Photo Credit: TN
Big Moves: How One Traveler Took The Leap And Moved To Australia
Written by Reis Armstrong
Since my recent move to Australia just over three months ago, I’ve been asked by hundreds of people how I was able to do it. If you’re lost on where to begin to plan your move abroad or just need a few pointers, check out my tips below.
Because Australia is such a backpacking-friendly country, their government has made it super easy to relocate there, with stipulations of course. For one, you have to show proof of at least $3k USD in your bank account. Second, you must not have any felonies or sexual offenses. And lastly, you must be between the ages of 18-31. I’ll be honest because my age falls within this bracket, I don’t know what other options are available for an American who’s older than 31. But if you are within this age group, you will be able to apply for a Work & Holiday Visa – except for Canadian and Irish citizens, who can be up to 35.
With this visa, you can work and live in Australia for one calendar year. If you decide that you want to stay for another year once you arrive, you will have to work in a particular field, in a particular region of Australia for 88 days. If you’re American, this usually consists of working in hospitality or the tourism industry. As an American, we’ve got the better end of the deal in that Europeans are required to work on a farm for three months. Americans also have this option but it’s not a requirement. Personally, my ancestors have worked in enough fields so I’m gonna pass on the hard labor and opt for being a hotel receptionist where I can work in an air-conditioned environment.
You must complete three months of work within your first year. After you’ve done that, you’re free as a bird. You can enter and leave the country as you please for the next two years. And you can work and not work if that’s what you choose to do.
The wages in Australia are high, in comparison to America. America’s current minimum wage sits at a measly $7.25 USD an hour, while Australia sits at $19.00AUD ($13.50 USD). However, most Australian jobs start at $20 and up, and usually, workers receiver a higher hourly rate when they work on the weekend or overnight. It’s not uncommon to hear about fellow travelers who make between $50-80 on hard-labored jobs.
Living in a country with high wages and a relatively low cost of living is great because it allows you to work really hard for a few months, and then spend the next few months traveling and living it up in nearby countries, or even backpacking around Australia. Most people travel along the east coast because there’s so many cities, small towns, and beach towns to see. You’ll be amazed at how many people are working and traveling in Australia due to the work & holiday visa. Honestly, you might meet more foreign travelers than actual Australians, as Australians are usually off in another country traveling as well. Which works in our favor because it leaves the job market pretty open.
Australia’s geographical position makes it easily accessible to countless countries in Asia. And if you didn’t know, the Australian and American dollar can stretch very far in those cheaper Asian countries, being that our dollar is worth so much more. I’m currently in Bali, Indonesia, and my hostel is only $5 USD a night. That’s right, only $5 dollars! I’ll be here until June. You do the math. Not to mention flights on this side of the world are significantly cheaper than flying within the United States. My flight from Australia to Bali was only $150. I can barely get a greyhound for that price going from Atlanta to New Orleans.
So, in short, begin to work on your exit plan. Take the chance and apply for the visa! It’s $320 USD. Mine took five minutes for it to be granted. That’s not the case for everyone, but just be patient. Save up at least $3k (for visa purposes), or at least enough to last you for a few months without having to worry about finances. Figure out which city you’d like to start in. I picked Melbourne, then made my way north along the east coast. Some people like to find a job as soon as they get here and then travel. While others like to travel first and then get a job. Do what’s best for you, beloved. See you in the land down under!