Considering a working holiday in Australia? People all across the globe dream of having an opportunity to live and work in such a beautiful country. From their warm climate and laidback vibe to friendly locals, spectacular surf and inspiring outback, it’s no wonder why so many people try to stay in Australia forever!
Australia Working Holiday Visa Program
The Australian Working Holiday Visa program is open to a wide range of countries and will allow you to live and work in Australia for up to 12 months. There is an option to extend the visa for a second and third year. But it involves completing a certain amount of farm work, which we’ll get into shortly.
There are two types of working holiday visas you can apply for, depending on the country you’re coming from and the passport you hold. In general, you must be between the ages of 18-30 years old to qualify for the visa.
The first visa option is Subclass 417. This visa is available for citizens of Canada, Belgium, France and more. You can find a full list of countries allowed to apply for this visa here. On this visa, certain nationalities (Canadian, French and Irish) are able to apply until they are 35 years old. If you apply for this visa, you must have at least $5,000 AUD in your bank account to show you will be able to support yourself while living there.
The second option for a visa is Subclass 462. This type of visa is available for citizens of the United States, Spain, Greece, Hungary and more. You can find a full list of countries allowed to apply for this visa here. As with the other visa option, you must have at least $5,000 AUD before entering the country.
For both visas, you will also need to prove that you are in good health before you intend moving to Australia. Depending on your country of citizenship, you may have to complete a health exam as part of the application process.
The application process is fairly simple and often doesn’t take much time to attain a visa. With that being said, it’s best to apply well before you hope to enter the country in case you encounter any issues throughout the application process.
You’ll need to enter your personal information, identification and apply online by creating an ImmiAccount. To finalize your application, you’ll need to pay a fee of approximately $500 AUD before you’re considered.
It typically only takes a few days to hear back about your application. In many instances, people receive notice of a confirmed visa within the same day of applying.
If you are over the age limit don’t fear, there are options for you to live, work and play in Australia. These are explained in my Over 30 – Your Work and Travel Options post here.
READ MORE: What to Pack For A Working Holiday
Choosing Where to Live in Australia
When your visa application has been accepted, you can finally decide where you’d like to live. Doing a working holiday in Australia is different from doing a working holiday in other countries. For example Canada, where most travellers find a place to stay for the entire year and don’t bother moving around to different cities.
Since Australia has many beautiful and vibrant cities throughout the entire country, travellers often choose to spend a few months in one city and then move on to another. The most popular cities to live and work in are Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane or the Gold Coast. Many also go to Perth, Adelaide and Darwin as well. Sydney and Melbourne are hubs for working holiday makers as they offer many work opportunities and short-term accommodation. Fancy living by Bondi Beach in Sydney or St Kilda Beach in Melbourne and commuting by bus into the city for work? Many do!
Things to do when you arrive
Upon entering Australia, your visa will be stamped and authorised by the Australian government. After that, you’ll need to organise a few things before you start to live work and play in Australia:
1. Find a place to live
2. Open a bank account
3. Get a SIM card/phone plan
4. Find a job
5. Register for a Tax File Number
6. Get a Superannuation account
Accommodation in Australia
Start your Australia Working Holiday with views like this from YHA in the Rocks.
Looking for accommodation in Australia can be stressful depending on the type of accommodation you’re seeking. It’s best to book a hostel, hotel or Airbnb for the first week you arrive until you’re able to secure a place you’re happy with! I suggest make a booking for at least 1-2 weeks because by the time you have arrived, got over jet lag, done some sightseeing and begun doing the things you need to do for your new life in Australia, your first week will be up. Having a second week will let you concentrate on finding a more permanent place to live and a job without having any upheaval to find another short term place to stay because their is no availability where you are.
Many start their working holiday in Sydney. Some great hostels to start your time in Australia include the Sydney Harbour YHA at The Rocks. This hostel has great views over Sydney Harbour. You can check pricing and book here. There are plenty of hostels all around Australia, to check pricing and to book visit HostelWorld. For something a bit more up-market such as your own hotel room check out Booking.com.
If you’re planning on moving around from one city to another, you may want to live from a hostel and you can even work a few hours at reception or the bar to get discounted or a free stay. There are also many short term options with Airbnb. You could also consider a serviced apartment or house sitting. If house sitting is of interest read my post Housesitting in Australia.
Long term accommodation can be challenging to find but it differs from city to city. There are three main places you can search for long term stays in Australia:
1. Gumtree is similar to Craig’s List or Kijiji where you can buy and sell just about anything but there are also many rentals listed.
2. Facebook Groups
3. Accommodation websites listing rentals such as Flatmates.com.au and Realestate.com.au.
Work Options in Australia
Doing Farm Work Will Allow You To Apply For A Second and Third Working Holiday Visa
You can find work nearly anywhere in Australia while on a working holiday visa. But it’s certainly easier in big cities unless you’re working in agriculture.
READ MORE: 6 Ways To Find Work in Australia
What’s great about working in Australia is that the pay can be amazing! You should be able to easily secure a job paying a minimum of $18 AUD an hour quite easily. The one stipulation is that you’re only allowed to work for a company for up to 6 months of the year.
There are ways around the 6-month rule, such as a situation where the company chooses to sponsor you. Although those circumstances are few and far between! Let’s take a look at some of the most common jobs for working holiday makers in Australia.
Jobs You Can Do While On An Australia Working Holiday
Hospitality Jobs in Australia
Hospitality jobs are a popular choice for those who plan on spending a great amount of their time travelling through the country. That’s because people are always coming and going so they’re used to training new bartenders, servers, baristas, etc. If you want to work as a bartender or server, you’ll need to complete an online exam unless you’re living in Victoria (where they require an in-person exam) before you start working. The exam is pretty easy and having the RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) and the RSG (Responsible Service of Gaming) can be a great investment so you can get work in bars, restaurants, cafes and gaming places.
Getting a job in hospitality is fairly easy to do, especially if you have prior experience. It’s one a few jobs where you could be paid ‘cash in hand’, so your pay is somewhat off the record and you won’t need to have to file taxes when the Australian tax season rolls around. But this is not usually the case.
Nanny/Au Pair Jobs in Australia
Nanny/au pair jobs are also quite common to do while living and working in Australia. If you have experience working with children, this can be a great option. You can choose to be a live-in nanny where you’d be living with the family and wouldn’t have to pay for your accommodation. Some families will also cover food expenses, which can be a huge plus!
Whilst these jobs can be great if you’re trying to save money, it may be difficult to meet other people around your age. It’s also not the best choice if you hope to travel since you’ll probably be expected to stay at least a few months to build a connection with the children.
Nursing Jobs in Australia
Nursing is a popular option if you have the qualifications. To be a nurse in Australia you need to get registration in each state you wish to work as there is no Australia-wide registration. If you don’t want to go down this track there are agencies where you could be a support worker in aged care and / or disability. Both in facilities and in the community. However, with community work you may need access to a car so you can get to clients though I have known many who catch the local bus network. Or be a nanny or Au Pair.
Complete Your Farm Work in Australia
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, if you complete a certain number of weeks working on a farm, you can qualify for a second or third year visa! If you know you’d like to stay in Australia for as long as possible, it’s recommended that you complete the farm work near the beginning of your year there.
You’ll need to complete 3 months during your first year in order to apply for a second year. Then if you hope to apply for the third year, you’ll have to complete 6 months during your second year. Keep in mind that it’s 3 and 6 months of “working days” so it typically ends up being closer to 4 months (88 calendar days) and 8 months (179 calendar days), respectively.
So what is this ‘farm work’? It’s more formally referred to as ‘specified regional work’ and it can be anything from working on a dairy farm to picking fruit. You may also find some hospitality jobs that count towards the specified work, depending on where they’re located. Most farms are located further inland than the major cities and are fairly isolated. You’ll be working with people from all around the world who are also working to get an additional year.
The pay for specified regional work varies from place to place. Some pay an hourly rate, while others pay based on the amount of fruit you picked that day.
When looking to apply to work for a farm, it’s best to go off a personal recommendation from someone who has worked there previously to ensure your work will count towards getting another year visa. Also take the climate into account when looking for work, as summers can be gruelling with temperatures regularly reaching well above 40 degrees celsius! Working outside picking fruit and vegetables in extreme weather will mean you need to have the right gear. Clothes that cover you up, plenty of sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat and don’t forget plenty of water.
You can find more information on specified work opportunities in Australia here.
Other Job Opportunities For Working Holiday Makers in Australia
If the previous jobs aren’t up your alley, you can also find work in different areas.
1. Internships – If you’ve recently graduated and are hoping to get experience related to your career, you may be able to find an internship! They don’t usually pay much but it can be a way to get your foot in the door with other jobs in the future.
2. Temp Work – There is a range of temporary job opportunities that are perfect for those doing a working holiday in Australia. Hays is a great place to start if you’re hoping to have someone help place you in a position that matches your skills and experience. You can also search on Seek or LinkedIn. Some common temp jobs include working at a call centre, doing data entry or typing or doing office administration. There are also possibilities to work in accounting and banking and other financial fields.
3. Tutoring – If you’re skilled in math, science, English or have experience working with special needs students, you can easily find tutoring work in Australia. It’s one of the highest paying cash in hand jobs you’ll come across.
4. Accommodation – Your accommodation can also be a good source of employment. Many find employment in hostels and caravan parks working on reception, cleaning or has handy people. Read my post on Working in Australian Hostels. But simply on arrival at your accommodation, make it be known that you are interested in work and you never know what opportunity might arise. There are also plenty of Facebook pages designed for people working and travelling around Australia where you can find work. Some I have seen are Working While Living On The Road and The Grey Nomads. I suggest you search through the Facebook groups and join those that catch your eye.
READ MORE: How to get a Hostel Job in Australia
5. Full time – While finding full-time work isn’t necessarily easy, it is possible. You’ll need to be patient and might need to start off with temp work or an internship that can lead to a full-time position.
6. Work Online
After spending at least a year living and working in Australia, you will most likely have seen a lot of the country! You may want to start a blog to share your experiences with other travellers, answering specific questions they may have. It’s a great way to connect with others who love to travel and create a community.
READ MORE: How to start a Blog
Australia is not known for being a digital nomad Mecca such as other countries like Bali, (link to Bali) Mexico, Georgia and Spain but, if you want to travel Australia, why not be a digital nomad? Australia has a pretty good Internet service and other infrastructure for digital nomads. So like many who make a living from working on line already could easily travel around Australia and continue working on line. There is plenty of accommodation, coffee shops and co-working spaces where you could work.
READ MORE: How To Be A Digital Nomad In Australia
Travel In and Around Australia
So much to see and do in Australia – I hope you have enough time!
Arguably the best part of a working holiday in Australia is the travelling and experiencing everything Australia has to offer. As the country is very big and has so much to see it would be easy to spend three months travelling the country. Check out the map above that has suggestions of what to see and do in Australia and how long to spend in each place. These are only my suggestions because as you travel around you will find many other fabulous spots to spend your time. Plus it depends on the time you have available. So you could either work for 6 months then travel for 6 months or combine work and travel.
There are a number of travel options for getting around Australia. Here are the most popular.
There is an extensive bus network. Greyhound Australia is the biggest bus company in Australia and they have many tickets available including hop on hop off passes that will take you around Australia. Their network of buses include free Wifi for those who want to work online. They also have bus and accommodation packages. For more information visit the Greyhound Australia website www.greyhound.com.au.
There is a train network but the trains don’t go everywhere. There are some great train journeys. The Indian Pacific running from Sydney to Perth is 4352km long and takes 4 days. The Ghan that goes from Adelaide to Alice Springs to Darwin. The journey taking 54 hours to travel the 2,979 kilometres between Adelaide and Darwin with the one stop in Alice Springs. There is the shorter Overland train trip between Adelaide and Sydney only taking a day. And lastly, the Great Southern taking you from Brisbane through NSW country to Adelaide. All these great trips can be booked at Journey Beyond Rail.
You can also fly. Each major city has its own airport and there are plenty of regional airports as well. The biggest airlines include QANTAS, Virgin Blue and Jetstar. You can book a flight directly through the airlines.
Cars, Vans, Caravans
Many buy or rent a vehicle like a van and take their time travelling around the country. After all, this is the best way to see Australia, on the ground, being able to deviate when you see something that interests you. Australia has many great road trips to undertake. One of the most popular with working holiday makers to Australia is the Pacific Highway road trip along the East Coast from Sydney to Cairns. If you want to rent a vehicle check out types of cars and their pricing at Rentalcars.com or TravellersAutobarn.com.
What Are You Waiting For?
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, why not try a working holiday in Australia? You’ll gain valuable work experience, make lifelong friends from around the globe and have a chance to experience all of the beauty Australia has to offer. Oh, and you might also see a couple of kangaroos along the way!
For more in depth information on living, working and playing in Australia visit www.liveworkplay-australia.com.
Hi. I’m Sharyn. I have travelled most of my life thanks to my dad who worked for an airline. Travelling so much has led to me being a Travel Writer, Publisher of travel guides and Content Creator for travel websites. I also love chocolate, coffee and a nice dry glass of white wine. I have created LiveWorkPlayTravel to help you work abroad, work online and to travel the world like I do. So join me. Read more.