Working Holiday Visa in Australia: The Nitty Gritty Stuff

by Nick & Raychel
View of Sydney Opera House on Working Holiday Visa in Australia
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We moved to Australia from Canada on a Working Holiday Visa in 2019 (well, we moved from Cambodia, but we are Canadian). Since we were coming from a big adventure, we figured our move to Australia would require minimal research. After all, it’s sort of the same as Canada, right? We couldn’t be more wrong.

Moving to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa is fairly easy, but we didn’t consider some key components that we’ll now share with you. 

Here you’ll find the unexpected costs (for us) for moving to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa. 

Prefer to watch, not read? Find us on Youtube.

Let’s talk about the visa first

The Working Holiday Visa, at the time of writing this, is $450 AUD per person. During the application process, which you can do online, just asks you the basic questions: do you have a criminal record, are you pregnant, do you have a serious illness, do you have the equivalent of $5,000 AUD in your bank account, etc. If you can answer no to the above questions, and a few more, you’ll probably be granted the visa. 

Then you’ll be greeted with a section asking for a copy of your bank statement and a copy of a (potential) medical exam. We had never heard of anyone else actually having to do the medical exam, but we figured that since we had lived in Cambodia and travelled through many countries at the time of applying, that’s why it was requested from us. We had to go to a clinic that offers this kind of testing, and we completed chest x-rays, a urine exam, an eye exam, and some other examinations in which the results were sent right off to Australia. 

You do not need to do this exam unless requested. If they do require you to do it, it will be after you submit your visa application that you get the email.

The visa alone can take up to 8 weeks. Our friends all told us it would take us no longer than 2 weeks, but ours took 6 since we had to do the medical exams.

This cost us both an extra $200.

Now, just getting accepted into Australia was $650 each.

Once you’re granted the visa

You do not need to enter the country immediately, which is what we thought. The truth is, the visa will begin on the day you move to Australia. We could’ve saved a hell of a lot of money if we had realised this, as we bought next-day tickets, which we all know cost a fortune.

Where to live 

Australia is a big country, so you have many options. Each state has a different climate, work-life balance, and all around vibe. Since we had friends living near Sydney at the time, it was a no-brainer to us to live somewhere near there.

Nick’s best friend lives in Newcastle, so being the beachy, chill city that it is, we figured we’d try there first. Also, *cough* we had no money and needed the help. This was a terrible idea. Not because Newcastle isn’t beautiful, but because it is much harder to get a job in a suburban or “small” city. We were 4 weeks out of work, looking for jobs all day every day with no luck. 

Let’s be clear: we both have a lot of experience. It was still very hard to find a job.

Once we decided to move to Sydney, we found jobs in 24 hours. Our dream jobs, too. Nick landed a job making $30/hour to teach skateboarding to kids full-time, and I landed an administrative job in PR & media, which is where my background lays. 

Let’s repeat that again. We could not find a job for 4 weeks in Newcastle. The day we moved to Sydney, we landed jobs.

If you need a job right away, move to one of the big cities.

Certifications for um…. Everything

For a lot of jobs in Australia – you will need some sort of certificate, and yes, they cost money.

We were surprised by this, especially because in Canada, you can get any old job with almost no certificates (except for when you are planning to serve alcohol.

Some office jobs require a Business I, II or even III certificate. If you want to work in labour, you will need your White Card. For working with children, you will need your Blue Card or WCC (Working with Children Check). To serve alcohol, you will need your RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol), and in many bars they also have gambling machines, which means you’ll need your RCG (Responsible Conduct of Gambling). There are even certificates for baristas. 

The list goes on, and they differ per state.

Our advice? Pick which state you’ll be in first, and have a general idea of what sort of job you will want to work. Search the certificates and take the course online before arriving. Budget for the amount you’ll need. That way, when you arrive and they ask for your certs, you have them and can start work right away.

Proof of $5,000 AUD (or equivalent)

We didn’t have to show it when we applied or even entered. That said, we’ve heard that the laws have changed and you now have to upload the proof when you apply for a visa. If this isn’t true for your application, then make sure you at least have the proof when crossing the border, in the chance that they ask for it.

So … finding jobs

Like we said earlier, we had a tough time finding work. That might be because we were on a Working Holiday Visa so it would be impossible for us to work long-term. It might be because we moved to Newcastle first. Regardless, what we found effective is applying at recruitment agencies.

There is a recruitment agency for almost everything. If you’re looking for office work, research the recruitment agencies in that city for office work. Same for labour.

How it works is that you apply for the agency and set up a meeting with an agent, where you discuss your skills and qualifications. Then they place you at the jobs that they find suit you.

Another unexpected cost for us: since I was applying at office agencies, the dress requirement was corporate wear. So bring, or budget for, a full corporate outfit for this interview.

You do not have to pay to use them. Rather, they take a cut of your pay. Still, it was easy for me to find a job for $28/hour net salary within 24 hours.

You can also get a job at a cafe, where you will need no certifications. Many of these jobs are cash-in-hand so you will have to take care of your own taxes. We found that they pay less.

Your TFN

Ok, so this doesn’t cost money but we figured it’s worth mentioning, since we screwed up big time on this one. We cannot stress it enough: when you are granted your visa, immediately apply for your TFN. You will not be able to work without your TFN on a Working Holiday Visa in Australia, so you will not be hired. Our TFNs took about 4 weeks to come in the mail, which is one of the reasons we couldn’t work right away. 

If you can, make sure to get your TFN prior to arrival. 

How much will you get paid?

The minimum wage in Australia is $18.93 an hour, but we found that most people (even on a Working Holiday Visa) get paid $25+ an hour. We wouldn’t suggest settling for a job for less than $25/hour.

Worried about making enough to save in Australia? Watch how we saved over $1,000.00/week above. 

Any more questions about your Working Holiday Visa in Australia? Comment below or find us on Instagram @nickandraychel – we take pride in answering every. single. question. on there. 

Want to move abroad but have no money? How to sell everything you own & travel when you’re broke AF.

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