the story that LG products carry a 3 year guarantee – regardless which country – but I am not sure how true this is.
·         Just  like in SA, there are shops in Australia which sells “damaged goods/ appliances”. In other words, demo models, scratched or dented machines etc. These products are much cheraper.  In Sydney I know of 2 shops like these, 2nds world and the Good Guys. 
·         Purchasing a vacuum cleaner may be more complex than you thought.  Remember you do your own work in Australia, thus make sure the vacuum cleaner is comfortable and light weight.  You also have a good chance of ending up in a double storey, so remember who is going to carry it up and down the staircase.
·         Some items need to be cleaned spotless if you want to take it with. No need to get professional people to clean it and get certification etc.  Customs are not interested in your certificate.  These items include bicycles, garden equipment, vacuum cleaner, tools, garden tools, camping gear and garden furniture.  Rather clean it yourself (steam clean or pressure clean and save some money)
·         If you have kids, try and buy some clothes in SA. Build up a stockpile for the next few years.  Such as jeans, t-shirts etc. The classic stuff.  Clothes are expensive and it will take you a while to find the cheap shops or to be able to know which Oz shop offers the same quality as Woolies, Jet, Edgars or Ackermans. 
·         Beds are quite expensive.  Try and take your own beds.  Unfortunately beds sizes differ slightly in Australia, thus if you buy new beds in Oz, your linen may not fit. And visa versa. Thus thy and bring your beds and linen (Buy some extra sheets etc if need be)
·         Curtains.  This is a difficult one.  Most houses come with blinds.  But I had a look at the prices of the ready made curtains of shops such as Target, the Big W and IKEA are reasonable.  Thus, bring your curtains with, but it will not break the bank to purchase new ones in Australia. (ready made ones)
·         Towels are very expensive. Even the most expensive ones at Woolworths and Edgars are cheap compared to Australia – the ones I saw in any case. Thus, purchase your stock and bring it with.  This includes beach towels.
·         I love doing Cross stitch (and some other needlework) and compared cotton, wool etc prices. This is not too bad and I am quite happy to replenish my stockpile in Australia.
·         Bicycles.  In shops such as Target and the Big W (they are like Game in SA) Bicycles were prices OK.  We recently purchased a good bicycle for my daughter from Pick n Pay for R800.  The same type of Bicycles was about R1000 in Target. Thus, I am sure you will be able to afford it.  I did not compare the serious bicycles from specialist stores.
·         Bicycle helmets. These are also well priced in Australia.  I will feel quite comfortable to buy our helmets there.
·         Purchase a trolley which you can use when you move, to stack boxes on. You are going to carry your own boxes around and having one of those heavy duty trolleys are always a good idea.

I hope these tips will help you or at least put you in some type of direction. 
I am sure we are going to wish we brought some stuff with and wish we left some stuff behind.  Hopefully the opportunity we had to go and compare prices etc will be worth our money and help us to diminish our regrets.
Please comment and give me more info if needed


  1. Chantel, do you have dates for your immigration as yet? Which part of Sydney are you hoping to live in? Where do your friends live? What sort of school do you want the girls to go to?

    1. Hi Julie. We were very impressed with the North Shore (Forestville, St. Ives, etc). At the moment we are thinking of public schools - at least for the younger 2. Luckily there are enough private high schools in that area, if we decide to put the eldest in a private school. We do not have dates for our immigration, as we are bound by the sale of our house in South Africa. We will move immediately once the house is sold. We have family in Mosman and friends in the North Shore and Hills area. We had a lovely relocation specialist who assisted us with finding suitable areas, explaining the quality of schools in the different areas as well as pointing out the transport systems and whatever else we would need. We are very excited and pray that our house sells fast. I really want to start our new life in Australia. Thanks for your interest.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks. We enjoyed our visit. Hopefully next time it will be permanent.

  3. Hi Chantel, one appliance you might want to get in SA is a carpet washer and extra brushes. they cost about R1000 at Game I hear and in lyttleton (the main rd that goes to Irene, sorry don't know it name) you can order extra brushes for $100 each. I just bought 4 brushes and mom gave me her washer. We don't have those washers here. You can rent washers from coles or woolies, but it becomes expensive. Or have someone come out to do the carpet average cost $400 very expensive.
    groete Rina