How to Move to Australia from the USA

Whether you’re a US citizen seeking adventure, or you simply need to move abroad for job opportunities, finding a new home in the Land Down Under can be a fun — but confusing — process. From overcoming culture shock to moving your stuff, an international move is no small decision.

But don’t worry: moveBuddha is here to help you figure out the ins and outs of Australia visa options, international moving options, and other essential tips for relocating to beautiful Australia.

If you’re a US citizen who wants to move to Australia and become an Australian citizen, it’s best to prepare for your move ASAP for the smoothest relocation possible.

Check out this guide to learn how the moving process works for US citizens, how to secure an Australian visa, and how to start a new life in Australia.

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Why are people moving from the US to Australia?

Did you know that US citizens are one of the largest groups of people to immigrate to Australia? More Americans are seeking greener pastures across the globe for everything from better work opportunities or family ties.

Economic opportunity

It doesn’t hurt that Australia’s minimum wage is much higher than in America, and most people can earn a decent living regardless of the type of job they work.

However, many Americans specifically choose Australia because of the strength of the Australian economy and the Australian dollar. The Aussie dollar is one of the strongest currencies in the world and it has a favorable exchange rate with US dollars.

Quality of life

If you want to experience a high quality of life, Australia might be the best foreign country to move to. This country has less air pollution and is much more environmentally conscious, which means living in cities isn’t as unhealthy of a choice as it is in America.

Australia also has an incredible work-life balance, and family outings and friendly get-togethers are just as important as working. Aussies’ laid-back nature and friendliness make it enjoyable to live anywhere in Australia.

Public healthcare

Unlike in America, Australia has free and subsidized healthcare at some of the very best hospitals in the world. If you want excellent health insurance, the Australian healthcare system is one of the best in the world.

The reputable Medicare system gives you access to an extensive range of healthcare services and free medical care in many public hospitals. You will also enjoy lower prescription costs.


If you think that Australia doesn’t have a diverse food scene, think again. This country has some of the best restaurants in the world.

In addition to fine dining, Australia has popular fast-food chains and an exhaustive selection of exotic cuisine. You won’t have any problems finding Vietnamese, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Indian, or Thai food near your new home.

Immigrant acceptance

Many Americans choose to move to Australia because it’s one of the most welcoming countries to immigrants. Not only are the Australian people incredibly friendly, but the country offers an extensive range of visa options, with most allowing access to resident visas.


If you’re a parent, consider moving to Australia to give your kids a high-quality education. Australia has one of the best public education systems in the world.

Unlike other countries, Australia takes a holistic approach to education. There’s an equal emphasis on sports, emotional development, and academics. It also offers free or subsidized education at the primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.

The weather

Sick of drizzly weather in the USA? Americans migrate to Australia to enjoy almost year-round sunshine and warmth. Average temperatures in Australia range between 83 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to move your things to Australia from the USA — and how much it costs

So, how do you move your stuff from the USA to Australia? If you’re looking for the best way to move household goods from point A to point B, moveBuddha is here to help.

As long as you go with a reputable international moving company, there are two reliable ways to move to Australia: air freight or sea freight.

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Air freight

Need to move to Australia in a hurry? Air freight is one of the quickest and safest ways to move your stuff.

The downside? Using an international air freight service is more expensive, and it isn’t suitable for moving an entire household’s worth of stuff.

Air freight is only a good idea if you need to move a one-bedroom apartment’s worth of belongings. You can expect it to take between five to eight days when moving to Australia from the USA.

International air freight companies

  • Ships Freight
  • CF Couriers & Freight
  • NEW Worldwide Express

Air freight costs

Air freight charges are generally based on weight and volume, but this can be prohibitively expensive if your employer isn’t paying for your move.

The following table shows the average cost of moving to Australia from the USA using a one cubic meter container weighing about 550 pounds, including contents:

Origin city Destination city Average cost Average transit time
Los Angeles Sydney $2,290 1-3 days
Los Angeles Adelaide $2,310 1-3 days
New York Sydney $2,585 1-3 days
New York Adelaide $2,530 1-3 days
  • Air freight shipments from the United States to Australia typically cost between $2,300 and $2,600.
  • Transit times on air freight shipments from the United States to Australia are usually between one and three days.

Sea freight

Sea freight is the most common transportation method for relocating from the USA to Australia. It’s much more affordable and can move a larger volume of stuff, but it does take longer than air freight.

On average, it can take between one to two months for a sea freight shipment to reach Australia from America. If you want to use a sea freight service, you can choose between shared containers or exclusive containers.

Shared container

Most US citizens moving to Australia choose to use a shared container. This is when you share a shipping container with someone else who’s moving to Australia. This is more affordable because you only pay for the area your belongings occupy.

Usually, this option is most suitable for those who have many belongings but don’t require their own twenty-foot or forty-foot container. This option is ideal for moving the contents of a small apartment, house, or office.

Exclusive container

If you’re shipping a lot of stuff, you might be better off paying for an exclusive shipping container. This option costs more than a shared container, but you can ship much more.

You’ll be able to choose between a twenty-foot or forty-foot container, depending on how much you need to move.

International sea freight companies

  • OSS Worldwide Movers
  • United States General Shipping Line
  • LC Schumacher Cargo Logistics

Sea freight costs

The following table shows the average costs and transit times associated with moving from the USA to Australia:

Origin city Destination city Average cost to ship via 20-foot container Average transit time
Los Angeles Melbourne $1,200 3-4 weeks
Los Angeles Sydney $1,250 3-4 weeks
Los Angeles Adelaide $1,190 4-5 weeks
New York Melbourne $2,950 5-6 weeks
New York Sydney $3,050 5-6 weeks
New York Adelaide $2,975 5-6 weeks
  • Moving from Los Angeles to Australia typically costs about $1,200
  • Moving from New York to Australia typically costs about $3,000
  • Shipping times between The United States and Australia generally range from 3 to 6 weeks

Please note that these figures use data from a relatively small sample size. Your move may cost more or less depending on how much you move, insurance charges, and whether you need additional services like storage and car shipping.

Choose an experienced mover

Regardless of whether you want to do air freight or sea freight, it’s a good idea to work with a solid moving company.

To make the most of your move, be sure to discuss your:

  • Budget.
  • Where you’re shipping the items from.
  • Your destination.
  • How quickly you need your belongings.

Once they know your exact needs, the international movers can put together a moving plan that best fits your situation.

When it comes to working with the best USA-to-Australia movers, we suggest checking out the following reputable and highly experienced international relocation companies:

Company Price Vendor Type Quoting options Storage Minimum Move Size
JK Moving Services $$ Carrier Phone/virtual estimate Yes 1 bedroom
North American Van Lines $$$ Carrier Phone/virtual estimate Yes 1 bedroom
Allied $$$ Carrier Phone/virtual estimate Yes 1 bedroom

Not sure how to find a reliable mover? Don’t sweat it. Check out moveBuddha’s vetted list of international moving companies to start your new life, stress-free.

What to expect when moving to Australia

If you’re moving to Australia from the US, you’ll find a thriving expat community in the Land Down Under.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, over 36,000 people moved from the Americas to Australia from 2019 to 2020. This is a big jump from the 29,000 people who immigrated to Australia from 2014 to 2015.

Thousands of Americans move to Australia every year. In fact, According to the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, America was one of the top ten countries providing permanent resident migrants to Australia in 2020.

If you’re contemplating a move to Australia, it’s important to remember that this is a different country. Here’s what you can expect when you move to Australia.

The cost of living in Australia

How far will your money stretch in Australia compared to the USA?

According to Expatistan, the overall cost of living in Australia is about 15% cheaper than it is in the United States.  Of course, the cost of living in big cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane is more expensive than in rural areas and small cities in America.

The following table shows the average cost difference between various expenses in the two countries:

Item Australia USA
Basic groceries like milk, bread, eggs, and cheese $12 $20
Coffee $3 $4
A meal in a restaurant $13 $15
Draft or bottled beer at a bar or restaurant $4 $3
Movie ticket $13 $12
Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment $1,145 $1,290
Monthly utility costs $136 $153
  • Basic groceries are about 40% more expensive in the US than in Australia.
  • Restaurant meals are approximately 14% more expensive in the US than in Australia.
  • Rent and monthly utilities are about 12% more expensive in the US than in Australia.

You’ll also want to consider exchange rates when moving from the United States to Australia. According to XE, one US dollar is about equal to about 1.53 Australian dollars.

Working in Australia

Unless you’re a student, a retiree, or an independently wealthy dilettante, you’ll probably need to work to support yourself while living in Australia.

It’s worth familiarizing yourself with Australia’s strict immigration laws and visa requirements. If you fail to get the correct visa (or work without authorization), the government could deny you entry or deport you.

As long as you have the right visa, you can expect to earn an average of at least $3,000 per month, although average salaries in the United States are slightly higher than in Australia.

The following table shows the average monthly salaries of Australian and American workers across various fields, ages, and education levels:

Country Average monthly wages (in USD)
Australia $3,025
USA $3,145
  • Average monthly wages are about 4% higher in America than they are in Australia

Some of the best cities to move to in Australia

Australia is a big place, so before you move, you need to decide where you want to live. Some cities in this country are incredibly expensive, with a higher cost of living than major cities in the US. However, other cities are more affordable and better suited to raising a family, which is why it’s crucial to do your research.

Below are a select few of the best major cities you should consider moving to in Australia.

  • Victoria
  • Perth
  • Adelaide
  • Canberra
  • Sydney
  • Brisbane
  • Hobart

The ins and outs of securing an Australian visa as an American

While moving can feel like a challenge, the biggest hurdle when moving to Australia from the USA is to acquire a visa. Australia’s visa options and requirements are complex, so do your research before you hop on a plane to start your new life.

Generally speaking, it’s easier to move to Australia if you have a job already secured, or if you have a skill that’s in short supply in Australia. The immigration procedures for work visas are often more straightforward than other visa types.

But that doesn’t mean a work visa is the only way to get into Australia. Here’s everything you need to know about Australian visas for US citizens.

Australian visa basics

If you only want to move to Australia for a few years while studying or traveling, you can apply for a student visa or a working holiday visa. However, these visas won’t grant you permanent residency to live in the country indefinitely.

If you want to become a full-time Aussie, go for a more permanent type of visa. This process can feel overwhelming, but you can always speak to an Australian migration agent to do the legwork for you.

This agent guides you through the Australian visa application process, increasing the likelihood of you obtaining a visa for Australian citizenship or permanent residency.

An immigration officer can explain the points-based system that most visas require. For example, English language skills will earn you a few points out of the gate. Nice, right?

Depending on the migration agent, you can also get a free quote for how much your visa will cost. For American citizens, Australian work visas can cost anywhere from $225 to well over $3,000 per year.

Here’s how much some of the most popular Australian visas cost (in USD), according to InterNations:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage visa: $925 to $1,925, depending on your skills
  • Skilled Regional visa: $265
  • Temporary Work visa: $225
  • Distinguished Talent visa: $3,000

It’s also worth noting that prices, visa types, and entry restrictions are subject to change at any time, so it’s wise to verify everything through official channels before planning your move.

The different types of Australian visas

The good news is that Australia offers a variety of work permits that offer potential permanent residency and citizenship to Americans.

All work visas allow you to bring eligible family members with you. However, you’ll need to sponsor them according to the visa requirements.

Check out these visas to see what you might qualify for.

1. Employer nomination scheme visa

You can apply for the employer nomination scheme visa if you’re a skilled worker nominated by an employer. With this visa, your employer is inviting you to live and work in Australia permanently.

  • You have to have the skills necessary for your job and can prove it with a skills assessment.
  • You need to possess a minimum competent English grade on the English language skills text.
  • An Australian employer needs to nominate you.
  • You must have at least three years of relevant work experience in your field.
  • You must meet the Australian health and character visa requirements.
  • You need to have a job on Australia’s list of skilled occupations, which changes every year.
  • You need to be under the age of 45.

2. Skilled independent visa

US citizens and New Zealand citizens can apply for this type of visa. Workers with special skills from these countries receive invitations to work and live permanently in Australia.

If Australia invites you to move there permanently, you have more options with this visa. You don’t need employer sponsorship, either.

  • You need to be under the age of 45.
  • You have to have the skills necessary for your job and can prove it with a skills assessment.
  • You will need to pass the points test with a minimum of 65 points.
  • You need to have a job on Australia’s list of skilled occupations.
  • You need to be competent in English.
  • You have to obtain a nomination from an Australian territory or state agency that invited you to apply via an Australian EOI form.

3. Skilled nominated visas

A skilled nominated visa allows skilled American citizens to live and work in Australia as permanent residents. Unlike a skilled independent visa, you need sponsorship for this visa.

  • You have to satisfy the required points test.
  • Your occupation needs to be on the list of in-demand skills.
  • You need an invitation to apply for this type of visa.
  • You need to complete a skills assessment for the position.

4. Temporary skilled shortage visa

To obtain a temporary skilled shortage visa, you need sponsorship from a prospective employer in Australia. But, unlike a skilled nominated visa, you won’t be able to live in Australia permanently.

With this type of work visa, you can live and work in Australia temporarily. This visa is also only available if a skilled Australian worker isn’t available to do the job.

  • At least two years of experience in your occupation.
  • A nomination from an approved sponsor.
  • Complete the application for the short, medium, or long-term skilled occupation list.
  • Pay for your own health insurance.
  • Be competent in English.

5. Self-employment visa

In Australia, there are two types of self-employment visas: the significant business history visa and the business talent visa.

Significant Business History Visa: You can apply for a significant business history self-employment visa if you’re an experienced business owner who wants to operate a company in Australia.

Business Talent Visa: You can apply for a business talent visa if you have a history of sourcing venture capital from a prestigious Australian Investment Council member. You also need to operate an existing or new business with this visa.

Requirements for the significant business history stream visa
  • Your business needs to earn a minimum of AUD 2.1 million for a minimum of two out of four fiscal years.
  • You need to have a net worth of at least AUD 1.5 million.
  • You must be under 55 years old, unless your business venture will be of significant economic benefit to the region.
  • Your net assets need to be at least AUD 400,000 as part of ownership interest in at least one qualifying company, for two out of four fiscal years.
Requirements for the venture capital entrepreneur stream visa
  • You need to secure a minimum of AUD 1 million in funding your business idea.
  • Applicants need a nomination from an Australian territory or state before applying.
  • You need to meet health and character requirements.

6. Family visa: spouse or fiance visa

The prospective marriage visa is one of the more popular family visas that isn’t associated with a worker’s permit. This type of Australian family visa allows you to enter Australia if you want to marry your partner.

After marrying your spouse, you can apply for a partner visa, which is one of Australia’s permanent residency permit options.

The downside is that this type of permit has a lot of requirements. Check with the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs to see the most up-to-date requirements.

Frequently asked questions

Can I move to Australia from the USA?

If you’re an American citizen who meets Australia’s health and character requirements, you can move to Australia from the US.

However, as an American citizen, you can only move to Australia if you meet the requirements of one of Australia’s visa subclasses. For example, there are work visas, working holiday visas, family visas, and student visas.

How much would it cost for an American to move to Australia?

The cost of your move depends on three things: where you’re moving to and from, the type of visa you’re applying for, and the costs of moving.

For example, it costs approximately $1,600 to move a twenty-foot shipping container via sea freight from Los Angeles to Melbourne, but it costs about $3,000 to move from New York to Melbourne.

Every visa has different costs, while moving itself also comes with expenses. Budget for moving costs like airfare, housing, food, and transportation. You’ll need to prove that you have a sufficient amount of money in your bank account to support yourself in Australia. Right now, that amount is $5,000.

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of flying yourself there, which can add to your expenses. You might want to consider using an Australian-based website to compare frequent flyer mile credit cards to find the best deals and potentially save on your flight costs.

What are the general requirements for moving to Australia?

The requirements depend on your visa. Generally, you need to first find work, enter on a student visa, or apply for a working holiday visa. You could also move to Australia with a family or spouse visa.

How long does it take an American to move to Australia from the US?

It depends on how long it takes to process your visa. For example, a temporary skilled work visa takes up to six months to process, while an employer nomination scheme visa takes up to nine months. A prospective marriage visa takes up to 17 months to process.

Once you have a visa, the timing depends on how quickly you can arrange flights and international movers.

Can I work in Australia if I am American?

Americans need a visa to work in Australia. If you’re an American citizen who wants to temporarily work in Australia for a short period of time while traveling, apply for a working holiday visa. This often takes between 14 and 34 days to receive approval.

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