Deciding to move your entire family to a foreign country is often a difficult decision. For many Filipinos, it is often a last resort since our culture greatly values the ties of extended families and growing up close to one’s roots. However, the lack of good educational and employment opportunities here has made it necessary for many a family to seek greener pastures abroad.
Once you have decided to bring the entire family to Australia, you will need to have a lot of things in place long before all of you get on that one-way flight. Ideally, you’ll want to set aside at least 18 months or a year and a half to ensure that the process of migrating goes as smoothly as possible:
18 Months Before
If you haven’t done research on the migration process (or on Australia) at all, now would be the time to really get into it. Think about where you would like to settle. Look at the different laws, industries, and weather patterns that dominate the many different cities in the country, and pick out three so you can decide on which is better suited for the family with your spouse. If you have friends or relatives already living there, ask them for feedback.
You should also work on setting a budget during this stage.
Research on the property and utility prices in the area you’ve chosen and estimate how much you would need to save up to afford basic necessities for at least six months or even one year. Find out how much the moving process would cost (e.g., shipping/freight fees vs. purchasing secondhand furniture in Australia) and familiarize yourself with the quarantine requirements, especially if you are bringing the family pet along.
While you’re at it, look around for employment or business opportunities in the area. You can also start looking for your children’s schools in the process.
Now would also be a good opportunity to attend migration seminars and to research on visa options for you and your family.
Lastly, have a thorough medical examination to determine if you have any health problems that could hinder your plans. Think about whether to sell or lease your family’s house, and prepare accordingly.
12 Months Before
Get passports for everyone in the family or keep existing ones up-to-date, and start applying for visas.
The Australian government is very strict about families migrating there, so you and your family should start applying for your visas at this stage. This way, you’ll have enough time allotted before the move. The usual documents required for migrating families are as follows: marriage certificates, birth certificates, and valid passports for everyone. All submitted documents should be translated into English. It would also be advisable to seek assistance from your migration agent if you anticipate any difficulties.
Inform people about your plans to relocate.
Tell your family members and friends about your intentions to move your family to Australia. Coordinate with your children’s schools to facilitate their transfer after the current school year and get a hold of important documents such as official transcripts.
Get your finances in order.
Work on reducing or eliminating your debts and start consolidating your assets. If you plan to sell your house, contact a real estate agent and/or put out notices that it is for sale.
6 Months Before
Prepare your family for departure.
Once you have all been granted a permanent residency visa, sort through your household goods for things you no longer need or want. (You can donate or sell off the ones that don’t make the cut.) Consider getting temporary accommodation if your house is sold earlier than expected or check your lease contract for the proper procedure in giving notice if you are renting your living space.
Talk to your immediate boss or supervisor about your impending departure.
Come up with a plan for handling your departure gracefully (i.e., training your replacement, tying up some loose ends at work, etc.).
Sort out your paperwork.
Accomplish any medical or police checks required by the state you’re moving to and obtain medical and dental records for each family member. Secure credit references from your bank and any other accredited financial institution that you have transacted with in the past.
And morbid as it sounds, you should also update your last will and testament.
Finalize where you want to live in your chosen city or state.
Which neighborhood will you be settling in? Which house or apartment will your family live in? Where will your children attend school? You should have an answer to all these questions at this point.
2 Months Before
Fix your living arrangements in Australia.
Finalize your lease or purchase agreements for the apartment or house that your family will be living in. If that isn’t possible, arrange for temporary living arrangements (AirBnB has some great options). Look into transport options to your immediate address, search for childcare providers and register them if possible, and book boarding kennels and quarantine services for your pets if any are tagging along.
Wrap up any pending legal, insurance, or financial matters.
If you haven’t already, get insurance cover for you and your family. (Make sure it will remain valid until you are able to obtain insurance in Australia.) Settle any legal conflicts, if any, and get your latest financial statements from your bank/s.
Get started on your job search.
Update your curriculum vitae, particularly the employer references part. Check online for any job openings in your area in Australia and notify companies with such of your interest and arrival date. Try to arrange for a telephone interview before your departure to expedite your application.
Begin the “housekeeping” processes for departure.
Pack up the things you don’t regularly use into trusty balikbayan boxes. Service and then store or sell your car. If you are leasing your living space, notify your landlord or landlady about your final departure date.
1 Month Before
Update your billing information as needed.
Provide your bank, migration officer, local post office, banks, and any other pertinent institutions with your forwarding address in Australia. (Don’t forget to do the same for your family members and friends.) Cancel any existing subscriptions that you won’t be continuing and disable any direct debits being made to your bank account or credit card for local bills.
Gather all of your important paperwork into a secure travel file.
If possible, set up a bank account in Australia too.
Replenish your medicine supply.
Restock on current prescriptions and check with your physician about how you can continue to do so in Australia.
2 Weeks Before
Obtain some Australian currency.
Get enough to cover the first week of your family’s expenses in Australia.
Finish packing non-essentials.
All items that you plan on bringing but don’t use everyday should be packed within this period. You will also need to back up your computer files.
A Week Before
Pack your essentials and your luggage.
You should also arrange for your transportation to the airport if you haven’t already.
Leave your forwarding details with the new owners of your house or with the landlord or landlady of the apartment that you’re leasing.