Migrating to a new country and starting life all over again is never easy and each migrant will have a unique set of conditions which in turn will create specific challenges. Listed below are some of them.

Cost of Living

The biggest challenge most people face when they first arrive in Australia is the cost of living. The cost of living in Sydney is one of the highest in the world. A recent study conducted by UBS ranks Sydney as the ninth most expensive city in the world, which can be tough for migrants coming in from developing countries. When you arrive initially, it is but natural to convert the cost of every item to your home currency and then have a nervous breakdown when you compare the cost of every transaction to the prices back home. It all changes when you start getting a regular income.

Australians, after all, get one of the highest minimum wages in the world.

Did you know:

Here are some average living costs in Sydney (Source – Numbeo) (2018-2019)

  • 1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) – $103.03
  • Rent per month for apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre – $2,660.01
  • Chicken Breasts (Boneless, Skinless), (1kg) – $10.80
  • Banana (1kg) – $3.24
  • Tomato (1kg) – $4.82
  • Potato (1kg) – $3.23
  • Basic (Electricity, Heating, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment – $185.83 per month
  • McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) – $10.35
  • Cappuccino (regular) – $3.96
  • Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) – $3.41
  • Average Monthly Disposable Salary (Net After Tax) – $5,308.80

Language Barriers

A larger part of the migrant population that comes to Australia each year is now predominantly from Asia where English is not necessarily the first language. Hence, one of the major challenges faced is learning effective English speaking.

Being able to communicate (or not) affects every area of life in which we have to interact with others. From jobs to schooling, to simply finding your way around or buying food, learning a native language is essential.  Fortunately, Australia offers a lot of support for new arrivals to address this issue.

Did you know:

  • Almost 6 million migrants, born in over 200 countries, live in Australia.
  • People born in the United Kingdom continued to be the largest group of overseas-born residents, accounting for 1.2 million people. The next largest group was born in New Zealand with 544,000 people, followed by China (380,000 people), India (341,000) and Italy (216,000).

Employment and Lack of Local Experience

Another factor that new immigrants are unaware of is that most organisations want to hire candidates with local experience. This means that migrants will face a tougher time acquiring a job if they go head to head with locally experienced candidates – especially in jobs related to teaching, advertising, communications and banking. In most cases, migrants will eventually get a job, but they will have to take up interim jobs in the meanwhile, to keep up with the cost of living. Don’t get disheartened just yet.

Possible Loneliness

Loneliness is prevalent among people who come from bustling towns, especially from highly populated countries such as China and India. Australia is a huge country and most of the country is sparsely populated. However, the size of the population and its density is not the actual issue. At its core is the feeling of alienation and having no local friends or support system to reach out to, at least initially. Remember, all migrants start out this way. How quickly you build a network and build a friend circle will all depend on your initiative and how much you socialise. You better learn to fire up the BBQ Grill quickly!

No official recognition of overseas qualifications

A very common challenge faced by migrants is that their overseas qualifications are not recognised in Australia unless authenticated by an Australian organisation. Most local employers may have never heard of the relevant Indian or Chinese university, for example, and this is quite understandable.

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Cultural differences

This is not necessarily the first on the list of practical considerations for immigrants. However, many immigrants report that on arrival, it is the cultural differences that really make a big impression. This can range from social customs to more significant issues such as attitudes towards gender, religious diversity, ethnicity and sexuality, which can all be vastly different in a new country. This can raise a host of problems for both immigrants and the people they interact with. It can also lead to a sense of isolation for immigrants. It is important to accept that values will be different and that this is something that you cannot control. Accepting different values doesn’t mean you have to take them on as your own but you may need to learn to respect them in others.

Subtle discrimination sometimes occurs in the job market. Recruitment officers spot “ethnic applicants” by their names, photos or accents. Chinese try to get around this by adopting a Western name, a ploy which is anathema to Indians who are deeply attached to their own name.

Did you know:

  • Australia is a religiously diverse country and it has no official religion.
  • Christianity is the predominant faith of Australia. In the 2011 census, 61.1% of the population classified themselves as being affiliated with the Christian faith.
  • The second-largest group and the one which had grown the fastest was the 22.3% who claimed to have no religion.
  • Minority religions practised in Australia include Buddhism (2.5% of the population), Islam (2.2%), Hinduism (1.3%) and Judaism (0.5%).

Moving with Children

Parents may experience certain challenges when bringing their children to a new country. Children may either quickly immerse in the new culture or take a long time to integrate with the local community.

Parents will also face the challenge of looking for schools, dealing with the new education systems, the differences in style of teaching and the apprehension of making friends with the local children and their parents.

With regards to school, parents often feel disappointed to see their children struggling to keep up in class, and many parents report bullying and discrimination as a result of cultural differences. Kids are often placed by their age rather than by their ability, and for those who are unable to speak English, it’s virtually impossible to keep up. To add further insult to injury, parents may not have the education or language skills to assist their children, and they may not be able to communicate with faculty to address the problem.

Transportation

Access to transportation can be essential, in that, it will make access to education and employment far easier. Immigrants face particular problems in this respect on two levels. Firstly, your driver’s licence may not be recognised in your new country, which means there may be costs associated with becoming qualified. Secondly, that language barrier can, again, make understanding or even finding useful local public transit services a hard task.  Initially, it is normally possible to drive using your home-country licence, but eventually, you will need to change it to the national licence. Public transit timetables can be challenging as well, at least for the first few months until you settle down.

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MIGRANT NINJA TIP – Accept your new situation and find new ways to integrate into your new ‘local’ conditions by absorbing ways that thing are done here. Join local community groups and clubs to overcome feelings of loneliness when you first enter Australia.

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