Emigration - making the move to Australia or New Zealand

The grey skies and chilly winters of the UK aren't to everyone's taste and many Brits dream of heading overseas to warmer climes and a better lifestyle.

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If you are thinking of emigrating to Australia or New Zealand in search of greener pastures, here are a few of the things you should consider before making the big move.

Getting the right visa is essential - those that will likely be of most interest are the 'skilled migrant', 'business' or 'family' visas.

Both Australia and New Zealand offer business or entrepreneur visas to those who are planning to move or set up a business and have a proven track record. Family visas are for those who already have relatives in Australia - anyone applying will need to be sponsored by their resident relative.

Visas for skilled migrants are a little more complicated - you may be sponsored by a company within the country itself or apply independently. In the latter case, applicants must meet a set of requirements relating to age, language, occupation, skills, qualifications and so on, which is based on a points system.

Those in jobs that are in high demand (trades people such as plumbers and builders, medical staff and engineers, for example) are almost always welcome.

Migrants will also need to undergo a health check.

Visit www.immi.gov.au (Australia) or www.newzealandnow.govt.nz for more information.

House hunting
It's a good idea to rent a property when you first emigrate. This gives you a chance to settle into the area and take your time looking for the perfect home. As in the UK, rental properties usually require a deposit up front and most rented accommodation is unfurnished which means, if you time it right, you can move your own furniture in.

In Australia, you will need a permanent resident visa to buy property and if this is not the case, you must seek approval from the Government.

When you're ready to buy, make sure you do your research - 'open homes', where you don't need a viewing appointment, are common and this will give you a good idea of the local property market. Alternatively, ask a local estate agent to take you on a tour - they will often happily spend a couple of hours driving you to various properties.

Job hunting
If you've already met the independent visa requirements for migrants, the chances are you will find a job without too much trouble as your career will likely be in high demand.

Those moving to Australia should try the Government-run job search website, or online job sites such as www.seek.com/au or www.mycareer.com/au, all of which feature jobs in all areas. Seek also has a New Zealand-based job site (www.seek.com/nz). It might be an idea to forward your CV to companies of interest before you leave the UK.

Alternatively, you may find it helpful to register with recruitment agencies once you are settled in your new home but do make sure you have contingency funds if you are not able to start work immediately.

The move
The average skilled migrant application takes between six and 12 months to complete, which should give you time to sell your British home. Ideally you will need to begin getting quotes and information from an international removal company between three and six months before you plan to move.

When searching for a removal company, do ensure that it is a member of the Fédération Internationale des Déménageurs Internationaux (FIDI), has attained FIDI Accredited International Mover status and is also a member of the British Association of Removers.

A good company will be able to advise on any special requirements (such as items that may not clear customs) and packing recommendations. Always ask for a full written quote with a packing list.

Shipping can take up to 12 weeks and every shipment entering Australia will be inspected in quarantine and you will need to take this into account when you arrange your moving in date.

Helpand advice
Both the Australian and New Zealand government websites (see above) have a wealth of information designed to help migrants with the requirements and legalities of settling in abroad. But if you are looking for advice from others who have already made the move, there are plenty of forums where expats are only too happy to help.

Sites such as www.pomsinoz.com, www.britishexpats.com and www.expatforum.com are a great place to start.