First of all: I am now the proud owner of displacedafrican.com. This means that if you would like to visit this website you can now find it by typing in either:
a) www.displacedafrican.com OR;
Hopefully that will make finding this website a lot easier for many of you.
To refer to the check-list that you will guide you in immigrating to Australia within a week please refer to the Introduction post in the series.
Private Transport: Driving
1) Buying a car here can be pretty cheap. Cars start from as little as $500. I would recommend that you buy yourself a nice, simple second hand car as there is no need to splurge if you will only be in Australia temporarily.
Of course if funds allow you, can pretty much buy what you like. Some great places to buy cars:
a) Used car dealerships: These can be found all over the place. Ask your guide to take you to one or simply look them up in the yellow pages. Be wary of car salesmen though, they can be very shifty characters sometimes…I myself have been taken for a ride.
b) In Melbourne, there is a newspaper called the ‘Melbourne Trading Post’. The paper is basically a classifieds newspaper with great deals. If you are in another state:
i) Look through the classified section of the major newspapers.
ii) Visit the local newsagent and ask whether there are ‘classified newspapers’ similar to the Melbourne Trading Post.
c) EBay Australia has a great online market for cheap cars. Check it out here.
2) The main benefit of owning a car-probably the only one for a lot of people- is convenience: They help you get from place to place at any time. This is especially important if you end up working for an agency that has work for you all over town and/or you’re lifestyle entails a lot of nocturnal journeys (public transport here is not 24 hours a day).
3) As those of you who have owned cars know, it’s the maintenance that is expensive. I drive a very small fuel efficient car but the total amount that has been spent on fuel, servicing, repairs and insurance is easily more than the cost of purchasing the car. In fact it may even double, triple or quadruple that amount.
Quick Tips on Expenses
1) Registration for my small car costs $550 every year. Depending on what you drive, save up between $500 – $2000 (rough estimate) for registration every year. I recommend you do this by saving $30 every week from whatever you earn ($30 * 50 weeks =$1500).
After you have paid of your registration, you can take the excess left over and save it or use it for some enjoyment. But please, don’t wait for the end of the year to begin hustling to pay registration; begin saving as soon as you get the car.
2) Insurance: Talk to your friends and peers and do research online to find the best, and cheapest insurance policy for you. If your work involves driving, make sure you know what type of insurance cover – third party, comprehensive etc – your employer require from you so you can act accordingly.
Personally I am with RACV because I get discounts on their road side assistance service (24 hour service where a mechanic comes over to fix your car when it breaks down in the middle of the road). They are far from the cheapest providers so please do some research.
I have been told that Just car insurance are pretty cheap (and they say their prices are ‘tuned’ to younger drivers so……)
4) Cars are ultimately the most dangerous form of driving with the highest proclivity for accidents and death. They are also harmful to the environment.
Now, I know you are arriving with a driver’s license and experience driving, right?!As soon as you get here, if your intention is to eventually drive yourself around, then within the first week, either sign up for a driving course or get your guide to give you a few driving lessons. This is because the Australian roads are quite different from African roads and you need someone to hold your hand and guide you as you acclimatize to the new roads.
You want to observe briefly, how people handle the roads here and take the wheel to practice after just a few lessons (four should be enough). As you drive around, make sure someone sitting right beside you guiding you. And don’t mind their screaming, they’re just telling you you’re about to crash into a tree
To show you the consequences of not heeding the above advice a couple of stories:
Now some of the coolest people you will meet when you travel abroad are Latin Americans. To be honest, I never used to know who lived in South America – except the Brazilian soccer team – until I came to Australia. But now, I feel as though Latin Americans are our cousins; we share so many cultural habits; they are just our cousins by another. But I digress……..
A friend of mine told me about the experience of his Mexican friends the first time they got on Australian roads. I don’t know if people drive on the right side in Mexico or if these Mexicans had passed by the States, either way they still weren’t used to people who drive on the left side of the road.
When they got to an intersection they decided they were going to turn right. They turned right, but rather than catching the left lane on this busy road, they caught the right. They drove down the road for quite a while before they noticed that all the cars were coming towards them………………………………..
They corrected course and escaped harm but it could have been worse.
Ladies Night in Driving School
One African lady had to go for a driving test in order to convert her local driver’s license into an Australian license. After 15 years on African roads, she failed her driving test an amazing 3 times. Among the reasons she failed are:
a) She assumed that STOP signs were decorations on the road, particularly when there is no incoming traffic.
b) Slowing down at Bumps is for dummies.
c) Trying to squeeze into spaces that cars shouldn’t fit into. “It’s every man for himself where I’m from.”
Finding a Driving School
As far as driving schools are concerned I recommend RACV because the instructors will come pick you up from your home, though they are not the cheapest. Otherwise pop open an Australian yellow pages and find a driving school in your suburb and book in a lesson ASAP.
You Must Buy a/ Sydney Street Directory etc
Whichever Australian city you land in, go to the closest Kmart store (sometimes they are sold in gas stations) and get yourself the book that maps out that entire city.
- In Melbourne, it’s called .
- In Sydney it’s called the Sydney Street Directory or .
If you don’t know its name, ask for the “book where the city is mapped out” and people should be more than willing to help.
Google Maps and
The online equivalent of the city maps can be found on two websites:
a) Google Maps
Should anyone know any other websites that assist with mapping and giving directions, please let me know.
I come from Nairobi and in comparison the cities of Melbourne and Sydney are HUGE! This will probably be your experience. For that reason I strongly recommend that in your first few weeks here whenever you have to go somewhere by public transport write down the address in full. Writing down the address in full means writing down:
a) Street name and street number (what number the place is along the street. Remember in most Australian suburbs, odd numbers are on one side of the street and even numbers on the other side)
b) The suburb (also known as the city. When in doubt just ask what “suburb” that place is in)
Get used to remembering those three things- the street name, street number and the suburb -and you should be fine.
The best way to get used to public transport is to go out there and use it. When your guide is free ask them to help you take a bus somewhere.
If you are feeling gutsy, write down the address that you live in, go to your nearest bus station (not bus stop), ask the nice people that work there how to get to the city center; take a train or bus to the city and come back.
The bus and train station employees can be especially helpful giving you maps and helping you figure out how to get to where it is you want to go.
In every Australian city, there is an online system where you can figure out how to get from point A to B using public transport. It’s pretty straight forward so just ask around and you should be able to find the online guide in your city.
- In Melbourne the guide is: Journey Planner
- In Sydney the guide is: 13 15 00 Transport Info line website
- In Perth the guide is:
- In Adelaide the guide is: Adelaide Metro
You can also Google the name of your town, e.g. Melbourne and the terms “public transport” or “public transport guide” to find your guide online.
Hopefully by this point you have learned how to use Skype appropriately. If not, I have written a review of Skype and should be releasing that very shortly.
The only things that I would recommend now are that you set up Paypal so that you can easily top up your Skype credit. For those who don’t know what Paypal is please visit the Paypal account. I think at some point I will write an article on Paypal, its benefits and how to set it up because it’s an absolutely phenomenal resource to have.
In addition to that, if you will be talking to a lot of people who spend a lot of time online then consider getting the 3 so that you can speak to anyone who uses Skype for free.
Can you imagine free international calls??…….
By this point if you see there any glaring omissions or faults in the guide then please contact me and let me know. Other than that, we are almost there.
Skype someone today,