So, you’ve decided that you want to embark on a journey of a lifetime on a working holiday to Australia? You’re thinking, where do I start? How much should I bring? What kind of jobs are out there? I spent days and weeks trawling the internet to answer all worries and questions, but there just doesn’t seem to be a complete, essential guide. Hence I crafted out this post to hopefully help you out there, on how to start planning for a work and holiday adventure!
Your Work and Holiday Visa
Before you leave for Australia, ensure you have a visa to actually pass through the immigrations! Start preparing and planning early when you want to start your working holiday and once you’ve obtained your visa, print it out. Yup, it’s an electronic visa but it’s always wise to carry a hardcopy of your visa 😉
No doubt that Aussie is a dream travel destination for many, but chances are you have heard how shockingly expensive the country is. A meal at a restaurant can set you back at 20AUD and coffee at 5AUD. Cooking your own meals will be the best option to save! Go there prepared and know where your money will be spent. There are several free e-books out there on working holidays which will compare the best ways to save and different costs of travelling (campervan vs car vs public transport), accommodation (hotels vs hostels vs camping vs help exchange) and food, so you can have a rough idea on how to save.
To enter Australia on a work and holiday visa, you will need bank statement with sufficient funds, and on top of that, sufficient funds to purchase a return ticket out of the country. So my advice to you is to save, and when you think you have enough, save more!
Mobile Carrier ☎️
You will be living abroad for a year (or more if you have that second year visa) so best is to cancel your subscription with your mobile carrier if your contract is almost up. Different carriers (Starhub, Singtel, M1 etc) will have different cancellation fees, and if you are on Circles.life (lucky you!) it is not contract based. Otherwise, you can suspend your line, but even then there will be a monthly fee (at least for Starhub). If you are using Starhub, simply call them to suspend your line on the day you are leaving Singapore. There is a monthly fee of $5 though.😱
Another thing to take note of is you need to bring over an ‘unlocked’ phone to Australia. An unlocked phone means that the phone will be able to work with any network provider. When you are at the immigrations, the officers may ask to take a look at your phones (I got this information when I was asking some queries on an international Working Holidaymakers to Australia).
Call your Aussie friends or relatives! 🏡
Contact your friends or family members who are staying in Australia to help you settle in on your first week. Otherwise, book yourself into a hostel where you will be able to meet tons of friends and travel/job-hunting buddies!
Health and Travel Insurance 🚑
Singaporeans do not have Medicare or any sort of reciprocal health agreement with Australia, so I had a bit of a trouble finding resources on the internet about this and searching for an appropriate insurance to take to cover my stay in Aussie.
For health insurance, a mutual friend of mine on a working holiday took up BUPA. Other health insurance available in Australia (according to my cousin) are GMHBA, Teachers’ Health and World Nomads. To compare health insurance in Aussie, you can take a look at www.iselect.com.au/health-insurance/, and for more information of healthcare in Aussie, check out this link which is provided in the Australian Embassy website.
Setting Up your Bank Account 💵
One of the first thing you would want to do is open a bank account. The following banks are the best options for backpackers.
These are the biggest banks in Aussie and all you need is your passport, visa letter, an Australian number and an address (you can use your friends/relatives address provided you’ve asked them first, or your hostel address). There are a number of agents and companies such as STA Travel and OZ Backpacker which offers Australia Arrival Packages, Basically they help to sort out your bank account, Tax File Number, super account, but it isn’t too difficult to do it yourself!
What you also need is a superannuation account, preferably with the same bank that you have.
Setting Up your Superannuation Account
What is superannuation, you ask? It’s basically something like CPF – it is a percentage out of your salary that is set aside for a retirement fund. As a temporary resident, you can claim back your superannuation (also known as super, for short) when you have left Aussie. Simply set up your super account with your bank, and pass your super account details to your employers.
Apply for an Australian Tax File Number (TFN)
You will need this for any job! Apply for one online here https://iar.ato.gov.au/IARWeb/default.aspx?pid=4&sid=1&outcome=1. You won’t be able to apply for this when you’re still in Singapore though. It will take a week or two by post, otherwise you can also call Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to get your number, if you are moving elsewhere after a week.
Call me, maybe? 📞
You will need an Australian number so your future employers can contact you! The main phone networks that you can choose from are:
Telstra has the best network coverage, and also the most expensive. If you are planning to work remotely, your best option would be Telstra.
So here’s the fun part! Before your start applying for jobs, brush up your résumé and CV. A tip I would give is check out samples of Australian résumés online (slightly different)! There are heaps of jobs but keep in mind that employers may be more reluctant to hire working holidaymakers, hence it could be better to focus on finding ‘backpacker jobs’. You can find work in hospitality or tourism sector, sales, temp work in office, farm work, fruit picking and au pair aka being a nanny. Some of the common ways to find a job are through Facebook, websites, job agencies, working hostels and bringing your resume into local businesses such as cafes, restaurants, hostels, travel agencies and shops.
Thanks to social media, there are now many groups in Facebook where you can search around! Who would’ve thought it could be very productive scrolling on Facebook huh. Here are a few groups to get you started:
As for website resources, it is worth checking these links:
The last two links are not specifically for backpackers so there could be higher competition for those.
Most importantly, exercise caution and be wary of dodgy adverts. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! There is one site which has been circulating in a number of Facebook groups, www.ibackpackers.com and it is said to be a scam so watch out for those!
I have also read that in Aussie (and also applies in Singapore), it is about networking and who you know, and recommendations, which can help you land a job.
Alternatives: WWOOF, Workaway and HelpX
I’ve met several Singaporean backpackers and working holidaymakers who have used these useful sites before. These are all amazing platforms for you to find a place to stay with food in exchange for 4-6 hours of work. The work can range from working on organic farms to housekeeping, handyman and au pair. All three require a membership fee but I’ve gotten feedback that HelpX is easier to navigate! I will be trying out the WWOOFing scheme!
Second Year Visa
I did not know about this until I started my proper research, and it sounds all so interesting to me, but I am still not sure if I will end up doing it!
So you can actually apply to extend your visa for another year if you manage to complete 3 months or 88 days of regional work, in some industries. There can be a huge competition to get this 2nd year visa, or notoriously known as “88 days” so please be very careful!
Without any experience and skills, working in a farm or in fruit picking are two of the most popular ways to complete your regional work. As Singaporeans are only eligible under the visa subclass 462, the areas that you can work to obtain the second year visa are Northern Territory (NT) and parts of Western Australia and Queensland. Be sure to check out the exact postcodes on the embassy website. I will leave this whole portion for another post if I decide to go ahead with the second year visa.
As mentioned before, there are a couple of free e-books on Working Holidays and Backpackers Guide in Australia, and if you would like me to send them to you, drop me an email. These useful resources cover almost everything from how to get settled down, budgeting, searching for a job, second year visas, what is the best way to move and travel around, fruit harvesting calendars, contacts and many more. Who knows I might even write my own e-book at the end of my adventure
Now, you’re ready to enjoy the journey. Make the most out of it!