Before a Working Holiday in Oz: Top Concerns with Advice

by Brooke Schoenman on November 7, 2012 · 2 comments

Kangaroos in Australia

Kangaroos in Australia (photo by chrissamuel)

Something must be in the air around the world because the amount of questions I’ve been getting lately via email about working holidays in Oz have been booming.

Or, maybe everyone is just fearing the fast approaching winter and craving the sunshine painting most days in Australia instead.

Potential working holiday makers often look to me for advice because I myself have partaken in a working holiday down under, and they come with some key concerns.

To answer these frequently asked questions, I’m going to share the key concerns below, as well as my personal advice for each.

What sort of job can I get?

It is of extreme importance to not have unreal expectations of the type of work you will be offered while in Australia.

Since you are on a working holiday, restrictions are applied to your working rights – namely the fact that you can’t work at the same job for more than 6 months. With that in mind, many employers in more professional roles are not willing to hire someone who is essentially temporary.

For that reason, the types of jobs that working holiday makers usually get are those in the service industry: barista, waitress, fruit picker, and shop assistant.

That said, there are plenty of cases where individuals arrived in Australia on a working holiday visa and ended up getting sponsored. If you have a good skill set, using the time on a working holiday visa to network and target potential roles is not a bad idea.

You will have more luck locking down a job if you are there in person.

Another tip: Research the rules and regulations surrounding your working holiday visa. Some companies might not know the rules, and that could keep them from being interested in hiring you, or even just taking another look at your application.

Australian money

Australian money (photo by martinhoward)

How much money will I need?

A question of this nature is not easy to answer as everyone’s travel style will vary. Not only that, it depends on how long it takes for you to get a job after you arrive, where you plan to live, and whether or not you want to spend time traveling.

Australia is not by any means a budget travel destination.

Cost of living comes in at one of the highest in the world, so when you’re spending twice as much on groceries and three times as much on housing, don’t be surprised.

A good base for budgeting your non-working life in Australia is to look up hostel bed rates, and then double that to find a cheap food and accommodation rate for when you don’t have an apartment or job.

For budgeting, a good rule of thumb is to figure out what you think you should bring, and then take double. However, I recommend taking no less than 2 months worth of living expenses since 1) unexpected expenses always surface, and 2) it may take a while before you get your first paycheck.

Read more about traveling Australia on a budget.

Fruit picking

Fruit picking is a seasonal job in Australia (photo by stephanridgway)

What time of year is best to arrive?

I’m sure you know this, but for the sake of this article, the Australian seasons are backwards to those in the Northern Hemisphere.

That means that the best weather occurs around the Christmas holiday season, and while it’s a perfect time to travel around Australia, it might not be the best to start off a working holiday.

If your primary goal is to start the job and apartment hunt immediately, arriving around holiday season would be a poor idea. Most of Australia goes on holiday for several weeks between Christmas and New Years.

People with flats to rent have most likely tied those loose ends before the holidays so they could also take a break. And since everyone is off work, getting hired seems virtually impossible.

Consider your job prospects before choosing your travel dates. A common job for backpackers in Australia is fruit picking (mostly because it helps fulfill rural working requirements for those able to apply for a 2nd year visa), and this type of work is seasonal.

Learn about the fruit picking seasons in order to time your visit to Australia just right.

Enjoy an endless summer by traveling north in the winter months (May – July), and then back south during the official summer when it becomes extremely hot and humid in places like Queensland.

Melbourne

Melbourne, Sydney, or a smaller beach town. So many potential places to live in Australia on a working holiday. (photo by Herr_Bert)

Should I base myself in Sydney?

Normally this question comes up because the interested party wants to know where the best place to find work would be in Australia. Obviously, in the larger cities like Sydney and Melbourne, job opportunities are more plentiful.

That said, Sydney costs more money, and its expansive size is difficult to navigate at times. Perhaps the small beach town vibe would suit you better.

If so, numerous beach towns line the coast from Sydney to Cairns to choose from, but do remember that job prospects may become limited.

Do you have any other questions regarding a working holiday in Australia? Leave them in the comments below.

About the Author:

is the author of 40 posts on Go Backpacking.

Brooke lives a thrifty lifestyle so that she can travel the world at every possible opportunity. She shares her travel tales, including everything from sleeping in a yurt in Kyrgyzstan to becoming an expat in Australia, on her personal travel blog, Brooke vs. the World. Female travelers might enjoy the stories and tips of her monthly Female Travel Underground newsletter. Join her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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