Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Immigrating Sydney - Where do people shop cheaply online in Australia ?

Hello again!

I though I would down some points about online shopping in Australia. As an expat we don't really know where the shops are and whether the shops are well priced. Online shopping is very competitive so I know the prices are ok and I really hated driving around hoping to find suitable shops fro what I wanted.

Before coming to Australia, we were living in the UK for a number of years and in the UK the online shopping scene is highly mature. We got so used to the joys of shopping online.

In fact it got to a point where we did ALL our grocery shopping from the PC and that the only times we went to one of the big supermarkets was for snacks or small top-ups. You can even choose the two hour slot it will be delivered in and re-use you previous orders to save time.

In Australia it is not there by a long way! The broadband is quite slow, and bandwidth is limited so you pay for X amount of data  per months and then your speed gets restricted. Its growing fast though.

Slowly I started to online shopping (we were in Sydney). We started buying some pc parts and also started to do online shopping for various household items.

I just cannot waste my time travelling to various spread out shops to find out what's what - rather just spend 20 minutes online and spare myself the drive, the petrol and the time. (Sydney is a big place)

My favorite online store I found (because it was generally cheaper and delivery is free) was this wholesale store called Simply Wholesale.

If you need reliable, cheap car rental the you can use Budget car rental  or Avis Australia Rental Cars and Car Hire Services

If you need to safely book some accommodation in Sydney, I found to be the best and the prices are normally as good as or better than the other sites out there. I used these folk when I needed some temp accommodation on arrival in Sydney. I had some issues with the hotel I stayed at and sorted it out and organized me some discount as well.

For Sydney online shoe shopping there is Clarks who are well known and I trust the shoes there. Especially good for reasonably priced school shoes as well.

And finally for clothing ladies, an old favorite - especially for South Africans who have moved to Sydney Australia, we have Queenspark to shop at online.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Immigrating to Sydney - ISIS, radicalism and the ginger terror teen

Wow, I just saw the news about the "Ginger Jihadi" or "Terror teen". This is a young Australian kid, who has travelled off to ISIS and joined up. Now he is there, he cannot come back right? He kows to much, is under as extreme peer pressure as you can get and is now an outlaw in Australia.

It seems that the radical, I don't care about anything or anybody, muslim jihad ideology is taking hold everywhere that people can read about this stuff.

I don't know how anybody could sell God or the ideology of a loving God as someone who condones war and murder. It just does not add up any way you look at it.

At first I just read this with interest and even amusement but slowly realized that this kid who is 17, has probably just thrown his whole life away. He is at an age when he is not really a man, basically a stupid teenager, easily influenced, wont listen to anyone,  who has slowly (or quickly) become radicalized.

The sad thing is that he probably just some Australian kid who thinks he is doing good or right by the world. Its seductive right - you get a brotherhood, friends, security - you get to travel and do high excitement stuff.

I believe the authorities should be reserved and compassionate if he should want to come back. If he was 22 or older when I believe men have finally become adults then its a different story, but right now this is just a dumbass kid and as far as I am concerned, and just makes these radical terror groups look stupid as well as murderous

Just my thoughts, I hope and pray he somehow leads a normal life again one day.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Movng to Sydney, Australia - Preparing for the IELTS - English Language test?


If you are applying for one of the many visa's available to you for your migration to Australia and English is not you or your countries first language, you will be required to prove you are English speaking or pass an English test.

Annoyingly, I remember taking the oral part of the IELTS and that they played out a tape recording with questions.  I think it was the overseer who kept coughing at exactly the wrong times! Although I passed quite easily and so did my wife, I missed a good couple of questions because I could not hear them. Please remember, as it's a replayed recording, there is not second chance, you need to focus and focus immediately. The recording churns on and does not wait for you. If you miss a question just focus on the next one so you don't miss anymore.

I recently spoke to someone who is an experienced teacher of 2nd language English speakers and who has been teaching in Australia for 28 years now.  He has actually focused only on exam preparations for IELTS and Cambridge advanced for the last few years.

His advice for the Australian IELTS is :
The reading test of the IELTS is quite difficult. Time is your enemy. Some people spend ages reading the text and run out of time when answering the questions. Native English speakers might be able to read the whole text in detail, but most cant as it takes to much time. (I did this)
Here are some bullet points

1. SKIM the text only looking for the main idea of the text by checking the heading, pictures and their captions. Always look at the firsts sentence of each paragraph. The first sentence is likely to be the topical sentences, telling you what is in the actual paragraph. This is called locating where the information is in the text. Do this in three to five minutes. This will set you up to come back for answers as you go through the questions.

2. For each question note or highlight the key words. You will be please to see that you can already answer a lot of questions already as a result of the initial three minute browse through the passage.

3. Work your way through each left over question by scanning the passage text the correct answers. Please remember that time is the killer here. Rather get the 80 to 90% of answers you know quickly and then when you have time left over go for the hard ones.

4) Once finished, CHECK your work. Those possible questions you answered incorrectly could be the difference. Keep checking until the time is over. Stay calm and focused. DO NOT flip your sheet over feeling satisfied as soon as you hit the last question. Check the hard ones. Sometimes we make the silliest mistakes.

5) In the True, False and Not Given or Yes/No/Does Not Say sections, don't be a clever dick and use your own knowledge, logic or common sense. Since these are  reading tests, the examination is on precisely what is in the text - EVEN if it wrong.

6) Watch out for "bold" defining words like "all, every, no, none, always and never" : These are not quite always true, as there will be exceptions or tricks.

7) DO  NOT skip a hard question, especially in the multiple choice sections. Come back, try to answer it, and then GUESS. Marks or points are not subtracted for wrong answers! Give yourself a chance!

8) Always make sure you read the instructions carefully.
For example -- "Write no more than two words and/or a number". Don't exceed this! Anything else will be wrong. Its a clue to the answer.

9) Check all your pages. Make sure you have not skipped any questions. There are normally 40 questions. check the back page.

Check check check - nothing more painful than doing it again when you could have passed it the first time.

10) Don't be nervous. The stress we went through preparing and at the test was not equivalent to the test itself. This is no university English, just standard English. The Oral tester was very friendly, they are not there to be nasty or trick you, just to see if you can communicate.

I think both my wife and I had a nice conversation with the Oral tester and had a bit of a laugh too. Nerves will kill you, be honest, communicate as clearly as you can. Think about the tester you are talking too, he will ask questions. Talking is communicating so ensure you give him the info he needs to feel his questions are being answered.

Good luck people. Hope it goes well!
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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Best suburb for a family in Sydney

Thought I would do some research on the best Suburb for a family on Sydney.

One recent set of Research put Forestville as the highest ranking Suburb in Sydney.

Its very safe, with lots of bird life and bush walks. Its not a trendy place, rather a very stable , affluent upper class suburb. Its a 20 minute drive to the beach or to Sydney Waterfront from here. Kind of boring for a young couple wanting to move to Sydney to experience some night life. You wont find it here.

It is situated 15km north of the Sydney CBD and falls into the Warringah council area. Its known to be both in the Northern beaches and also the "Forest" area.

The only negative is that there is no train line to jump onto, although there are bus routes. I notice that a lot of people have complained that there is a lack good public transport to Sydney for  working people. A little bit over at St. Ives there is a train in Gordon that takes about 15 minutes to get to Sydney center.

Forestville if close to the top forested areas of Sydney and as such dopes not have massive malls. There are a lot of smaller shops, do it yourself, gardening and nurseries. it really is a well to do area and as such the type of shops reflects this.

The following factors  were taken into account - property prices, size of land, average number of bedrooms, proximity to schools, shopping, health care and capital gains over time.

Forestville is actually only ranked 25th on the whole of Australia. The Blue Mountains came up really high with a lot of suburbs in the top 20. (affordability and plot sizes kicked these up.)

There are a choice of three primary schools in Forestville.
The nearest high school is Killarney Heights High School. There are some other high schools nearby - Forest High School in French's Forest and Davidson High School in French's Forest.

some of these are the best high schools in the northern areas.

There is also Aspect Vern Barnett School for children with autism spectrum disorder.

There are a bunch of sports and recreation facilities - Tennis, Netball, rugby.

The population is not high with only about 8000 residents and the average is a touch over 40 years of age. A about 1500 people are over 60! Mainly European ancestry (UK ancestry)

Orange a region in New South Wales, ranked as the number one area for families in NSW. The median house prices sitting at $333 000, a large plot size of 851 square meters and large houses with more than three bedrooms. House prices have increased by 16% over the last 5 years and there are good sets of amenities. Unfortunately Orange is three to four hours drive from Sydney, so if you are working in the Sydney area its a no go.

Forestville's average house prices are at a touch over 1 million AUD so its not a cheap option.

Forestville's average rentals are also sitting at $840 (3BR is at an average of $780, 4 BDR is averaging $900) per week so it is really a high end Suburb.

Only 12 percent is young couples with family.

If you want to check out St Ives which is close by and with a better train route go here
Good family Suburb - living in St. Ives, Sydney
A Good Sydney family Suburb - St Ives, Sydney - general tips about schools, trains and shops

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Bringing Pets To Australia

Wow, its a lot of work to bring a couple of pets to Australia!

We have two beautiful little dogs and a cat who are so totally part of the family. I have literally spent thirty to forty hours researching, faxing, emailing and phoning importers and kennels and vets and the moon.

Its crazy how you can ask some companies for a quote and they don't respond for days. Others are so expensive its just crazy.

I am currently moving my three pets to Sydney from a country that is not on the "allowed list" to Australia. This means that my pets must first go to an acceptable country for 6 months where they can be tested by "trusted" vets and then only can they be imported to Sydney where we will live.

The whole journey will take about seven months as there is state vet quarantine in both South Africa and Australia. read $$$$

I am exporting pets from the Philippines to Australia.

Firstly, the Philippines is not the easiest place to get things done. A lot of the exporters are fly by night, and when they hear you are a foreigner or expat they load the quote. Seriously? We are not dumb mister Filipino!

After going through a list of the main removal companies who all quoted very high, I ended up phoning the airlines myself and got put through to the airlines Cargo office, who, because its the Philippines, don't actually have their own offices so I got put through to a recognized agent.

I got put through to Aero international Freight forwarding they quoted me about USD $2050 to pickup and fly three small animals using Singapore Airlines via Singapore to South Africa. This is not including the IAT approved pet crate Kennel things I have to buy. They were Friendly and helpful and were the cheapest by far. The others were all at the USD $3300 mark.

They tried Emirates but this was not an option as they go via Dubai and they wont take pets in transit on their planes unless the have a special RNATT rabies test three months prior to leaving. Luckily other airlines don't require this.

Going via South Africa is also much cheaper than going six months in Malaysia which is expensive despite being closer and flights are shorter and cheaper. I got a quote for USD $30000 - seriously people! - they just sit in a  Kennel and eat kibbles!

Ok to get from the Philippines to South Africa there are number of things to be done.

So to get out of the Philippines all your rabies and other Vaccinations have to be up to date and your vet/shipper has to get a export certificate from somewhere in Manila before they can fly.

Also, in order for your pets to go to South Africa, you have to do the following :

Dogs will go into quarantine in South Africa for 6 to 14 days.
You need to apply for an import certificate for quarantine.
You need to deposit some money into a SA state vet bank
You need to send the application and deposit by fax to south Africa quarantine - to book a place.
They send it to the import permit place to get an import permit made.
You then need to phone them a few times to manage it along.
You need to organize a courier to pick up the docs and bring them to you in the Philippines.

Also. For dogs, blood needs to be drawn and couriered (chilled) to the Onderstepoort state vet for a number of tests.
You will have to pay for the local Philippines vet to do the blood, the fedexing and facilitation. I was charged 16000php.

You need a vet to do this. Allan at Vets in Practice, Alabang has done this twice now and has been very helpful.

The SA state vet will create a second Vet import permit that also needs to accompany the dogs.
In order to get this permit you need to deposit about Rand1500 per pet in a South African bank and the deposit slip needs to accompany the OVI Master Permit application with the blood to Onderstepoort.

When the dogs finally are in quarantine in Johannesburg they will be re-tested for some 5 items - which you will pay for - about Rand 1400 each.

Cats need a separate application for a non-quarantine import.
They do not go into quarantine.

They dogs need to be picked up from quarantine once the state quarantine staff are happy with them. South Africa quarantine Kennel costs are about Rand 32 per day (as apposed to AUD149 per day in Sydney (Rand1500)) Really Australia!?. You are going to crash with your prices!

Private Kenneling ranges from about 80 to 120 per day per animal.

So now your dogs are in South Africa.

So once they are in South Africa and out of quarantine, a 6 months Rabies regime starts, along with all the other normal Vaccinations, kenneling and flights and import permits to South Africa.

In Johannesburg I found three main kennels which people talk about on the forums

Keringa kennels - offer the full suite - kenneling and vet and import and export.
Paws Resort - kenneling and vet - they use another company for import and export.
Animal Travel do the whole gambit as well.

Keringa are the most expensive. they also omitted where the animal would stay - as they have three classes of kennels.

Paws resort seem reasonable with kennels with gardens. they were helpful and seemed to be less of a money grab.

I will follow up with more detail once I am further in process.

Feel free to post comments below and ask me questions in the comments.

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