I’ve traveled to Perth, Cairns, Gold Coast, Sydney and Melbourne. I’ve also worked and lived in Sydney and am currently doing the same in Melbourne. People back home in the States keep asking me, “How did you manage to this?” so I decided a blog post was a great way for me to share this information! I’m on a Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 462) which is often referred to as the “young visa” because it is for people between the ages of 18 – 30 years old. If approved, the visa allows you to travel and work anywhere in Australia for up to 12 months with unlimited entries. Follow these steps to live like an Aussie for a year too!
- Before doing anything you need to get your visa. I know that there are quite a few companies that help you with the working holiday visa process but applying directly on the government website is the cheapest route. The cost may change from year to year, when I applied it was $260 and it is currently $270. I was approved in less than 24 hours so there isn’t any need to apply months in advance. www.immi.gov.au/visitors/working-holiday/462
- Once approved, book your flight! I didn’t fly directly to Australia because I decided to travel for a few months through Europe, Asia and SE Asia and unfortunately there aren’t really cheap flights since it’s such a far distance. Use a flight comparison site like www.skyscanner.com or if you don’t have to book your flight right away use www.yapta.com. Yapta lets you track fares and then be alerted when the price fluctuates. If you purchase a flight through the site link and the price declines, Yapta will help you get a refund or credit from airlines that have lowest guaranteed fare policies.
- Ok your flight is set, now book your accommodations! I recommend booking two weeks at the start and at a hostel rather than a hotel. Accommodation is expensive in Australia either way, however the value at hostel is better as it may include extras like breakfast and internet. It’s also important to meet people, more specifically people in the same situation as you. At any given Australian hostel, I’d estimate there are a dozen young people from all over the world also on the working holiday visa so they’ll be a great resource and of course possibly great friends.
- You got through customs and are officially on Australian soil, next get transportation to your hostel/hotel! You can get a cab, an airport shuttle service, catch the train/bus if available or many hostels offer their own pick up service. The option I’d go with is the airport shuttle service since it’s usually similar in cost to the train (especially in Sydney) and is most convenient for lugging your baggage.
- You just got to your hostel, what’s the first thing I can do to get the ball rolling? Well after letting your loved ones know you arrived safe and sound buy some internet time and apply for an Australian Tax ID Number through this site: www.ato.gov.au. This information will need to be sent to you via snailmail but no worries most hostels will allow you to use their mailing address for this.
- Ok now you’re thinking about looking for a job. Before passing out a single resume, get an Australian mobile number. Even if you have an international mobile phone number, employers won’t call you. This is because A) it’s an international phone call for them and B) if you’re applying online they’ll think you aren’t currently in Australia and may pass over your application. I brought my iPhone which my husband unlocked with the help of YouTube videos and forums. I then purchased a Woolworths Optus $2 Sim card along with a $29 prepaid plan with text, phone and data. The data is really generous at 5GB and expiration of 45 days which works out great for me. If you don’t bring along a phone, there’s plenty of mobile phone shops (ie: Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) where you can buy pre-paid plans and cheap phones.
- You’ve got your mobile number and you’ve received your tax ID number, so you’re wondering “Can I go apply for jobs now?” Not quite yet, don’t worry you’re almost there. You’ll need an Australian bank account in order to get paid so go out and set up a bank account. This is fairly simple as there are several banks available. I personally chose Suncorp Bank because there are no checking account fees, I’m able to use Bendigo Bank ATMs in addition to Suncorp and I received a $50 Bonus for opening.
- Now? Yes! Now you can get a job! If you’re staying at a hostel check the bulletin board for any local job openings and start asking around. The hostel itself could have some employment opportunities. If you’re using the internet the main sites that employers post to are: www.seek.com.au, www.gumtree.com.au, and www.careerone.com.au. Seek and careerone are best for office jobs and gumtree is best for nanny and other odd jobs like gardening or office cleaning. If you’re looking for hospitality or retail your best bet is to print out 10 copies of your resume and go in person to talk the manager. The latter is the quickest way to get employed.
- So you have a paying job and your booked time is almost up at the hostel (yes the above can get done in 2 weeks if you stay focused). The question now is would you like to continue living in a hostel or do you want to get an apartment? First off, it is not uncommon for backpackers to live at the hostel for their entire stay in Australia so if this is your preference go ahead and extend. If you’d rather get an apartment, you can either use a real estate agent (for leases 6 months or longer) or if you’re plans are not as secure use www.gumtree.com.au. You can find apartments here for stays of just a couple of weeks or up to a year. Something to note is that rents are posted as weekly so don’t get too excited when you see $400 rent – that’s per week, not month.
- Things you’ll need to find out about any properties that interest you:
- What’s included in the weekly rent? For best value try to get an apartment that includes all bills, internet and washing machine.
- Is the apartment shared or self-contained? I am with my husband so we prefer getting self contained apartments, although living in a share house is the cheapest option.
- Is there a bond? The bond is a deposit that most landlords will ask for in case there’s any damage done to your apartment. The amount is not as large as it is back home, at least not in NY, however make sure it’s an amount you’re comfortable living without until moving.
- How close is it to public transportation? The more convenient the location, the more expensive. If you can live a little farther away but still have access to transportation then you can save quite a bit of money.
- You will need to Schedule an “inspection”, which is Aussie for “check out the apartment”. If you like the place, take it as apartments go quickly.
Congrats! You’ve completed all of the above and you’re living and working in Australia! Don’t let this be all work and no play – ENJOY!