A lot of backpackers come to Australia every year. It is a great place, far away from everything and a country with one of the most beautiful beaches, wildlife and the most unique nature you will ever get to see.
The country "down under" is a great place to collect first experiences, to make a lot of money with little effort and to improve your English. I was travelling around Asia for a while until I started to run low on money. I decided to apply for a Working Holiday Visa and fly to Perth. Even though Australia didn't really seem tempting to me I don't regret my decision at all.
What are the requirements for a Working Holiday Visa?
How it really works...
The visa usually gets approved within six hours and you get your confirmation straight away. That means you need to enter Australia within the next 12 months otherwise your visa will expire. Many people are always worried about the funds they need to prove to enter the country. I have never heard of anyone who had to prove these kind of funds ($5000) and I personally had only $50 in my bank account when I landed in Perth. It's extremely rare that you get checked but there is still a possibility but usually nobody cares. Other nationalities such as Malaysians or Americans can only apply for the Subclass 462 Visa.
TO APPLY FOR YOUR WORKING HOLIDAY VISA 417 CLICK HERE.
How can American citizens apply for a Working Holiday Visa?
The requirements are pretty much the same. The only difference is that unfortunately you can't extend your visa for a second year. The Subclass Visa 462 is available to following citizens:
Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, United States, Uruguay (since April 2013)
TO APPLY FOR YOUR WORKING HOLIDAY 462 CLICK HERE.
How can I extend my visa for another year?
Everyone who enters Australia on a 417 visa can extend their stay for an additional year. The condition to getting the extension is to complete 88 days of regional work, with most people working either on a farm or with a fisherman. The idea behind it is quite simple. Due to the high demand of seasonal/harvest workers in rural Australia the Government introduced this idea a few years ago. You complete your 88 days but it doesn't have to be only on the one farm, you can work at different ones as long as you do a total of 88 days. The farmer then signs off on a form and you need to pay another $420 for the application. Like your first visa you have to complete everything online.
Cheapest way to get to Australia?
consider all your options before you book your flight...
This is a very good question. It really depends on your plans but I can strongly recommend a stop over in South East Asia for a few weeks. The other option is a straight flight to Australia, usually with a stop in between. Qantas, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Singapore Airlines or Thai Airways are the most common airlines.
If you decide to spend a few days in Asia the best option is to fly in to Bangkok which is normally the cheapest option, or Kuala Lumpur. Singapore is also an option, although due to its unfortunate geographical location it is a bit harder to get around cheaply to other South East Asian countries.
AirAsia operates very cheap flights from Kuala Lumpur to Adelaide, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. You can find flights from $100. Also, Scoot operates daily flights from Singapore to Sydney and Brisbane.
These are the flight search engines with the best deals:
Moving to Australia
get everything sorted out before coming down under...
Once you land in Australia you have to organise a couple of things to be able to work here:
• Get a Tax File Number (TFN)
• Open a bank account
These are two fairly simple steps and all you need is your passport and an Australian address. In order to obtain your Tax File Number you have to go online and provide some information with a valid Australian address where you want the Australian Taxation Office to send the letter with your number. This usually takes about a week. To apply for a TFN please click here.
The second step to making some money is to open a bank account. The most common banks in Australia are:
• Commonwealth Bank
You pick a bank you would like to open a bank account with and make sure you bring your passport with you. You also have to provide an Australian address in order to receive your debit card. This also usually takes a week.
How to find a job in Australia?
You might find it hard during the first two weeks but finding a job can be quite easy if you take your time and do it smartly, especially in the big cities such as Perth, Melbourne or Sydney. Before you leave for Australia you should probably create a CV if you don't already have one. The most common jobs for backpackers are the ones in hospitality as kitchen hands, waiters or bartenders. The best websites to find employment in Australia are:
• Gumtree - The most popular one to find jobs in every city.
• Seek - A great website if you're looking for full-time jobs.
• OneShift - If you are looking for short term work.
• Octopus - Hospitality & catering jobs.
• HelpX - A good website to find work in exchange of food or housing.
• Harvest Trail - Goverment website for regional work.
• Aussie Jobs - All kind of jobs in Perth.
• Australia Post - Very popular job during November & December for Christmas casuals.
• WWOOF - Farm work in exchange for housing and food.
• Workstay - For work in Outback bars.
• People for People - If you wanna find a job as an Aupair.
• Extraman - All possible jobs you could get in the mines, also hospitality.
• Mycareer - All kind of jobs, similar to Seek or Gumtree.
What are the working conditions?
there are a few things you need to consider before starting to work...
As a Working Holiday Visa holder you can only work with one employer for a maximum of six months. Under certain circumstances you can stay for longer but that only applies to rare cases. You won't get an extension in a regular hospitality job or such. Once you are on your second year visa you are allowed to work for the same employer again for another six months.
Cash in hand jobs in Australia?
It's more common here than you probably think...
Where can I find cash in hand jobs? It's usually more common than you think, especially in Melbourne for instance. Most of the hospitality places in Melbourne will pay you cash in hand. That means you could also work on a Tourist Visa since you don't require a TFN. Don't be afraid to ask for cash payment. Most of the places will prefer that kind of payment because they don't have to go through all the paper work. Here a few places in Melbourne that mainly pay their staff in cash:
• The European
• Melbourne Supper Club
• A majority of the bars and restaurants in St.Kilda
• Fire relief work
Australia is also known for its big bushfires all over the country. What is unfortunate to others could be your advantage though. Thousands of firefighters and helpers are needed to work at the fires. They usually have a base somewhere near the fire where they sleep and eat. I have worked at one of those fire relief camps and there is a lot of work to be done. Housing and food will be provided and a lot of hours too. Give it a try.
Do I get my tax back?
Yes 100%, it's fairly easy as well. Read on to know how...
The Australian financial year ends every year on the last day of June. After that you can claim your tax back if you have lived in Australia for at least siz months. If you have lived here for only three or four months at the end of June then you have to wait until you've lived your sixth month in Australia. You can lodge your tax return any time after that. You get 100% of your tax back if:
• You haven't earned more than $18,000.
• Have lived in Australia for a minimum of six months.
By the end of the financial year your current or former employer has to issue you with a payment summary which indicates how much money you earned and how much tax was deducted from your salary. The easiest way to lodge your tax return is through a tax agent. It usually costs you around $80 and it can take up to 3-6 weeks to receive your refund. The money will be transferred straight into your Australian bank account.
Lodge your tax return with Pinkcow.com.au to get the maximum out of it. It's paperless and can easily be done within 10 minutes. It's available in 6 different languages, also including German and since the whole progress is electronic you will get your refund earlier than most of your friends who might go through the whole annoying paperwork.
If you are not sure how much you get back you should probably try the FREE Tax calculator first. It's a cool tool! I was really happy with Pinkcow and I received more money than I expected and other agents predicted. Overall it was a very satisfying experience and I personally can recommend Pinkcow. Lodge your tax and CLICK HERE!
I dedicated a whole article to Pinkcow's tax return where you can find more information regarding your tax return: How to claim your tax back in Australia.
Where to stay in Australia?
The most common way is to stay at a hostel. You will find plenty of them wherever you go in Australia. To find some good ones you should try the following websites:
• Agoda (my personal favorite)
If you are planning to stay at one place for a longer period I strongly recommend to find a place or room to rent. It is by far the cheapest option especially if you share your room with a travel buddy or partner etc. Here are a few links to find a place:
How to find accommodation for free?
you should try something new and make new friends at the same time...
The most of your money will probably be spent on accommodation. But there are a few cool websites to help you find a place to crash for free and as a side benefit you will probably make a few new good friends and experience proper Australian hospitality. Check out a few sites I can recommend to you:
While Couchsurfing and BeWelcome are hospitality exchange websites, mindmyhouse.com is a place where you literally house-sit someone's house while they are gone or on holidays. It's a good way to have some privacy and a roof above your head while staying in a city.
Getting around in Australia
Everyone knows how big Australia is and it sometimes can be very tricky to get around. Here are a few tips to find cheap flights, buses and good relocation deals. But let's start with the cheapest and most common airlines in Australia:
I also use this website from time to time to find good deals within Australia:
• Web Jet
How to get a campervan for $1 only
sometimes you even get a fuel allowance as well...
A great way to save some money is to relocate cars, campervans or motorhomes from one city to another. Due to the high demand of vehicles at specific cities sometimes vehicles need to be driven from one place to another. Therefore companies offers so called "relocation" deals. Most of the time you get a vehicle for $1 a day and they give you 5-7 days, sometimes even longer to relocate the car. Some companies also provide a fuel allowance. Here are the best websites to find those deals:
Buy a car in Australia
make sure it got everything you need...
Another great way to explore the country is by buying a car or a van. Having your own car can be a great advantage and makes you more independent. Many backpackers turn their vans or cars into a little home and save money on housing. You can also offer lifts to other travellers and ask them for a contribution towards petrol. It's a good way to make friends too. You can find good deals online and also in many hostels backpackers advertise their cars on the pinboards. Here are few website to find a vehicle:
• Gumtree - as usual
How to travel by bus and trains
be aware that bus rides can be long and boooooooring....
If you don't have a car or you don't want to hitchhike you can travel by bus or maybe train. You can always find a ride share on either Couchsurfing or backpacker groups on Facebook but maybe you should try those as well:
Have you ever been to Australia? Any tips you would like to share? Leave a comment!