This is a guest post from a SMG reader from Seattle, my hometown. Go Hawks!
Bre originally contacted me with a question about her travel blog. After a few emails and reading a couple of Bre’s posts about her adventures in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, I know she had more than a few tips up her sleeve for others planning their WHV year in Australia. Oh boy, was I right.
Bre shares some great advice with us below on everything from travel insurance and transferring money to Australia to how the seasons will affect finding working holiday jobs in Australia.
So you’ve made the big decision to move to Australia for a year on a working holiday visa – good choice!
It’s far too easy to get caught up in planning all the amazing places you want to see and activities you want to do during your time in Australia and forget about sorting all the nitty-gritty stuff.
The seven steps below will help you prepare for your big adventure before leaving home, so the only thing you’ll have to worry about when you arrive is what to tick off your bucket list first.
Travel insurance is necessary.
Australia is a land of many, potentially dangerous activities, so it’s important to make sure you have coverage for all your adventures down under. Plus, the application explicitly asks you if you have insurance to cover the length of your stay. Without proof of health insurance or some kind, your application will not be approved. Best not to risk it.
Check with your healthcare provider to see if you’re covered while in Australia, and if you’re not then there are many great budget travel insurance companies to choose from.
Set up an Australian bank account before arriving, but don’t transfer your money through the banks!
If you rely on withdrawing funds using your current debit or credit card, you will end up losing heaps of money to hidden bank fees and poor exchange rates. However, if you use an international money transfer company like TransferWise or OFX to transfer funds from your bank account to your new Australian bank account, you will avoid the fees and get the best possible exchange rate.
Then, whenever you withdraw money or use your Australian debit card, you won’t lose any additional money to fees.
You will need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) as soon as you arrive in Australia.
It requires having a local Australian postal address to send the TFN and can take up to a month to get.
If you do not provide your employer with a TFN within 28 days of getting hired, then they will have to tax you 46.5% of your income.
Bring an unlocked mobile phone.
Even if you have an international plan through your regular service provider, Aussie employers (and friends you make abroad) will not call an international number.
You will need to get an Australian SIM card when you arrive in Australia (which costs only $2 from any convenience store or the airport), then choose your provider and plan.
Telstra and Optus provide the best network coverage, and both offer prepaid plans so that you only have to pay for the minutes and data you need.
Timing is crucial.
When planning your travels around Australia, take the season, holidays and climate into consideration.
The time of year will greatly affect your probability of finding work in certain regions. Not to mention the type of experience you are looking for while in Australia.
If you’re after the beach life, arriving about a month before summer or school holidays will be the opportune time to secure a good job for the peak season.
If you’re after the city life, it will probably be easier to find work during the colder months when there is less competition from other backpackers.
Jobs won’t come to you.
Competition is fierce for casual work in Australia. You will need to actively seek out job opportunities and be persistent.
Here are a few quick tips for finding working holiday jobs in Australia.
- Have your resume Aussie-ready before you arrive.
- Check GumTree for opportunities in the area you plan on living.
- Book your first few days when you arrive in Australia at a hostel that has a working holiday job board.
- When you finally arrive in Australia, let everyone you meet know that you are looking for work. Most people will be happy to share any leads they have!
Be flexible and open minded to job opportunities.
Working holiday jobs in Australia are casual and short-term. The types of jobs available aren’t glamorous.
The most common jobs available to backpackers are farming/fruit-picking jobs* and hospitality jobs.
If location is most important to you, then do research to find out what kinds of jobs are available to backpackers in that area, and tailor your resume for those.
If you have a specific type of job in mind, then research which areas of Australia you will have the best chance of landing that gig.
*It’s important to note, that citizens of several countries (including the U.S.) are not eligible for a second-year visa, no matter how much fruit you pick!
Update: Work and Holiday (Temporary) visa (subclass 462) are now eligible for a second Work and Holiday visa.
From 19 November 2016, Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) holders who work for three months in northern Australia in tourism and hospitality or agriculture, forestry and fishing will be eligible for a second Work and Holiday visa. Only those who have performed the three months work after 18 November 2016 will be eligible to apply. Here is the link to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for more information.
I hope this was helpful!