Three years ago, I returned from my working holiday in Australia, and although I’ve told many tales of my other adventures abroad since then, I’ve never actually opened up about my time in Australia until now.
You see, ever since I was in College, I dreamt about my freedom after graduation and envisioned myself jet-setting to different parts of the world with the end goal of temporarily settling in another country to live and work – in order to truly experience another way of life. The ever-popular Working Holiday in Australia was so alluring to me at that age – the dream of partying my way through Australia and fruit-picking on my downtime to fund my travels seemed like the perfect lifestyle to me. Well, life hit me when I graduated, and I realized that I actually needed money to go to Australia. So, I got my first “real” job. Fast forward through a few mundane new-grad jobs mixed with various stints of affordable micro-travel to Europe, to me in my late-twenties facing a resurgence of my dream to live abroad. I knew that in order to truly make a dent in my travel bucket list while maintaining some sort of income, working abroad was the only way. And so, like many others, I decided to take the plunge and quit my job to embark on a working holiday in Australia.
Having now been settled back in Canada for four years after completing my Working Holiday, I can’t help but reflect on the things that I wish I had known before going.
Here are 4 Tips that I wish my twenty-something self would have known prior to my working holiday in Australia:
- Save. Though the whole point of going to Australia is to earn money to fund your travels, you still need to have a proof of funds when embarking on a working holiday to Australia, which is expected to be AUD 5000. I found this particularly difficult to obtain on a new grad’s salary – especially a new grad that had been spending every cent of her disposable income on her many travel escapades!
- Settle your working holiday first. Don’t go to Australia without money. I made the mistake of volunteering and backpackpacking before I began my Working Holiday, thus depleting the wee funds that I had accumulated prior to my trip. I volunteered and travelled through Southeast Asia prior to landing in Australia, and I wish I did it the other way around. Australia is expensive. I knew this before I left, but I didn’t really understand how expensive it actually was. Of course the income structure is relative to the cost of living, but the basics were so expensive that it was truly a shock to the system. It’s better to take the time and money in Australia to secure some type of income before jetting off to Southeast Asia.
- Find suitable work. This really depends on where you are in your career. I had already been working for four years, so I was looking for something meaningful. I knew I wanted to return to Canada to work, so I didn’t want the gap in my resume to be filled with fruit picking – not that there’s anything wrong with fruit picking – I just needed to continue to build my professional career. I used a number of Recruitment Agencies, such as Metier and Recruitment Edge in order to find suitable work.
- Suck it up and get roommates: I’ll be honest, I really didn’t want roommates. I already had roommates for four years in College, following which I moved back home with my parents – so I was looking for a bit of solitude in my living quarters. That being said, it is extremely difficult to find affordable accommodations in Australia for a single occupant if you do not have a steady income. I will admit that I stupidly turned my nose up at various newspaper ads from groups of three roommates looking for a fourth to share a one-bedroom apartment. Looking back, had I sucked it up and accepted the three roommates living like sardines in a city apartment, I wouldn’t have been stuck shelling out $1600/month for a shoe box in a complex full of “interesting people” tucked away in North Sydney. It’s no secret that roommates are not only an integral component to flourishing friendships, but are also the key to saving well-earned money.
These are just a few things that I wish I knew, but then again, the best part of travel is not knowing!
Photo Credit: [Canadian currency]