Moving to the US From Australia

You’re either seriously thinking of moving to the US from Australia, or you’re well on your way to planning your trip.
It’s human nature to ring in the New Year with big ideas, big plans and big expectations. And what’s more exciting and daunting than moving to another country? Becoming President probably. But what are the odds of that happening to you? I mean, really…
I am officially 17 months into my expat adventure, and have learned A LOT along the way, so here’s a list of things to think about before you make the move.


That piece of paper Clag-glued to your passport means everything. There are a bunch of different US visas open to Australians. My experiences are with an E3 visa, which is for Aussies who have been hired in the US to work in a specialty occupation.

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Find more info about the separate visas available at USTravelDocs or get a quick guide below:
  • E3: Australian nationals and their spouses can work in the US under this visa. Every year 10,500 E3 visas are reserved for Aussies. You need to be sponsored by a US employer to apply for this visa. It expires after two years.
  • E3-D: For the spouses of Australian nationals who have been sponsored by a US employer to work in the country. The spouse does not need to have a job lined up before leaving.
  • H-1B: Much like the E3 visa, you will need to already have work lined up with a US business and hold a bachelor’s degree in a specialty field. It will allow you to live and work in the country for up to six years and 85,000 are issued each year.
  • L-1: If you’re lucky enough to work with an international company that wants to transfer you to its US branch, this is the visa for you! But you have to be at a managerial or executive level and have been employed in the Australian branch of the company for a year.
  • Green Card: Join the lottery like everyone else. You could be one of the lucky 55,000 from around the world to nab a permanent resident visa. Applications are accepted for a month between October and November.

The whole process takes a while so get amongst it early.


Most of the visas mentioned above require you to have a job to go to in the US. But how do you do that while you’re still in Australia? It seems difficult but it’s easier than you might think.
Join Aussie Expat Facebook groups or other communitiesΒ – they are an invaluable source of information and contacts when it comes to working out which companies like hiring Aussies and what jobs are out at the moment.
I highly recommend signing up to G’day SF. a weekly newsletter that lists job opportunities in San Francisco, businesses in the city that were started by Australians and companies that like to hire people from the Great Southern Land.
In case you were wondering, there are a few drawbacks to working in the US:


It all depends on w here you’re moving and what the housing and rental markets are like there. I’m in San Francisco, which means a nightmare of Sydney-like proportions on the home-hunting front. I’ve written about this topic a few different timesΒ and that’s because it’s tough here.
Click to Zoom
If you’re Australian, you don’t have a credit history, which can count as a mark against you, especially when you’re going up against a bunch of other applicants with good histories. Here are a few tips to help the hunt:
  • Offer to pay a couple of months rent in advance, this sometimes sways the agent or landlord.
  • Bring over some rental references from previous landlords.
  • Show proof that you aren’t strapped for cash and can afford the apartment or house, ie bank statements from Australia.
  • Your work offer letter, with your salary, will help prove you won’t skip out on unpaid rent.
  • Be prepared to live in a small space with a few other people in the beginning.


You’ve done all of the tough thinking, now it’s time to pack your stuff and GTFO. But how can you possibly chose what to take with you and what to leave? All of the furniture and appliances are easy to get either through expat social media groups (there’s always someone moving home and hoping to offload a house-full of stuff).

I compared the baggage policies of airlines flying from Australia to the US, to find one that would let me bring the most stuff with me. At the time, Virgin allowed you to have two checked bags weighing 20kg each. Bonza.

Anything left over can be boxed up and left with a nice relative who will ship it to you once you have an address. One of the cheapest options out there is Seven Seas Shipping, just remember that you get what you pay for. They will ship your belongings, on a ship, which means it’s going to take a few months and may be a little damp when it gets to you. I just sealed everything in a garbage bag inside the box. Done!


If you’re already here you might be going through that “what have I done?” feeling that plagues some of us when we make a big decision and shift well out of our comfort zone. Those butterflies will go away. I promise.
You want a week or so in the country before you start working to get acclimatised. Go exploring, meet up with some fellow expats, see the sights that you’ve been waiting for. Be a tourist! It’s what you’re here for, right?


Do you need a car to get around? Once you’ve found somewhere to live you’ll work out pretty quickly whether public transport is a viable option for you. Unless you have the spare cash for a car lying around, you’re going to run into a bit of trouble.
A lack of credit history in the US will work against you so bring whatever documents you can to help out with getting finance. This includes previous loans you’ve paid off in Australia, proof of assets, try taking out a personal loan at your American bank, instead of a car loan. They can sometimes be easier to get, especially if they’re for small amounts.
Think about leasing a vehicle for the duration of your stay – that can sometimes be easier if you don’t have a credit history. Or, if you can get by without a car for a while, get a small personal loan from your bank and work off the debt (don’t get in over your head and miss any payments!) to start building your credit history.

29 thoughts on “Moving to the US From Australia

  1. Although I haven't relocated to the states, I have moved from London to Sydney and I can totally relate! We also used Seven Seas and they weren't exactly speedy but they were affordable and totally delivered. There are so many handy hints here for those thinking of making the move. If I ever get lucky and move to San Fran, I know who I'm going to call and it's not Ghostbusters πŸ™‚

  2. Oh I would love the chance to move to another country. I'd be happy to move to Australia or the States right now. Really interesting post! Hope you are all settles in the US now πŸ™‚ Thanks for linking up to #ThePlacesWeWillGoLinky

  3. This looks so useful for anyone following in your footsteps – I've only ever relocated temporarily as a student within the EU so all this went right over my head at the time! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  4. Great tips Kat, especially about the Visa and work, this is awesome information and yes, plenty to keep people going for starters that's for sure! Sometimes it feels you have to jump through hoops to sort out even just the basic stuff so thank you for taking the time to compile this post! #FarawayFiles

  5. I haven't ever had to do this but you've produced a fantastic resource for people who are planning to – and with great humour and style too!
    The US are right old meanies with their holiday allowance though!

  6. Great post for those relocating. The online forums and communities are an amazing resource. I'm not sure how I'd survive on so little holiday though ☹️ #citytripping

  7. What a great resource – it can be very daunting navigating a relocation process abroad (cough, cough, ahem… speaking from experience) We had little help and muddled our way through to our relocation to Denmark where the vacation allowance is MIRACULOUS. After the first year – you get SIX WEEKS! Epic. Thanks for sharing and linking with #FarawayFiles -glad to have you part of the community! Cheers from Copenhagen, Erin

  8. I feel the exact same way about American work culture… even though I'm from about two hours south of San Francisco. I just got back from living in France and was sooooo spoiled with vacation time. My French guy is in the immigration process at the moment, and it's no joke! This is a lovely guide you've put together. I also feel compelled to tell you that I love whatever handwritten font you're using on your blog design! #FarawayFiles

  9. Thanks Erin! I feel like there might be more resources for those moving to the US then there would be in Denmark. And you have to contend with the language barrier as well. I can't even imagine what that must be like. You're certainly brave. Thanks for having me.

  10. Thanks for visiting Catherine Rose! That vacation time in France must have been amazing – they offer some of the most vacation time – how are you coping with repatriation?
    Best of luck with the immigration process for your French man, hopefully it's swift and painless!

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