Tuesday, 12 February 2008

OzBus Diaries - The Sydney Years

So today we start a new chapter in my blog, OzBus Diaries - The Sydney Years, I doubt it will attract as much interest as the tales of my worldly travels on the magical bus but I plan to continue none the less.

When I first started the blog it was mostly random social commentary on things that happened to me day to day in the run up to the trip and this is how I plan to continue but obviously with a different twist.

I am certain I am not the first traveller to decide to stop off on the way and settle down for a while and I know I won’t be the last. So this blog will now become a guide to Sydney’s culture as seen through my eyes, I will try and offer tips and advice on living in Oz and will always be willing to answer any questions you have, just post them on the site.

So where to start? Well let’s kick off with what you need to settle in Sydney:

1. A working holiday visa

An essential bit of kit, relatively easy to get online this lovely little visa lets you live and work in Oz for 12 months, but there are some catches and conditions. For one you have to apply for it before you turn 31 and enter the country within a year. Secondly when you enter the country they just check it is on their system, they don’t put anything in your passport. In order to carry on with the to-do list you really need a hard copy so make sure you hit the immigration office ASAP. Finally you can only work for one employer for 6 months then you have to change jobs, there are ways round this but I come to them later.

2. An address

Whether it is your hostel, a place you have rented through Gumtree or a friends you need an address for a while, you can’t get anything without it so put this high up on the list.

3. A Bank Account

Head for ANZ, they do travellers accounts but be aware that you need $2000 to use the account, you can set up the account with no money as long as you have ID and an address but you can’t withdraw cash till there is $2000 in there, sounds more complicated than it is. Once you reach $2000 for the first time there is no more minimum balance so you can spend spend spend till you are skint and still use your account.

4. A Medicare Card

This lets you use the Oz medical system to a limited extent but is worth it as you can register with a doctor, you will need your Visa stuck in your passport to get this one, you just need to go to a Medicare centre and apply, quick and easy, again you need an address to have the card sent to .

5. Next steps

Ok you are set up, Seek.com.au is a great place to look for jobs and Domain.com.au is a great place to look for somewhere more permanent to live. If you want to stay longer than a year you have two main options, the first is to work out your first visa and then pick fruit for three months, they give you another year visa as a reward. The second is to get sponsored by an Oz company, depending on what you do this can be hard or easy but Google it and find out for yourself. There are other ways such as being in relationship with an Aussie for 12months or more, having a child with an Aussie etc but these are less conventional.

I am sure there are many more little things to do but I am confident you can work these out for yourself, I managed to and I am far from the sharpest tool in the box.

I have spent the last nine years in London and I loved every minute of it but my time there was up, I had done my stint in the Big Smoke and when I came back from travelling I was going to move out of London anyway. Sydney just called to me, it is a buzzing, vibrant city with a perfect mix of 24hr hedonism and tranquil harbour living, and it is up to you which you fancy today. I look forward to my time in Sydney and plan to make the most of it, we are only young once and a life is a terrible thing to waste.

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