Coming Home - Answering FAQs for Repatriating Australian Expats

Returning to Australia after a stint abroad can be an exhilarating experience – the familiar beaches, friendly barbecues, and of course, that unique Aussie spirit. But, amidst all the excitement, you'll likely have a series of practical questions. How do you manage your finances? What do you need to know about housing? And, of course, the other common questions of what to do with private health insurance and Medicare.

If you're one of the many Australian expats pondering these questions, this blog post is your go-to guide. Let's dive right in.

The Australian Expat Phenomenon

Before we delve into the FAQs, let's understand your situation better. Did you know that there are over one million Australian expats living abroad? That's a significant chunk of the population! And from the bustling streets of London to the towering skyscrapers of New York, Aussies have found their homes in various corners of the world. But, like you, many feel the call of the Southern Cross and decide to return home.

Let’s dive into some of the commonly asked questions amongst many Australian expats who are planning to repatriate to Australia. I’ve included the link to the video clip for each question where I’ve answered them directly also.

FAQs for Repatriating Australian Expats

1. How Do I Reactivate or Set Up Health Insurance When Repatriating to Australia?

Video Answer

Australia boasts a robust healthcare system, a mix of both public and private services. While Medicare can cover many standard health-related costs, private health insurance can be invaluable for specialised treatments and to skip long wait times.

When you return:

  • Research: Determine if your old plan suits your current needs. Perhaps your health circumstances have changed, or you now have a family to consider.
  • Waiting Periods: These apply when you start or increase coverage. If you've previously held private insurance in Australia, some funds might recognise this and reduce the waiting period.
  • Lifetime Health Cover Loading: If you're over 30 and are taking private health insurance for the first time or after a long gap, be mindful of this. For every year you're over 30 and not covered, a 2% loading can be added to your premium.
  • Re-active suspended cover: If you managed to suspend or freeze your private health insurance policy when you left Australia, now is the time to contact your insurer and seek to reactivate it. This will avoid lengthy waiting periods, and any issues with pre-existing conditions.

Case Study: Sarah's Return from London

Sarah, a 32-year-old graphic designer, returned to Melbourne after a 5-year stay in London. She initially assumed her old health insurance would simply restart upon her arrival. However, she found that she had to reapply and navigate waiting periods. After researching different providers, she opted for a health fund that gave her credit for her previous coverage and shortened her waiting period.

Before you return, get in touch with your previous health insurance provider. If you're setting up a new one, compare providers and see which ones offer the best deals for returning expats.

2. How Do I Reactive My Medicare When I Return to Australia?

Video Answer

Medicare provides access to a wide range of health services, but it might not automatically reactivate when you return.

  • Re-enrolment: If you've been out of the country for over five years, you'll likely need to re-enrol.
  • Medicare Levy Surcharge: Depending on your income, you might be charged an extra levy if you don’t have the appropriate level of private health insurance. This is something to consider when re-evaluating your health insurance needs.
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS): Ensure you understand how the PBS might affect your medical prescriptions and costs.

Case Study: Raj's Homecoming from India

After a decade in Mumbai, Raj returned to Sydney. Initially, he assumed he could head into any medical centre and use Medicare. But, he realised he needed to re-enrol. Fortunately, the process was straightforward. Raj visited a Medicare office with identification and his previous Medicare number, and within an hour, he was re-enrolled.

To reactivate your Medicare, visit a Medicare service centre. Carry proof of your identity and any old Medicare information you have.

3. How Do I Secure a Rental Property in Australia with No Rental History?

Video Answer

Finding a home to rent in Australia is competitive. With no recent Australian rental history, it can feel more challenging, but you have options.

  • References: If you've rented abroad, ask your previous landlord for a reference. Many agencies accept international rental references.
  • Income Evidence: Show proof of your current income, savings, or employment contract. This reassures landlords of your financial stability.
  • Advance Rent: Offering to pay several months of rent in advance can make you a more attractive tenant.

Case Study: Mia's Search in Brisbane

Upon her return from Berlin, Mia faced difficulty securing a rental in Brisbane due to her lack of recent Australian rental history. So, she decided to provide her German rental references and offered to pay an additional month's deposit to reassure potential landlords. This strategy, combined with a local guarantor, secured her a beautiful apartment overlooking the Brisbane River.

Use international references, offer additional deposits if possible, and consider securing a local guarantor.

4. What Do I Do if My Superannuation Balance is Lower than My Peers Back Home?

Video Answer

Australia’s superannuation system is designed to help citizens save for retirement. If you've been abroad, you might find yours a bit behind.

  • Voluntary Contributions: Consider making additional contributions to your super to bolster it.
  • Government Co-contributions: Depending on your income, you might be eligible for extra contributions from the government.
  • Consolidate Super Funds: If you have multiple super accounts, consider consolidating to save on fees and manage it more efficiently.

Case Study: Liam's Super Boost

Liam, who spent 15 years in Canada, was dismayed to find his super balance lagging behind his friends. Instead of feeling defeated, he met with a financial planner. They mapped out a strategy to make additional contributions, capitalise on tax benefits, and even roll over some foreign pension funds. Once Liam had reviewed his overall financial position with his financial planner, he realised that when his international retirement savings were factored in, he was actually ahead of his friends and colleagues that he was originally comparing to.

Schedule a meeting with a financial planner. With smart decisions and strategy, you can catch up.

5. What Changes Do I Need to Make to My Estate Planning When Returning to Australia?

Video Answer

Estate planning ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your demise.

  • Revising Wills: Any will made abroad may not be valid in Australia. Even if it is, it's worth revisiting it to ensure it aligns with Australian laws.
  • Tax Implications: Your assets abroad might be subject to both foreign and Australian taxes. It's essential to understand this dynamic.
  • Power of Attorney & Guardianship: These legal tools allow others to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable. Re-evaluate any existing arrangements and consider making new ones in Australia.

Case Study: Elena's Update After Dubai

Elena, after a lucrative career in Dubai, returned with a range of international assets. She met with an Australian estate lawyer to ensure her will reflected her new status and also considered any implications from her assets abroad.

Seek an estate lawyer familiar with international assets. Make sure your will is up-to-date and valid according to Australian law.

In Conclusion

Coming home to Australia is more than just a return to familiar territory. It's a fresh chapter, and with the right guidance, you can ensure this chapter is as smooth and rewarding as possible.

Remember, while these guidelines and case studies offer insights, everyone's situation is unique. Consider consulting with professionals in each field to make your return as seamless as possible.


To Your Financial Success!

Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd - No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3

To learn more about how we may be able to help you, please contact us:

✆         +65 8282 5702

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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.

*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.

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