There are things to know about a working holiday in Australia that you need to include in your plans. If you’re a UK student or traveler, it’s very common that heading down under is high on your wish list, but it’s also a popular idea with European travelers; not so much with Americans. There’s no reason why Americans can’t see it as an attractive proposition and the amazing opportunity we Brits do, especially when you learn that these things to know about a working holiday in Australia are universal to all visitors.
1. Duration is Flexible
One of the most important things to know about a working holiday in Australia is that the duration of your stay is rather flexible. Not only will you be able to stay for a full year on your working holiday visa, but if you end up loving your Australian experience (and I don’t doubt that you will), then you’ll be permitted to stay on longer if you work regionally. How cool is that?
2. Get a Tax File Number
When you enter Australia as a visitor (or if you’re a resident), a Tax File Number (TFN) is a must. Technically, a TFN is not required, but it is suggested. If you don’t have one, the taxes you pay may be higher than necessary, and the taxback option is made much more difficult. However, you can only apply for a TFN once you’re in Australia. When you apply, you must provide a sending address, which can be difficult if you just arrived, as your place of residence is probably temporary. If you have it sent to the hotel or hostel you’re staying in, make sure to let the front desk know.
3. Australian Bank Accounts
Planning on staying in Australia for the full year? It’s smart to open an Australian bank account then, as you’ll be paid straight-up, avoiding transfer fees, ATM fees, and exchange rate discrepancies. All you have to do to open an account is to head into your favorite bank branch, fill out the appropriate forms and offer proof of identity. If you’re still at your temp hostel/hotel, ask the bank to post your bank card to the branch for safe keeping.
4. Get a Job; Proceed with Caution
Now that you’ve got your bank account, it’s time to get some income flowing. Jobs for your working holiday in Australia can be found on the jobsite, Gumtree. Though job applicants usually have no problem finding genuine jobs on this site, beware of postings that offer the world and then some, as they’re likely illegitimate. Especially steer clear of sales jobs that offer unlimited sales income; in reality, most of your wage will come from commission, and the base rates are extremely low.
5. Average Wages Are $15 – $25 an Hour
Make sure that you’re being paid $15 AUD or more, as those over 20 should be earning no less. In fact, most hospitality jobs pay as much, while office jobs earn upwards of $19 AUD/hour. So polish your CV, play the field, build up some connections and start networking. You should be able to find yourself some decent work with above-average income. Australian companies don’t mind the temporary status of a working holiday visa, so you’re as viable as any other candidate for nearly any job. Show them why you’re even more so.
One of the cool things about working in Australia is that there’s a built-in savings account system when you receive your earnings. For each paycheck, you earn superannuation (aka “super”). This means that around 9 percent of your paycheck is put into a super fund, which builds up into your own private savings account over time. Australian residents are only allowed to claim their super fund once they’ve reached retirement age, but as you’ll only likely be in Australia a year or two, you’ll have a nice bit of savings (or travel money) once you claim it upon leaving. If you plan on skipping about Australia, working various jobs, try and get one super fund for all your super money, as it’s easier to process when you claim it.
7. Variety is the Spice of Life
Speaking of which...skipping about Australia is truly an adventure. There’s simply so much to see and do. So if you’re not career oriented, and if you’re looking for an experience more so than a paycheck, then Australia’s the place to be. This country caters to those who want to cover some ground and breathe in some life. Hundreds of hostels in every town. Whole bus networks dedicated to backpackers. Loads of companies requiring temporary staff, from the Great Ocean Road to the Great Barrier Reef. If you want a job strapped to a desk, then good on you. But if you want something out of the ordinary, well, Australia’s got plenty of that. Start your Aussie Adventure now. I guarantee you won’t regret it.
A working holiday in Australia is an amazing way to spend a gap year or a career sabbatical. Who’s now putting this on their wish list?