Everything you need to know about doing a year in Australia on the Working Holiday Visa

Living in Australia on the Working Holiday Visa could be one of the most memorable years you’ll ever have. 

It is an amazing country that has so much to offer and so many beautiful places to see.  Being able to work full time for a year, while exploring this gorgeous country gives you the best of both worlds.  Since Australia is not a country where the cost of living is cheap, being able to work between your travel adventures offers a lot more freedom and many more opportunities.  Living abroad is an experience I think everyone should live at some point in their life, and Australia is the perfect country to do it.  While I know stunning beaches, warm winters, and surf towns all sound incredibly appealing, living in a foreign country also sounds pretty terrifying for most people.  That is why we have written this post, to help those who are considering jumping into this adventure, but are not too sure where to begin.  Here is everything you need to know about applying for a working holiday visa in Australia. 

1.Application Process

For a lot of countries, applying for the working holiday visa is a very easy and quick process.  As Canadians, we were granted our visa within 5 minutes of sending in our application.  Most people receive their within a week.  Just to be safe, we still recommend doing it a few weeks in advance simply for peace of mind.  The only painful part of this application is the fee.  It costs 485 australian $ to apply for the visa.  It is not cheap but it is definitely worth the incredible year you will have.  To begin your application all you have to do is head over to the Australia government website right here.

2.Application requirements

The only requirements listed to apply for this visa are the following:

-have a valid passport

-age: you have to be between 18 and 35 years of age (if you are Canadian)

-not have a criminal record

-have at least 5 000 aud$ in your bank account when you enter the country (although they very rarely check)

3.What does the visa allow you to do

This visa allows you to stay in Australia for up to 12 months from the moment you set foot in the country, regardless of how many times you enter and exit the country.  It also allows you to work full time hours during those 12 months, if you wish.  One thing to note, you can only work for the same employer for up to 6 months.  If you are planning on working for more than 6 months, you will have to find a second job at some point during the year.  This visa does not allow you to be a student in Australia.

4.Setting up an Australian bank account

One of the first things you should do when you arrive in Australia is to set up an Australian bank account.  This will be needed in order to get paid while you are there.  We used the Commonwealth bank and had a great experience.  They have banks and ATMs all around the country and their app is very userfriendly.

5.Setting up a Tax File Number

A tax file number is needed in order to be properly taxed on the money you will be making while you are in Australia.  Without one, you will be taxed way more than you should be, and no one wants that.  Once again, this application process is super easy and entirely done online.  Simply go on the australian government website to begin your application.  One important thing to note, you will need an Australian phone number and an address where you will be able to receive mail in the next 2-3 weeks since the only way to receive your Tax file number after you apply is by mail and it can take a few weeks.

6.Getting an Australian Sim card

As mentioned earlier, you will need an Australian phone number in order to apply for your tax file number.  It will also make you job hunting process much easier if you have a phone number where you can easily be reached for interviews.  We used Vodafone while we were in Australia and for the most part we had a very good experience. 

7.Finding a place to live

There are many ways to find a place to live while in Australia.  One option that is quite popular amongst backpackers is to live in hostels a few weeks or months at a time for free in exchange for a few hours of work per day.  Most hostels will ask you between 2-4 hours of work per day and in exchange you will be able to stay there for free.  If you do this and have a second part-time job where you actually make money, it can be a great way to save some money.  Another option can be subletting a room.  There are many websites such as “flatmates.com” where people will put up a room or sometimes even just a bed for rent.  Sometimes the offers are only for a few weeks and sometimes they can be for 6 months or more.  If you are alone and don’t want to stay in a hostel, this would probably be the cheapest way to go, but be prepared to share an apartment with potentially multiple people.  A third option, and the one we chose, is to rent through Airbnb.  Renting through Airbnb long-term (over 30 days) usually will give you a small discount (between 10 and 25%).  It is also the way that felt the safest for us, since Airbnb is pretty good usually about having their customers’ back if a situation were to arise.  We were able to find an amazing deal renting a private room in a house that we shared with one other roommate for a price that was better than what some of the people we met were paying for a room in an apartment they were sharing with 4 or 5 other people.  The key here is to start your search in advance and do a lot of research.

8.Finding a job

When we got to Australia, we spent the first 10 days glued to our computer applying to countless jobs online and doing multiple interviews every week.  It paid off and we both had a job within 2 weeks of arriving in the country.  Some people prefer to enjoy the country a bit before starting to work and that is great, just keep in mind that it might take a few weeks to find a job so don’t drain your account hoping to start working a few days after you start applying.  In our experience the best jobs are found online.  Apps and website like Indeed, Jora, and Seek are where we got most of our interviews from.  They have new job postings daily and the application process is often very easy.  You can also never go wrong with the old-school show up with a cv and ask for a manager method.  This is especially good if you are looking for work in hospitality or retail and already have experience and can sell yourself well.  One thing to note if you plan on working in restaurants, you will need to get an RSA (responsible service of alcohol) license, in order to be hired at any restaurant that sells alcohol, even if you are just a cashier.  Australia is very strict about their alcohol rules and there is no way around this.  It is a pretty easy licence to get, you just have to think about doing it before you start applying for jobs, otherwise you might not get many interviews.

9.Best times to start looking for jobs

Since you are on a working holiday visa, employers know that you are not looking for a permanent job.  That means, that most likely, the companies that will be willing to hire you are going to be in hospitality, retail, or customer service.  To have the best chances of finding a good job quickly, the best time to start applying is in October and November as Australia prepares for their peak season.  Not only is December to February their summer months, it is also summer vacations for schools and it is their top tourist season so it can get very busy.  That means restaurants, bars, stores, hostels, hotels, and every other area affected by tourism will be looking to hire right before that peak season hits.  This does not mean that if you start looking after these few months that you won’t be able to find anything, it just might take a bit more time and effort.

10.Superannuation

Superannuation is an amount of money that your employer in australia puts in a bank account for you as part of a retirement fund. Even though you are on a temporary working visa, your employer will still set you up with a superannuation account. Since you are not a permanent resident and will not retire in Australia, when you leave the country the government taxes you 60% on the amount you have. Some money is still better than no money though! One thing to note, you can only apply for you money once you have left the country, yet they will need to send you a confirmation text to your australian number to confirm your identity… i’m sure you can tell there’s a slight issue there. The only way to bypass this issue is to download the “mygov” app and change in your settings the confirmation method from sms to “message through the app” before you leave the country. Trust us, it will save you a lot of trouble!

We hope this helped answer the main questions we have received about the working holiday visa process and if you have any more please feel free to contacts us!

Thanks for reading,

Lots of Love,

Ben and Bianca

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