Having a Working Holiday Visa in Australia
Are you thinking of taking the plunge and moving to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa? Moving to somewhere new can be daunting but we’re here to help at least make that move a little easier for you.
We spent 6 months travelling around South America and didn’t want the adventure to end so that’s when we decided to take a leap Down Under and it is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. A Working Holiday is a great way to do what you would be doing at home but be able to have a whole bunch of new experiences alongside it and Australia is a fab location for it, as it is so big so there’s plenty of beautiful places to explore, there’s no language barrier if you’re from the UK and I mean, there’s no denying that the weather is a great factor.
Firstly, what is a Working Holiday Visa (WHV)?
A Working Holiday Visa is a visa you can apply for, which allows you to work in another country, essentially to fund your holiday. The only main work limitation in Australia is that you can only work for a company for a maximum of 6 months, unless it’s agricultural, where it’s upped to 1 year. If you are aged between 18-30 (35 for Canada and Ireland), you can gain a visa, which lasts for 1 year by simply applying online. However, to gain a second year visa in Australia, you must complete 88 days of specified work in a regional area and an extra 6 months for a third year. The specified work ranges from agriculture, forestry, mining and some construction but the most popular method of gaining another year is through seasonal farm work, such as fruit picking.
The visa is very easy to apply for so don’t bother applying through an agency.
You’ve arrived in Oz with your visa… now what?
Now, there’s a few boring things that need to be done to get yourself settled into Oz so we’re going to list them out here so you know you’re not forgetting anything.
1. Tax File Number (TFN)
If you don’t have a TFN, you will end up paying more taxes when you work and who wants that? Luckily they are super easy to organise! Once you’re in Australia, you can apply for a TFN online by filling in a simple form here. You will need an Australian address to apply for one but a hostel/hotel address is perfectly fine to use. It’s best to apply this whenever you will be somewhere for a little while, even if you don’t plan to work straight away as it can take 10 days to arrive.
2. Open an Australian Bank Account
Once you have found a job, you of course need somewhere for your pay to go so you’ll need to open an Ozzie bank account. The main ones to consider are Westpac, ANZ, Commonwealth and NAB. Try not to get too overwhelmed with the choice, there’s a not huge difference between them. Personally, we went with Westpac. Australian banks tend to charge for using ATMs that are not under their name so it’s worth noting that Commonwealth and Westpac have the most ATMs but if you’re planning to go on to spend some time in New Zealand too, ANZ allow free withdrawals in both Australia and NZ.
We’re not entirely sure what the other banks procedures are but with Westpac, you can actually open the account from home from their website and then once you’re in Australia, all you need to do is head to a Westpac branch with a form of ID to complete the process, which makes it nice and easy. If you’re from London, you can actually open the account completely from the their branch in Bank.
Steps to take:
We’ll explain the process using Westpac’s website but it will be a similar process with either of the other main banks.
Firstly, head over to Westpac’s website and under the ‘Accounts for’ menu, select ‘Moving or new to Australia’. On the next page, select ‘Living and working in Australia’ from the same drop down menu and then click on the red button, which says ‘Open now’ and follow the instructions.
No worries if you don’t have the time or forget to do any of it from home though, it’s simple enough to just head to a store and open one from scratch once you’re in Australia.
3. Get a Sim Card
To be able to use your phone without Wifi and receive texts/calls, you’ll need to get an Australian sim card. You can pick these up in most convenience stores.
There are only 3 networks to choose from; Telstra, Optus or Vodafone. Here’s a little breakdown of each:
If you’re planning to head off into any regional or remote parts of Australia (think farm work or the Outback), Telstra has the best coverage around the country.
If you’re planning to only stay in the large cities or towns, you won’t really notice any difference between Optus or Telstra as it still offers great coverage and prices.
Vodafone has the least amount of coverage in the country but again, if you’re only planning to stay in the most populated areas of Australia, you’ll be just fine.
There are also other smaller companies who offer mobile plans called Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) and without getting too technical, MVNOs basically still operate on one of the above 3 networks but because they’re smaller, they usually offer cheaper plans than going straight to the source.
We chose Boost Mobile
We did a lot of research when trying to find the best provider and on many occasions Boost came out on top. Boost is an MVNO, who operates on Telstra’s network so it has great coverage and the bundles are really cost effective. It’s who we went for and we currently pay $20 for 28 days coverage, including ….
We also hear that Aldi’s sim deal is good too.
Australia has reciprocal healthcare agreements with several countries, including the UK. This means that medical treatment can be subsidised or free.
To receive this treatment, you will need to apply for a Medicare card. The form to complete can be downloaded from here.
Get that form printed and completed and then just submit it in person to your nearest Medicare service centre, along with your passport for ID.
5. Set up a Superannuation Account or ‘Super’.
Ok so firstly, let us just explain what a Superannuation is, as it is something you will see a lot with your employment.
Basically, it is a fund that Australians have, which works like a pension plan. The employer pays something towards it throughout their working life and then when they retire, they can access the money accumulated.
The great part is the backpackers get it too, despite the very slim chance most backpackers will be retiring in Australia and unlike some other schemes, none of this fund comes out of your wages, it is paid on top of them.
You won’t be able to access this money until you leave Australia for good and it is very highly taxed for being accessed before retirement but at the end of the day it’s free money so just see it as nice parting gift from Oz.
Now, how to set one up?
It doesn’t matter too much which super account you go for so the easiest thing to do is to just leave it to your first employer to organise. If you don’t have an account, your employer will set one up for you. The only thing to note is to make sure that you then collect the details of that account so you can provide them to your next employers. If you don’t do this, you will end up with multiple accounts and it will be an absolute pain to withdraw your funds from all the different accounts when you leave the country.
6. Find a Job
Finding the job you want can sometimes be difficult when it comes to applying with a Working Holiday Visa, as employee’s are aware that you’re only able to work for a company for 6 months maximum but it is still very possible with some persistence.
We decided to go for retail jobs whilst in Oz to save on having to buy uniform clothes we don’t need and have found all the jobs we’ve had in Oz (aside from farm work) through Indeed. After applying for countless jobs we have come to learn who we’ll usually hear back from and what is best to look out for.
Australia has a lot of casual jobs, which are great for visa holders as companies don’t mind so much if you leave. We would definitely recommend applying for Casual positions, rather than Part or Full-Time. With office based roles, it is easiest to be offered a temp of fixed term position. Although of course, some companies don’t mind so feel free to go for the Part or Full-Time positions too.
An advantage to casual positions is that as they don’t have sick or holiday pay included, there is actually a 25% loading fee on top of the wage so it usually turns out to be at least $25/hour.
Just we aware that certain industries require a certificate to be able to do them. For example, a Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) is required to work with alcohol and just because you have one from one state, it doesn’t mean it will work in every state. Australia is known to be laidback but there’s quite a few rules to get your head around!
If there just doesn’t seem to be anything available, don’t panic! There are some roles that may not be ideal but are pretty easy to get as someone on a WHV. There are a lot of jobs available working for charities and raising awareness on the streets or in call centres. It might not be exactly what you want but they do actually pay well.
7. Find Somewhere to Stay
Your best bet for a first place to stay when you arrive in Australia is a hostel. In a hostel, you will meet plenty of other people also on a Working Holiday Visa, who you can connect with and get help from. The staff also meet so many people who are on a WHV, so they are a fountain of information when it comes to settling in. A lot of hostels will also have a noticeboard advertising jobs available in the area and they usually offer a discounted rate for long term stays. You may also be able to organise a free stay in exchange for some work around the hostel, just call around and ask if they’re looking for help at the moment. For Sydney we would recommend Wake Up hostel and for Brisbane, City Backpackers HQ.
Once you’re more settled in and can see yourself living in one place for a little while, you can look into renting a room, which usually turns out cheaper than a hostel. The best place to search for rooms available is Flatmates. Here you can enter in all your preferences, such as private room, private bathroom, your maximum price etc and it will show you all the options. From here you can just message any that you’re interested in to ask any questions or to arrange a viewing.
After this, you should be well and truly settled in and ready to have the year or two (or three now!) of your life. Next step is just to learn the lingo and how to surf!
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