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What you need to know about the Australian COVID Vaccination Policy as an expat in Australia

Making safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to all Australians is a key priority of the Australian, State and Territory governments. But what does this mean to expats staying in Australia?

The Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (Policy) outlines the approach to providing COVID-19 vaccines in Australia. It sets out key principles, such as that COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for free to all Australian citizens, permanent residents, and most visa-holders. Further, it outlines how COVID-19 vaccines will be accessible on a rolling basis, dependent on vaccine delivery schedules and the identification of groups for most urgent vaccination.

Who is covered by this policy?

The COVID-19 vaccination will be free for all Medicare-eligible Australians and all visa-holders excluding the following:

  • excluding visa sub-classes 771 (Transit)
  • 600 (Tourist stream)
  • 651 (eVisitor)
  • 601 (Electronic Travel Authority).

In terms of preliminary priority population groups, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) identified the top three priority for the vaccination which are:

  • Those who are at increased risk of exposure and hence being infected with and transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others at risk of severe disease or are in a setting with high transmission potential. This includes health and aged care workers; other care workers, including disability support workers; and people in other settings where the risk of virus transmission is increased, which may include quarantine workers.
  • Those who have an increased risk, relative to others, of developing severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, older people and people with underlying select medical conditions.
  • Those working in services critical to societal functioning including select essential services personnel and other key occupations required for societal functioning.

For further information about the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy, you may download the Australian Government Policy here.

The Foreign Exchange Market – What Is an Interbank Rate?

 

The foreign exchange market is a global decentralized market also known as an over-the-counter market where bank dealers make the market to determine the interbank exchange rate, i.e. the rate the banks use when trading with one another.

The interbank rate is the mid-point between the buy and sell rate for a currency on the open market and is the most accurate rate of exchange at any given time. You can easily check this at any time using the XE Currency Converter.

Unfortunately for most of us, this rate is reserved solely for banks and large financial institutions trading in large amounts of foreign currency.

For retail or business banking customers looking to make smaller international money transfers, a margin (or spread) will be applied to the interbank rate to ensure a profit for the service making the transfer. As a retail banking customer, this margin may be anywhere between ~4-5% of the interbank rate.

The graph below illustrates the rate that a customer may expect to receive from the bank when converting their AUD or NZD to GBP.

What determines whether I receive a competitive rate?

Naturally, when sending money abroad, it’s in your best interests to ensure you keep as much of your money as possible by locking in a favorable rate of exchange.

The exchange rate you receive will be based on a number of factors, including:

  • Volume – the amount you are converting
  • Currencies exchanged
  • Knowledge and awareness
  • Frequency of transactions – ongoing or one-off

However, one of the most sure-fire ways to ensure you are receiving a competitive rate is to look at using a money transfer specialist like XE who provides a much sharper rate of exchange than you would otherwise receive from the banks.

Why you should look beyond your bank

XE works closely with our broad network of referring partners to provide their clients with a competitive, secure money transfer solution.

As such, when you choose XE Money Transfer via one of our partners, you will receive preferential rates of exchange that are more competitive than you would receive from other providers.

…It’s not just about the rate

At XE, we pride ourselves on delivering our clients value beyond a great rate, providing a much more comprehensive service than they could expect to receive from the banks.

Exchange rates fluctuate at any given minute and as such our expert team is on hand to be your eyes and ears in the market and advise on how to ensure you lock in the best rate possible.

We also offer a range of products typically not made available to retail banking clients, including Market Orders and Forward Contracts, that will help you reduce your exposure to currency risk.

Whatever your needs or situation, feel free to get in touch with the team at XE to discuss the best approach to your foreign currency needs.

Handy Hints to Feel at Home in Your New Environment

 

There are many challenges with relocating, with some challenges rating higher on the stress scale than others. Once the logistics of the move are over and you are no longer stepping over boxes or searching for teaspoons, settling in is the next hurdle.

By settling we don’t just mean sorting out your new home, but how do you make your new environment ‘feel’ like home?

It can be daunting with family and friends no longer near at hand. The ‘euphoria’ of arriving safely with your belongings is quickly overtaken by the realization ‘that’s it, I’m here, what now?’

The settling in period can be quite different for those who have relocated for work and for those who have accompanied their partners. Your new work environment is your new routine and you tend to hit the ground running.

Many companies offer support and programs to assist with settling in. These are really worthwhile participating in, especially if language or cultural differences are a challenge with the new job.

Social or sports clubs attached to your company are a great way to meet people initially. Meeting up with people who have the same interests will broaden your social circle, while you slowly build your own network. If you have relocated overseas, seek out expat groups to join.

Expats have already done what you’re doing and can be a wealth of information and may even prevent you from making mistakes due to your inexperience. Remember this is not about trying to etch out a piece of home in a foreign land it’s about finding a support system to help, in what can be for some, a lonely settling in period.

Don’t neglect opportunities to form friendships within your local community too, it’s the best way to assimilate and feel part of your new environment. If on the other hand, you are relocating because of your spouse or partners job, it presents with its own kind of challenges.

You may not be able to work, due to visa restrictions, unrecognized qualifications or having young children. You may find yourself somewhat isolated, in the initial phase, while your partner’s days are full and busy with their new job.

You may be waiting for them to return home from work ready to hear all their news only to be met by an exhausted partner, whose day has been full of learning new systems, meeting new colleagues, navigating new roads or transport systems, and all in another language.

You, on the other hand, may not have spoken to another adult all day! It can put a strain on the relationship.

It’s important for both parties to see what challenges the other is facing. Good communication is key to understanding and acknowledging what the other is going through.

For it to be a success, both parties need to feel supported and listened to, while navigating their new life. It is not uncommon for a couple or family to return home because they were not prepared for the possible struggle of the early months.

It can be a painful learning curve to know that it needs to work for both, for it to work at all.

Property Services – What You Need to Know Before You Purchase a Property

 

Melbourne is a very large city even when viewed on a world scale.

It has a larger population than Rome, Montreal, Berlin or Athens and is only slightly smaller than Barcelona, St Petersburg, and Sydney.

Having a very significant population and a considerable geographic area, there are a number of differing precincts in our city that will appeal to expats seeking particular lifestyles, amenities and/or property types.

Malvern and Hawthorn in the inner southeast are very family orientated being extremely well serviced by public transport and featuring most of Melbourne’s best private schools, leafy gardens, and excellent shopping strips.

Albert Park and Middle Park are two spectacular inner bayside suburbs that offer wide streets, fantastic cafés and easy access to the city.

How do you know where to buy? Or when and how?

McRae Property is here to help. Download our guide to learn more about Melbourne, tricks on finding the best property for you and to find out why you need help.

To download our guide, click here

Taxes in Australia – Melbourne Guide

Australia is generally regarded as a high taxing country.

Nevertheless, there are excellent tax concessions depending on whether you meet certain definitions and criteria under the Australian taxation law.

This guide provides a non-technical plain language guide to questions commonly asked by expats in relation to the Australian tax system.

Australian income tax law is complicated and certain concessions which may be available for some expats may not be available to others.

To download the guide, click here

Overreaction and the Creation of Opportunity

 

The general Melbourne property market is being adversely affected by the repercussions stemming from the Banking Royal Commission and a tightening of APRA (the banking governing body) provisions with respect to lending practices.

In our view, the regulators have overshot the mark with the effect on buyer activity plain to see every Saturday at auctions around the city, with property failing to sell or even attract bidders in some instances.

The Credit Squeeze

In essence, we are in the middle of a credit squeeze. Pure and simple. It is not a matter of purchaser’s intent being affected. It is their capacity to actually borrow (a sufficient amount of) money that is the issue.

This is, of course, very much a double-edged sword which, depending on your circumstances, will be either good or bad news. For instance, if you have finance approved or better still, don’t need any finance, you will be in a very strong bargaining position.

The Opportunity for Expats

Many of our Expat clients are seeing this as an opportunity to get into a softening market for the first time in about 6 years.  Our advice to them and all of our other clients is simple.

“Hasten slowly”. What does that mean? There is no need to buy a property “tomorrow” as the current financial environment is likely to prevail (at least) during 2019.  Having said that, there is nothing wrong with buying the right property if it presents itself.  Trying to pick the bottom of the market is a high-risk strategy as the Melbourne market is notoriously resilient. Particularly with circa 120,000 people moving to our city every year.

You don’t want to wake up one morning and the market has turned. And it will happen, it’s just a matter of when.

So no hurry (yet), take it slowly, find the right house (ie. let us find the right house for you!), do all the appropriate due diligence and buy it for the right price.

In our view, you have 12 months to do so. After that, I make no promises!!

Expatland Relocation – Ensuring Your Move Is a Success

 

Australia is a popular choice of destination for many expatriate families and even though it has language, cultural and lifestyle similarities to many other countries, moving to Australia is not without its challenges.

Moving home anywhere is widely known to be one of the most stressful experiences in life and so it is particularly important when moving across international borders to get professional assistance from a specialist International Moving company and/or Relocation Service Provider.  Australia is no exception.

Our E-Team member Nuss Relocations are experts in relocation services and has written a guide on helping you ensure your move is a successful one. This guide is a must read to help you alleviate the stress and complexity of your move.

To download the guide click here

Expatland Finance – Being Prepared in Your New City

 

The cost of living is of major importance to you and your family in looking at whether you will be better off in Expatland. The cost of living in different parts of Expatland varies widely and is affected by many factors beyond your control.

Just one of these, for example, is, say, the effect of tax rises in Expatland.

Those countries in Expatland that may have higher national debt as a percentage of GDP might seek to raise taxes shortly after your arrival. This tax rise – whether indirect or direct – may affect your cost of living in a very short period of time.

It is therefore important for you to prepare a budget. Our E-Team members, XE have written a guide on ensuring you are well equipped to deal with your move financially. It is an essential read and will assist any expat with moving to their new home.

To download our guide please click here:

Foreign Exchange in Expatland – What You Should Know

 

Whether you’ve just started your new life in Expatland or are looking to move back to your country of origin, the need will undoubtedly arise to exchange foreign currency.

Your personal circumstances will determine why you need to exchange currency, the frequency by which you transact and the volume. A currency need will typically arise from:

  • Transferring life savings
  • Selling and/or buying a property in your country of origin and/or Expatland
  • Pensions transfers
  • Repatriating income
  • Investing in assets domiciled in Expatland
  • Sending money home to friends and/or family

So what should you be aware of when converting your currency and sending or receiving cross-border payments?

  1. Are you really getting the best rate?

You trust your bank with your day-to-day banking needs so surely they must be the best option for your foreign currency and international payments needs? The reality is however, that for retail clients the daily buy/sell rates set by the banks often include a cost to transact plus additional sending and receiving fees.

By doing your research and venturing beyond the banking relationship to an alternative foreign exchange provider like XE Money Transfer, you’ll find that you will be able to take advantage of a much higher rate of exchange and no transfer fees – saving you thousands of dollars on your international money transfers.

  1. Protect yourself from currency risk on high value transactions

When making high value transactions that occur over a longer period of time, you may want to mitigate currency risk by locking in a favourable rate of exchange.

Currency risk refers to the uncertainties faced by fluctuating exchange rates and can have a significant effect on the outcome you achieve when it comes to executing your currency conversion.

Contrary to what you may think, you are not restricted to simply accepting the spot rate you are given on the day.

At XE, we provide a range of risk management transactions from Market Orders to Forward Exchange Contracts (FECs) and more complex structure options and our team will be able to advise you on the right strategy to ensure you are getting the best rate of exchange and are not left at the mercy of exchange rate movements.

Handy Hints for Moving

 

Relocating to a new city or destination is an exciting yet daunting time for the individual, couple or family.

The best piece of advice you’ll hear, is to plan for your move well in advance. It will help to reduce the stress which can be overwhelming at times, especially if its your first venture into Expatland.

Tips on What to Do Before You Move

Declutter. It’s not only cathartic to do a clear out before the move but also makes perfect sense. It’s much more difficult and stressful to try and declutter when the packers are there. The packers can’t make those decisions for you, “Should that stay or should it go”?

Organise rubbish collection, garage sales and donations to thrift / charity shops in plenty of time before packing day. You’ll feel better for it and you’re not paying for transporting ‘stuff’ that you may very well throw out when you move into your new home.

Accept help when it’s offered from friends and family. Put your super cape away! It’s o.k. They want to help! Whether for child-minding duties, replenishing the mugs of tea or coffee or cooked meals, it all helps in reducing the stress. Especially on packing day.

If moving with children, get some small packing boxes in advance from the moving company. Let them draw on them, colour them in, write their names on them. They can pack those precious soft toys in preparation for the move. Imagine their excited faces when they recognize their own boxes arriving safe and sound at your new home.

Decide in advance what you will need to:

a) Take on the flight. Those items you’ll need immediately on arrival.

b) What might need to be sent airfreight (that can be expensive) but you can get access to it earlier than if it’s shipped seafreight.

c) Then what needs to go into storage at your destination until you find your new home.

Most important of all, choose an experienced, industry approved relocation company.

When the Relocation consultant has expat experience themselves, they understand and appreciate the stress and pressure that comes with the move. Remember they are your first port of call on this amazing journey, so you want to feel confident and happy with the service they offer.

Get that right at the start and they will assist and support you, listen to your concerns and advise you, as you embark on this exciting journey.

Written by:  Nuss Relocations