Tips for Pinoy Migrants to Australia Part 1

Ritz Arnan posted a message on our shoutbox recently that read:

(I) hope you could write more tips or ideas similar to your article “always be prepared“. How to survive the firts months or year in the Oz.

Hmm. What should a would-be lone migrant, like yourself, do when you arrive in Australia to help survive the first few months? Actually, another interesting question would be, what should you do even before you leave for Australia? I have some ideas, of course, but I could only make suggestions based on what I found helpful myself.

In this post, I’ll just provide suggestions on what you (whether it be Ritz or any other potential migrant) should do before leaving the Philippines that could help you along when you get here. Then, I’ll make another later post with my suggestions on what you may need to do after you arrive. This way, I could divide into two what could be a very long post.

Without further ado, here are some suggestions on what to do before you leave for Australia that will help you survive your first few months here in no particular order:

  • Get letters of recommendation from your past employers.
    Not only that, be sure to get their contact information so that you could provide it to Australian job interviewers if they ask you for references. So, it may also be a good idea to advise your past employers that they may receive an overseas call from these companies you’re applying for. Also, remind them to put in a good word for you, of course.

  • Research your destination.
    You could do this by getting those travel books about your destination. You know, those books with maps and lots of pretty pictures of the major cities of the subject country. Sometimes these books also list useful cultural local information as well as information on potential accomodation which you’ll be needing if you do not have any relatives or friends here.

    Alternatively, you can use the Internet to know more about your destination. In fact, a friend of mine who is fairly new here used the BCL Australia site to find out more about Melbourne and booked his hotel and airport-to-hotel pick-up through the site.

    Speaking of accomodation…

  • Search for potential accomodation.
    I already mentioned accomodation-seeking in the previous tip but let me say more about it here. This is very important for those of you who do not have anywhere to stay with when you get here. Your best bet, though more expensive, is to book a hotel for maybe a week while you look for a job and for a real apartment.

    I recommend you get those serviced apartment-type hotel rooms where it’s sort of like an apartment but paid by the day. It’s sometimes cheaper than standard hotel room and nicer, too. You can book a hotel room online at Accomodation Line.

    I have to stress that you should only stay in a hotel only because you need a place to stay when you get here. Once here, make it a priority to find a job first. You will find it difficult to rent an apartment of your own unless you already have a job.

    Alternatively, you can go to the forum I mentioned earlier and look for people there with an extra room willing to take you in for a short period of time.

    Speaking of the forum…

  • Visit the online forum.
    Get to know Aussie-Pinoys even before you step on Australian soil in this forum. There, you can ask anything about Australia and get answers from people who actually live here or had experienced migrating first-hand. Want to know something about Australia? Ask about it there by posting.
  • Bring a lot of clothes.
    Clothes here are a lot more expensive than in Manila so better stock up. As it could get real cold here, you may still need to buy winter clothes when you get here. Sweaters or jackets bought from home may not be sufficient to keep you warm here during the cold seasons. Still, it doesn’t hurt to bring a sweater, jacket and/or coat anyway specially if you’re not planning to come over in the summer months (December to February).
  • If you already own an unlocked GSM mobile phone (cellphone to you), bring it.
    Australia uses a GSM mobile network so your old GSM phone should work fine here. You’d probably still need to buy an socket converter for your phone battery charger at the airport when you get here though. If you don’t have a mobile already (which I strongly doubt), don’t buy one. You can just get one from here when you get here.
  • Get a credit card.
    Back home, getting one or two should not be too difficult. After all, if you qualified for an Australian PR visa, then most likely you’re pretty well off financially at this time. I had an AIG Visa credit card and a Citibank Mastercard when I left for Australia and I found those cards useful when I was seriously low on cash. Think of these credit cards as your back up in case you run out of cash during your first few months here. I’d recommend you get credit cards here, too, but upon your arrival, I doubt any bank will approve your credit card application.
  • Set up an International ATM account.
    You can open an ATM account with Citibank (which I and a friend of mine did) or any other bank that provides you with an ATM card that has the Cirrus logo on it. This way, you do not need to bring all your cash with you to Australia. You can just withdraw from your Philippine bank account from any ATM here that bears the MasterCard, Maestro and/or Cirrus logos whenever you need more cash. This also makes it easier for your relatives in the Philippines to help you out financially if you should need it by being able to deposit money into your bank account that you can withdraw from here.

    Remember though that there is an international withdrawal fee involved when you use your ATM card abroad so you should just draw from your account on emergency situations only. Ask the bank for the actual fees involved and any withdrawal limits.

  • Bring US Dollars.
    I think you could have Philippine Pesos converted to Australian Dollars once you’re here but you’d find it difficult to find an institution that does. So, save yourself some grief and just make sure you bring US Dollars here.

    There is no minimum “show money” required so you can bring how ever much you wish. Take into consideration the costs you’ll incur and just bring whatever is appropriate.

    Also, take note that if you bring over AU$10,000 worth of cash (in whatever currency), you should declare it with Customs. There shouldn’t be a problem with bringing over 10k but not declaring is a big offence.

    Speaking of Customs…

  • Do not bring food over.
    It’ll just be thrown away at the airport if you declare it. And if you don’t declare it, and you get caught, it’s a pretty big offence that could lead to severe penalties. Go to this Australian Customs Service page that list items that must be declared on arrival.
  • Do not bring pirated stuff over.
    You don’t want to get caught with those at either the Philippine or Australian airports.
  • Look for potential jobs and set up interviews a few weeks before your arrival here.
    For more info on job hunting, read Raquel’s post on Job Hunting in Australia.

    Because a friend of mine looked for potential jobs even before coming to Melbourne, he already had a few interviews lined up when he got here. After a week, he had an offer. After another week, he has a job.

  • Use to find your way around.
    I don’t think the maps that came with Australian travel books you’d get in the Philippines would be that comprehensive. So, if you need help finding out where some place is, whether it’s a location of a potential accomodation or a job interview, you can always refer to to find out where it is in Australia.
  • Bring your driver’s license if you have one.
    Hey, you never know when you need another identification card. Also, you can use your Philippine driver’s license (spelled licence here) to drive around Australia for the first three months, if I recall correctly. Just make sure you know the road rules here first before you take on the road.

Whew. That’s a long list of to-do’s for you. I’ll leave it at that for now.

I hope this current list of suggestions would be helpful. Next time, I’ll give you another personal list of suggestions which you might find useful on the first few weeks of your arrival to Australia.

Published in: on July 27, 2005 at 10:53 pm  Comments (12)  

12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow! Thank you for this! Btw, here’s the current list of occupations in demand in Australia for year 2015-2016. You can also pass the link to all your relatives and friends working overseas like in Middle East, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, etc.

  2. And if you’re looking for something new, here’s one:

    Barbie has been part of each Filipino’s childhood. From being heard as little girl’s playmate, Pinoy Barbie will now conquer Australia with full transformation of being Aussie’s favorite food! “Barbie” is a colloquial term for barbeque in Australia and the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA), Manila is now promoting the “Fiipino Barbie” in Melbourne through the 2014 Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Feast will happen on March 9 at William Angliss Restaurant. For more information, visit Discover Australia’s Barbie cooked the Filipino way!

  3. This is a bit old but pretty helpful article. just want to add that there’s a new Filipino Australian Community Site at , which also offers wide range of information about Australia. It’s a public service non-profit site. people are friendly and accommodating too. You might want to try visiting it as well if you seek info about Australia. Thanks!

  4. Hi Geejay,

    People like you are a real blessing to those in need to go there in Australia. I myself is delighted to read your advices. Very, very informative. I will do the same once I get there. I am on the very first step. The process of obtaining my papers for Skills Recognition, submission to Australian Computer Society next IELTS then I will log my application to wish me luck.


  5. Hi Geejay,

    People like you are a real blessing to those in need to go there in Australia. I myself is delighted to read your advices. Very, very informative. I will do the same once I get there. I am on the very first step. The process of obtaining my papers for Skills Recognition, submission to Australian Computer Society next IELTS then I will log my application to wish me luck.


  6. Looking for pinoys here in Sydney. There will be a get together on July 26 all Filipinos. It will be a karoke singing and disco dancing. There’s a ticket only $10.00 but it’s really worth attending. This will be in Marrickville, NSW. The proceeds of this event will benefit pinoys of course helping and supporting our own. FOr more information …….
    Please email to

  7. hi. i came here just six months ago and I find your website very educational. specially this part about migrating to australia. 🙂

  8. Jona. I’ve just read your SPAM ATTACK in the other blog post. We don’t appreciate getting spammed, specially from someone who seems to be asking for help. You seem to be very demanding.

    If you want to demand, go hire an immigration agent who you can probably push around.

  9. Jona. I personally haven’t experienced stopping over Manila before (it’s usually my destination or point of origin). I don’t know what exactly would happen.

  10. i already ask in australian embassy here in korea and they said i don’t have any problem because i submitted all the following requirements from australian embassy. i’m just scared in manila airport because if they ask some document i don’t have enough time to get.i will stay in manila 20 hrs only before the flight.i don’t wanna fail:((:((:((:((:((:((:((

  11. hi geejay..i would like to ask some questions i will get my ausVisa next week and i will take the philippine airline so i will stop in manila for only 20 hrs before the flight going to australia.i just wanna ask this do i need to get some requirements from DFA or CFO? i’m just worried maybe in manila airport they probably ask some document.i ask already in australian embassy here in korea and they said i don’t any problem.thanks:)

  12. […] A reader left us a note a few days back seeking advice on first time accommodations in Melbourne. Although I already tackled it in not-so-many words in a previous blog post titled Tips for Pinoy Migrants to Australia Part 1, I think it’s time I flesh out the topic a bit more. […]

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