Jade from All That Happens is from the UK and currently on a Working Holiday Visa in Australia. She arrived in September after 8 months travelling around Asia.
I’m currently on a working holiday visa in Australia. When I was planning my travels back in 2014, Australia felt like the obvious choice after India and Southeast Asia. I was quitting my job in the UK to travel and knew my savings would only last so long, so I secured my working holiday visa way in advance of arriving, 10 months in fact! Luckily you have a year to enter the country after being granted the WHV and the 1 year visa starts from the day of entry.
I’d visited Australia before but only for a short couple of weeks so liked the thought of staying for a while to explore other parts and earn at the same time.
Was your decision to travel on a WHV money or time-motivated?
It was a bit of both, knowing I wanted to travel for as long as possible and having heard about the perks of working in Australia. A year seemed like a good amount of time to earn some money and travel, all the while prolonging my trip. Australia offers higher minimum wage with the lowest currently being $17.29 / £8.37 per hour. In the UK it’s £6.70 for over 21s.
Both hospitality and admin or general office jobs can earn you anywhere between $18-25.00 per hour. The pay alone is an attractive incentive but it’s also an expensive country! As well as more relaxed attitudes you can expect to receive superannuation – a retirement contribution paid by employers, which you can claim back when you leave the country.
How did you find the visa application process?
I applied myself at immi.gov.au and couldn’t have found the process easier. Unlike my other visas for Asia, this simply involved filling out an online form including personal details, passport details, criminal history etc and making the payment.
The cost was approximately $420 / £205 and the application took hardly any time. By next morning, voila! I’d received a visa grant confirmation email. There was no need to send off my passport as it’s done electronically and comes up on the system at immigration.
Let’s talk about work…
I arrived in expensive Sydney very nearly broke after 8 months of travelling so finding a job was top of my list. It took me about 3-4 weeks to find a decent job as I quickly learnt being on a working holiday visa limits your choices. You can only stay with one employer for 6 months so a lot of companies simply aren’t interested.
I didn’t know until I arrived, that despite having plenty of experience behind me, I’d have to pay to get an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) qualification to work in any licenced premises. It also wasn’t nationally recognised as laws vary with each state. I persevered with the hunt for something office-based using sites like Gumtree, Seek, Indeed, Backpacker Job Board and registered with a number of recruitment agencies.
I turned down 3 offers that were either not as advertised or not what I felt like I’d come round the world to do. I eventually got a job as an Assistant Manager for a small educational centre. The hours were long but I enjoyed the work itself. I was doing everything from course coordinating, compliance, sales, administration and marketing. As I was running the show on my own a lot of the time there was never a boring day however it wasn’t so great for my social life.
Have you had the chance to do much travelling?
My job often involved working 6 days a week so it didn’t leave me with a lot of free time to travel as I couldn’t really escape somewhere for the weekend. As much as I loved seeing the money come in and knew that it was allowing me to save for future travel, I was itching to see some other places.
I tried to make the most of the weekend I did have and felt that I explored Sydney as much as I could. After 3 months I headed down to Melbourne, where I am now, but not without doing a camping road trip on the way! Now I’m in Melbourne I need to start looking for some work again but luckily I’m in a better financial situation than when I arrived in Sydney. An RSA course is much cheaper to do here so I’ve been able to get that done in order to increase my opportunities.
Are you considering the second year visa?
I currently have no set plans and you only get one chance before the age of 31 so I’m definitely considering it.
Although I haven’t heard too many positive stories, I’m up for giving it a go to stay and explore more – it’s crazy how fast a year goes and how HUGE this country is. So after spending some time in Melbourne I could well be on my way to a farm for 3 months to get my second year visa signed off.
Any thoughts on the future beyond your WHV?
I’m at a stage where I’m completely open to seeing what happens. I’ve been away from the UK for a year now and I’d only made plans until arriving in Australia. Provided all goes well with saving here, I’d love to do New Zealand next seeing as I’m in this part of the world and it looks absolutely stunning. There are also many more places I want to go in Asia and I’d love to do South America at some point. If I get my second year visa here I should have some time to think about it!
What are your top tips for anyone considering the same path?
- Australia is a great place to come to travel and work, especially if it’s your first time. Just be aware that depending on the type of work you’re happy to do, it could take longer to find something due to competition from other travellers and a percentage of employers not giving WHVs a chance. Obviously if you arrive with enough money you have more time to travel and search for work in a more relaxed way. Although I don’t know anyone who’s been checked, the government require you to have at least $3000 in your account when entering the country.
- Hostels aren’t cheap and often book out in Sydney over the weekends so it’s best to sort out accommodation in advance. The same goes for long-term accommodation as it can be really competitive.
- If you know you want to stay for 2 years it could be a good idea to get your farm work out the way first, which is what I was considering until I got my job in Sydney. Now I’m in Melbourne I’ve been contemplating looking for part-time work so I can also relax and enjoy my time here, however I’m also focused on saving as much money as possible so we’ll see how that goes!
- It can be a shock to the system arriving from somewhere where you’re used to money stretching a lot further. However, be prepared and you’ll have an awesome experience!
Huge thanks to Jade for giving us a glimpse into her Working Holiday so far. You can follow her current travels in Australia on her blog All That Happens. Also be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest