Ahhh, Australia. Aside from the fact that Australia is hard to get to from most places in the world, there are many reasons why one should consider moving to Australia. If the beautiful weather, incredible lush scenery, and of course, the Aussie accent, isn’t enough to entice you to book a ticket- what will, is how ridiculously easy it is to actually move there on a Working Holiday Visa.
How it all started
I decided to move to Australia about 2 weeks before I had boarded my flight and was on my way. Sounds crazy, right? I was doing some traveling in Southeast Asia, and I had been meeting lots of people that had just come back from their Working Holiday Visa in Australia. All of these travelers had soon convinced me that if I had half a brain, I would get one too. I weighed out my options and decided that getting a Working Holiday Visa would be the best decision I could make.
What is a Working Holiday Visa?
What is a Working Holiday Visa, you ask? Its basically a Visa that you can get if you are between the ages of 18-30. The Visa is available for Americans, and many more citizens of countries around the world. The Visa allows you to work in Australia for up to one year, however, you cannot work for the same employer for more than 6 months. The whole point of the Working Holiday Visa is that you are able to work and save up money, so that you can travel the country afterwards. Brilliant plan, Australia. You might be thinking, how do I get this so called Working Holiday Visa? Well- it’s extremely easy, considering you meet all of the requirements.
(The ones I have listed below are for Americans- however they are similar for other countries).
- Be aged between 18 and 30 years (inclusive) of age and unaccompanied by dependent children;
- Hold a United States passport
- Meet educational requirements (You must have graduated from High School or completed an equivalent qualification; for example, a bridging course to university);
- Are not accompanied by dependent children;
- Have not previously entered Australia on a Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462) or a Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417)
- Be able to show sufficient funds for a return or onward fare and an adequate amount of funds for the first part of their stay
- Be of good character and meet the health criteria.
How it works
All you have to do is go onto the Australian government website, fill out the form (I don’t think it took me more than 20 minutes), pay a fee (it’s very reasonable), and BAM- visa granted. After submitting my form, I received an email with my Visa in no less than 30 seconds. In some cases it might take a few days or up to a couple weeks to get the Visa, but I think I just got lucky. I had already booked my flight before my Working Holiday Visa was granted (probably not the smartest move, just incase I got denied for some reason). I would hold off until you get your Visa approved before you book your flight- just incase!
When I got to Australia, I stayed with a friend for about 2 weeks, and then I moved into a hostel. My original plan was just to stay in a hostel until I had found a job and saved up enough money for a bond on an apartment- but things changed and I ended up spending my entire four and a half months in Sydney living in that same hostel. When I moved to Cairns, I rented a room in an apartment with other travelers like myself.
Becoming an Aussie
Before I got a job, there were a few things I did to officially make myself a resident of Australia. I opened myself up a bank account, and I applied for a Tax File Number online. You will need a TFN to give to your employer so that you are able to apply and collect back your taxes at the end of the year, so this is super important! I also got a SIM card for my phone and got an Australian number, which was so exciting! A lot of people have asked me how I found work in Australia, and its really the same way you’d find it in your home country. I searched online, I walked around and handed out my resume, and I made friends in my hostel and found jobs through word of mouth.
Use your resources
I know the initial thought of moving to another country can be extremely intimidating, but there are so many resources out there that can help you. Almost all of the hostels and travel agencies in Australia will offer specific advice and information on finding jobs. If you decide to start your travels in big cities like Sydney or Melbourne, jobs for backpackers are plentiful and easy to come by. Considering joining Facebook groups like “Americans in Sydney”, or “Australian Backpackers”. People are constantly posting tips and asking questions that could be helpful for a newbie.
Reaping the benefits
The last thing I wanted to touch on is what can come out getting your Australian Working Holiday Visa. Not only will you meet SO many young people from around the world and have the time of your life- but you will be able to save up money. The minimum wage in Australia is very high, and as long as you are smart with your money, you can easily build yourself a savings. Getting my Working Holiday Visa in Australia allowed me to save up enough money to travel for a month in Australia and three months in Asia, while still being able to enjoy every day I spent working and living there. On top of the money that I saved, I also got every single penny back that I paid in taxes, and I collected back my superannuation. Superannuation is a retirement fund that is automatically paid into your account by your employer. Once you leave Australia for good, you are allowed to collect the money.
So, if you have an itch to see the world but are lacking in funds, this is a STUPIDLY EASY and INSANELY AMAZING way to save up money. No where else in the world can you scoop ice-cream and get paid over 20 dollars an hour for it. You’re welcome.
I think it’s really important to work in another country at some point in your life. It puts things back home into perspective, and really challenges you to think differently about what you’ve always known to be “normal”. Working in Australia gave me a new profound feeling of independence. It challenged me in ways I never thought I’d be challenged in. If you decide a Working Holiday Visa is right for you, just know that you will be put completely outside of your comfort zone. But I promise, the feeling is only temporary, and you will thank yourself later for making the leap to down under.