Santiago (or Santi) is a Uruguayan boy who went 1 year to work in Australia with a Work and Holiday Visa also known as “Working Holiday”. He worked with an event organization company and his earnings were so good that he was able to make 3 trips: the East Coast of Australia, 5 countries in Europe and 4 countries in Southeast Asia.
Santi got his visa, quit his job, bought his plane ticket to Sydney and when he arrived he found a job in just 2 weeks!
Don’t hesitate and apply soon because you must be 30 years old or younger at the time of your application. The visa lasts 1 year with the possibility of extending another year depending on the work you choose.
Now, Santi will tell us:
- Working Holiday Visa
- Application process
- Tips for obtaining a visa
- Types of work
- How to get a job
- Before the trip
- Work and wages
- Cost of living
- General opinion
1. Working Holiday Visa Australia
All the following information can be found on the official website of Internal Affairs of Australia, I recommend you visit it and also visit the official website of the embassy of Australia in your country to have the most updated information.
a. Visa Characteristics
If you’re granted a Work and Holiday visa, you can:
- Enter Australia: any time within 12 months from the date the visa is granted.
- Stay in Australia: up to 12 months from the date of your first entry.
- Travel: leave Australia and re-enter as many times as you wish, within 12 months from the date of your first entry.
- Work: work 12 months with the same employer, but no more than 6 months in the same place (territory/province). *Previously you could only spend 6 months with the same employer.
- Study: study up to four months.
- Cost: Cost 450 AUD (322 USD)
The requirements vary a little according to the country you come from but in general this is what you need to apply for a Working Holiday Visa in Australia:
- Location: be outside Australia when you apply for a visa.
- Age: be at least 18 years old and not be 31 at the time of application.
- English: have an English level that is assessed as “functional” at least .
- University: have completed tertiary studies, or have successfully completed at least two years of undergraduate university studies.
- Funds: have enough money to live in Australia and the return airplane ticket to your country. This is about 5,000 AUD (3,580 USD).
c. Tips for obtaining a visa
- Apply as soon as possible: check the website of the Australian embassy in your country for the opening date to apply for visas. For example, in Argentina the application opens in July, and you must apply fast because there are only 1,500 places available and they are usually finished fast.
- Have all your documents ready: be well informed of all the papers you need to process the visa and have them ready to apply.
a. Types of work
The Working Holiday Visa allows you to apply for any type of work but for its duration you will generally be able to find work as a waitress, bartender, barista, housekeeper, or even working in construction. Therefore, it is difficult to find employment online before arriving in Australia.
You could also find an office job but this would be less likely as your visa has a maximum duration of 1 to 2 years and your employer would be better off hiring someone who can follow a long trajectory in the company.
In a minimum of cases if you are a star employee, your employer could help you with a normal work visa, but these are minimum cases because it costs companies a lot of money.
Your wage will depend on the job in which you work but to give you an idea, you can consider that the minimum wage in Australia is 18.93 AUD (13.57 USD) per hour and 719 AUD (515 USD) per week before taxes. More information about wages HERE. Considering working an average of 8 hours per day from Monday to Friday this would be 40 hours per week.
Although the hourly wage varies, for example I met a girl who told me she earned 28 AUD (20 USD) per hour as a Bartender.
- Case 1 Waiter: minimum wage with 8 hours for 5 days (weekends off)
18.93 AUD * 40 hours = 757 AUD (542 USD) per week
- Case 2 Bartender: highest wage with 8 hours for 6 days (Sundays off)
28 AUD * 48 hours = 1,344 AUD (963 USD) per week
c. How to get a job
It’s very important to know where to look for a job, because the sooner you find a job, the sooner you can start generating savings for your trips (and of course you won’t need to use your own money to pay for accommodation and food anymore).
- Agencies: there are agencies that connect you with jobs like Working in Australia.
- Gumtree Jobs Australia: on this page you will have to complete your profile as if it was your CV, in that way you can apply for jobs and other people can contact you to offer you a job. On this platform I was offered weekend jobs such as bar tender, construction, and furniture delivery. It was very funny because one of the offers I received was doing naked cleaning for 50 AUD (36 USD) per hour.
I was looking forward to an experience abroad and my cousin told me about the Working Holiday Visa for New Zealand so we applied together in 2013 and 2014 but unfortunately we didn’t get it.
Then, I applied alone for the Australian Working Holiday Visa in December 2015 and arrived in Sydney in February 2016.
b. Before the trip
There are many websites where you can find information to plan your trip. The basic points to consider are:
- What kind of work do you want to do?
- What city do you want to live in?
- How to get accommodation?
- Which places to visit?
- Which touristic activities do you want to do?
I read a lot of information in the site “Yo me animo y vos” which has many tips for the whole trip. But to make your life easier, now I’m going to tell you a summary of the most important things you should know.
c. Work and wages
Don’t let “finding a job” be one of your fears to go to Australia. There are many job options. In my opinion, if you don’t get a job, it’s because you don’t want to.
I arrived in Sydney and stayed in a hostel, started looking for a job and after 2 weeks I found one in an event company called “Harry The Hirer“, which is a big Australian company that does all kinds of events.
Job 1: Setting up tents (Sydney – February to May)
- Job: My job consisted in setting up tents. It was a physically demanding job because the tents were heavy, they measured around 30 x 40 meters.
- Advantages: I really enjoyed working in this company because my co-workers were people from Australia, Germany, Tonga, Finland, Argentina,… basically people from all over the world.
- Wage: I earned 22 AUD (16 USD) per hour before taxes.
- Working hours: my working hours depended a lot on the type of event we were preparing. There were large and small events. For example, I was in a very big event that took a month and a half to prepare, and I worked almost every day for about 11 hours although there were times when I only worked half a day. But on average I worked about 55 hours per week.
Several factors, among them the season and cold weather decreased the amount of events and therefore the amount of working hours and wage. But this company was originally from Melbourne so I decided to move there to work more.
Work 2 – Lighting and sound (Melbourne – May to December)
- Work: my work consisted in assembling the lighting and sound components.
- Advantages: I liked that I was able to visit many places and learn new skills.
- Wage: I earned 25 AUD (18 USD) per hour before taxes.
- Working hours: my working hours also depended on whether we were preparing a big or small event.
d. Cost of living
The amount of money you spend on food will depend a lot on whether you cook or eat in restaurants. And of course how much you eat…!
Cost: if you cook you will spend around 50 to 80 AUD (36 to 58 USD) per week.
I stayed in Sydney at a backpackers hostel and in Melbourne I was living at a shared apartment.
In Sydney I stayed at a hostel in Kings Cross. I liked staying there because it was very easy to make new friends.
- Where to look: I recommend you to read the profiles and comments of hostels on HostelWorld.
- Cost: The cost depends on the season but you will spend about 140 to 160 AUD (100 to 115 USD) per week.
*As I told you earlier, in 1 week you can earn 1,000 AUD (717 USD) so it won’t represent much of your salary.
In Melbourne I stayed in a shared apartment that I got because a co-worker recommended me the landlord.
- Where to look: I recommend to use Gumtree.
- Cost: sharing a 3 bedroom apartment for 6 people you are going to spend per week the same as in a backpackers hostel; about 140 to 160 AUD (100 to 115 USD).
e. My travels
With my wage I was able to save enough money to pay for my living expenses in Australia (accommodation and food) and I was able to make 3 trips:
This is a summary of my work and travel time:
- Sydney (February to May): work
- Melbourne (June to July): work
- *Europe (July): travel – 3,500 AUD (2,508 USD)
Melbourne (August to December): work
- *East Coast (January to February): travel – 3,600 AUD (2,580 USD)
- *Southeast Asia (March to May): travel – AUD 5,000 (5,583 USD)
*Prices are all inclusive (airfare, accommodation, food, and activities).
Europe (3 weeks – July)
I went on a trip there because my friends from Argentina organized a trip and I decided to join.
- Organization: my friends planned the trip.
- Transportation: we were moving by airplane and train.
- Route: We visited Spain (Barcelona and Mallorca), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Germany (Berlin), Czech Republic (Prague) and Hungary (Budapest). At the end I flew back to Sydney.
Australian East Coast (1.5 months – January to February)
After finishing my work in Melbourne, I went to Sydney because I wanted to see the New Year’s fireworks. And in January I started my journey along the East Coast from Sydney to Cape Tribulation (Queensland).
- Organization: I organized my trip with Peterpans Agency that planned my accommodation, tours and transport.
- Transport: I used Greyhound that works as Hop on-hop off bus, so I stopped at different places. I was a solo traveler but on the way I met a lot of people.
- Route: Sydney, Byron Bay, Brisbane, Surfers Paradise, Noosa, Rainbow Beach, Frazer Island, Airlie Beach, Whitsundays, Townsville, Magnetic Island, Mission Beach, Cairns, Great Barrier Rief, Port Douglass, Cape Tribulation, Sydney and from there I went to Asia. *In Mission Beach I did skydiving, in Cairns bungee jumping and in Great Barrier Rief snorkeling.
Southeast Asia (3 months – March to May)
At the end of my trip along the Australian East Coast I flew to Bangkok to start my way discovering Southeast Asia.
- Organization: my cousin planned the whole trip.
- Transportation: we traveled by plane and bus.
- Route: we visited 4 countries (Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia) and in the end I returned to Argentina.
4. General Opinion
- Monetary gain.
- Work experience.
- Incredible memories.
- Meet lots of people and make friends.
- Discover new places.
- The only downside I see is being away from family and friends.
There are many people who have already gone or are looking forward to going to Australia with a Working Holiday Visa.
I recommend you to see information and get in touch with more people through Facebook groups such as: Argentineans in Australia
Where to live
If you can’t decide between Sydney and Melbourne, I recommend you to live in both. As I told you before I went first to Sydney and then to Melbourne.
Melbourne was my favorite, I liked it more as a city for its infrastructure, transport, entertainment, and activities. But Sydney has incredible views of the bay, beaches, and the amazing opera house.
In the Work Abroad section, you can find more experiences earning internships and full-time job positions abroad! If you had a similar experience and want to inspire others to apply please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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