Will I Survive On the Offered Salary?

This blog continues my previous series, Will I Survive In Australia?

In this entry, we will discuss the sponsoring employer’s obligations to you as a sponsored employee and some of the financial questions you should ask before deciding whether to accept.

Will I Survive On the Offered Salary?

You will be offered a market-related salary.  It is one of the conditions an employer must adhere to when offering you a position.  Their status as a sponsoring employer requires that they offer you terms and conditions that are no less favourable than any other Australian citizen or permanent resident[1]

Some Expenses to Think About

Here are a few expenses that you will have to take into account when deciding whether or not you will be able to live on the offered salary:

Rent or Buy? 

  • To look at the rental market and house prices in the area where you are considering relocating, look at realestate.com.au. Most property managers charge rent by the week, and you must pay a rental deposit of four weeks, plus the first two weeks, in advance.  So make sure you have at least six weeks of rent to pay when applying for a rental property.
    As you are moving to a new country where you do not have any references, it may be a good idea to have professional photos of your current home (where you live in your country of residence) to show that you look after your property.  A reference letter from your neighbours may also help.  If you decide to bring a pet over, a pet bond must also be paid.
  • With your rent expense, you will have to consider the local energy prices and suppliers. Many homes have electricity and gas.  Research the suppliers in the area that you are thinking of moving to.  Some states have more than one supplier. 
  • Property managers usually send out water accounts.
  • If you decide to buy a home, you must find out what your property’s yearly rates and taxes are.


  • If you decide to take out insurance, it is good to shop around. The providers are competitive in pricing, and it pays to change your provider every year.  If you rent, taking home content insurance is a good idea.


Not everybody decides to buy a new vehicle.  You get reasonably priced second-hand cars.  It is sometimes easier to buy a second-hand vehicle, to initially get from A to B until you have built up a bit of a credit record, and then buy a newer vehicle.  Car registration is paid on a quarterly, six-monthly, or yearly basis.  The registration fees differ on the size of the car.  Remember to apply for a local driver’s license once you arrive.

You can google the prices of the vehicles you are interested in.  Often, car dealers can assist you with arranging financing.  Your instalment will be worked out weekly but deducted as requested.  Some employers pay weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. 

Once again, you will also have to consider insuring your vehicle.  

What are the fuel prices in your area, and how often will you have your vehicle serviced?  Some states have toll systems in place, and you should also take the costs of that into account.  Investigate rules and regulations that apply to electric cars.

If you are going to use public transport, many commuters find that having a card automatically topped up when the minimum balance is reached helps.  You will be able to work out how much public transport will cost by looking at your state’s transport body’s website. 


As part of most visa applications, it is essential to have medical aid insurance.  There are several providers.  It is important to understand what and how much is covered by the aid and what is not, and what the gaps may be for any treatments you get.  It is also important to note that dental care is costly in Australia, and you should ensure you are covered for it.  (Go for a dentist appointment before immigrating; if expensive work is to be done, do it beforehand.)

Daycare, Schooling and Tertiary Education

Daycare and tertiary education are expensive.  If you plan to put your little ones in daycare, you should do your homework on daycare centres in the area and their costs.  Research the childcare that you think of sending your child to.  If your home language is not English, teach your child the basic phrases before you arrive.  Children are resilient, but they are still so small, and they feel the emotion of the process.  It may be very challenging for you and them if they cannot communicate their basic needs.

Do your research on the schools in the area that you think of going to.  If at all possible, visit the schools before you enroll your child.  Children won’t fall behind if they don’t go to school in the first week they arrive.  Take your time and investigate all the options in the area first.  You can choose from public, private and homeschooling. 

If you arrive with a child going to university or any tertiary education institution, once again, look at the fee structure.  Not everyone needs to go to university, and there are many pathways to university.  Your child may want to start working and then enroll in a few local Tafe courses or study online through a tertiary institution.


You can choose from various service providers when it comes to mobile and internet services.  Be aware that if you are in an occupation where you have to travel to remote locations, not all providers deliver services to remote areas.  Take that into account when you decide on a mobile provider.

We do not have television licenses, but there are various streaming providers that you can choose from.  Depending on what your entertainment needs are, you will want to investigate how much subscription fees to Netflix, Stan, Disney and the rest are.  

Life Insurance and Superannuation

Your employer must deduct Superannuation from your salary.  Find out how that works.  You can also get life insurance from your Superannuation.  It is best to speak to a financial advisor who will best advise you on life insurance that caters to your needs.


A friend recently returned from a visit to the Free State and mentioned that the prices of groceries seem to concur mostly with the cost of items in our local Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi.  You can download their catalogues to get an idea of what a loaf of bread costs compared to what you pay. 

Dining out and other luxuries

Dining out is a subjective experience, but generally, it is more expensive to dine out in Australia than South Africa.  An average coffee (flat white) costs about R54 in Perth, whereas my friend mentioned that she had a cup from R18 to R28. 

To understand coffee shop experiences, look at Dome’s website.  It is similar to Mug and Bean.  We order at the counter and pay beforehand.  We have Nando’s, Mac Donalds, KFC and the like.  If you want to compare prices, do a Google search for the restaurants in your chosen area.  A family of four’s dining out (Not at Macca’s) experience, including a drink, a meal, and maybe a dessert, will work out anything from $200.  We do not usually pay a tip.  Some establishments do ask for it, but it is not an expectation.

Alcohol is more expensive here, as are smoking and vaping.

Many people like to camp, and the camping scene starts from the bare basic swag to glamping in a camper trailer or caravan that offers you many luxuries.  I have heard from many expats that they wished they brought their caravans over!

BBQ in the park is another cheap experience that feels like a million-dollar excursion.

You will have to decide whether you can survive

These are some expenses you will expect when you come to Australia.  You will have to calculate which of these expenses are relevant to you and what are the non-negotiables that are dealbreakers.  My one friend said that she was happy as long as she could go to a coffee shop four times a month.  It may be a specific type of holiday for you.  Or it may be a night at the movies with all the additional treats that come with it.  Do you want to save?  How much do you want to save? 

If you consider these factors when you make your decision, you will be able to make a more logical decision.  To accept the offered position and embark on your immigration journey is an important decision.  You cannot let your emotions dictate it too much.  Emotions are fickle things, and they change too often to trust when you decide to move to another continent.

[1] The Fair Work Ombudsman

If you require help with creating a resume that highlights your Australian value proposition, or assistance with recruitment or setting up your LinkedIn profile, please feel free to contact me. Don’t hesitate to connect with me on LinkedIn and keep up with my frequent updates on both LinkedIn and  Facebook. You can easily reach me through a LinkedIn message or by finding my contact information here. 

About the Author

Having relocated twice from South Africa to China and then to Australia, and also moving from Queensland to Western Australia, has gained valuable insight into the intricacies of job searching in Australia.

Chaleen, who graduated from the University of South Africa with a background in accountancy, decided to embark on a new journey and discovered a passion for assisting others in their job search. Since 2012 she has played a pivotal role as a job coach, developing LinkedIn profiles and coaching job seekers.

Chaleen was eventually offered a position as a recruiter at a specialised recruitment company and later at an outsourced HR firm. It wasn’t long before she discovered that she had a passion for the recruitment process. Chaleen obtained her recruiter’s license and subsequently established her own recruitment company.

Chaleen enjoys reading, staying fit, and spending time with her family and their two furry pets when she is not working.

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