Have you ever had the desire to travel to the land down under? A chance to experience an authentic barbie on the beach, pet a wild kangaroo, and drive across the real outback? Then a working holiday may be just the answer you’re looking for. An Australian working holiday is a great way to spend a year abroad earning money while experiencing a new culture and most importantly making some lasting, lifelong memories. This article will explain all you need to know about spending a year abroad in beautiful Australia.
Everything You Need To Get A Working Holiday Visa
If you are a recent graduate student and looking to travel, while still paying off your student debt, Australia is just the ticket. Here are just a few reasons why a working holiday in Australia is not to be missed:
- The Beaches- Ah the beaches! From the infamous Bondi Beach in Sydney to the Twelve Apostles in Victoria, Australia has arguably some of the best beaches in the world. Beaches are a common meet up point for backpackers and locals alike, all looking to have a beach BBQ, catch some surf, and simply enjoy the endless sunny days.
- The Wildlife- From kangaroos to crocs, to koalas, you’re sure to experience wildlife like never before. There are even wild camels in the Outback if you can believe that. Look out for the snakes, and spiders (especially the Huntsman). But don’t worry: they’re more afraid of you than you are of them.
- The Deserts- If you’re looking for a good road trip, a working holiday in Australia is the answer. Endless red sand for days, with only kangaroos and camels as your company… and the occasional fellow backpacker. Drive to Alice Springs or Uluru; you won’t be disappointed.
- The Jungles- Don’t think Australia is all desert. The coasts are lined with tropical forests and stunning national parks such as the Daintree National Forest, or New South Wales National Park.
- The Aussies- Australians are some of the friendliest, down to earth people this side of the hemisphere. Head to a local pub, grab a schooner and prepare yourself for an unforgettable night with some welcoming locals.
Applying For The Working Holiday Visa
So, now that we’ve established Australia is an awesome place to spend abroad, let’s cover the steps necessary to make this trip a reality.
In order to apply for the Australia Working Holiday Visa you simply need to qualify for the following:
- A U.S. citizen between the ages of 18-30
- Hold a valid U.S. passport that will not expire during your time abroad
- Must have graduated from at least high school
- No children!
- Have adequate health insurance for the duration of your stay
- Be able to show sufficient funds in a U.S. account
- Tip: If you are lacking in the money department, simply use your parent’s last bank statement for proof.
- Be of good character and meet health criteria. So basically, don’t drink and drive, and make sure your shots are up to date.
That’s all you need to qualify for a working holiday! The working holiday application costs $420 AUD, so around $315 US. Don’t let this deter you: you’ll have it paid back within a week of working in Australia. The entire working holiday application can be completed online and it takes approximately 15-20 minutes. You should get your results within the week, although the Visa Bureau tells you to allow for 8 weeks. This visa lasts for 12 months and begins the day you enter Australia.
Ideal Locations To Start Your Working Holiday
Alright, so you’ve applied for the working holiday visa, and as long as you meet the requirements above, it will have been accepted! Now it’s time to consider where to start your working holiday; here are a few recommendations from personal experiences:
- Sydney is a great place to begin making money on your working holiday. Not only are jobs easy to find, but it is a backpackers paradise. Sydney has plenty of hostels to choose from. Kings Cross, Bondi Beach, Newtown and the city center are personally some of the places I called home during my working holiday in Australia. The city itself is beautiful, and there are plenty of beaches and parks to spend your days relaxing at.
- Melbourne is a bit more laid back than Sydney, with a hipster, trendy vibe felt throughout the city. St. Kilda is a popular destination for backpackers to work. Located along the small stretch of beach, you can mingle with the locals and travelers, and spend the evenings spotting penguins on their nightly route home after a day of fishing. Fitzroy is another area of Melbourne, and possibly one of the most popular for those on the working holiday. Full of rooftop bars, local cafes, and coffee shops, you’ll find your own niche in no time.
- Byron Bay- I can’t recommend Byron Bay enough. This is a great retreat for backpackers during the winter months (June to August), where they are mixed in with the hippies, locals, and tourists alike. Wintertime is a great time to find solid work, go whale watching, surfing, and sunbathing. Evenings are full of live music in the local pubs, sharing drinks on the beach and drum circles. What’s not to love?
Here are some tips on Saving Money Abroad
Types Of Jobs To Apply For On A Working Holiday
I was always able to find jobs within a week of looking at the very most; if I didn’t feel like working, I would simply apply to work at the hostel to save money on accommodation. With a minimum wage of $17.70 AUD ($13.28 US) you can make loads of money in Australia. The lowest I ever earned was $16.50/hr USD; the highest was $34/hr USD. Here are some recommendations on ways to get cash fast:
- Hospitality- working in a restaurant or café is one of the easiest ways to make money. As opposed to America’s high standards in hospitality due to our tipping system, Australia will simply give you a short trial and then you have the job! Print out some applications, and drop them off at places that you could see yourself working in. You can be a bit picky if you want; especially in the bigger cities, there are endless options to choose from.
- Construction- this mostly applies to guys on a working holiday, although girls can get by working as window cleaners, or something that requires light weight lifting. Construction work is not the most glamorous, but you are almost guaranteed full-time work. The best part is, you just find an agent, and they do the job search for you! Construction work pays overtime, as well as a time and a half or double pay for working on the weekends.
- Travel Agency- this is a job to have if you are a good people person, and have any experience in selling things. It’s also a great job if you simply enjoy interacting with fellow backpackers, or working on an hourly rate plus commission. There are plenty of travel agencies to choose from in Australia: STA, Happy Travels, and Greyhound to name a few.
Love Australia? Apply For A Second Year Visa
As of January 2017, American’s can now apply for a second-year visa! This is a great opportunity for many, who just aren’t quite ready to head back to the states. It’s easy to apply for this visa as well; you can even remain in Australia during the application process. The application process takes about twenty minutes. You will receive a Transaction Reference Number (TRN) during the application process, which you should hold onto for later use. Here are the requirements for the second year working holiday visa:
- Very much the same as the first visa, you need be between the ages of 18-30.
- The most important step you need to make sure you do is your farm work. In order to officially qualify, you’ll have to complete a full 88 days of specified work. Specified work includes plant and animal cultivation, tree farming, mining, and many others. The most common way backpackers on the working holiday get their 88 days is through fruit picking. It is not the most interesting work, but it is a great way for you to save some money, make some great friends and get the second year!
Check out the Australian working holiday visa- it is literally one of the best experiences of my lifetime, and I can’t recommend it enough to others. Take a year off from the real world, and spend a year traveling and working in Australia! If you don’t spend all your money on nights out and vacationing, you most likely will have a large chunk of money saved up for when it is time to come back home. So what’re you waiting for?!