How to Live and Work in Australia For a Year

Are you ready to live and work in one of the most idyllic destinations in the world? Follow these easy steps to live and work Down Under for a year.

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Working abroad has its ups and downs. Limitations on employment may impair the type and amount of work, working cash in hand may make you feel like a convict and language barriers stymie the whole process. But for Americans (and citizens of many other nations) the Australian government has made a year of employment a breeze with the Work and Holiday Visa.

Ready to work in Australia for a year? There are just three things you need to be granted the work and holiday visa:

#1 Be Young

The Work and Holiday Visa is a way to keep a steady influx of fresh blood into Australia. You must be between the age of 18 and 30 when you apply.

Side note: You have 12 months from date of visa approval to enter Australia and activate the 12 month visa. If you apply when you are 30 and begin using the visa a year later you technically can work on the visa as a 31 year old.

#2 Not Be a Criminal

If you have committed a felony you aren’t eligible for the Work and Holiday Visa.

# 3 Be Tuberculosis Free

Australia boasts one of the best health standards in the world and they intend to keep it that way. You will be assessed for you and your country’s risk of TB. This may just be a question on your application. However, if you have traveled to or lived in countries that have high rates of TB, Australian Immigration (aka “Immi”) may require proof that your lungs are clear in the form of a chest x-ray.


 

Think you have what it takes to live and work in Australia? Below are simple steps to help ease your transition to life in Australia.

Step 1: Apply for Your Work Visa Online

This process is usually quick and painless. The online application is swift. Once you have paid for the visa (budget around $500 USD for this) your acceptance will be emailed to you in less than a day. This visa is a virtual visa, so no need to physically visit an embassy or have anything added to your passport. Australia doesn’t even stamp your passport on arrival.

It is worth noting the importance of bringing clean footwear into Australia. The Land Down Under has a very unique agricultural environment and ecosystem. If you bring your soiled hiking shoes or dirty work boots they will be confiscated and disposed of. 

Step 2: Get a Phone Number

The US is the land of contract phones but most other countries make it very easy to get set up with a simple, unlocked phone and services that you pay for as you need them. Vodaphone, Telstra and Virgin are some of the more common providers in Australia. Telstra has better service nationwide if you plan on traveling outside of cities but Vodaphone never let me down within cities.

Step 3: Find a Home

A hotel, hostel or even a friend’s couch may work when you first arrive, but finding a place to call home while living in Australia will help get you settled in. Housing in Sydney is, a general rule, exorbitantly expensive. Don’t be fooled by online ads that price rooms at $300. The listed prices are the going rate per week.

Gumtree.com.au is Australia’s version of craigslist. Here you can find everything from rooms to used surf boards.

Flatmates.com.au is my recommendation if you are seeking a room to rent in a household. The housemate version of Tinder, flatmates.com.au allows you to preview potential housemates as well as the living space before you make the call.

Step 4: Apply for your TFN

Your TFN or Tax File Number is similar to the American Social Security Number. Anyone with a valid work visa can apply online at ato.gov.au. Official documentation with your TFN will arrive in the mail in one to three weeks.

Upon hire your employer will ask for your TFN. While you technically aren’t required to have a TFN for work, failure to provide one may put you in a higher tax bracket. You have 28 days from date of hire to submit your TFN to your employer.

Step 5: Start a Bank Account

The major Australian banks are Commonwealth Bank, NAB, and ANZ.  Review online to see which are currently offer banking with no monthly fees. You’ll want to apply in person. Be sure to bring your passport, driver’s license and TFN if you’ve received it.

It’s not just the driving direction that is opposite Down Under. The banking system is slightly different as well. Savings accounts are treated as checking accounts and vice versa. Most debit cards are linked to savings accounts in Aus. Just let your teller know if you’d like your debit card linked to your checking account and they will probably oblige.

Step 6: Get a Job

It feels like every industry is growing and jobs abound in Australia’s major cities. While many people go through employment agencies to find work I would argue they are largely unnecessary, especially if you are planning on working in hospitality or the service industry. Save yourself the agency fees are start by submitting your CVs to companies you would like to work for. Then search sites like gumtree.com.au and seek.com.au to find job openings.

Working in most restaurants and all pubs will require an RSA certification. Any pub that has pokies (poker machines) will also require a RCG certification. To sign up for a RSA and or RCG classes visit onlinersa.com.au. RSA and RCG courses can be completed online for all Australian states except New South Wales.

Walk in with a CV in hand and a smile. Finding jobs while traveling boils down to one simple equation: “Right Time, Right Place, Right Attitude”. Make yourself presentable, know what position you want and don’t settle for speaking to anyone less than a manager. Do this enough times and you will get a job. I promise.

Step 7: Enjoy Your New Home

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Welcome to Australia, your new home away from home. You now live in one of the most idyllic destinations in the world. Whether it’s fun, food or sun you seek, Australia has something for everyone. For a list of my favorite things to do in Sydney check out my Sydney Bucket List.