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money essentials
Money essentials in Australia for overseas doctors

Doctors considering living and working down under should make reading our guide on money essentials in Australia an absolute must! 

Kym Nitschke is an accountant with three decades of experience.

He is also a financial advisor, entrepreneur and managing partner of Nitschke Nancarrow.

He works closely with scores of medicos and is uniquely positioned to offer sage advice to any doctor considering making the move to Australia.

Here’s what you need to know about setting yourself up in Australia.

Getting started

Most doctors in the UK work as employees.

In Australia, the vast majority operate as sole traders which means they need to set up their own business.

“The first step is they need to get a tax file number (TFN),” Kym told the Living The Australian Dream podcast.

“The way the immigration system operates is as soon as they touch base in Australia, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) knows they are in the country and it opens up a portal for me on my computer.

“I can then go in and digitally apply for a tax file number for that doctor.

“That window closes as soon as they leave the country.

“It usually takes about four to six weeks for that number to come through which is posted to me.”

Kym advised against using temporary addresses on your application.

“It’s best to use our office as their registered mailing address because we don’t want any documents posted out to an Airbnb while they are in the UK.

“Once they have the TFN, the next step is to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) which every small business needs to have.

“That can take anywhere between one and 30 days from when we have the TFN.

“Once we have the ABN, you can start the AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) registration from that date.”

Our recruitment agency, Health Recruitment Australia (HRA) can help with that side of things.

Opening a bank account

New anti money laundering legislation in Australia has made this slightly more difficult.

“But we have good connections with bank managers in Australia so there are online forms they can fill out.”

You’ll need two key documents – your birth certificate and your passport.

Doctors can apply for one as soon as they start operating in Australia.

Most of the details can be completed before they begin work. 

The whole process may take between two and four weeks.

“You do have the odd doctor who tries to do it themselves but if they answer one question incorrectly, it stuffs the whole thing up,” Kym said.

“It’s 10 times harder to fix it once it’s been done incorrectly than if it’s done all seamlessly and correctly right from the get go.”

Superannuation

Superannuation is one of the biggest money essentials, Kym said.

Most doctors in Australia will work as sole traders and for them, contributing towards superannuation is voluntary.

“It’s really up to the doctors if they do and a lot of them do and we encourage it,” he said.

“It is best to open up an account with an industry fund in Australia.

“There’s a very straightforward process to setting up a direct debit each month to deposit into that superannuation fund.”

For the few doctors in Australia who work as employees, their employers are obligated to contribute the current minimum 11.5 per cent of their salary towards their nominated superannuation fund.

This will rise to 12 per cent by 1 July, 2025.

Kym recommended the Triple S super fund for doctors.

“It has advantages because it is a government super fund. 

“The tax is not taken out until withdrawal.”

Ideal working model

There are various pathways a GP can follow to work in Australia:

  • Employee
  • Independent practitioner
  • Partner in a practice
  • Sole owner of a practice

Kym recommends working for yourself rather than working as an employee or taking a government job.

“The one with the most flexibility and most benefits is a GP in private practice,” Kym said.

“There’s plenty of opportunity to get a job at SA Health or something like that but I think they’ll find they’ll make more money working in a clinic.

“It also gives them the flexibility to do overtime and earn a big revenue increase if they’re happy to work outside normal nine to five hours. 

“For those who have the flexibility to do that, they will be richly rewarded.”

Financial rewards

The following is an estimate of likely salaries working in a government role such as one at SA Health.

Junior medical officer – $80-140,000

Senior medical officer – $140,000-210,000

Senior consultant – $220,000-285,000

When you add private practice to the equation, total remuneration packages for senior consultants including applicable allowances, superannuation and professional development can reach between $500,000-650,000.

Conversely, a standard GP in private practice is likely to earn $200,000-400,000 while having the flexibility that a government job may not offer.

“If they’re happy to work outside of business hours and do weekend work, that can climb to $600,000,” Kym said.

Tax in Australia

A doctor who is an employee will have around 30-40 per cent of their pay deducted and sent to the tax office on their behalf. 

Their net pay is what is left after tax.

For the sole trader, tax is not taken out of payments made to them by their clinic. 

Their tax will not be due until the 15 May, nearly 11 months after the end of the financial year, each 30 June.

“So there is a massive delay after they have earned their income,” Kym said.

“There is an opportunity to park that tax against their mortgage but you can’t spend it because you will have to pay it eventually.”

Financial benefits for GPs in Australia 

GPs enjoy some significant financial benefits in Australia when it comes to borrowing money.

“If someone moves over on a temporary visa, it’s almost impossible to get a loan,” Kym said.

“As soon as they become a permanent resident, the banks will welcome doctors with open arms. 

“It’s a bizarre system here but it’s fair to say doctors in Australia are the most preferred customers by banks. They get their own set of rules. 

“Most people need a 20 per cent deposit to buy a house. A doctor only needs a 10 per cent deposit. 

“And if they buy a clinic, they don’t even need a deposit, the bank will finance 100 per cent plus equipment.”

It gives doctors an incredible advantage in terms of building their wealth.

“I’d be suggesting purchasing a property as soon as possible.

“Property prices have been very strong here.

“Any (financial) gains on your house or principle place of residence are tax free. 

“That’s pretty well the only loophole in the legislation. Everything else you have to pay tax on except the house you live in.”

Importance of financial planning

Kym said he loves an example used by The Barefoot Investor.

“If you put $5000 a year away from the ages of 15-25 and you get a 10 per cent return, that money will be worth $2.7 million by the time you reach 65. 

“You don’t need to do any more investing for the rest of your life.”

It marries nicely with an observation from Albert Einstein.

“He said the eighth wonder of the world is compound interest. The sooner you start investing and it starts accruing interest, the better off you’re going to be.

“When you’re trying to set yourself up for the future, the most important factor to consider is the benefit of time and using that to its fullest advantage.”

Maximising the benefits of superannuation and property investment can help set doctors up for life, Kym said.

“I think financial planning is a great way to go.

“It’s one of life’s great money essentials in my book.

“To start, I’d be encouraging doctors to put money aside straight away for superannuation. 

“It’s really a case of working out what they can afford without impeding on their standard of living.

“Another approach doctors can take is that they can buy an investment property.

“The income you earn as a doctor needs to be viewed as a vehicle for convincing the bank to lend you money to invest.

The first one or two houses are the hardest to get. 

“The key I’ve found is don’t sell your first house, borrow extra to buy the second house. 

“Use the money that you’ve made in the first house as deposit or equity for your next house.

“Then instead of having one house go up in value, you’ve got two.”

Work-life balance

If you’re considering moving to Australia to work, you’ve probably already read a lot about the opportunity to improve your work-life balance.

It’s a big deal in Australia and Kym is a big advocate.

“I think that family comes first,” he said.

“You see so many doctors and accountants for that matter who work their butts off.

“They’re never home. 

“Their kids need their parents to be around.

“I think it’s really important to work around that because they are little for such a short period of time. 

“I want to emphasise for doctors it’s so important to spend time with your family and then spend time being creative with what you do outside of work.”

He said creating a wealth portfolio that optimises passive income is the key.

“You never really get rich out of an hourly rate or working for someone. 

“There are so many costs and effectively the ATO are a business partner of all of us and after you’ve paid all your bills and your tax, there is never a lot left. 

“I always try to have investments whether that is superannuation or property so that while I’m sleeping, my property portfolio is increasing in value.

“The value of my net wealth, my assets is constantly growing.

“I’ve got eight properties and I think it’s important doctors realise that they need to be run alongside of being a busy, successful doctor.”

Contact Health Recruitment Australia today

There are so many benefits to living and working in Australia.

You have vast, unspoilt countryside, modern cities, thousands of kilometres of beaches and a medical industry that values you and won’t work you into the ground.

It really is the lucky country and you can have it all and more.

But having a solid understanding of the country’s work and tax rules will make your life so much easier and allow you to maximise the financial benefits on offer.

All you need to do is set the ball in motion.

And Health Recruitment Australia can do that for you!

HRA is a dedicated recruitment agency that specialises in matching overseas doctors of all ages with the right clinics in Australia.

There is a significant GP shortage in Australia right now with a medical system crying out for more help.

Multiple opportunities exist for doctors keen to make the move to Australia and enjoy everything it has to offer.

If you’re one of the many thousands of doctors thinking about emigrating down under to work, let HRA make your job easier.

We’ll help you find you the right city, area, and practice to work in.

We’ll answer all of your questions, putting your mind at ease to make your move as comfortable as possible.

We can set you up with financial experts who work specifically with medical professionals to help you grow your wealth and take care of all of your money essentials.

Why not start with an informal, no-obligation discussion with the experienced team at Health Recruitment Australia? Contact us.

Enquire now, and we’ll be
in touch shortly!

 

Enquire now, and we’ll be
in touch shortly!