A Guide to Getting on Your Feet Quick while on an Australian Working Holiday Visa

Touch down in Australia with a decent sum of money.

I landed in Australia with about $6,000 AUD. This small sum dried up really quickly. Everything costs an arm and a leg. From the taxis, to the phone calls, to the cheapest kebab places; everything hemorrhages your money in Australia. Though I could have gotten by with $4,000 AUD, it would have been a challenge and I recommend $5,000 AUD or more.

Buy a Camper-van or a Station-wagon you can sleep comfortably in.

You can find decent deals on backpacker boards. $2,500 to $6,000 will get you a set of keys from a departing backpacker. You can find better deals the farther you go outside of the cities. For example: in the middle of Sydney you will find more sharks looking to offload junky vans on unknowing travelers. In remote areas you can find a deal on the old family station-wagon that the family is offloading because they got a new car.

This might sound like homeless living to anyone who hasn’t lived in Australia, but living on the road is part of the Australian way. There are plenty of free spots to park and sleep along the road. Some provide showers, fresh water and often a push button electric BBQ.  You will be at home in your camper van with other travelers doing the same as you, as well as wit the “grey nomads.”  These are the retired Australians traveling around the country in their camper-vans.

Take good care of your vehicle and sell it at the end of your trip for the same you bought it for.  Spending more on your home on wheels isn’t a bad idea.

Get an Australian Bank Account

Many jobs will want to direct deposit money for you. This is ideal for you anyways because it allows you to stay mobile.

Westpac is the biggest bank in Australia. You can start a no fee checking account:

  • Bring your passport and 2 other forms of ID
  • Bring proof of address – Either that or just get a receipt from a hostel with your name, the hostels address and the date (make sure it is the date you are in the bank getting the account).  You can make a fake proof of address easily, just type something up with that information.

Westpac you can pull your money out for free if you bank with Westpac partners. Check here to see if your country is partners.

Get your Australian Tax File Number (TFN)

Do this as soon as possible.  Click HERE to get started.

YOU ARE AN AUSTRALIAN RESIDENT FOR TAX PURPOSES – Remember this when filling out paperwork for employers.

Set up a Super Annuation Fund

Super is the government mandated savings system for Australians. Your employer is responsible for paying you wages plus 9% to your superannuation fund. The benefit is that you get this money back when you leave Australia. I got $1,000 back 3 months after I landed in Hawaii. That cash was really helpful for the transition to my new home!

Get a phone. I recommend prepaid cell phone sim card and a functional cell phone

Being able to make calls and send texts will be important while you move around Australia. Remember: “your network is your net worth”. Be good to everyone you meet, Australia is a huge country yet a small community. Lots of people know eachother. While looking for cattle station work, we met some Irish friends in Mt. Isa, QLD. We separated ways for 8 months and met again in Perth, WA. This Irish friend helped my friend get a job as a diesel mechanic making $36 an hour (and my friend had no experience as a diesel mechanic).  Knowing people will get you a job far faster than any other attribute.

I prefer prepaid cards because I hardly used my phone for a month when I got heavy into the fruit picking. Often times the orchards are far from town and your phone doesn’t work anyways.

Make a promise not to drink or smoking until you get a job and good income. The prices are so high in Australia that that kind of bad behavior can screw you over.

It’s all too common that backpackers arrive in Australia and spend all their money immediately on booze and smoke. Then the fools have to struggle to get back on their feet. Australian booze is super expensive. Expect to pay $14 for a 6 pack of beer or $46 dollars for a bottle of whiskey. Pouches of tobacco cost nearly $20. Wine is less expensive but is still a waste of resources.

Heed this advice: Australia is a great place to quit drinking and smoking

While looking for work, do something that is free and exciting.

Surfing, kayaking, fishing, horse riding, free diving, hiking are all options that will save your ass. Plus you might get lucky and meet someone that can help you get a good gig.

Set a goal and stick to it

When I landed in Australia in February I set the goal to save $8,000 before I departed for South Africa in May. Even though I didn’t quite get there (spent a bit to much time surfing), the goal really helped me through some of the more miserable days of fruit picking.<

Read this for a bit of motivation.  4hourblog.com

Get these chores behind you and you will be ready to be employed in Australia.  I struggled with working and doing all these things for months.  Hopefully this will save you some work. 😛