A Little Homesick
The Graduate Escape

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Moving to Australia: Opening a Bank Account

Whilst using your UK bank card or even a travel money card might be good in the short-term, you'll definitely need to open an Australian bank account if you're planning on sticking around and working.

I don't know about you, but having a local bank account makes me feel so much more settled in my new home. I don't have to worry about having enough money on my travel card or seeing all of the foreign currency exchange fees on my bank statements anymore. It also means that when I get a job I won't have to faff about trying to get paid.

There are a couple of different banks out here but I'm going to focus on the two most popular ones, especially amongst migrants. 

Westpac

Ahh, Westpac: Australia's first bank. Not only are there Westpac's everywhere, they have current accounts geared towards us aliens! Introducing the Westpac Choice for migrants account! It works just like their regular day to day account for real Australians, but their $5 monthly service fee is waived for the first 12 months! Also, as I mentioned in this post, you don't need to have a proof of address to open the account (this is my experience, at least. It might be different if you open the account online rather than in store?).

If you do decide to bank with Westpac, they also offer savings and superannuation accounts. What is superannuation? It's the Australian version of your pension fund. Why they use such a fancy name for it, I just don't know. If, like me, your time Down Under may be limited, you can withdraw any superannuation savings (?) and move them back an account in your home country - the government will tax the dollar, though.

Commonwealth

Again they have bank accounts specifically for newbies to Australia. From what I gather, the Westpac and Commonwealth bank accounts are very similar. Both waive the monthly service fee for the first month, both can be set up online before you even arrive, and Commonwealth also offers a superannuation account. 

As I mentioned just above, both of these banks have branches everywhere. The fact that they have accounts specifically aimed at migrants just makes the whole process a lot easier. When I arrived in Australia, I originally opened an account with HSBC. My dad and I were under the impression that their 'free transfer between HSBC accounts' blessing would still apply, but I was told that HSBC Australia is separate to other HSBC branches?/countries?. There also aren't as many branches around Australia and they don't have special migrant accounts, so I wouldn't recommend them. Also, the staff were not as friendly so that's a double whammy ;)

Another thing you'll be asked about when you open your account is your TFN or tax file number . Not quite sure what that is? Conveniently I posted about that yesterday!