Traveling and working at the same time is a dream for a lot of backpackers. You get to see new places and experience new things without having to worry about where you’ll get your beer money for the night. Luckily for some people, this is a reality they can live.
Australia offers opportunities to work and travel for a full year to citizens of certain countries. The good thing about this is that you don’t have to rush and you have the flexibility to do whatever you want. You can choose to work as soon you get off the plane or only work your last few months. No matter how you want to spend your time here, these are the things you need to know and prepare for if you want to be able to travel and work in Australia:
How to Prepare To Work in Australia
There are a few things you need to take care of before even finding work. Though these tasks may seem dull, they’re absolutely necessary to avoid any hiccups or mishaps along the way.
How to Get an Australian Visa
This should be at the top of your priority list. Before you book your flight or do anything else, you should first apply for a visa. Since you’ll be working while you travel, you’ll need the Working Holiday visa or WHV (subclass 417) or the Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462).
Unfortunately, this isn’t available to everyone in the world. According to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs, you need to meet the following criteria to be able to apply for one:
- Must be 18-30 years old
- Must not have entered Australia previously with a Working Holiday visa
- Must not be traveling with a dependent
- Must have an onward ticket
- Must have enough funds (minimum of A$5,000) to support yourself
- Must be from eligible countries
The visa costs A$440 and the application can be lodged online. Visa processing may be as short as one day or as long as 50 days. Once approved, you will be allowed to travel and work in any part of Australia for a year. You may be eligible for a second year if you meet the requirements, including taking on work in certain industries in Regional Australia for a total of 88 days. You may learn more about the Working Holiday visa here.
Travel and Health Insurance for Australia
Australia is an expensive country. In fact, Sydney and Melbourne are both in the top 15 of the world’s most expensive cities in the world. So it’s smart and practical to get travel insurance because no matter how careful you are, accidents and the unexpected happen, especially while traveling.
There are some travelers who can take advantage of Australia’s reciprocal healthcare agreements. This allows them to get access to public healthcare. There are 11 countries who are included in this agreement but coverage may be limited so you will still need to get insurance.
We recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. Frequent travelers, bloggers, and digital nomads usually purchase from them. You can easily get a quotation and buy it online. But it also doesn’t hurt to ask around from your local insurance companies but make sure you have enough coverage for a year’s travel.
Money and Banking
Since you will be away from home and working for one full year, you will need to get a savings account from an Australian bank to keep your dolla dolla bills and to avoid those outrageous international ATM fees.
There are four main Australian banks with the most number of ATMs: ANZ, Westpac, NAB and Commonwealth and choosing one that’s right for you might take a bit of research. Luckily, opening a bank account is just as easy and quick as snapping your fingers three times. You can choose to do the application online and drop by the nearest branch to complete the process.
Tip: Transferring money from your home account to your Australian bank account or vice-versa? Check out TransferWise.
Tax File Number (TFN)
No one wants to bother with taxes, we know. It’s boring and tedious. But trust us when we say, you have no getting around this, especially if you will be working. Getting the TFN is one of the most important things you need in order to get a job. When you’ve finally convinced yourself that you need to start working, consider that it takes 28 days for the TFN to be processed and sent to you. The application is done online from here:
It’s called “super” by locals and it’s not as boring as taxes, especially because it’s money you receive on top of your wages. If you’re 18 and older and earn a minimum of $A450 per week, the companies you work for are required to pay a certain amount that goes directly to your superannuation. For the locals, they get it as pension when they retire. But for backpackers and temporary visitors, they get this when they permanently leave Australia after a year or two. Ka-ching, ka-ching!
Unfortunately, it gets taxed at freaking 65%! But it’s still money you’re entitled to. You can get some information on how to collect it before you bid adios to the land down under here.
Phone Plans in Australia
To keep connected with people back home and with new people you meet while you travel, you need an Australian SIM. If you think you’re staying for a year or more, it’s better to get a phone contract instead of a prepaid SIM so you can take advantage of better deals. Telstra and Optus are the top mobile providers and they have a more reliable connection and data when you plan to go to the outback.
- Optus: A$40 per month – Unlimited local texts and calls, up to 15GB data and 300 international minutes (Contract for 12 months)
- Telstra: A$49 per month – Unlimited local texts and calls, up to 10GB data and allows for international roaming (Contract for 12 months)
Flights to Australia are not exactly cheap but you can monitor prices using online tools such as Skyscanner and Momondo to know when there are sudden drops in prices. As a general rule, prices are lower if you book on a weekday with weekday travel dates.
Even if you are staying for a year, the immigration officers may ask for a copy of an onward ticket. Make sure you have one to avoid problems when you land. But get one that has the option to be rebooked so you have the extra flexibility.
When you get to Australia, you want to choose a home base first and check the lay of the land. Sydney is a good start because there’s plenty to see and do. It also has an amazing backpacking scene which allows you to meet and connect with other travelers and backpackers who may also be in WHV (Working Holiday Visa).
Staying at a hostel allows you to meet people who might end up being your travel mates all year long if that’s what you’re looking for. Otherwise, you can still build connections with people who can refer you to some work or even simply help you with your visa, banking or transportation woes. This is why choosing where to stay is oh-so-critical!
Mad Monkey Hostel in Coogee is a great place to connect with like-minded people. It’s got affordable beds, a common kitchen so you can whip up a great meal without breaking the bank, and regular fun social activities such as pancake breakfasts, pub quiz, and live music.
And once you’ve decided where you want to live long-term, you can rent a room or share a house with other people. If you plan to leave Sydney to get some work in Regional Australia, you may be able to find a job that offers free accommodations and food.
Jobs in Australia
Now that you’ve taken care of the boring bits, it’s time to make your beer money! There are plenty of types of jobs to choose from for all types of people and talents.
Types of Jobs in Australia
Poooofff! Do you hear that? That’s the sound of your travel money getting depleted. As much as you want to travel and see all of Australia, you will need to refill your savings account at some point so you can travel again. So what are the jobs available for you?
- Hospitality – this includes work in a hostel, café, restaurant or bar
- Retail – best during peak seasons such as Christmas
- Administrative Work – though tough to find, there is still some companies willing to hire
- Construction – requires specific skills but this work may count towards the second year visa, depending on where it’s located
- Regional Farm Work – you could be picking fruits or planting trees; this counts towards your second-year visa
How to Find a Job in Australia
There are a few way to find jobs in Australia. From going around to shops to utilizing Facebook, Australia makes it easy for travelers to find a job.
This is where your socializing skills can be rewarding. There’s always someone who knows someone who knows someone who’s hiring. So don’t afraid to ask especially other backpackers who have been in Australia longer than you have.
This works best when you’re looking for jobs in hospitality and retail. You can print several copies of your CV and go to every hostel, café, pub, and restaurant you can find near you. Often times, you’ll be asked to do a “trial” within a couple of a days, where they can check out your work ethic and evaluate your skills in their establishment.
These social media groups are a goldmine for information. Members are very active and are very willing to share jobs. If you want to join, you can check out Australia Backpackers, Backpacker Jobs in Australia and Sydney Backpacker/Traveler.
For reliable job boards, you can check out Seek or Gumtree. For job boards specific to backpackers, check out Backpacker Job Board, search on the government site, or browse TAW, Travelers at Work.
More About Finding a Job in Australia
Need more help finding a job while traveling in Australia? Check out these other articles for more tips and resources!
- How to Find a Job in Australia from Seek
- 10 Tips For Getting a Job in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa from Pack Your Passport
- 7-Step Guide to Get a Job in Australia from Insider Guide
- How to Move & Get a Job in Australia from USA Today
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