Working a Year in Australia as an American
Although the economy is picking up, many young Americans have considered moving overseas to see the world and possibly even stock up on some cash. I was one of those young Americans, and I chose Australia. Below I describe the steps I took to move down under, and how I made money.
1. The decision.
The moment I decided to move to Australia was a big one. It was slightly less exhilarating, because I had studied abroad in the country before. However, deciding to move down with the kangaroos for a year to work after graduating from college was a monumental decision for me, my family and my finances. This step of the process involved communication with family and close acquaintances and family, as the choice to move away affected them as well. My advice for this first step would be to do your research and check finances. I would not move past this step without the plan to have $4,000 in a cash account after flight purchase. That’s a minimum. This will ensure you can survive for a month or two if you have bad luck with jobs or housing.
2. The visa.
The visa I was eligible for was the Class 462 Working Holiday visa. There are various guidelines for the visa, but nothing too strict. Applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 30, with a high school degree. I had to have a US passport, proof of funds and pass a health check.
It was so easy to get that it almost didn’t seem legitimate. I applied and heard back less than three days later that I had been accepted. With the visa, I was able to stay in Australia for a year after entering the country through customs. I had been accepted, and couldn’t have been more excited. For this step, my advice would be to make sure you have everything in line before you start the application. Doing so will ensure that it goes as quickly and as smoothly as it did for me. Give yourself roughly 6-8 months before desired departure date to take care of everything.
3. The flight.
The flight is a major component of the move. If you can save money on the flight, nothing is better than the feeling of getting a deal on a 14-hour luxury air taxi. My strong advice after being to Australia four different times, and I mean strong advice, is to consider moving there in May or September. These bridge months between major seasons will save you money on the flight, as well as housing when you get there. Just as people travel during the popular months, people tend to stay put in houses during those months.
There are a few search engines that provide seemingly better flight deals. Here are a few:
-Qantas (Australia’s major airline)
I have had most success with kayak.com. The range for a one-way ticket to Australia, usually departing San Francisco (SFO) or Los Angeles (LAX), can be anywhere from $450 to $1,200. It depends on time of year, stopovers, airline and time of booking in relation to departure. If you plan to move there in September or October, consider booking in May or June for the best results. If the flights are too expensive, doing little things like taking your jewelry to a cash for gold vendor can help the cause.
4. The move.
After the thrill of flying across the Pacific Ocean, I arrived back in Australia. Because I had studied abroad there, I basically had a job aligned by the time I landed. I lived in Wollongong, about two hours south of Sydney, and worked for YMCA Sydney and also a local seafood restaurant called The Lagoon. Both were great opportunities, but let’s focus on you.
My advice would be to send outreach emails to potential employment places in the location you want to live. There are very few work restrictions, other than the fact that you cannot work for the same employer for more than six months. Restaurants are a good option, as they pay much better than they do in America and meeting people is commonplace. Minimum pay is $16 per hour in restaurants, and there are much higher as well. If you’ve been to college, consider reaching out to places where you could do something with your degree. The potential cash involved with a job in your degree would be a huge surprise to you.
You will also need to find a place to live. I would recommend looking on www.gumtree.com for rentals. Rent tends to be pretty expensive, and very comparable to expensive U.S. cities, especially if you live in a place like Melbourne or Sydney. Expect to pay anywhere from $500 to$1,700 per month for your own room, with the latter being an extremely nice place in Sydney proper.
Choosing to study abroad in Australia was a great decision, and moving back to work there was a better one. I would highly recommend plunging down under to make some cash if you are having trouble finding a job in America. The people, beaches and wages are awesome for anyone looking to kick back and have a good time. I saved a solid chunk of money during my year in Australia, and had a great time while doing it.
Alex Watson is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing about personal finance and does his best to take his own advice. When he’s not writing, he enjoys reading the classics and keeping his box turtle, Sparky, company. He currently writes for the respected cash for gold buyer GoldMax USA.com