This post is a comprehensive checklist for your Australia Working Holiday Visa!
Aged 18-30? Want to live and work in Australia? You’ll have to tick the criteria for good health and good character, and have no dependent children to take advantage of the Australian 12 month Working Holiday Visa.
Everything else you need to know is covered below:
- Before you go (visas, where to fly to, how much money you need and more)
- Once you arrive (sim cards, bank cards, accommodation, jobs, tax file number, superannuation, medicare and more)
BEFORE YOU GO…
APPLY FOR YOUR VISA
Although mine came through instantly, follow the website guidelines and allow up to 2 months. You’ll be getting a 462 Work and Holiday Visa or a 417 Working Holiday Visa, depending on which country you’re from. It will cost $450 (Australian dollars) and will allow you in the country for 12 months
You can read all about them and apply online here: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing
SAVE MONEY FOR YOUR TRIP
In theory you need $5000 in your account to be able to enter the country, plus funds that would cover your return ticket. (In fairness, it doesn’t look like they ever actually check your bank account, but you should have this for yourself anyway. Oz is expensive and you want to cover yourself if, for example, you struggle to get a job straight away.)
CHOOSE YOUR FIRST DESTINATION
If you’re looking to work straight away, why not start with the second most liveable city in the world, Melbourne? The quality of living compared to cost is very good, and there are ample job opportunities if you head over at a good time if year (I spoke to people who struggled if they arrived right before Christmas). Or you could try iconic Sydney! Perth is meant to be gorgeous, but quite isolated so maybe not right for your first destination.
Want to start with a backpacking trip? Start in Cairns, make your way down the East Coast, finding opportunities in Brisbane or the Gold Coast if needs be, or wait till you hit Sydney!
Some backpackers advise doing the 3 months farm work first to get it out the way (a requirement for many countries if you wish to say in Oz for a second year). Be very careful when choosing farm work, especially if you’re a solo traveller, as there are a lot of horror stories. But ask around and you could end up having a fab experience. You can find plenty of Facebook groups, backpacker job sites or ask your hostel when you arrive. Make sure you check reviews carefully before heading to the outback.
WHAT TO PACK FOR YOUR AUSTRALIA WHV?
Check the weather before you go as you might need warmer clothes than you were expecting! Make sure you have an Aussie plug adaptor – and anything you need to survive a long haul flight in your carry-on. Otherwise, there are plenty of budget shops here (k-mart, big w, target, etc) that would have any basics you might forget.
UNLOCK YOUR PHONE
Check it’s unlocked before you go so you can get an Australian sim card when you arrive. (More on getting an Aussie sim card below.)
GET TRAVEL INSURANCE
A necessity for anyone on an Australian Working Holiday Visa. Searching for recommended travel insurance for backpackers usually comes up with WorldNomads. Personally, I used the UK based True Traveller – both companies allow you to extend your policy and add activities to your insurances as you travel which is a good perk. Do your research beforehand and don’t skimp on price. It’s really very important. Some insurers seem cheap but won’t let you claim if you’ve been out of your own country for a long time so won’t be suitable.
BOOK YOUR FIRST ACCOMMODATION!
Please note some accommodations get booked in advance, especially in the summer season (aka UK winter)! I got shuffled around a lot in Aus as I was so used to being able to book stuff last minute in Asia. A lot of hostels do discounts if you stay for 7 days plus so check their website.
Try hostelworld.com or booking.com to look for options, but if the hostel has a website it might be cheaper to book directly though that.
SYDNEY/MELBOURNE ACCOMMODATION RECOMMENDATIONS
I stayed in YHA when I first arrived in Sydney which is not too partyish (they also exist in Melbourne). https://www.yha.org.uk/ If you’re looking to party, a lot of people I met were staying in Wake Up. Base Backpackers is also popular for those looking to socialise. Here are some great things to do when you arrive in Sydney.
If you’ll be working in Melbourne, I recommend Space Hotel. Spacehotel.com – by far the nicest hostel I stayed in whilst in Aus – is bit more thought out and quiet for people on an Australia Working Holiday Visa who are already working full-time. Plus it has a pretty roof top with a hot tub (which admittedly I never used). When I left, the cost went up to $245 for a bed in 6 bed dorm inc wifi.
You’ll be looking at paying 20 – 40 dollars a night for a hostel dorm room, depending on the area or quality of hostel you stay in.
Another option is Airbnb, particularly for couples. For example, these cosy Airbnbs in Adelaide Hills.
Or check out housesitting sites, such as trustedhousesitters.com, to stay somewhere for free in exchange for looking after pets or simply watering a few plants. More on accommodation below…
AND CHECK IF YOUR HOSTEL RUNS A SHUTTLE TO/FROM THE AIRPORT!
Sometimes you can book it through the hostel in advance, or you can ask the airport staff where the shuttle goes from when you arrive in the country. It should be just outside the airport and usually takes you directly to your hostel.
If you’ve got money to spare, download the Uber app before you arrive and get a taxi.
WHEN YOU ARRIVE…
CHOOSE YOUR SIM CARD
I rocked up to an Optus store when I arrived who gave me a sim card on the spot. I was advised Telstra and Optus were the best (although Vodafone is a recognisable name – it’s fine to get it but apparently slightly less good signal).
With Optus, I can top up my sim with more data at any time through the app or website, and it includes unlimited texts and calls.
SET UP YOUR BANK ACCOUNT
Everyone on an Australia WHV needs a bank account – it’s illegal to accept cash in hand jobs.
I went into Commonwealth with my passport, current address (which was my then hostel address) and new phone number. My account was set up immediately and they sent my bank card to the hostel within a week. Easy peasy.
Commonwealth and Westpac and NAB are all banks you’ll find in every major city, so those are the ones I’d recommend.
HAG HINT: If you need to transfer any money to your Aussie bank account use TRANSFERWISE. (not sponsored!!) You can transfer between different currencies for a fraction of the price compared to anywhere else I’ve seen.
TAX FILE NUMBER
Get this as soon as you’ve set up your bank account! It’s free but you’ll be asked for this when applying to jobs. It takes around a week to arrive so do this as soon as you’ve arrived in the country.
I personally just asked my work to set it up for me! It’s kinda like the Aussie equivalent to an Australian pension fund. 9.5% (I think) of your wage will go into this account.
But it can be better to have your own so all employers you have to pay into the same account – this is recommended if you’ll have multiple jobs. You can ask your bank to set one up or look online.
Depending on which WHV you have, you can get free healthcare. So check your country and if it’s applicable to you, get this when you first arrive in Australia.
(If it’s not available to you, it’s even more important to have good travel insurance! Though really you need this either way.)
FIND A FLAT
I found my flat so easily using https://flatmates.com.au/. (It’s like an Aussie version of spareroom.) The site is easy to navigate. Be sure to fill your profile out properly and include a photo so you get responses from your potential future flatmates!
Or try Airbnb/Housesitting, as recommended above.
FIND A JOB
See my detailed guide below if you are considering temp work (or find out why you should!) in Australia:
You can work for up to 6 months with any single employer on your Australia Working Holiday Visa.
I used https://www.seek.com.au/ and got a job very quickly! I found it very easy to use as you can update your profile with your cv and cover letter and pretty much apply for as many jobs as you want with the click of a button.
You can also use backpacker Facebook groups, hostel job boards or many other backpacker job websites.
If you want to work in a bar, you need to get an RSA. Each state has an individual RSA so make sure you get one in the state you wish to work in! It’s an online course that means you can work with alcohol: https://www.eot.edu.au/online-courses/RSA/ ($60)
If you want to work in construction, you need a white card. Just an online course that means you can work in construction. https://www.eot.edu.au/online-courses/white-card
Any questions about your upcoming Australia Working Holiday Visa? Let me know if there’s anything more I can tell you about the WHV. 🙂