Hi, or should we say G'day! Welcome to the first part of our deep-dive guide, which looks at moving to and living in Australia.

The guide covers everything from the basics of the Australian lifestyle, known for its laid-back and outdoor-oriented culture, to the tax systems, which are generally progressive and based on income. We'll also touch on topics like relocating with pets and setting up a business. 

In this first part, we cover some basic facts about the country and explore the Australian Tax System. Each week, we'll add new content, including visas, culture in Australia, the pros and cons of moving to Australia, permanent residence, and the costs of moving to Australia, to name but a few.

Join us as we explore the stunning continent of Australia.

sydney opera house dawn

Sydney Opera House

Australia is an ancient continent filled with inviting contrasts, and it is the only continent with just one nation on it; geologically, it is believed to be the oldest continent on the earth. The land is the world’s largest island, which was split from the remnants of the southern supercontinent, Gondwana, about 40 million years ago. The diversity in landscape and cosmopolitan style was what Stephen King described on his motorcycle in Australia: “If you stop, the silence is incredible. You feel tiny; you can almost hear God breathing.” The wildlife ranges from koalas, giant red kangaroos, and spine-covered echidna to the platypus. The fauna includes the Boab (baobab), Spinifex grass, and Wollemi Pine. Australia’s Aborigines lived within tribal boundaries they believed had been created by their ancestors in a period called the Dreamtime. The climatic diversity allows Australia to produce tropical fruits such as custard apples and rambutans. UNESCO World Heritage sites include the Great Barrier Reef and the Tasmanian Wilderness to the Wet Tropics of Queensland and Uluru-kata Tjuta. The country’s coastline is also 36,735km (almost 23,000 miles) long and includes a plethora of beaches where the sea meets the sky. What differentiates Australia’s sea is the Great Barrier Reef, and on the West Coast, you can swim with whale sharks off the coast of Exmouth.

whale shark with mouth wide open feeding

Swimming with a Whale Shark

Country Fact File

States: The commonwealth of Australia, comprising the six States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, was created by the Constitution Act 63 and 64, Victoria, Chapter 12, which received Royal Assent on the 9th July, 1900. 

Continent: The Australian continent broke away from its last adjoining landmass, Antarctica, 40 million years ago and embarked on a long period of geographical isolation. During this time, Australia’s flora and fauna evolved and flourished. Aboriginals lived for at least 40,000 years, developing the land to their own needs, until the arrival of Europeans in 1770. 

Capital: The capital, Canberra, is in the Australian Capital Territory, but the most populous city is Sydney. Tasmania, an island state, lies 240 km (150 miles) off the southern tip of the country, across the Bass Strait. 

Population: Australia has a population of 26,939,482 in 2024 according to the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of United Nations – World Population Prospects.

Most widely spoken language: English 

Climate: Australia’s drift towards the equator at the rate of 8cm (3in) a year has brought a northern monsoon climate. The sun habitually shines and its atmosphere is of such remarkable clarity that the sunlight strengthens the colourings of landscape and seascapes. The temperature in the Northern Hemisphere will find that winter runs from June to August, from November to March it is warmer temperatures with high humidity and rain in the North. In the South, from April to September, the tropics can be clear and warm. El Niño is a complex climate pattern that causes major weather shifts around the South Pacific. The cycle of flood and drought that El Niño brings to Australia is profound. 

Area: Australia measures about 4,000km (2,500 miles) east to west and 3,200km (2,000 miles) north to southIt is greater than that of the USA; that it is four-fifths of Canada; and more than one-fourth of the whole of the British Empire; and twenty-five times as large as any of the United Kingdom approximately. 

Currency: The Australian dollar, AUD (A$)

Form of government: Australia has been a federation with a central government based in Canberraeach state also has its government. The nation inherited the central parliamentary system from England, with the two-party system of Labor and a coalition of Liberal and National parties. Australia is a self-governing member of the British Commonwealth and retains the English monarch as its titular head of state.  

GDP (total) Estimate $1,505.60 USD Billions

GDP growth: 1.5% as of December 2023

GDP (per capita) 62.6 thousand U.S. dollars per capita

Human Development Index (HDI) 0.951

Inflation: 3.4 per cent in the 12 months to January 2024


Australian Lifestyle and Culture – A varied topography

The unparalleled beauty of Australia is a breathtaking marvel, unrivaled in nature. The landscape offers a feast for the eyes and a source of wonder for the mind. The Blue Mountains, adorned with magnificent eroding waters, have meticulously sculpted tablelands, expansive valleys, and profound ravines that seem to explore the very core of the Earth. Discover the enchanting wonders of Jenolan caves and Buchan caves, traverse the majestic Kosciuszko range in the Australian Alps, and indulge in the coastal allure of seaside resorts lining the Southern Ocean from Gabo all the way along Bass Strait to Cape Otway.

purnululu national park (bungle bungles)

World Heritage Purnululu National Park (The Bungle Bungle).

In addition to the indigenous cultures, Australia's population is a melting pot of influences from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and beyond. This diversity is reflected in the culinary scene, where you can savour a wide array of international cuisines, from Mediterranean and Asian to Middle Eastern and beyond. The coastal beauty of Australia is truly captivating, offering a panoramic view that stretches across an impressive 36,735 kilometers of coastline, inclusive of the picturesque Tasmania. Venturing into the underwater realms of the Indo-Pacific and the Indian Ocean reveals a captivating experience, especially in renowned areas like Lord Howe Island and Papua New Guinea.

These underwater havens beckon divers with their rich biodiversity and awe-inspiring marine landscapes. The tropical regions of Australia, exemplified by the iconic Great Barrier Reef, showcase a stunning diversity of underwater life. Yet, the coastal waters bordering Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia offer a distinctive twist, boasting an exclusive array of endemic species. This is where the underwater explorer can witness a more unique and detailed display of Australia's marine ecosystem.

Delving into the depths of these coastal waters unveils a staggering variety of underwater creatures, with over 20,000 different species calling the Australian underwater landscape. 

Australian tax system - Australia Income Tax Agents

In Australia, income tax is levied only by the Commonwealth of Australia and not the individual states. PAYE deductions are paid by your employer to the tax office monthly. At the end of the tax year, which is 30th June, each employee receives a Group Certificate. This is your total earnings, as well as the deductions for tax, superannuation contributions, union levies, and so on. It is essential to have the certificate when you fill in your Tax returns. You should apply to your nearest Tax Office for a tax file number (TFN). The TFN is a unique number issued to individuals and organizations for identification and record-keeping purposes. It is important to keep your TFN secure. Allowing someone else to use your TFN can cause you serious problems.

Tax levy on Medicare will be 2% of the taxable income unless you qualify for a reduction or an exemption. It is a levy that is added to the tax-payers income tax assessment and collected at the same time as the ordinary tax.


 In Australia, the tax for married couples who both work is also taxed separately and this means individual entitlement to tax-free thresholds and other benefits. The deadline to lodge your tax returns is the 31st of October, but if you use an income tax agent, then this could be at a later date, and if you fail to lodge a tax return, then the fine could be a maximum of $550. 

Taxable income band AUD National income tax rates
18,201 to 37,000 19%
37,001 to 90,000 32.5%
90,001 to 180,000 37%
180,001+ 45%


Taxable Income Tax on this income
$0 - $18200 $Nil
$18,201 - $37,000 19 cents for each dollar over $18200
$37,001 - $80,000 $3,572 plus 32.5 cents for each dollar over $37000
$80,000 - $180,000 $17547 plus 37 cents for each dollar over $80000
$180,001 and over $54,547 plus 45 cents for each dollar over $18000


If you are under the age of 18 then the tax would be slightly different, outlined as follows:

Taxable Income Tax on this income
$0 - $416 $Nil
$417 - $1,307 65 cents for each dollar over $416
$1,308 and over 45% of total income


With reference to government departments:



Tax and Compliance- Council Tax

In the case of rented properties, council tax should always be included in the rental charge. If you purchase a property, the council will be notified as part of the buying process and will send notifications to you accordingly. Council tax rates will vary by state and by council. Each council determines the exact way the tax is calculated; it is loosely based on the value of the land.

Australia has a progressive and complex tax system. The more you earn, the more you pay. No source of income is exempt. Everyone drawing an income requires a Tax File Number (TFN] - it is a unique identifier to you in relation to your earnings. This is similar to the National Insurance (NI] number in the UK. Visit www.ato.gov.au to register for a TFN and for more details on tax compliance. You will need the usual 100 points of identification, and the TEN application can be completed online or in person at an ATO office. You will receive your unique number in the mail once processed. Everyone who receives an income, in whatever form, must file a tax return every year. The tax year runs from July 1-June 30 every year, and the equivalent here of the HM Revenue & Customs is the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Most who are unfamiliar with accounts will have a qualified accountant or bookkeeper that can help with this process and file the return electronically on your behalf. Tax is a complex issue in any country. For further information relating to your specific circumstances, I recommend that you approach an accountant as soon as any question or uncertainty arises.

Sales tax – Goods and Services Tax

Sales tax is referred to as GST - Goods and Services Tax - and, at the time of writing, is 10%. The norm is for most prices in retail shops to include GST. However, do look out for this, as some pricing (such as services) will have GST on top of the price quoted. Most food items not considered a luxury' that are purchased from a grocery store or supermarket are not subject to GST. Food served to you in a restaurant or café, however, is subject to GST.

All income earners must pay a Medicare Levy and surcharges but may be eligible for certain rebates. This is income tested in line with tiered thresholds. People who choose to have medical insurance receive a reduced premium, contributed to by the government.

Setting up a business in Australia - Cooperation tax rates

If you are thinking of starting a business in Australia, you will need a TFN and an Australian business number (ABN).

Obviously, you will need a bank account, and you'll also have to register for Goods and Services Tax (GST). Australian law requires you to pay money into a superannuation account for each person you employ. You will not be required to lodge a tax return if your taxable income is below the tax-free threshold of $18,200. For provisional taxpayers, which means if you are self-employed or if you are free-lance in addition to your full-time employment or earn interest or dividends from investments, you might be classified as a Provisional Taxpayer. This would result in you having to pay tax in advance, and for new start-ups, this could incur a heavy tax burden. The tax on your income will apply to all sources, including salary, rents, royalties, dividends, and interest paid to you in or out of Australia.

Join us next time as we cover - The Pros and Cons of moving to Australia