Moving to Australia on a working holiday visa is not a walk in the park. It takes commitment and a lot of planning. Here’s a run down of what you might need to consider before jetting off to the other side of the world.
It might seem obvious, but applying for the visa is a big first step, and one that some people leave until the last minute before realising it can take longer than they’d thought. The easiest way to apply for your visa is online on the immigration website.
First, you need to be aware that the age limit for entering the country on a working holiday visa is 31. You can enter the country on any date within a year of the application being accepted as long as you are still below this age limit.
While the process is surprisingly quick and streamlined, you might also be required to visit a local doctor for a chest x-ray to determine that you don’t have tuberculosis. This can hold up your application, so it’s best to get it done as soon as possible.
For more information on a variety of other Australian visa options, check out this article.
TAX FILE NUMBER
In order to work in Australia, you should have a tax file number. It’s not compulsory, but without one, you might have more tax withheld from you. Recruitment agencies will also request that you provide one. It’s as simple as applying online on the Government’s taxation website, so do it as soon as you arrive in Australia.
They will send your TFN in the post, so you will need to give them a permanent address. If you are still staying in temporary accommodation, the best option is to have it sent to a friend’s address – providing you’ve met any residents by this point!
SETTING UP A BANK ACCOUNT
This is so quick and easy that you can wait until you arrive in Australia to do it, although it’s possible to get it out of the way from your home country. You will want to have your salary paid into a local account, as well as avoiding the hefty withdrawal charges your home bank will apply. The four main options are Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ and NAB.
One advantage of setting your account up in advance is that you can also transfer money in advance. This means that on arrival, you will already have access to funds in the local currency. This might be vital if you need to pay a rent deposit or make some large initial purchases. Click on the link below to learn how you can save loads of money by using TransferWise instead of a traditional bank transfer.
In order to activate your online banking, you will need a local phone number.
Setting up a tariff for your mobile phone is not as easy as you might think. Providing you’re lucky enough to find that your ‘unlocked’ phone actually does work overseas, you may well struggle to get a contract for it. Some of the better deals involve signing you up for a longer period than you intend to be in the country, and all of the contract plans require you to demonstrate that you have a steady income stream before they will accept you.
The best way around this is to use PAYG for the first couple of months and then to call up and see if they can do you a deal once you’re employed.
If you’re a Brit like me, you might never have heard of superannuation. This is a system of paying tax in Australia that doubles as a pension fund. When you apply for a job, you can select a default superannuation account for your ‘super’ to go into, but it is far better to set up your own, especially if you think you will have a large number of different employers during your time in Australia.
There are comparison websites that confuse the hell out of you, or you can cut your losses and just opt for the one connected to your bank account. At least that way, you can track your super online along with your other account balances.
It’s worth noting that, when you leave Australia permanently, you can claim some of this money back, so it acts as a nice little parting gift!
It’s best to start by spending a few days getting familiar with the different suburbs of your chosen city, as well as the public transport systems. For this reason, search for some cheap accommodation just until you get settled. It might seem like an unnecessary expense but it’ll be costlier in the long term if you sign up to live somewhere you end up hating and have to break the lease.
I’ve recently started using HotelsCombined to search for accommodation as I travel. It’s become one of my favourite tools because it aggregates the results of online searches from over 40 travel sites to bring you the best deals much faster than if you had to look them up to compare them separately.
It can be really tough choosing a location before you know where you might end up working, so consider where most of the jobs will be and how long you’re prepared to spend commuting. It’s all very well living by a gorgeous beach for the first time in your life, but if you have to spend 4 hours a day travelling to and from work, you’ll rarely have time to visit it and you will become resentful.
If you’ve ever had that pull-your-hair-out experience of applying for jobs and being rejected over and over, then it will only be worse in Australia. The main issue is that the visa requirements stipulate that you can only work for 6 months for the same employer.
This isn’t a problem if you only want to do a bit of hospitality work here and there, but if you’re a bit older and have some decent professional experience, it’s incredibly frustrating. All the better-paid jobs that could utilise your skills are reluctant to take you on when they know they’ll have to go through the recruitment process again before too long.
Your best bet is to keep an open mind. SEEK is the best website for searching for specific jobs, but you should broaden the net by signing up with a number of recruitment agencies with admin and office support roles.
If you would rather do bar work, you will need to apply for an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) Certificate. They cost around $150 and can be completed in a day.
Deciding what to take for a whole year overseas is a daunting prospect. Believe it or not, though, it’s very easy to get by with just a 60 kg backpack crammed to the brim.
It’s important to remember that whatever else you need, you can always buy when you arrive. The difficulty comes from being hit with the high cost of living, while paying rent or hostel fees and desperately trying to find work.
My advice would be to bring a couple of work outfits and one smart, versatile pair of shoes, so you’re all set for interviews. With time, you can gradually build up your wardrobe. Vinnies is a popular charity shop where you can pick up bargain second-hand clothes or other necessities such as bedding. You can also try a second-hand local exchange website like Buy and Sell or Sell Buy Swap Free for cheap or unwanted clothes and furniture.
If you’re looking to bring over all of your belongings, then you should investigate removal companies. Move Hub is a great option that can save you up to 70% on your shipping costs. Its website also provides some really useful background information, such as car hire, work permits and city guides, on an extensive list of popular destinations.
For more information on a variety of other Australia Visa options, check out Auvisa.org.