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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 Australia Australia

Country Information & Lifestyle

 The Land Down Under

The Land Down Under

Australia is the sixth largest nation in the world has six states, two territories and has a relatively small population. It is the only nation to govern an entire continent and its outlying islands, and apart from Antarctica is the driest inhabited continent on earth.

The interior has one of the lowest rainfalls in the world and about three quarters of the land is arid or semi-arid. Around two thirds of the Aboriginal and Torres Straits indigenous people live in towns and cities, many others live in rural and remote areas, some still have a traditional way of living.

Australia Day, 26th January, marks the day in 1788 when Capt.Arthur Phillips of the British Royal Navy sailed into Port Jackson,(Sydney Cove), and formally took possession of the eastern part of the continent for England and established a settlement, now the city of Sydney.

The lifestyle in Australia reflects its mainly western origins but it also has a multicultural society which has been enriched by over six million settlers from almost 200 nations.

Queensland, the capital Brisbane, is the second largest state and is bounded by the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Torres Strait and the Coral Sea in the north and the South Pacific Ocean in the east. The Gold Coast and Whitsunday Islands brings to mind lazy days on sunny beaches, a perfect climate. The Great Barrier Reef fringes the eastern coastline for more than 2,000 kms and the state has world class beaches, national parks, rain forests and tropical reefs. With 25 degrees summer temperature and 15 degrees in the winter, the lowest taxes in Australia and plenty of space, this is the perfect state to relocate to.

New South Wales is the most populous and heavily industrialized state. Sydney the capital, is the oldest settlement in Australia and the most cosmopolitan city with an ethnic community from more than 100 countries, famous for the Sydney Cricket Ground, the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. The headland at the Meeting Place Precinct is the site of the first recorded contact between Indigenous people and Britain in East Australia and symbolically represents the birthplace of the nation.

The Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, is smaller than the state of NSW which completely surrounds it. A carefully planned city laid out around an artificial lake and is the seat of government and politics.

Victoria is the smallest state with the capital Melbourne located around the shores of Port Philip Bay. Around 36% of the state is covered by forest with a major forest belt in the east. The highest peaks in Australia, Mt Bogong,(1986m) and Mt Feathertop,(1922m), are located here. The coastline borders the Bass Strait separating it from Tasmania and in the west the Southern Ocean. The coastline is mainly rugged but does include many sandy beaches. The temperature varies widely but is mainly warm with warm dry summers and mild, wet winters.

South Australia has a healthy Mediterranean climate with cool wet winters and hot dry summers. The capital, Adelaide, is the arts capital of Australia with a multitude of festivals, vibrant live music, galleries, theater etc. With 2,500 hours of sunshine annually South Australia enjoys an outdoor sports, barbecues and an outdoor life almost year round is known as the food and wine center. This is the driest state in Australia, has scenic mountain ranges, rugged outback wilderness, national parks, world heritage listed areas and a large meandering river. This is a state for wine connoisseurs and has the vast, open plains of the Nullarbor to colorful marine wonderland of the Ningaloo Reef.

Western Australia, the capital Perth, faces the Indian Ocean and is closer to Singapore and Jakarta than it is to Canberra. This is the largest state and only the narrow Timor Sea separates its northern coastline from equatorial islands of the Indonesian Archipelago, to the south is the Southern Ocean and Antarctica. The north is tropical and temperate in its S.W. corner. Western Australia experiences a variety of climatic conditions with the north tropical and temperate in its S.W. corner.

The Northern Territory, capital Darwin, covers an area equal to France, Spain and Italy combined and fourth fifths lie in the Tropics. A land of contrasts rich with striking scenery from the lush rain forests of Kakadu and Katherine to the arid, red plains of the Red Center in Alice Springs and the great rock of Uluru. The coastline is generally flat backed by swamps, mangroves and mudflats.

The MacDonnell Range crosses the Territory from east to west and Uluru in near the S.W. corner. The northern corner known colloquially as the "Top End" is a distinct region of Savannah woodlands, and pockets of rain forest. North east Arnhem Land plateau rises abruptly from the plain and continues to the coast of Gulf of Carpenatris with much of the southern third consisting of desert or semi-arid land.

Tasmania, tucked far way in the south of the country across the untamed waters of the Bass Strait is rich in heritage and special natural history. Tasmania has a wild and beautiful landscape with a dramatic coastline, rugged mountains, forests and sparkling highland lakes. The climate is temperate, the people are warm and friendly, wonderful wine and food, rich history and relaxed island lifestyle. Roughly the size of West Virginia the next place is 2000 kms away, Antarctic. One third is reserved in a network of National Parks and the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area is a refuge and habitat for rare plants and animals including survivors of the ancient southern super continent Gondwana.

A little taste of what Australia can offer to the resident and visitor. So g'day cobber where are you, we are waiting.

Purchasing a Property

Foreigners can invest in Australia however it depends on what you wish to invest in. Except in rare circumstances acquisition of residential real estate requires the prior foreign investment approval before purchase can proceed.

As this is complicated it is advisable to use the services of an attorney who specializes in Australia real estate and will assist you through the formalities and paperwork. The conveyance duties and laws in Australia vary with the state or territory where the property is situated the information below generally applies.

Once you have found a suitable property and a price has been agreed the estate agent completes a contract of sale which is signed by both parties. Contracts are published in standard form by the Law Society and the Real Estate Institute.

It is important to check that the propertys particulars have been entered correctly and that the terms of the sale are correct, including any changes made to the standard terms. You will be expected to pay a deposit of 5-25% of the purchase price. In Sydney the average deposit is around a third of the value of the property and in Melbourne 40%.

The deposit is paid to the agent and deposited in the agents escrow account until completion which is usually around a month later. The deposit is forfeited if you pull out of the contract and which is not covered by a clause in the contract. However a holding deposit paid before signing a contract(as a sign of good faith),is refundable if you change your mind.

After signing the contract, called `exchanging both parties are legally obliged to go through with the deal, subject to cooling-off rights in some states. You will need to check with the state.

Your solicitor will make certain searches before completion.

Check the title deed of the property.
Check the zoning certificate, issued by the local council which specifies what the surrounding land may be used for.
Make a strata records search(for strata title properties).
Make inquiries with the local council and utility companies as to whether the property is clear of debts. Check the building inspection report.
Check the drainage or sewage service diagram.
Check the pest certificate.

Once all the checks have been made satisfactorily you will proceed to sign the final title deed and take possession of your property.

Property conveyance is usually done by a solicitor or conveyancer and this will depend on the state in which you are purchasing.

Fees & Taxes

As a guideline the fees to purchase a property in Australia will be between 4-6% of the purchase price and will vary from state to state and territory to territory.

Stamp duty varies considerably according to the purchase price of the property and the state or territory and the type of buyer. In some states it is lower for first time buyers or is waived altogether. Check with www.stamp duty.com/aus/rates for the latest situation in each state.

Land Transfer Registry fee for recording the change of owner at the Land Titles Office is payable each time a property is sold and is either a flat fee or variable based on price paid and varies from state to state.

Legal fees are between 1-2% and vary from state to state.

Solicitors or Conveyancers fees for documents necessary for the property purchase are not fixed. Always check what is include in the fees and whether the fee quoted is full and binding or just an estimate.

There are Government Federal and State taxes on financial transactions that vary from state to state.

In some states a Termite and Pest Inspection is compulsory.

Visas

Entry requirements for British nationals are a passport valid for the length of stay or an identity document showing a photograph. An Electronic Travel Authority is required.

For British passport holders, endorsed British citizens or British Nationals(Overseas), if residing in Hong Kong are not eligible for an ETA and require a visa.

Entry requirements for nationals of Canada are a passport valid for the length of stay or identity document showing a photograph and an ETA.

Entry requirements for a national of New Zealand are a valid passport, a visa is not required but it is necessary to apply for a Special Category Visa on arrival by completing a passenger card.

Irish nationals are required to have a passport for the intended length of stay or show an identity document showing a photograph and a visa is required.

Visitors must show proof of sufficient funds and all documents required for further travel.

An ETA is an electronically issued and verified visa not visible in a passport and are issued to passengers for travel for tourist or business purposes.

A tourist or business visa is valid for 12 months or the validity of the passport, whichever is the shorter, for multiple stays of up to 3 months each. Visa holders no longer need a visa label attached to their passport to travel to or work in Australia. Visas can be applied for online and check out the new Visa Entitlement Verifiction Online VEVO Service. They are obtainable online at www.eta.imm.gov.au

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