10 Ways to Survive a Melbourne Winter

Friday, August 01, 2014

Blog by Fauve Kurnadi, Migration Services Associate at AMVL Migrations.

Melbourne_winterI have recently relocated to Melbourne, which is arguably the best decision a coffee, wine and food obsessed 20-something year old can make. More recently though, the excitement of my move has been dampened by this infamous chill they call a Melbourne winter.  I’m sure some of you come from much colder climates than Melbourne, but it's all relative....

Born in Sydney and raised in Brisbane (where a cold day is usually at the 15 degree mark), I had only heard rumours of these southern chills.  Now here I am, and winter has well and truly set in for 2014.  Learning how to adapt to biting cold winds and icy rain that attacks you from all angles is not an easy feat – so here is my cheat sheet for you, should you need it.  

1. Overdress 
In fashion, less is usually more.  This couldn’t be further from the truth in a Melbourne winter.  My life motto has quickly changed to “be prepared”.  At all times you should be wearing several layers and carrying a coat, jumper, scarf, gloves, umbrella, snow shovel and hot water bottle.  OK, perhaps that’s a touch extreme – you probably don’t need a coat and a jumper – but you get my drift. 

2. Download a trusty weather app
Find a trustworthy weather app, load it up on your smart phone and check it before you leave the house.  I use Weatherzone, which can be downloaded from the App Store, and find that it is fairly accurate.  It is 100% true that Melbourne can experience four seasons in one day, so a sunny morning probably means 40km/hr winds and rain by midday.What was that motto again?

3. Get caffeinated!
Melbourne_lanewayIt’s almost impossible to have a bad coffee in Melbourne…almost.  So rediscover your love for coffee, chai, tea, hot chocolate and all things warm to really thaw out. is great for keeping up to date with where to find the city’s best coffee. Browse by suburb, peruse their new and noteworthy suggestions or play it safe with their ‘Top Cafes in Melbourne’ list.

4. Stoke the fires
As if Melbourne wine bars and pubs aren’t enticing enough, the city is home to an amazing array of watering holes equipped with toasty warm fireplaces. Every suburb seems to have at least one, so do a little exploring, pick out a bottle of red and bring the marshmallows!

5. Don’t be afraid to leave the house
Melbourne_parkOne great thing about Melbournians is that the weather doesn’t stop them from going out. Winter in the city is never short of festivals, live music, markets, theatre productions and art exhibitions, so plan your weekends (and your school nights for that matter) and enjoy what the city has to offer. Sign up to for a great way to stay up to date with what’s going on.  

6. Get fit for free
There are always fun and enjoyable ways to keep fit in Melbourne, and you don’t have to look very far for the freebies!  Whether it’s a salsa class, a run through Albert Park, meditation groups, or a naked bike ride (courage and confidence are mandatory) there is bound to be something intriguing going on that’s easy on the wallet. Also, if you’re anything like me, winter is synonymous with pasta binging, so let’s strap those runners on together!

7. Forego the rooftops and go underground
Don’t get me wrong, find a nice rooftop bar where you can get close to a heater and you’ll surely have a great night out with a view!  However, the Melbourne CBD is also famous for its hidden laneways and, more often than not, getting lost in them can prove to be a fun-filled adventure. Restaurants, cocktail bars and dance floors abound below the surface, so get lost in the moment and descend the staircases for a change!

8. Vitamins and Vegies at Queen Vic 
Stock up on all things good at the Queen Victoria Markets on the corner of Victoria St and Elizabeth St. Fresh organic and biodynamic produce, including fruit, vegetables and gourmet deli foods will keep your immune system fighting this winter. The markets make for a great weekend of people-watching, sampling and grocery shopping, just be sure to dodge the endless stream of shopping trolley bags (for the hipster or grandma in all of us). If the crowds prove too daunting to take on, then more limited markets are open during the week.  

Also, QVM Vitamins has a permanent store in the heart of the markets and offers great discounts on most brand name vitamins and supplements – definitely worth checking out.

9. Free films
The State Library of Victoria holds movie screenings free of charge right throughout winter. This can work on a number of levels: spend two hours out of the cold and choose a movie set in summer!  Screenings include mainstream movies, documentaries, animation and musicals.  Jump online to see what’s on:

10. Get away from it all
Living in such a spectacular city, you almost forget that a 1-2 hour drive in any direction will get you to some beautiful places.  For warm winter getaways, consider the Mornington Peninsula Hot Springs ( Only 90 minutes from Melbourne, the springs offer an oasis of natural thermal mineral pools and baths at a cosy 36-43 degrees. Strip off that onesie and take the plunge!  Prices range from $20 for public bath-house bathing to $400+ for private treatments.

As it turns out, winter in Melbourne isn’t so bad after all!

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Health Insurance: What you need to know

Thursday, July 17, 2014
Blog by Christel Dajcz, Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 1066568 at AMVL Migrations.

Many people choose to pay for private health insurance. Private health insurance funds cover costs for many treatments as a private patient in private or public hospitals and can include some services that Medicare does not cover, such as dental care, most optical care and (depending on the state you settle in) ambulance transport. If you wish to purchase private health insurance, it is important to compare different funds, particularly as the cost and type of cover can vary widely. 

When selecting a health insurance policy, you will need to consider a number of important issues:
  • What is covered? – does the policy meet your immediate and future needs.
  • What is not covered? – do you have any existing health conditions or plans to start a family.
  • What are the waiting times before you can claim – sometimes these can be waived, particularly during promotional periods.
  • What extras can you claim and what are your limits? – if you do need optical or remedial therapies cover, is the limit too low?
It is also important to consider how you will be affected if you do not have private health cover. The Australian Government can apply certain surcharges and levies, but they also offer some incentives as well.

The main surcharge that can affect new migrants is the Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading surcharge. This means that if you purchase hospital cover after the 1st of July following your 31st birthday, you will have to pay the Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading on top of your premium. This is a 2% loading on top of your premium for every year you are aged over 30.

New migrants have until the later of 1 July following your 31st birthday or the 12 month anniversary of your registration for full Medicare benefits (i.e. when you are eligible for a blue or green Medicare card) to take out private hospital cover without incurring a Lifetime Health Cover loading.

There are a number of websites that can assist you with selecting a policy by comparing a range of providers, their coverage, and the costs involved. Compare the Market also has a handy ‘Health-ucator’ tool to introduce people to Health Insurance and guide them through how insurance works and what Australians consider important at each stage of their lives. To access the Health-ucator, click here

For expert and friendly Australian migration advice, contact the team of Registered Migration Agents at AMVL Migrations today.

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Happy Financial New Year!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Blog by Christel Dajcz, Registered Migration Agent (MARN) 1066568 at AMVL Migrations.

It is at this time each year that we in the Migration industry brace for the inevitable changes to legislation, application processes, and - most of all - fee increases. But 1 July 2014 has arrived without the usual fanfare, and brings some encouraging news for applicants. 

Surprisingly there was no lodgement fee hike or increase to the Contributory Parent visa second VAC fee. This is welcome news, considering the numerous fee increases in 2013 and the introduction of processing fees on credit card payments earlier this year.

Skill assessments are now only valid for 3 years from the date of issue, unless the assessing authority sets a shorter validity period. IT applicants need to be mindful that Australian Computer Society skills assessments are only valid for 2 years.

Three new occupations were added to the Skilled Occupation List (SOL), meaning that Bricklayers, Wall & Floor Tilers, and Chefs can now apply for an Independent Skilled visa if they can meet the points test. Just a warning though; Chef and Cook are not seen as the same occupation by the Department of Immigration so we strongly suggest speaking with a Migration Agent about your qualifications and work experience before applying as a Chef.

Two new occupations were also added to the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL), so qualified Hydrogeologists and Exercise Physiologists can now apply for State or Employer-sponsored visas.

The Queensland State Government sponsorship list has been updated, and there are exciting changes for PhD graduates who have studied in the state, as well as skilled workers already in regional Queensland – watch this space for more information!

There is also great news for employers as there was no increase to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) which is the base rate of pay for 457 visa holders. This remains steady at $53,900pa. There is a 457 visa review underway which could lead to more changes to the program, but we are optimistic that this would mean less red tape for employers.

All in all a somewhat quiet start to the 2014/2015 financial year, but as always we anticipate amendments to the State Migration plans and potential legislation updates later on in the year. AMVL will ensure you are kept up-to-date on all important changes via Facebook, Twitter, and our bi-monthly newsletters. Click here to connect with us and keep yourself in the know!
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