The Ultimate Guide For Aussies Relocating to Seattle

Last Updated: 5 May 2014

I know, ambitious title right? I get a large number of hits from Aussies who have been recruited by Amazon looking for information about Seattle so I thought I’d write a guide for those who are about to make the move. It’s a constant work in progress and I’ll update this page as I learn more. In the meantime I hope you guys find this useful!

Please feel free to shoot me any questions you have. If I don’t know the answer I can ask a bunch of people for you!

I’ve Just Arrived in Seattle! What Do I Do?

OK you are rolling in (future) Amazon dollars and stock options. But you have no rental or credit history so basically everyone is going to want extra deposits from you. We paid an extra $500 deposit per person for our phone plan and an extra month’s rent as a deposit for our apartment. Also I’ve been told that it’s a pain to get a good rewards credit card until you have 6 months of credit history.

You are going to get used to carrying your passport around with you. And as soon as you arrive these are the things you should do:

  1. Get your social security number (it’s like a tax file number). You need this to get paid and basically for anything involving money and it takes a week or two to arrive.
  2. Apply for a bank account and credit card with First Tech Credit Union. They have a relationship with tech companies so you can easily get a credit card that you can use to build your credit history.
  3. Get a phone
  4. Start apartment hunting.
  5. Make a list of the places you’ve given your corporate housing address to. You’re going to have to change it when you move to your permanent address and it’s so much easier to have a list.
  6. Buy a rain jacket. One with a hood.

Other stuff that’s not quite as time-critical but good to do in the first few months:

  1. Set up a Zipcar and/or Car2Go account. They’re very popular here and Amazon will reimburse you $160 a month.
  2. Get your Washington State driver’s license. If you don’t plan on driving, get your state ID. You will get sick of having to carry your passport around to buy booze and your Aussie license won’t work everywhere – Whole Foods rejected mine several times.
  3. Get an Orca card. Amazon give these out and you get free public transport. Apparently they used to just hand them out but now you have to specifically ask for one.

Where Should I Live?

Rent prices are expensive compared to the rest of the US but about on par (or only a little bit more expensive) than inner-city rents in Melbourne. Since you have no credit or rental history you’re probably limited to renting in an apartment building (owned and managed by a company) rather than a privately-owned condo, which can be much cheaper.

Have a look through Craigslist or Padmapper to get an idea of prices. We were looking for a 2 bed or 1 bed/1 study (“den”) and prices ranged from $1400 (old kitchen, no washer/dryer in the apartment) to $3000+ (high floor, fancy everything). You get a fridge, microwave, washing machine and dryer (if the apartment has them hooked up) included so you don’t need to buy your own.

Rents are listed by the month rather than by the week like they are back home. In most buildings your rent includes water, sewerage and gas but you have to pay for electricity. They also all charge pet deposits ($200ish) as well as pet rent ($20-25 per pet per month) and rent for parking spaces (I’ve seen anywhere from $50-150).

The other Aussies we know live quite close to Amazon. I think they had the same idea as us, where they wanted to live within walking distance of work their first year. Oh also what we call suburbs in Australia they call neighborhoods here. Neighborhoods don’t have a fixed boundary so on Craigslist you’ll often get apartments claiming to be in a more desirable area than they actually are. Also stuff looks close on Google Maps but it’s misleading because Seattle is really hilly and stuff is more spread out. I’ve found the Google walking estimates to be pretty accurate. The neighborhoods I can think of within a 30 minute walk of Amazon are:

  • South Lake Union (clean, quiet at night and within walking distance to more interesting neighborhoods. Mainly new buildings so quite expensive)
  • Belltown (lots of highrises. Homeless people congregate in some areas and it can be loud at night, but well-located and full of bars and restaurants. But no large grocery chains and I wouldn’t be super comfortable walking around at 3am)
  • Queen Anne (lower Queen Anne is more lively and upper Queen Anne is quieter. Very hilly, but a great option for people who want a family-friendly vibe that’s not in the middle of nowhere)
  • Capitol Hill (probably the most sought-after neighborhood in Seattle. Lots of restaurants and bars, but also quieter residential pockets, and unlike Belltown there are supermarkets everywhere)
  • Downtown (seems similar to living in Belltown but with more retail stores)
  • Parts of First Hill (I haven’t been here a lot. Lots of old buildings and has easy access to Downtown, Capitol Hill and the International District)
  • Eastlake (fewer restaurants/bars but nice and quiet)

Green Lake, Ballard, Wallingford and Fremont often get recommended. I haven’t been to Green Lake but Ballard, Wallingford and Fremont are both very vibrant neighborhoods, but unless you really love the area or need the extra space (or can cycle in) I’d recommend living closer in for your first year because traffic here is really bad. Seattle has water and lakes everywhere so it limits where traffic can go, and everyone gets filtered through these bottlenecks.

As a general rule of thumb, for a decent commute avoid having water or Downtown between you and work.

What is it Like Working at Amazon?

This will vary depending on your team but James loves it. His regular hours are 9:00-6:00 and he’s constantly doing extra work at home (not intense work – just checking on stuff). When there’s a problem it’s not uncommon for him to work until 7pm, then come home and work until midnight.

Some teams are required to be on call (a one week rotation). James’ team is, but they have a large team so he’s only on every couple of months.

So the hours can be long (especially leading up to Christmas) but James said the work is really challenging and enjoyable. He said that working at an IT company is much better than working at a company with an IT department (which is largely what Australia has). He gets to build stuff and see it implemented and he finds that very fulfilling.

He was a bit wary because the reviews on Glassdoor were pretty negative, but luckily his experience has been much better. I think it also helps that his co-workers are pretty similar to him – he really likes the guys he works with.

Also there are dogs, beer and nerf guns. There was a Margarita Friday but that seems to have turned into a Keg and Poker Friday.

Amazon has a well-earned reputation for frugality though. When he got his pager it didn’t have any batteries and when he asked about them he was told to buy his own. If everyone is working late Amazon will spring for dinner (though they said it’s not standard practice).

Oh yeah, you will get a bunch of interview offers on Linked In. James was getting so many that he de-selected the “interested in job opportunities” option on his Linked In and still gets recruiters sniffing around. It seems like once you’ve got a foot in the door of one tech company they’re all suddenly interested.

Cost of Living

Pricier: hospital/medical stuff, good beef

About the same: rent, fresh produce, restaurants

Cheaper: taxes, processed food, food cart food, clothes, electronics, books, utilities, public transport, furniture, designer anything, cars, interest rates

Seattle Weather

I’d say that Seattle runs maybe 5-10C colder than Melbourne. It’s constantly drizzling and overcast, but you learn to dress for the weather. Winters are pretty mild – snow is unusual in Seattle proper and apparently makes the whole city freak out.

In summer the weather is beautiful. The highs are between 20-30C (I think maybe low 30s was the hottest it got) which was warm enough to appreciate but not so hot that you had to huddle under the a/c all day. I think in general if you love Australian summers and love the sun you’ll find Seattle cold and dreary, but if you’re miserable in hot weather you’ll really appreciate the climate here.

I was advised that the winters are much more enjoyable for people who get outdoors (hiking, snowboarding, mountaineering, etc). You can go skiing/boarding at several mountains within a 1.5 hour drive, and the snow season usually lasts from November/December to May.

What Do I Wear?

Everybody has a rain jacket. Waterproof shells are popular because people just chuck them in their bags and bring them out when it starts raining. People dress much more casually here – there are a lot fewer men in suits and women with high heels and designer handbags. Make-up is less common too.

Amazon (and all the other tech companies) are very casual so James pretty much lives in jeans, t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts – plus of course his rain jackets. Fleece is also pretty popular here.

If you’re a girl you will definitely blend in with flat boots/gumboots, leggings/jeans, a longish top and a jacket/rain jacket, plus maybe a scarf or beanie if it’s cold. It’s common to see girls (and guys actually) wearing any casual bottom and a rain jacket. Sporty brands like Nike and Lululemon or outdoorsy brands like The North Face, Columbia, Patagonia, Arc’teryx and Marmot are ubiquitous.

What About the Seattle Freeze?

If you’re at Amazon you will likely be working with a bunch of transplants. And transplants are very eager to do social things because they also don’t know anyone in the city. A lot of this depends on the team you are placed with – James gets along really well with his team and we hang out all the time but I met a girl whose husband was put on a team that doesn’t socialise outside of work. So I guess it’s luck of the draw! I also know a lot of people who’ve made friends through Meetup and various sports leagues.

Although we have much closer friends in Melbourne we actually end up socialising much more here. Since winter started we’ve been going snowboarding once a week with our friends, plus dinner afterwards. And a lot of the time we do something with friends on the remaining weekend day. Plus often during the week. When we first arrived, James’ coworkers absorbed us into their whirlwind of socialising and now we host stuff all the time as well. We are part of the whirlwind now!

I haven’t met that many Seattle natives (though the ones I’ve met have been very friendly) but I think they get a bad rap. If they grew up here they probably have their own social circle and it seems pretty presumptuous for people to complain that they’re not instantly welcome into existing tight-knit friendships. Go socialise with the transplants – they’re lovely!

Strangers are friendlier and chattier than Melbourne but social interactions seem pretty similar otherwise. And Americans really like our accent, so I think that makes them more inclined to chat. They often think we’re English though.

How is the Food?

Overall Melbourne has superior food. Seattle does some stuff better but Melbourne and Sydney are definitely “foodier” cities.

Better than Melbourne: seafood, fancy sandwiches (a la EARL and Beatrix), Mexican, American, food trucks, catering to dietary restrictions

Worse than Melbourne: bakeries, brunch, Chinese, non-sushi/sashimi Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, pizza, McDonalds (claims James), high-end dining

Seattleites will tell you that they have good Thai and Vietnamese food – apparently it’s good compared to the rest of the US but it’s mediocre compared to what you can get at home.

Food portions and prices are roughly the same as back home (I know, I was disappointed too). Food trucks are a popular option for eating on the cheap as are happy hours. Over here it’s not just a bar thing – many restaurants will have a limited menu with food for almost half price. But if you work regular hours you won’t be able to take advantage of most of them cos they’re like 3-6 on a weekday.

According to James the coffee is worse but the beer is much better. Actually all the Aussies agree that the coffee is worse. Do not let them get your hopes up about the coffee because you will be bitterly disappointed.

Money Related Tips:

Amazon Reimbursement

From what I’ve been told, Amazon will reimburse you car rental/parking expenses up to $160 a month. They will also reimbuse you up to $50 for your phone bill. The expenses form is a bit of a pain and James waits until he has about 6 months of expenses and claims them at once.

Another perk is that you can mail personal packages at subsidised Amazon rates through the mailroom. They don’t have a price list but apparently if you look up your parcel’s dimensions on DHL it’s usually around 60% of that cost.

Credit Cards

First Tech will offer you 2 credit cards – one that has no annual fee and one that costs $25 but gets you 1% cashback on all your purchases. Get the cashback one because you will buy so much stuff that you more than make it back your first month. Almost everywhere takes credit card, and unlike back home it’s common to use your card for small purchases like coffee.

Then when you have the credit score, get the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, which has 6% cashback at supermarkets. I think someone worked out that you need to spend $230ish a month at supermarkets to make it worth getting the Preferred (annual fee) over the regular Blue Cash (3% cashback at supermarkets and no annual fee). The trick to the Blue Cash Preferred is that Safeway sells gift cards. So if you want to maximise your cashback you use your Amex to buy gift cards at Safeway (including, eBay, cinemas, iTunes, and a bunch of other places – but really Amazon is the most useful).

Sales Tax

There’s a 9.5% sales tax on most stuff that is only calculated at the cash register (medicine and most groceries are exempt). There’s also a slightly higher tax on restaurant food (maybe 1-2% higher?), extra taxes on alcohol and really high taxes on liquor. Some online stores won’t charge you sales tax if they don’t have a physical presence in the state.


This is the list (cobbled from online sources) that I use:

  • Waiter: 20% pre-tax (a general guide is to double the sales tax for the tip). Some places don’t list the itemized tax and that annoys me.
  • Buffet: 10%
  • Bartender: $1 per drink or 15-20% of the bar tab if mainly cocktails
  • Takeout: No tip (maybe 10% if they did us some sort of favour)
  • Coffee: Not necessary but appreciated. Some of James’ co-workers don’t tip, James rounds up to the dollar, and one of his co-workers tips an even $1 every time.
  • Food Delivery: 15% with a minimum of $5
  • Taxi Driver: 15% plus an extra $1-2 if they help with bags
  • Hairdresser: 15-20% (you have to tip the shampoo assistant separately! It’s $2 apparently. My hairdresser does both herself though, so phew)
  • Manicurist/Masseuse/Waxer: 15-20%
  • Movers: apparently the head mover gets $25-50 and everyone else $15-30. We didn’t have much stuff and gave the air shipment guys (2) $25 each and the sea shipment guys (3) $20 each – according to our American friends we definitely overtipped.
  • Furniture Delivery: $5-20. We’ll tip if delivery is free but if the only option is white glove delivery (which is like $100!) we don’t tip.

There were also recommended tips for valets, cloakroom attendants, restroom attendants (seriously? You have to pay someone to listen to you pee?), sommeliers, concierges and airport skycaps, but I’m not really the sort of person who uses those services.

James sent me this link, where a guy surveyed different professions about whether to tip them and how much makes you a low/average/generous tipper. I found it pretty useful!

Shopping Tips

More Cashback!

Sign up with Fatwallet and/or Ebates. (Those are my referral links btw) Before I buy anything online I check to see if I can click through with a referral because I get anywhere from 1-6% cashback. Stores like Gap, REI,, Amazon and eBay are on the site, and I’ve gotten $100+ in cashback for stuff that I was going to buy anyway.


  • Whole Foods: if you like organic everything shop here. It’s really expensive though. James paid $4.55 for a single eggplant and it was mouldy inside. The meat is good though.
  • Trader Joe’s: great quality basics and alcohol at fantastic prices. It’s like an upmarket Aldi. The bread and fresh produce isn’t the greatest, though I’ve heard it depends on the individual store.
  • Uwajimaya: like a fancy Asian grocer. A huge variety of fresh produce at cheaper prices than the supermarkets. Non-Asian stuff like pasta or cheese is more expensive here.
  • QFC/Safeway: like Coles/Safeway back home.
  • Costco: like Costco back home. Great for prescriptions, alcohol and bulk purchases but take a car there.

There’s a bunch of other supermarkets but those are the ones I shop at regularly. You should definitely sign up for a QFC or Safeway card because you only get the discounted prices if you’re a member. Safeway has an additional thing that you can sign up for called Your Coupons or something like that where you can digitally add coupons to your club card instead of manually clipping them.

Finding Bargains

If you’re looking for the US equivalent of Ozbargain, Slick Deals is the closest I’ve found. It’s not as well curated though.


I use Expedia, Kayak and Hipmunk to compare plane fares. I also check Southwest Airlines separately because they often aren’t included in other websites.

For cheap, awesome travel to Portland and Vancouver, I highly recommend Bolt Bus which has leather seats and free wifi. Make sure you sign up before booking (perks: every 4th trip is free and you get early boarding). If you book Bolt Bus early the prices are cheaper – I’ve seen tickets as low as $1.

Getting Around


Car traffic will almost always give way to pedestrian traffic, even when it seems inconvenient to everyone involved, so instead of doing that “you go, no you go” thing, you should just go.

Jaywalking is a lot less common here than back home, but I’ve noticed that if I start other people will follow. Just to be safe I don’t do it if I see any cops nearby.


If you don’t own a car, then Zipcar and Car2Go are your friends. Even if Amazon didn’t reimburse us, we spend less on Zipcar than it would cost to park in our building.

The freeways and one-way roads are kind of terrifying, so we rely heavily on Google Maps to guide us. Navigating got 10x easier when we picked up a dashboard mount (we picked up that brand based on a friend’s recommendation and because you don’t have to stick it to your windshield – the suction cup is really stable and lets you use it in multiple cars) and USB car charger (because Google Maps drains the battery like crazy).

If an intersection is clear you can turn right (like an Australian left turn in traffic) at the red light.


Get the app One Bus Away which shows all the bus stops and has real-time info about bus timetables.

If you’re getting on the bus wait until everyone gets off first. Hold your Orca card up to the reader (you can leave it in your wallet) and wait until it beeps. If you’re in one of those articulated buses don’t sit in the articulated bit. The only people who sit there are children, people who can’t find a seat elsewhere and people who’ve never been on a bus before (and after a couple of turns they quickly find another seat).

Cultural Differences That You Might Come Across

Here are a couple of blog posts that I made soon after we came to Seattle about random differences that I hadn’t expected!

Post 1

Post 2

Things To Bring From Home

Most things you can buy much more cheaply in the US – even stuff like Jurlique skincare and Ugg boots that you’d think would be cheaper back home! But here is some stuff that is difficult to get that you might want to bring from Australia.

  • Those small tins of passionfruit pulp (insanely expensive here)

You can get the following on Amazon but you’ll pay a small premium.

  • Crunchies/Violet Crumbles (honeycomb chocolate is not a thing here)
  • Tim Tams
  • Vegemite

I’ll update the list as I discover more.

110 Responses to “The Ultimate Guide For Aussies Relocating to Seattle”

  1. Vicki November 19, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    I enjoy your blog. My cousin lives in Edmonds and I have been to Seattle quite a few times so I am enjoying living there through you. Enjoy…

  2. Vicki November 19, 2012 at 1:28 am #

    Oops forgot to say I am from Sydney.

  3. Wedgwood in Seattle History November 19, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    Your guide is terrific! Thank you for all the work you put into this guide with so many specific details.

    • pamperedhousewife November 19, 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Thanks! =D I remember when I was hunting for information about Seattle I was never like “well THAT was more detail than I needed”. 😉

  4. Sal November 21, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    It is good list. About the tips (I have been in America so many times and my husband is American too): you tip for every thing including take away and coffee. Tips is a show of appreciation for the service they are providing. The minimum wage is very low in America and most of the employees count with tips. As per the lady in the restroom, they clean the toilet when you leave, and usually the toilet are impeccable when there is a person there. In racy restaurants they will dry your hand or provide the towels and clean and fix your jacket. Tips are supposed to be 10 to 15 per cent and there are app that can calculate for you (used a lot when I went to USA the last time).

    It is interesting to read this post because I had the same problems when I moved to Melbourne 6 years ago. Moving countries is a big change and more overwhelming than you imagine at first.

    • pamperedhousewife November 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

      I think having a language in common made me think I wouldn’t get culture shock but I still did!

      Thankfully Washington State has (what I’m told is) the highest minimum wage in the country at over $9. I’ve heard that it can be really bad in some states – like $2 bad!

      I still maintain that I would prefer to pay to NOT have someone in the toilet with me while I’m peeing. And I’d just be plain uncomfortable having someone drying my hands for me or fixing my clothes – I think fancy restaurants are just not for me!

      Anyway thanks for chiming in. It’s always good to hear from people who have more experience with this sort of thing than I do! =)

      • Sal November 21, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

        Cultural shock always happens, it is just about degrees. You and your husband seems to be enjoying Seattle and that is great! Enjoy your time and when you less expect you are going to call it home. I promisse you that it gets better and better.

        have you tasted the starbucks ice cream? give it a try it is amazing! : )

  5. Sal November 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    One more tip for people moving abroad: always start by open an bank account then the mobile phone. For starting you can get a pre- paid phone so you don’t have to deal with the whole credit check of post paid. When you have a bank account it makes easier to have credit and always ask the hr department to be your referee.

  6. Sal December 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Hello Again!!!!
    I need help and I think you can help me. As you have cats I need to know how was the travel for them? Did they travel with you guys (cabin or flight)? if not how did you do?
    Did you give them immunisation against rabies before you got to WA? I know that CDC does not requires Rabies vaccine for cats but the State of WA requires it.

    We are moving next month to Seattle and I am freaking out about my Cat. She is a great baby and she had traveled for long period in car ( 3 times at Melbourne to Sydney in the Hume Hwy) but the whole travel in the airplane might scary her since she does not like loud noises.

    how did you do with your kitties. Please let me know.

    xoxo Sal

    • pamperedhousewife December 5, 2012 at 4:15 pm #


      Travel for the cats was organised by World Care Pet Transport. They left a day earlier than we did, stayed the night in LA, and arrived a day after us. We were told that they would be transported in the quietest part of the plane to minimise stress.

      A mobile vet gave them both rabies shots and we either emailed the scanned documentation to WCPT or gave it to them when the cats were picked up, I can’t recall which.

      Both our cats are terrible travellers so your cat likely has an advantage there. They were upset as soon as they got into the crates. WCPT gave us constant updates and said the cats were doing well but when they sent us a photo the cats looked pretty terrified!

      James and I suspect that the cats HATED the trip over – it’s not like they know what’s happening or if they’ll ever see you again you know? So the travel will suck. BUT they do bounce back very quickly (within half an hour for our cats, which is faster than it took them to recover when we moved house in Melbourne).

      Before our cats arrived we bought them a scratching post, lots of their favourite food, and cat toys for them to play with. They were back to their normal selves so much faster than I thought they would be. =)

      Hopefully the trip goes smoothly for all of you!

      • Cherie July 23, 2017 at 3:51 am #

        Love this reply. Love your blog. My partner is about to go over there for the hopefully final interview. And my cat, partner & I just moved to Adelaide earlier this year from Rockhampton QLD which I think has prepared us slightly for this next move. I have been worried also for my cat as he’s 18yrs old, but still plays like a kitten & is a really good boy. I was rejecting the idea of the move because I was flat against putting him through stress again. But, I know I cannot let that stop us from going for this.

        Thank-you again for your tips & very thoughful notes. I feel so much more positive about the whole process now.
        Much love.

      • pamperedhousewife July 23, 2017 at 10:22 am #

        Hey Cherie,

        I’m really glad I could help. Worrying about the cats was one of the most stressful parts of the move but they adjusted almost instantly (even our older cat who was 12 at the time).

        Best of luck with your husband’s interview!

  7. Sal December 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm #

    So you could not travel with them in the airplane? What airline did you use?
    Could you send me an email telling me how much it cost the travel. Thank you so much for the answers. i think i will start to organize the Rabies inoculation now since some countries ask for a month before arrival.

    thank you : )

  8. AK December 22, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

    Thanks for all the very helpful info! How long did you guys take before you were able to lock in an apartment?

    • pamperedhousewife December 23, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      No worries, glad you found it useful! Some of the time buildings had apartments that were available immediately but most of the time we found that the tenant was moving out within the month. It took a couple of weeks for the previous tenant to leave our current apartment and then another few days for them to clean and paint it. If you’re not TOO picky about where you live I’d still give it a couple of weeks for safety!

  9. abiotechieslife April 2, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    Cost Plus World Market also stocks Violet Crumbles,Vegemite and Tim Tams (depends on the store). . There is one close to Pike Place Market. Address is 2103 Western Avenue Seattle, WA 98121. Its the place I go when I need the real English Cadbury chocolate bars and other British food items.

    • pamperedhousewife April 2, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

      I went to World Market a couple of months ago looking for Vegemite but they were out. I picked up a couple packs of Tim Tams as a consolation prize. I didn’t see the Violet Crumbles though – will have to keep an eye out next time!

  10. Wendy August 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    Can I ask what sort of degree in IT James has? It is my sons dream to one day work at Google or Amazon and he is just picking his subjects for year 11 so would like to be on the right track, thanks.
    Ps love love love your blog!

    • pamperedhousewife August 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      Hi Wendy,

      James said in terms of high school, maths will probably be the most useful. In uni he did a computer science degree but he said software engineering is better.

      If he’s in Sydney he should try to get internships with one of the big tech companies – that’s the easiest way in!

      • Wendy August 10, 2013 at 12:39 am #

        Thanks for that information, unfortunately we live in Adelaide, but the world is his oyster!

      • pamperedhousewife August 10, 2013 at 9:00 am #

        Good luck to him! =)

        The US is really so much more advanced for software engineers! Even with interns here, it doesn’t matter if they live out of state because companies will provide housing (plus interns here actually get paid!)

        It’s such a whole different world! Fresh grads here are paid more than people with 10-20 years experience in Australia!

  11. C September 19, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Hi there,

    Love your post, it’s really insightful.

    A quick question if you don’t mind: given that you’re an Aussie, did you end up only paying the lower US income tax (on your US income)? Or did you still have to pay what you saved in tax to the ATO?

    eg. say your income was such that the Aussie tax would have been $100 and the US tax would have been $80 (still in AUD), did you get to pocket the $20 tax saving? Or did you still have to pay ATO the $20? ie. in the end you gained no tax benefit?


    • pamperedhousewife September 20, 2013 at 10:01 am #

      Hey there!

      Our first year was a bit complicated because we resided for part of the tax year in Australia. Amazon had some tax consultants deal with that for us I think.

      But my understanding is that now we reside in the US we only have to pay US tax rates for the income earned in the US. So we definitely benefit from the lower tax rates!

      Hope that helps. =)

  12. Sam December 9, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    Hi there, are you working at all? How does it compare with working in Melbourne?

  13. Sam December 9, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    Hi there, are you working at all? If you are, how does it compare with working in your chosen industry Melbourne? If not, how do you fill up your spare time? My husband moved here for work and I’m going mental! seriously considering a move back home 😦

    • pamperedhousewife December 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

      Heya! Oh no, sad to hear you’re not enjoying it. =( I’ve always been a lazy bum so I’m having a grand time blogging and writing in my spare time. Obviously I also do all the housework, grocery shopping and pet maintenance!

      I think it helps that I keep in daily email contact with a bunch of friends from back home and we’ve made quite a few friends here. How long have the two of you been in Seattle? I know a couple of Aussie couples where the wife left behind a career and regretted it. One of them is staying and I think the other is moving back home.

      • Sam December 9, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

        We’ve been here since March. He’s loving it, and I hate that I’m not. He’s offered to move back but it’s an amazing opportunity for him and I’d hate for him to give it up. Unfortunately he’s quite shy and a bit of a homebody so while he gets on with people at work (so he says) he doesn’t really accept invites to do things on the weekends thus limiting the interactions we have to the self check out machines at Safeway and the Dominos delivery persons.
        How long were the Aussies who are heading back in Seattle?

      • pamperedhousewife December 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

        Around the 2 year mark I think. The wife felt quite socially isolated and she couldn’t really get out on her own because they had young kids.

        When James started I assumed that all teams were tight-knit like his, but now I’ve learned that apparently we got lucky!

        You should definitely tell your guy to accept his team invitations! I know that our group always includes new team members, but if they keep saying no the invitations kind of trickle off because people figure they’re not interested, you know?

        Are you guys at Amazon?

    • sall December 9, 2013 at 5:25 pm #


      I know how it is easy to go mental. I don’t know what area of work you used to do in Australia but there are a few things you can do to get in the job market here:
      – check what is necessary to do here to have your profession recognized (if that is the case).
      – take a small courses at university or community colleges (UW offers a range of professional courses). That makes you more attractive to local employers (usually they want the work experience or courses).
      – ask your husband to recommend you to a position at his company. We know a couple at our building that the wife got a job with amazon too.

      Do what is necessary and improve yourself here. That was what I did when I moved to Australia and now here : )

      • pamperedhousewife December 9, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

        Sall, you don’t happen to be in the Aspira building do you? Because then we may in fact know the same couple!

  14. Sam December 9, 2013 at 5:19 pm #

    Yup, he’s an Amazonian

    • Sam December 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      Thanks Sall 🙂

      • sall December 9, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

        You are welcome.
        Keep your spirit up. The worse part is the first year then it improves a lot .

      • Sal January 14, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

        Hi Sam,
        Happy new year! I was thinking of you another day and wondering inks are you doing.

        I hope you doing better.


    • sal December 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

      They are our neighbors!

      • Douglas January 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

        Hi Sal,

        My wife and I are considering a move to the Aspira building, but we’ve seen a few horrible reviews online. Do you mind if I ask you how long you’ve been living there and your take on the place? Would you renew your lease there?

      • Sal January 14, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

        Hi Douglas,
        I have been leaving in the Aspira for a year now and yes we will renew our lease (I will only move now if for our own house).
        I love the building and my neighbors. The reviews are mainly from the old management company. And the newest one I think the person was just being unreasonable.

        The leasing office team is great and they try to help you as much as they can ( the new management got in in dec2012). River stone is very much buy the book and that is great because you don’t have many surprises.

        For the year we lived here we never had a problem and all our maintainess request was responded in 48 hours. ( a big improvement from Australian real estate).
        I would recommend to not get an apt under the gym as you will get noise from the weights.
        What I can say is that I love to live at Aspira. I love the building, the management and neighbors.

        If you need any other answer let me know.

      • Douglas January 14, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

        Thanks for all the info Sal.
        We have scheduled a walk through for Thursday evening. My wife is a triathlete and is really fussy about fitness equipment, have you used the gym at all? Any comments on that? Really appreciate you taking the time to respond 🙂

      • Sal January 14, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

        Hi Douglas,

        It is a pleasure to answer. In fact the gym and the yoga was the sold out point for us to stay at the Aspira. Since your wife is a Tri-athlete I don’t know her standards very well, but the Aspira building gym was the best gym we found while inspecting properties. I am a gym user (weights) and it has a good variety of machines to exercise ( in fact all the machines I need to do my regime from the virgin active club in Sydney).

        As to elliptical machines they have goods ones. Including two types of bicycle machines ( one of them has the fake programs with a screen).

        Gym is good enough that we don’t have a gym membership (less expense ) and we love the free yoga that is offered at Aspira (3 times a week) . Yoga Michel is a great teacher and it is so covinient to just go downstairs and you have your class.

        Does it help a bit?

        Sal 🙂

  15. sal December 9, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    My suggestion of pizza: tutti Bella and bar cotto. I general I never liked Melbourne pizza (excepted for the train winery at yarra valley). Tutti Bela has a true Neapolitana try the DOC one it is amazing. We tried bar cotto a few weeks ago and it was amazing.

    Vietnamese: okay food la lot
    Malaysian: I don’t remember the name but is a small place on Capitol Hill

    Bakery: great harvest in Ballard

    : )

  16. Anon January 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    For people not associated with Amazon, do NOT apply for any credit cards. Each rejection will ding your FICO score. Open an account with a big bank (FDIC insured!), then get a secured credit ard with them. Basically you’ll give them $500 surety against a $500 credit limit. Then use the card frequently, and increase the limit as often as allowed. After 12 months you should have a credit score. Credit scores determine insurance rates and job propects, so read up on how to increase it.

    For normal nonsweet white bread, you want the farmstyle bread from the in-house Safeway bakery.

    For milk which tastes right, Stoneyfield, QFC organic or Organic Valley.

    You can get Australian lamb at costco.

    And for poor Sam who commented a month ago, condolences. The Seattle Freeze is soul destroying. I can’t offer any advice because none of it worked for me for many years. Then we moved away and I had friends again. All I can say is that anyone reading this considering moving to Seattle who has a trailing spouse shouldn’t do it.

    • Anon January 9, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

      Somewhere else there was a question about schools. They vary massively, because funding is not state based, but town/county based. Live in a rich town, have rich schools, live in a poor town, have poor schools. Property values on either side of a town line can vary hugely due to the schools.

      Hope thatt helps, now I’m going to go and see if Aussie in America blog I sudied obsessively the summer before we moved is still around.

  17. Sam January 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Hey Sal,
    Thanks for checking in. Things are looking up. Took your advice and have enrolled in a few classes. It gets me out and about and I’m meeting new people. Xmas was tough and with Australia Day around the corner, I’m sure I’ll be more than a wee bit homesick but am in a much better place than I was last month

    • Sal January 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

      Hi Sam,
      I am really happy that you are happier than a month ago. I was thinking of you another day. A friend was telling me how she is going to this meetup reunions. I think it would be good for you too ( as I am sure you can find something you are interest in and it is a good networking to find a job too.
      First holidays away from home are hard but i promise it gets easier. My moto is: try to assimilate the culture of the place you are living in. It makes life easier.
      If you need anything let me know.
      warm regards,

  18. Krystina January 21, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    Found your blog by chance through google. My boyfriend got a job with Amazon and we will be moving down to Seattle in May. Thank you for all your helpful tips!

    • pamperedhousewife January 21, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

      Glad you found them useful. May is a great time to move to Seattle – the summer here is beautiful! =)

    • Dora May 27, 2014 at 9:34 pm #

      Hi there! I will be moving with my boyfriend next month as well. Since we aren’t legally married – did u find you had problems getting a work visa?

      Also, for the spouses/partners looking for a job in Seattle – any tips and advice for work visas? Were you able to find work? How long does it usually take? Thanks!

      • pamperedhousewife May 28, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

        Hey Dora,

        I checked with a friend who was engaged when she arrived, and she was on a B2 (tourist) visa which she converted to E3-D after marriage. It would be worth checking with your Fragomen contact about it because I think the US is pretty strict about job hunting on non-work visas.

        The good news is that once you’re on an E3-D (I’m assuming you’re Australian? Apologies if not!) getting a work visa is no problem. You just have to fill out a bunch of forms.

  19. Sienna February 8, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    Your guide is terrific with all the points taken into account.
    I would thus like to know how easy is it to get a job in seattle and what sites would recommend to hunt for a job as i am very keen to move to seattle from melb.

    • pamperedhousewife February 8, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

      Thanks! And sorry I don’t have a lot of advice for getting a job here – like Australia, it’s quite hard to get a visa unless you’re in a STEM industry. All the Aussies we know in the US are researchers or software engineers! Amazon initially found James through Linked In, and I know a lot of the big tech companies do international recruiting trips.

      • Sal February 8, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

        Hi Sienna,

        It all depends on the area you work. You don’t need to be necessarily on the STEM industry as a lot of other areas of work also hire people on the E3 visa.
        E3 visa is the visa that most tech companies have been using to bring Australians citizens to here, And it is better as allows the spouse to work after 3 months in the USA (time to process the work permission).
        Most companies still work with the h1-b1, which had a quota per year and it is a longer process.

        As mention by the author of this blog most people that came with Tech companies came after being searched on Linked in or referral from people already here.
        As for job search, it will all depend on what are you looking for and skill you have so it is hard to give a general advice.

  20. Kat February 17, 2014 at 4:54 am #

    Are the Orca cards from Amazon pre-loaded? Is there a maximum usage cap on it (eg $20 a week or something) and did you and James both get one or did you have to get your own?

    • pamperedhousewife February 17, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      Hi Kat,

      The Orca card is unlimited (I think all the company-issued Orcas are). Amazon only provides cards for employees, not spouses. However the cards don’t have photos or anything like that, so theoretically anyone could use it.

      The only limitation to the corporate Orca cards is that you can’t use it to pay for additional people. If you have a friend visiting, with a regular Orca you can tell the bus driver that you want to pay for two fares but with the unlimited Orca you can’t.

      • Sal February 17, 2014 at 11:05 am #

        In fact they come now with the name and Id number of the employee. Amazon policy say only the employee can use it, and there is some penalty for a third party to use it (few people already got caught).

      • pamperedhousewife February 17, 2014 at 11:54 am #

        Oh wow I had no idea they were cracking down on it like that! Thanks for the update.

        A friend who joined in 2012 said they used to give the Orca cards to every new employee. By the time James joined in 2013 they were only providing them on request. I wonder when they started including employee information on the cards? It seems like there is a gradual trend towards tightening up its use.

      • Sal February 17, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

        Hi : ) (I was going to put your name here put I don’t know if you have privacy control issue)

        My husband got his card in Feb 2013 and had those informations. I have seen those infos in other cards too.

        My Husband told me that a few years ago you could use the orca card on the ferry but then changed it and now you have to request (and prove that you use it to commute to work).

        I think they will be strict, or at least more conscious about how to manage it, as time passes.

  21. Kat February 17, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    Thanks for that. I read somewhere that since the card is issued by work, Amazon can legally track the use of the card. I’m a bit anxious to use it though while he’s at work in case they figure out it’s not him using and want to take it off him…

    • Kat February 17, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      Yikes! Thanks for the heads up Sal 🙂

    • Sal February 17, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      as I said I would not use it. I bought my own one. They do investigate the cards and most the people caught was the people that was at campus and the card was being used elsewhere. My husband card has his name on the back and a Amazon number.

      Buy your own and the fare is not that expensive.

    • pamperedhousewife February 17, 2014 at 11:16 am #

      I know a few guys who let their wives use their card and nobody has been dinged yet!

      • Kat February 17, 2014 at 11:34 am #

        Hey Sal, I generally e-load (is that the correct term) my card but sometimes I know I’ve got like a dollar on it and I’m in a hurry so I grab his…as he leaves it at home…so I only use it in emergencies…but will be more careful now.

      • Kat February 17, 2014 at 11:38 am #

        Maybe the partners of the guys who were dinged used the card a lot, like Mon-Fri, several times a day…which got them flagged? Sal how did these guys get caught and more importantly what happened to them? Were they stripped of a few Amazon badges 😉 ?
        Just checked, my hubby’s card doesn’t have his name or badge number on it…

      • Sal February 17, 2014 at 11:51 am #

        I use the internet to upload my card which is easier than going to the machine.

        As to How they caught I don’t know how they work at Amazon, but in general I can tell you that when a Company issue a card to a employee the card belongs to the company and the company link that card to the employee information on the data base. Since the card is Amazon card they have the right to check where and when it was used.

        The consequence of use the card by third party depends and I Quite don’t remember by heart from reading the police almost a year ago.

        Ask the owner of the blog to give me my email, which I give you permission, and I can give you more info how in general the process works.

  22. Osvaldo Siles March 12, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    HI! I really enjoyed your blog! I just got an offer from Amazon to relocate to Seattle. I’m a lil bit lost and I will really appretiate if I can talk to someone who already went through this process. I will really appretiate if I can get in touch with you. Thanks a lot! And keep up with this blog 🙂

    • pamperedhousewife March 13, 2014 at 12:11 am #

      Sure no worries! Email me at Kaye.chen at gmail and I’ll try to answer any questions you have. 🙂

  23. Farani Lucero April 24, 2014 at 6:50 am #

    Mahalo for posting this! I’m relocating to Seattle and want to work with Amazon and I found your blog searching for Amazon interview questions. Although I’m American, I’ve been working in Afghanistan for the last 4 years and Honolulu 10 years prior to that — so I know nearly nothing about the continental US. I appreciate all the details you described as they are answering every question that comes to mind and others that haven’t yet.

    • pamperedhousewife April 24, 2014 at 9:40 am #

      I’m glad you found it useful. Good luck with your Amazon interview! =)

  24. Su May 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Hi everyone! My bf and I will also be relocating to Seattle (Amazon) next month (June 12 ish) and I stumbled across your site – which is very helpful btw! We’ve never been to Seattle so I’m sure we’ll be a little lost when we get there…we’re currently in the packing stage..with less than 3 weeks to organize and pack everything. Any tips and suggestions on what to bring and what not to bring?

    Are there any good ski hills within the Seattle vicinity? We’re debating whether or not to bring our snowboards and bikes since there is limited storage in downtown condos…We’re also looking to make new friends and acquire snowboarding buddies when we get there 🙂

    We are currently doing some research on the different neighbourhoods in Seattle to find an apartment, preferrable downtown and within walking distance to Amazon campus. We’re debating between lower Queen Anne and Capitol Hill area..We will be going to Seattle on the “home-finding trip” curtesy of Amazon from May 29 – June 1st. Since we don’t know anyone in Seattle, all tips and suggestions are welcome! 🙂

    • pamperedhousewife May 19, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

      Hey there!

      Are you guys coming from the US or from Aus? I’m guessing the US since you mention the home-finding trip. I don’t think there’s anything you need to bring to Seattle that you can’t buy once you arrive.

      Snoqualmie is the closest ski area – about an hour from Seattle. Stevens and Crystal are 2 hours away and both great mountains, so it’s definitely worth bringing your boards. We have ours wall-mounted in the apartment so they don’t take up much room. Stevens is more snowboarder-friendly and is my favourite of the two, but I’ve been told that Crystal is better if you’re into double black terrain.

      Biking is also very popular here (though apparently bike theft is super common, even in locked apartment garages). There are a lot of trips that would be much more convenient on a bike than public transport. If you’re into mountain biking, some friends recommend Stevens and Whistler during the summer.

      LQA and Capitol Hill are both great areas. I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding somewhere you like!

      • Su May 20, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

        Thanks for the info! We are actually coming from Canada

  25. Jason August 25, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

    Very useful guide and it definitely helped us a lot to get started in Seattle.

    We got our AMEX blue cash preferred 1 week after we arrived in Seattle because we have an Aussie Amex Platinum card and AMEX was offering us any card in the US from Platinum level and below. AMEX did not require SSN from us, just passport details.

    • Stephen Pattillo January 29, 2015 at 3:58 am #

      Hello – I am based in Sydney and I am helping the U.S. Ambassador to Australia to plan a trip to Seattle and a few other cities in the USA. Any chance I could give you and James a quick call to discuss some ideas for Seattle. He likes wine tasting and things like that. Thanks for any help you can provide!



      • pamperedhousewife January 29, 2015 at 8:58 am #

        I’m not located in Seattle anymore and don’t have very Ambassador-y tastes, but happy for you to shoot me an email though I’m not sure how much help I’ll be!

  26. Kam April 27, 2015 at 5:38 pm #


    Your post was very helpful, Thanks.

    Were you able to claim your Australia – Seattle Airfare and Goods relocation cost as Tax deductions in US ?


    • pamperedhousewife April 27, 2015 at 5:55 pm #

      Hey Kam,

      Amazon paid for our relocation so we didn’t claim it on our taxes. Sorry I couldn’t help more!

  27. Jess August 26, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    I wish we could move to Seattle! Sounds like and through a bit of research, it would cost a lot of money.

  28. Ruchitra September 23, 2015 at 4:22 pm #


    I have just been offered a role with Amazon. I live in Melbourne at the moment. Amazon have offered me the option of Seattle or LA. Really confused, which one I should go for. Any thoughts? I am 32 year old single female. I will be moving by myself so would really want to quickly build up a friends circle. I like outdoorsy activities. Do love sunshine (but I think I can deal with cloudy days as long as its not freezing cold).


    • pamperedhousewife September 23, 2015 at 4:56 pm #


      I don’t know how much help I’ll be since I’ve never been to LA! Something to keep in mind though, is that Washington State has no state income tax, so that’s ~10% you’ll save right off the bat.

      I reckon Seattle has the edge over LA for outdoorsy activities but LA beats it for sunshine. I have a friend in Seattle who needs to take Vitamin D pills and sit under a SAD lamp because otherwise she feels really awful in winter. What really seems to bum people out is not seeing the sun for weeks in winter, so if that gets to you you’ll really hate the weather in Seattle. I’ve also heard a lot of people complaining about the “Seattle Freeze”, which is apparently where people are friendly but don’t want to be your friend. James and I never encountered that, but enough people complain about it that maybe there’s something to it?

      I love, love, LOVE Seattle and would move back in a heartbeat. James also recommends the Seattle location because he thinks it’s not as good for your career to be at a satellite office. And your money goes a lot further! But on the other hand, because there are more job opportunities, it will probably be easier to move from the LA campus to HQ than the other way around.

      Oh and there’s also probably a lot more single guys in Seattle if that matters to you!

      • Ruchitra October 2, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

        Thank you so much for replying back to my question. I could not help smiling when I read your last comment 😉

        I chose Seattle over LA. Now Amazon have given me the option of Seattle or London…doesn’t get easy, does it? At the moment I am leaning towards Seattle. Your blog really puts Seattle and Amazon in good light. So thank you very much for doing that :-).


  29. Luis January 8, 2016 at 7:11 pm #

    First, I am a lifelong Seattleite of 50 years, and I must say that this was a very interesting post, and the perspective you offer is priceless. I can’t even find reason to be nit-picky or defensive, and I’m contemplating whether to send the link to an Aussie friend who lived in the Seattle area for 20 years, to see what he thinks.

    I DO hope that you have been to Green Lake in the few years since the post was written!! ??

    Hope you are doing well in 2016 too!

    • pamperedhousewife January 9, 2016 at 8:57 am #

      Hey! Thanks for your comment. =) I did manage to get to Green Lake (and lost my waterproof camera in the lake – so mixed memories there!)

      I look back on some of my old blog posts and some of them are silly and I’m sure I get a lot of things wrong but I leave them up for posterity. 😉 I’m in San Francisco now and for the foreseeable future but I’ll never love it as much as Seattle. Happy 2016 to you too!

  30. Douglas January 16, 2016 at 7:46 am #

    Loving this post. It has answered many of the questions I had, and then some. I will be moving to Seattle in March and I had a question about superannuation versus 401K. Do the two of you still contribute to your Australian Super account from the US or are you solely focusing on 401K? I’m not planning on retiring in the US, probably spend 3-5 years there, get a boost to my resume and all, but I plan on returning to Australia. I’m thinking it might be a bit of a hassle to withdraw the money when not in the US. Though as I type this I’m thinking I should still do 401K to minimise my taxable income. The US financial system is so confusing :/

    • pamperedhousewife January 16, 2016 at 1:32 pm #

      Hey Doug,

      Glad you found it helpful! James no longer contributes to his super and just focuses on his 401k since a lot of employers will match your contribution up to a certain amount. But it does complicate things if you don’t plan on staying in the US. Though you might change your mind once you get here – all our Aussie software engineer friends are super spoiled now and said they could never go back to working in Australia!

  31. Linna Villiers January 22, 2016 at 2:34 pm #

    Hey there pampered housewife!

    I too am an Aussie Amazon housewife! Also moved to Seattle Jan 2014 from Melbourne, Australia. My husband Eric is a Software Developer. I did have a job (UX designer) but the USCIS didn’t extend my work permit in time so now I am back to a housewife again. Keep up with the blogging (unlike me.. keke).

    I stumbled upon your website when looking up Amazon Post holiday party. Maybe I’ll bump into you tonight! Good to meet more Aussies ^_^


    • pamperedhousewife January 22, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

      Hey Linna,

      My friend was just talking about the Amazon Post Holiday Party! He said that Fall Out Boy will be playing which is pretty cool! Unfortunately I won’t be there since James and I moved to the Bay Area a year ago. =( Hope you have fun!

  32. Matt December 12, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    Hey I’m thinking of moving to Seattle with my partner who is a us citizen I’m a qualified carpenter in Sydney. Do you know anything about the construction side of things living in Seattle e.g is there lots of work , do carpenters get paid well, is it easy to start up a business any info would be much appreciated

    • pamperedhousewife December 15, 2016 at 10:23 pm #

      Hey there! Sorry I’m not familiar with construction in Seattle or how much carpenters get paid. For the past several years there’s been a housing boom and lots of new construction has gone up but that’s all I really know, sorry!

  33. Adam Vagley January 2, 2017 at 8:52 pm #

    Hi there!

    My wife and I are former expats and started GoodMigrations to help other expats move overseas more easily. We’ve just launched City Guides for six cities around the world (with more on the way). These guides include basics like finding housing, setting up internet, or opening a bank account, as well as neighborhood profiles that cover cost of living, safety, and local amenities. We’ve also got a tool called the Neighborhood Explorer that helps people identify the best neighborhoods for them based on their criteria.

    For each city and neighborhood, we try to get insider tips from expats. Here’s an example for Sydney ( and an example for the Manly neighborhood in Sydney (

    Since you were living in Seattle and are already sharing awesome intel on this page, I’d love to feature a quote from you on Seattle and any neighborhoods you’re passionate about. We could link back to this blog, as shown in the examples.

    Please let me know if you’re interested.

    All the best,

    • pamperedhousewife January 2, 2017 at 9:47 pm #

      Hi Adam,

      I don’t live in Seattle anymore (I’m in San Francisco now) but loved my time there (would love to return one day!) and would be happy to help any way I could.

      • Adam Vagley January 3, 2017 at 5:25 pm #

        Thanks for the response! San Francisco is the next U.S. city we’re doing actually, so it would be great to get a quote or two from you for SF. If you can shoot me an email when you get a chance I can follow up there.

      • firstname February 27, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

        Is your husband still with amazon (just in bay area)? why did you move to there?

      • pamperedhousewife February 28, 2017 at 1:38 am #

        Hey! He changed employers and is now at Google. The team he was interested in is in Mountain View, so we decided to move.

  34. firstname February 27, 2017 at 5:28 pm #

    great info, thanks much.

  35. kum April 22, 2018 at 6:25 pm #

    Do you have any recommendations on how to book short term rentals for the first couple of months ? Thanks in advance

    • pamperedhousewife April 22, 2018 at 7:19 pm #

      Hey! Amazon took care of that for us – I think they went through a firm that specialises in serviced apartments. I know a couple of people who went the AirBNB route for a few months while they looked for somewhere more permanent. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

  36. kum April 28, 2018 at 1:20 am #

    What would be the best bank to open an account with. I mean what’s the ComBank equivalant in seattle. A reputed bank with a good online banking system?
    Thanks in advance.

    • pamperedhousewife April 28, 2018 at 8:53 am #

      We went with FirstTech because they were recommended to us and we’ve been very happy with them. They were also the only ones who would give us a decent credit card when we first moved to the US. They’re not really like the big banks in Australia though, where there are branches everywhere – that’s probably more like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and Citibank.

  37. Nixy April 9, 2019 at 9:51 pm #

    Hi There,

    I am from Sydney and got the E3 through Amazon. My husband got E3D and we are coming to Seattle in June. I need some help on finding the job for my husband who is also into IT. As my husband got E3D, he can’t work straight away, so we got 2 options:
    1. He comes to Seattle, apply for EAD(work permit) and come back to Sydney till he gets his EAD approved, which takes circa 4-6 months
    2. He resign in Sydney and come to Seattle. Start applying for jobs and find out the employer who can convert his E3D to E3, which takes circa 4-6 weeks.

    I prefer the 2nd options so we can easily move to Seattle together. But this is risky, as I don’t know if employers there will entertain the E3D candidates. Do you have any idea how easy it would be to find out an employer and convert the E3D to E3?


    • pamperedhousewife April 10, 2019 at 12:18 pm #

      Hi Nixy,

      I can’t speak with any authority on the matter unfortunately. Your relocation advisor might have an answer for you (though honestly I remember our advisor being pretty useless haha). I had a friend who was E3D and she got a work permit. I don’t think she formally converted to E3 until it was time for her and her husband to renew their visas.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Good luck!

      • Sarah H August 4, 2019 at 5:38 am #

        Nixy – I came as E3D to Seattle (Husband is E3 @ Microsoft) and got a job without issue with a large company. Smaller companies may be more concerned about the E3D. Have you worked at all in the US Pamperedhousewife?

  38. Dan Castilho January 6, 2020 at 6:33 pm #

    Hi there,

    How did you guys transport Mouse from Melbourne to Seattle?

    Thanks for this blog, its a wonderful source of info.


    • pamperedhousewife January 7, 2020 at 11:31 am #


      Ha, it’s been a long time since I wrote this guide so I’m glad people are still getting use out of it – even though I’m sure by now it’s terribly out of date!

      We used World Care Pet Transport to transport Kyoto and Mouse and it was around 5k (sorry it’s been awhile so I can’t remember exactly). We had to make sure our cats had the right shots but they did everything else – submitted the documents to the right people, picked up and dropped off the cats, booked the flights, etc.

      Someone else messaged me about pet transport and she said WCPT quoted her high 4k for just one cat so she went with Jet Pets, who charged her $2290 AUD. These are 2012 prices but I hope it helps!

      • Dan Castilho January 7, 2020 at 8:52 pm #

        This info does help a lot, thank you very much! I’ve requested quotes from both, let’s see what they come up with.

  39. Neelovna Jineesh October 9, 2020 at 1:38 pm #

    Hey there

    It was me and family who waved at you at Polk St near Ghirardelli square today. My husband moved to Seattle for Amazon from Melbourne. Your blog has been super helpful during our move here. Thank you so much. We were visiting SF to renew our daughter’s passport at the Australian consulate. It was such a surprise meeting you here. Keep up the good work. Have fun !


    • pamperedhousewife October 9, 2020 at 2:04 pm #

      Hi! Thanks for reaching out. =D I feel like my info has to be super out of date now, but glad to hear it helped! Hope you guys are enjoying Seattle – we absolutely loved our time there. =)

  40. regmiboyer October 26, 2021 at 6:07 am #

    Hi There,
    I enjoyed reading your blog. Your attention to detail is second to nothing. I am based in Sydney and already working for Amazon, I applied for an internal transfer and have been accepted for the role. Total compensation and my offer is yet to be released so i am desperatly waiting . I hope you wont mind asking a visa related query. Since we are australian citizens, we have a special visa e3 for us to work and live in the states. Was your husband also a e3 visa spponsored by amazon, and If yes what was the visa processing timelines ? I hope to get some response from you soon.


    • pamperedhousewife October 26, 2021 at 9:39 am #

      Hi Shisir,

      Yes, James was also on an E3 with Amazon. The visa was processed very quickly – within a week or two of the visa interview. I’m not sure if there are current delays or if things are back to normal, but in pre-Covid times it was a very speedy process.

      Hope that helps! Congrats on the transfer – you’re going to love Seattle!


      • regmiboyer October 26, 2021 at 4:29 pm #

        Thanks Kaye,

        I have taken up a role in DC metro area preferably VA. Hope the cost of living would be similar to what in Sydney. Can I ask you a relocation query. I know this would certainly be answered in a few months by amazon internal transfer team but I am getting a little impatience here. I read from various blog that amazon relocation package would be responsible for Accomodation – 2 Months ?? , One way air travel for me and my family, Shipping of my furniture and belongings, Do they also cover brokerage for selling my house here ?? and for finding a rented apartment in us ?? I own a Audi here which I bought a few years back and since luxury cars dont have resell value, I would be loosing on this. Will the relocaton package also cover that? One last query about relocation allowance, Are we eligible for cash allowance as part of the relocaton package or is it only for lumpsum payments? Please try and answer if you feel like.


      • pamperedhousewife October 26, 2021 at 4:48 pm #

        Hi Shisir,

        Ah, bummer you’re not in Seattle but I’m sure DC will be nice too!

        Back in 2012 Amazon covered 1 month in corporate housing and car rental, air travel, shipping our stuff, and also a relocation bonus to cover any extra random expenses. I don’t remember how much the relocation bonus was though, sorry! They also paid for a relocation consultant to help us get settled in the US (DMV, social security numbers, bank accounts, etc) and a Deloitte accountant to help us with the first year taxes. They did not cover fees for selling our home and car in Australia or getting a place in the US.

        Some of our friends said they had been given the option of a lump sum payment instead, but we weren’t given that choice.

        Hope that helps, though I’m sure it’s all horribly out of date since it was almost 10 years ago!

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