A Brief Guide for Moving From Australia to the USA

move from Oz to USA

There are so many reasons as to why people would want to move to the USA. With an abundance of attractions, an iconic film history and diverse landscapes, it’s a continent that has something to offer for all tastes. From the bright lights and bustling strip of Las Vegas to the picturesque landscapes of Montana, it’s easy to see why millions of people make the big move there each year.

But when it comes to moving from Australia to America, what do you need to get sorted before you take the plunge? This isn’t a complete list by any means. So make sure that you do thorough research before making the move. But to make it easier here is some advice as to some of the steps you need to take.

Passports, Visas, Green Cards and medical insurance

Well firstly, ensure that you have at least six months left on your passport, as without one – you aren’t going anywhere, USA or otherwise. This can be easily done by filling out a renewal application form.

The next step is to start a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, which will guide you on what you need to be eligible and will offer a service called INFOPASS – an online appointment system in which you can speak to an Immigration Information Officer about your enquiry.

Then, apply for a visa or a green card. A green card can be obtained through three ways – either if you are marrying a U.S resident, by winning the Green Card Lottery or if you are funding/starting up a business in the U.S. If you are an Australian student, you can typically get a F1 or J1 visa, which allows you to study at a U.S college or school. In terms of work visas, Australians can apply for a e3 work visa that allows them to get a job in America. According to their report, “Annually, 10,500 e3 work visas are issued to Australian citizens”. These visas have many benefits including the fact that spouses of the applicants can also work there and it is renewable every two years for the rest of your life in the USA.

On applying for immigration status, you will have to prove to the immigration authorities in the U.S that you have enough money for your upkeep and living costs. If you have applied for a family-based green card you will have to show what you earn annually.

Applying for medical insurance that covers your healthcare in the U.S is also essential. In America, without it and under the Affordable Care Act, you will have to pay a penalty and won’t get any medical expenses covered.


Another aspect to consider when making the move to America is which of your accounts you want to keep using whilst you are in the U.S. It is advised that you should close all Australian accounts that you are not using, i.e. your phone account, any rental leases, utility bills or credit card accounts. Also, make sure that you are aware of all the taxes that you will have to pay in the U.S and that you are aware of the currency rate; this is particularly important when buying a house and seeing what your living costs will be.

Clear out your wardrobe!

When moving day is getting closer, as with any big move, it’s important to get rid of things you don’t need. Yes, you are upheaving your life to go there, but you don’t need all of your possessions.

Most of the time, when you have lived somewhere for many years you accumulate things, that to be honest, you probably wouldn’t miss if they you gave them away to charity or, if they are not in good condition, threw them away. Ensuring that you have all of the important things, you can always replace the little nicks nacks when you have settled in in the USA.

Buying a house

Buying a new house in the U.S may initially seem daunting – well it would be wherever you chose to relocate to. With the U.S however, buying a property is far more common than renting. The whole buying process is quite complex, so you have to ensure that you have done your research before deciding to invest in a property. Now, there are no hidden costs such as stamp duties for a non-citizen, but if you do decide to buy a home there, you have to keep in mind that you have to submit a tax return at the end of a tax year.

Hopefully, that gives you a brief guide on all of the practical things you need to get sorted for your move from Australia to the USA. Now, onto what you can spend your time doing and what to expect when you are there.  

What is there to do in the U.S?

A chocolate box of attractions and sights, there is lots of things to do in the USA. A continent filled with things to enjoy no matter what your age or your interests, you won’t find a dull moment throughout your time living there.

If you are relocating to the west, you’ve got the breathtaking Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, the original Disneyland and the Las Vegas Strip (amongst other wonderful sights).

In the centre of the USA, you’ve got the Rocky Mountain National Park, Silver Dollar City, Wichita Art Museum and many more attractions to keep you entertained. For the east, you’ve got the United States Capitol, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park and other sights, that will undoubtedly spike your interest.

And finally, if you’re moving to say, Florida, you’ve got Universal Studios Florida, the Florida Keys and Walt Disney World. With tons of sights to enjoy, whether you are an art enthusiast, a thrill-seeker or an adventure lover, the USA will captivate and amaze you.

U.S Transport

If you move to a location in the U.S that you will have to frequently use the transport system, at first it may seem like a minefield. Especially when you move to a city such as New York which has a subway system that will blow your mind.

One of the most common rail systems across the U.S is Amtrak – spanning from the east to the west and from the north to south, it is usually considered to be a cheaper form of transport as it takes a little longer than the usual commuter train. Of course, as with all of this list, the simplicity and availability of trains do depend on where you move to.

You can also learn to drive if you don’t want to get the train or catch the bus. To drive in the U.S, not only will you need a driving licence that you have obtained in Australia, but you will also have to apply for an International Driving Permit, which is also issued in Australia before you move. If you want to be able to drive there permanently, you will also have to take a driving test.

Dining out

The U.S has developed a reputation for producing large food portions. Known for its variety of flavours across the regions, from tex-mex to southern comfort food, wherever you move to in the U.S there is one thing for certain – you will be spoilt for choice in terms of choosing where to dine out or where you can enjoy a relaxed drink with a friend. One thing you have to keep in mind though is that there is a strict tipping policy. Depending on the service, it can begin at 15% and go up to over 20%. Many employees there depend on these tips as a form of income, so if you do receive exceptional service, you can show your gratitude by means of a good tip.

The cost of dining is also very much dependent on the region and where you decide to dine. New York, for example, is known for being quite expensive in terms of eating out, whereas a more remote city may be cheaper.

Each city and state has its own speciality food. Buffalo has its wings, New Orleans has its gumbo – the list goes on. A good thing about the U.S is that with the variety it has on offer, you can stick to a budget. When it comes to drinking, the U.S has a very strict policy. You must be over 21 to sit at a bar and to drink alcohol. Often, it doesn’t matter if you look older than the drinking age, you will still be asked to show your ID, therefore you should ensure that you have it on hand at all times.

So, there you go! There’s a brief guide for those moving from Australia to the USA. If you’re set on the move, make sure that you have done your research and are aware of all the things you need to get sorted. A huge move no matter what stage of life you’re in, wherever you decide to settle down in the U.S you can start a wonderful new life and create unforgettable memories.


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