Australia welcomes thousands of travelers every year, travelers who want to work their way around the country as well as meeting new friends, go on countless adventures and experience thing that they probably wouldn’t experience back home.
Some travelers choose to visit Australia on a Tourist Visa and that’s totally fine but going to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa has a couple of advantages:
1. You’ll be able to stay for an entire year (and even tag another year onto that if you’re willing to do regional work)
2. You’ll be able to fund your travels with the money you’re earning in Australia which makes so much more sense than blowing all the money you saved beforehand as a “just in case” fund.
Here’s what you need to know before you start your working holiday in Australia
1. Get a Tax File Number
You need a Tax File Number (TFN) whether you’re an Australia resident or just a visitor, but you can’t apply for it until you’re actually in the country. Technically you don’t have to apply for a TFN but, if you don’t get one, you might pay more tax than you need and having one makes applying for taxback much easier later on down the line.
The most annoying thing about applying for a TFN? Even if you apply online you still have to provide an address for it to be sent to. But you’ve just arrived in Australia, you don’t have an address!
If you haven’t found anywhere more permanent than a hostel to stay yet it’s worth letting the hostel manager or front desk know that you’re expecting something important in the mail so that it doesn’t get lost.
2. Open an Australian Bank Account
If you’re going to be in Australia for more than a few months it definitely pays to open a bank account there. It means that you’ll be able to get paid without losing any of your hard-earned cash to transfers and exchange rates and you’ll get an ATM which you’ll be able to use all over Australia.
To open a bank account you’ll need to pop into your nearest branch with some proof of identity and fill out the relevant forms It’s also a good idea to ask the bank if you can have your bank card posted to the branch if you’re still staying in a hostel.
3. Wages vary from $15 – $25 an hour
If you’re over 20 you shouldn’t be getting paid less than $15 AUD an hour which is what most hospitality jobs like waitressing will pay you. Working in an office-based role normally pays upwards of $19 AUD/hour and I’ve even seen some companies paying $25 AUD an hour. Look around, smarten up your C.V and don’t be afraid to talk yourself up – overall Australian companies aren’t against employing travellers on working holiday visas and willingness to learn and get stuck in will go a long way to showing your potential boss that you’re worth it.
4. Use Gumtree with caution if you’re job hunting
Gumtree’s normally a great site for looking for jobs but for every genuine job advert on there, there are usually 10 other jobs promising you the world in return for working for their “incredible” company. There definitely are companies wanting to employ backpackers on a short term or long term basis but be wary of any advert promising you unlimited sales income and looking for ‘crazy, outrageous party animals with the gift of the gab’ – for the most part these sales jobs will expect you to earn most of your wage from commission and therefore offer an extremely low base rate, and you’re totally worth more than that.
5. You get superannuation
Every time you get paid in Australia you’ll earn superannutation, or super. It’s basically money that your employer pays you (about 9%) which goes into a superfund and builds up into a nice little savings account for you. Australian residents don’t get to claim their super fund until they’re at retirement age but as you’re not going to be there for more than a couple of years, you get to claim yours when you leave the country. Even if you end up working various different jobs while you’re in Australia I’d recommend getting all of your super money paid until one superfund – trust me, it makes it so much easier when you put your claim in.
6. You can find a job on seek.com.au
Gumtree might be a bit hit and miss but the Seek website is totally different. Most people think of Seek as a site just for professionals but if you’re looking for an office-based role it’s definitely the place to start. Some of the jobs you apply for on Seek might be with a recruitment agency so use this to your advantage by asking what other opportunities they have available while you’re there.
7. Want to work somewhere that serves alcohol? You’ll have to complete an RSA course
In Australia the alcohol laws are very strict and they’re also strict when it comes to allowing people to serve it. If you want to work behind a bar or even in a restaurant that has a license to serve alcohol you need to do an RSA course and get a certificate. Normally an RSA course will set you back about $70 AUD and 8 hours of your time. Be aware though that each state in Australia has different alcohol rules so you might have to do another RSA course if you move states.
8. Tenacity and willingness to learn trump experience
Australian’s are pretty laid back but they’ll also be the first to tell you if you’re not doing a good job or call you out on your laziness but showing that you’ve got a good work-ethic and a willingness to learn (and have a laugh at the same time!) will encourage many employers to give you a chance over somebody with loads of experience but no personality.
9. You can claim back that tax you paid
Urgh taxes. Most people would rather just forget about them and in Australia you kind of can until the end of the financial year when you can file a claim and get some of your tax back. You can do this by going to an accountant or by heading to one of the many taxback websites specifically aimed towards travelers – both of which will make the process much easier for a cut of the final amount you claim back.
10. Australia is a land of opportunities
Australia is a country that knows how to handle the huge amounts of tourism they get every year. There are whole bus networks for backpackers, hostels in every town and literally hundreds of companies just waiting to whisk you off to the Great Barrier Reef or along the Great Ocean Road. Whether you want a job working behind a desk, a bar or even a tractor there are lots of jobs available as tourism thrives and more 20-somethings travel to Australia on working holiday visas. Some hostels will even let you work for them for board.