So if you’re heading to Australia, you’re probably thinking about the Australian Working Holiday Visa.
Chances are your mate’s been on it, or there’s your best friend, living their best life Down Under, splashed all over your social feed. And now you want in on the action—don’t blame you!
My first visit to Australia was on a Working Holiday visa, and let me tell you, it was a game-changer so much so that I’m living here as a permanent resident five years later.
That could be your long-term aim, or perhaps you’re just keen to swap your office view for some iconic Aussie landscapes for the year. Whatever you hope to gain from your Australian Working Holiday, I’m here to share my best tips from my own experiences so you’ll know what to expect and how to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What is Involved in the WHV?
An Australian Working Holiday Visa (WHV) is a temporary visa that allows people aged 18 to 30 (or 35 for some nationalities) to work and travel in Australia for up to a year.
It’s designed to let young people explore Australia while earning money through employment.
After your first year is up, you may be eligible to extend into a second or third year depending on specific conditions and the type of work undertaken during your first.
How Much does a WHV cost?
As of October 2023, the Working Holiday Visa Australia costs AUD635.00, roughly $408 USD or 334.65 GBP.
However, the price can vary year on year so it’s best to check the Department of Home Affairs website.
How Long Does It Take to Be Accepted?
Believe it or not, I got my visa emailed to me in just minutes however, I’ve heard stories from others who waited anywhere from a few days to even two months.
Given that timeline, it’s a good idea not to book your flight until your visa approval lands in your inbox, it will save you so much stress!
How Do You Apply?
To apply for an Australian Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) you will first need to check if you meet the basic requirements:
Meet all the requirements? Get yourself straight over to the Department of Home Affairs website and apply now!
What Happens When Your Visa Is Granted?
Once your Australian Working Holiday Visa has been granted it will be emailed to you electronically. It doesn’t require to be stuck in your passport. I do, however, recommend printing a copy as this comes in handy when you need to apply for things such as Medicare (access to healthcare).
You have 365 days to ‘activate’ your visa. So, if you received your grant on the 1st of January you have until the 1st of January the following year to enter Australia.
You are now entitled to travel to Australia and work for up to six months with one employer at a time.
Beyond the work restrictions, the rest is straightforward. Travel, work and explore Australia for up to 12 months. You are free to leave and re-enter as much as you would like within the 12 months.
If you would like to stay longer, there are options to extend your WHV to a second and third year.
Budget and Expenses
Australia is well known for being on the pricey side, so you might be wondering how much money you need when you first hit Aussie soil and what kind of expenses you should brace for.
The Working Holiday Visa itself will set you back 635 AUD.
Speaking from experience, Safety Wing is a great choice, especially for budget-conscious travellers and digital nomads. At a weekly rate of 45.08 AUD, they’ve got you covered for everything from unexpected medical situations to travel glitches and lost luggage.
🏆 What makes Saftey Wing a great choice for the working holiday visa? The flexibility—you can opt for continuous coverage and even take your policy international, which comes in handy when paradises like Bali are just a short flight away.
When it was time for me to wrap up my working holiday, cancelling my Safety Wing policy was so easy, and they were super helpful with claims. So, you’re not just paying for insurance; you’re investing in peace of mind.
As soon as your visa is granted, you are free to book your flights to Australia. I highly recommend starting your search using Skyscanner, doing so got me a great deal on a one-way flight to Australia.
Now, it is definitely cheaper to book a return flight however, I prefer to travel open-ended.
A quick heads-up—if you’re thinking of doing the same, make sure you’ve got enough money for a flight back. When you arrive in an Australian airport border force could ask you about your exit plans when your visa ends, and if you can’t show a ticket or the money to buy one, you could risk your visa being revoked.
My one-way ticket to Australia from the UK cost me $1542 AUD, this was with one-stop, a short layover time and travelling in October just before the start of Australia’s summer season. I travelled with Malaysia Airlines which is cheaper than Emirates and Qatar and I found the service to be just as good.
✈️ Airline, layover time, amount of stops-offs and seasonality will all affect ticket prices, be sure to use Skyscanner to shop around for the best deals.
First Weeks Accommodation
Securing your accommodation for the first week before arriving in Australia is a smart move. Between grappling with the time difference and finding your bearings in a new country, having a place to stay sorted can be a real stress reliever.
This initial week of accommodation provides the perfect buffer to get some essential tasks out of the way. It’s time to grab an Australian phone number, apply for a Tax File Number (TFN), and start exploring your longer-term accommodation options.
If you’re keen on roaming around Australia a bit before settling down, this week is also ideal for planning that exciting leg of your journey.
I highly recommend booking into a hostel for the first week. Hostels are buzzing hubs of social interaction where you can meet a diverse bunch of fellow travellers. The insights you can gain from those who’ve been in Australia longer are invaluable.
🏨 I spent my initial week at Wake Up! Hostel in Sydney, which was great for social meet-ups (the organise group activities such as the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk – highly recommended). They also offered to help set up my TFN, which may be great if you are not tech-savy!
Longer-Term Accommodation Costs
Finding long-term accomodation in Australia will largely be guided by how long you are planning to spend in one place.
From the communal vibe of hostels to the more homely living of shared houses, all the way to renting your own place to even house-sitting, I’ve tried them all – each comes with a unique set of financial implications and lifestyle considerations.
Below, I break down the costs associated with these different options to guide you through the labyrinth of long-term living choices in Australia.
Average costs for a hostel across Australia
|Average Cost Per Night for a Dorm Room (AUD)
|$36 – $82
|Wake Up! Bondi Beach
|$19 – $75
|Brisbane City YHA
|$35 – $75
|Nomads St Kilda
|$27 – $53
|$24 – $50
|Montacute Boutique Bunkhouse
I spent most of my Working Holiday Visa in a share-house in Maroubra, Sydney and I had the best experience! I found my room by looking on Gumtree and went around to view the house beforehand to check that it was a good vibe, meet some of the housemates and decide if could fit in there.
Whilst I found my house share on Gumtree, backpacking Australia Facebook groups are another great place to find other backpackers who are trying to find someone to take over the lease on their room.
The cost of a house share in Australia can differ from city to city however, the prices of rooms to rent average around $150-$300 per week.
For reference, when I lived in Sydney, I paid $280 per week for a large semi-furnished room in the eastern suburbs, the house was a 10-minute walk to the beach had a pool in the back garden and all my bills were included.
❗️Don’t forget to factor in money for a bond (deposit). Even in a share house you will be expected to hand over a bond, which is normally 4 weeks rent.
Renting your own place
Renting your own place while on a working holiday visa in Australia is very unlikely. The whole of Australia is grappling with a rental crisis, and landlords are more likely to favour tenants who can commit to stays longer than 12 months.
Shorter-term rentals are hard to come by and most rentals in Australia come unfurnished – far from ideal for a backpacker. For these reasons, I wouldn’t recommend going this route during your working holiday.
How does free accommodation sound? Then get ready to swap out those hostel bunk beds for something with a touch more elegance—housesitting.
Not many backpackers have heard of housesitting, but it is a great alternative to the more traditional routes of finding accommodation.
House sitting is when you live in someone’s property whilst they are away on holiday, for free, in return for looking after their home and often pets too.
What are the benefits of House-sitting in Australia?
🏡 If you want to get started with house sitting in Australia, I highly recommend joining Aussie House Sitters. They will get you the best house sitting jobs in Australia, its all secure so you can have peace of mind that it is legit!
For those on a Working Holiday Visa, navigating Australia’s landscapes is faily easy with its efficient public transport systems. The majority of Australian cities offer concession cards, providing cost-effective travel options ideal for working holiday makers.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of transport fares across these key cities:
|Transport Card Pricing
|Weekday Cap at $9.60 and Weekend Cap at $5.87
|Various discounts by using an Opal Card (daily and weekly caps)
|Tap and Ride
|AUD 3 for single or $7 daily ticket
|Buy weekly or multiple trip Tap and Ride cards
|All Greencards come with a $5 sign-up fee.
20% discount and capped fare with card
|AUD $3.10-$10 (depends on peak hours)
|Weekend and public holiday capped fares. Fares are dependent on zone.
|Up to 20% off
Buying a Vehicle on a Working Holiday Visa
Embarking on a road trip across Australia’s vast and varied landscapes is an experience that epitomizes the freedom and adventure of the Working Holiday Visa.
Whether it’s a car or a campervan, having your own set of wheels can significantly enhance your working holiday experience.
But not only this, buying a car or a campervan can be a smart financial move, especially on a Working Holiday Visa. Here’s why:
Buying a vehicle isn’t just a purchase; it’s an investment in your Australian experience, and if you plan on traveling a significant amount of Australia, I highly recommend looking into purchasing a campervan.
❗️Keep in mind the additional hidden costs like rego (vehicle registration) and tolls on major city routes. If the vehicle’s Rego has expired at time of purchase, that’s an added expense to factor in.
Groceries vs Eating Out
Australia is notably more expensive, especially if you’re transitioning from backpacking through Southeast Asia where costs are significantly lower. The price difference in items such as food and drink can be a bit of a shock, so it’s wise to budget accordingly.
Here are some basic costs to consider:
|Average Cost (Groceries)
|Average Cost (Eating Out)
|AUD 5 – 10
|AUD 15 – 25
|AUD 5 – 15
|AUD 20 – 35
|AUD 10 – 20
|AUD 25 – 50
|AUD 2 (at home)
|AUD 4 – 5 (Although, you could opt for a $2 coffee at 7/11)
|AUD 1 – 5
|AUD 8 – 15
|Pint of Beer
|AUD 2 – 5 (store bought)
|AUD 8 – 12
|Cocktails (per drink)
|AUD 15 – 25
The essence of a working holiday visa is to fully immerse yourself in the Australian experience, soaking up its culture, landscapes, and vibes. While work helps to replenish your travel funds, it’s those leisure moments – be it surfing at Bondi or wandering through rainforests – that truly define your Aussie adventure.
As you budget for this once-in-a-lifetime journey, it’s essential to factor in the costs of these leisure activities to ensure a holistic Australian experience. Below are some activities to give you an idea how much you may need to budget for:
Surf Lessons on Sydneys Bondi Beach
It doesn’t get much more Australian than surfing on Bondi Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the country. Taking surf lessons here during your working holiday is a brilliant way to dive into authentic Aussie culture while staying active.
Why you should book this tour:
Sunlover Reef Cruises Cairns Great Barrier Reef Experience
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, a stunning natural wonder that’s too incredible to miss, especially if you’re on a working holiday in Australia.
Sunlover Reef Cruises offers an experience that’s perfectly tailored to the adventurous spirit that often accompanies a working holiday.
Why you should book this tour:
Tandem Skydive Wollongong
If you’re spending your working holiday in Australia, tandem skydiving in Wollongong is the ultimate way to break free from routine and inject some serious adrenaline into your trip.
Wollongong itself is a coastal gem, boasting some of Australia’s most stunning beaches and many stunning walks.
Why you should book this tour:
Getting Set up in Australia
Setting Up Your Bank Account before you arrive in Australia.
You will need to open an Australian bank account if you intend to work, as an employer will not pay wages into an international bank account.
You have the option to open an Australian bank account even before setting foot in the country. I took advantage of this and completed Commonwealth Australia’s online application about two weeks prior to my arrival in Australia.
You can arrange for your bank card to be delivered to a branch in the city where you’ll be landing. Upon my arrival in Sydney, I went to the branch with my passport and a copy of my visa and got my card.
The bank staff at Commonwealth were amazing, they broke down everything from the basics of the account to what I’d need to hand over to my Aussie employer, and even gave me a crash course on superannuation (which is the equivalent to the UK pension).
There are a few big banks to choose from such as ANZ, Westpac, NAB and Commonwealth. I have had good experiences with both ANZ and Commonwealth Australia Bank.
Ultimately, I choose to go banking with Commonwealth Australia on my working holiday visa for two reasons:
❗️In contrast ANZ require an income of $2,000AUD per month or a monthly fee of $5 is charged to the account each month you don’t make this requirement.
If you want to set up your Aussie Bank account before you go, you can do so here.
Transferring Money To Your Australian Bank Account
As you prepare for your Australian Working Holiday, figuring out a cost-effective way to transfer money from your home currency to AUD could save you hundreds of dollars!
Once your Australian bank account is set up, you essentially have two routes to transfer your funds:
Via Your Home Bank
- Engage your bank in your home country for a traditional international transfer.
- Though straightforward, this method is usually costly. European banks especially often impose transfer fees (around 25 Euros plus additional commissions), making it a less favourable option. Besides, the process can be lengthy, and the exchange rates offered are often lower.
Via Specialised International Transfer Platforms (Recommended):
- Opt for a specialized international transfer platform such as Wise or CurrencyFair for a more economical and faster solution.
- These platforms offer competitive exchange rates, ensuring you receive more money on the other end. Though there’s a small transfer fee, the savings compared to bank transfers are substantial, making this the preferred choice for backpackers.
Among the transfer platforms, Wise and CurrencyFair are notable mentions, but Wise steals the spotlight as it offers a free first transfer for amounts exceeding $500.
I personally vouch for Wise due to its ease of use and prompt transfer times, ensuring my money lands in my Australian account swiftly and with minimal fees.
Sorting Out A Tax File Number (TFN)
To work in Australia, you will need a Tax File Number (TFN), which is equivalent to a National Insurance number if you are from the UK or a Social Security Number if you are from America.
It doesn’t cost anything and identifies you for tax and superannuation purposes. You keep the same TFN if you change jobs, change your name, or move overseas and then move back to Australia.
The processing time for TFN applications is 28 days, however, it can be quicker as I received mine in about 14 days. You will need a valid address as your TFN gets sent to you via mail. You can use your hostel address if you think you will be staying there for a while.
💡 Apply for TFN as soon as you get to Australia, even if you plan on not working for the first few months. Apply for your TFN here.
Getting An Aussie Phone Number
You will need to get yourself an Aussie phone number pretty quickly after landing in Australia. Employers won’t call an international number and you will be required to supply one for applications such as TFN and Medicare
Carefully assess you need before jumping into purchasing a contract – contracts are very restricting and will mean you have to pay for 12 months before you can cancel – so if you get homesick and decided to go home, you’ll be stuck paying for your Aussie contract that you wont be using.
The best option for working holiday makers – prepaid cards
Prepaid cards are the most common choice among backpackers, as they don’t ask you to sign a contract and you pay for what you use/need. The downside is that usually a recharge only lasts for 28 or 30 days.
Generally all the providers have similar offers. SIM cards cost $2 and after buying one, you can choose from one of the packages. Generally speaking with most providers, you will be fine with a $30 recharge which will give you text, calls (sometimes international call allowance) and data.
If you are planning travelling around regional Australia – and I highly recommend that you do – go with Telstra. They have the biggest network coverage in Australia. Just bear in mind, that the most rural places in Australia can be tricky signal wise.
Staying in the big cities? Go for Aldi or Amaysim prepaid cards – these are smaller networks that feed off the signals from the three biggest providers including Telstra. The advantage of this is that you get good quality coverage for a fraction of the price.
Applying For Medicare (If You Are Eligible)
Medicare represents Australia’s public healthcare system, offering a personalized card for significant discounts or free healthcare in state hospitals, somewhat like the NHS in the UK, but a card is required. While some treatments and medications may still incur a cost, having Medicare will keep these costs to a minimum.
Typically, Medicare is for Permanent Residents or Australian Citizens. However, nationals from countries with a “reciprocal healthcare agreement” can access Medicare on a Working Holiday Visa. These countries include:
- United Kingdom
- Republic of Ireland
- New Zealand
If your country has this agreement, enroll in Medicare upon arrival in Australia. Enrollment requires a visit to a Medicare service centre with a completed enrolment form, your passport, and a paper copy of your visa. (Further details on required documents and service centres are available on the government website).
Medicare isn’t free but offers substantial subsidies for common procedures.
Exclusions from Medicare include dental care, alternative medicine, physiotherapy, ambulance services, and optical care. The costs of ambulance service vary from state to state, with call out fee’s ranging from $237 to $1894 in more regional areas. Therefore regardless if you are eligible for Medicare or not, you’ll need to get travel insurance to cover you for these events.
❗️If your country isn’t listed, ensure you have travel insurance for your trip, as there won’t be any subsidy for medical care.
Where to base your Aussie Adventure (and why it should be regional)
Deciding where to base yourself during your Working Holiday in Australia is a critical choice that could shape your entire experience.
While the metropolitan allure of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth often steals the spotlight, consider this: You could be limiting your Australian experience by sticking to these urban hubs.
Instead, contemplate the untapped potential of regional areas like Tasmania or the Northern Territory. Here, you won’t just find jaw-dropping landscapes like the expansive Outback or Tasmania’s untamed wilderness; you’ll also uncover a wealth of unique employment opportunities.
Imagine yourself cattle herding under the vast skies of the Northern Territory or guiding underwater tours of the Great Barrier Reef. These aren’t mere jobs to earn some cash; they’re experiences, ones that city-based roles could never offer.
But the divergence from the city norm isn’t confined to your 9-to-5. Your leisure hours take on a different hue as well.
Forget the crowded, overhyped city events—you might find yourself with an invite to a genuine community rodeo. Picture visiting secluded waterfalls where the only ambient noise is the water cascading over rocks—not the chatter of tourists.
In short, choosing a regional base for your Working Holiday doesn’t just change your postal code; it transforms your entire Australian experience, an in my opinion makes it a more authentically Australian. Plus, you’ll be embarking on a unique adventure that not many others dare to.
Tasmania isn’t just an island; it’s a diverse offering a range of work and lifestyle opportunities that sets it apart from mainland Australia. For those looking to roll up their sleeves, Tasmania provides ample opportunities in sectors like agriculture and hospitality. You might find yourself working in a boutique winery or at a cozy bed-and-breakfast near a rainforest.
But it’s not just about the work; it’s also about the lifestyle that comes with it. In Tasmania, you’re never far from untouched wilderness—be it rainforests, beaches, snow-capped mountains, or even fragrant lavender fields. The best part? It’s all accessible within a few hours’ drive, giving your weekends an endless array of getaway options.
Budget-wise, Tasmania stands out as an affordable option, boasting a lower cost of living compared to other Australian states. In some regions, the average weekly expenses are the lowest in the country. This affordability makes it an appealing choice for those who want to experience Australia without breaking the bank.
As for city life, places like Hobart offer a compelling mix of culture and convenience. Take Salamanca Place, for instance—a bustling area filled with galleries, theatres, and historic pubs that make socializing effortless. Yet, despite the urban trappings, nature is never far away.
Finding A Job on A Working Holiday Visa
Living it up in Australia doesn’t come cheap, with the cost of living here higher than in many places around the world. It’s no surprise that many backpackers, keen to keep their travel dreams afloat, search for jobs soon after their arrival.
So, should you dive straight into work or travel first?
It’s your journey, and there’s no wrong path. However, in my experience I would recommend you explore first. Dive into the sheer joy of travel before the 9-to-5 routine beckons.
Venture through the vibrant East Coast and feel out the spots that resonate with you. Who knows, as you roam, you might stumble upon a job opportunity or meet fellow travellers with leads.
Before you start your job search, there are a few things you need to know:
❗️The WHV is valid for one year and renewable 2 times under certain conditions. It allows you to work up to 6 months with the same employer.
❗️If you want to extend your first-year visa into a second year, you will need to complete 88 days of specified regional work to be eligible.
❗️As of 1 July 2024, UK working holiday-makers will no longer be required to complete 3 months of regional work to be able to apply for a second or third WHV.
General Overview of Jobs You Might Get on a WHV
|Hourly Rate (AUD)
|Likely to earn commission on top of hourly wage.
|Trade & Labor
|Will depend on experience and trade.
There are construction labour hire agencies that will provide you with tools and transport for a weekly fee.
|$190-$350 per week
|Some Au Pair positions requires the person to live in the house – this is normally for free.
You will then essentially be given a weekly allowance on top of that for taking care of the kid(s).
|Varies depending on the specific role.
You will need to apply for basic admin and clerical roles.
Anything above these basic roles will really be out of reach if you can only stay in the company for 6 months.
|Tips aren’t as customary as in the US, so don’t bank on making much extra money this way.
|Pay varies by task, season, and hours. Can be per bucket or hourly.
Accommodation often provided or offered at a discount.
The right farming job can be incredibly lucrative!
|Requires certification and training.
|Early Childhood Educator
|Requires certification and training.
Where are the most Job Opportunities?
For roles in housekeeping, admin, retail, hospitality, or construction, target big cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
Early Childhood Education roles are high in demand, especially in Sydney.
On the other hand, if farm work is what you’re after, regional locations around the Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Bundaberg are prime spots to start your search.
💡 You’ll want to look for roles that are advertised as casual hire, permanent roles are unlikely to sponsor someone who can only work with them for 6 months!
Certifications required by Certain job Sectors
Before diving into the Australian job market, it’s wise to secure necessary certifications based on your chosen sector. Employers, especially in casual roles, typically prioritize candidates who can start immediately, and aren’t inclined to wait for potential hires to obtain needed certifications.
Below is a breakdown of some key certifications by sector:
|Relevant Job Sectors
|RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol)
|Needed to serve alcohol
|Specialized training for coffee making
|For building and construction industry
|– Forklift License
|To drive a forklift
|– Working at Heights Certificate
|For roles that involve elevated work
|– Confined Space Certificate
|For roles in tight or restricted environments
|– Blue Card (Traffic Controller)
|Needed for traffic controlling (distinct from Queensland’s child-related Blue Card)
|For those working in gambling industry (pubs, casinos, etc.)
|Gambling Industry, any pub or bar with a “pokies”
|WWC Check/Blue Card (in QLD)
|Required for roles involving children. The certification varies by state. In Queensland, it’s the Blue Card for working with children.
|First Aid & CPR Training
|Essential lifesaving skills often required across various sectors
|Almost all sectors where safety is key
❗️Even if you’re thinking about working in a café, an RSA is essential due to widespread alcohol service. Plus, with “pokies” or slot machines being a fixture in many Australian bars, obtaining an RCG becomes equally critical in the hospitality domain.
Extending Your Stay in Australia with a 2nd and 3rd year visa
Specified Regional Work
If you wish to extend your stay in Australia for two or even three years, you will need to work for a minimum of three months – or 88days – in a specified regional job position during your first Working Holiday Visa.
As previously mentioned, UK passport holders will be exempt from this requirement from 1st July 2024.
To sum up, to renew your WHV, you can:
- Take up work in agriculture, construction, or mining in regional Australia,
- Work in tourism and hospitality in northern or in remote and very remote areas of Australia,
- Participate in bushfire and flood recovery efforts in designated affected regions,
- Engage in healthcare and medical sectors, specifically in critical COVID-19 roles, anywhere in Australia.
Specified work can only be in the primary role specified above. For example, you can’t be an administrative assistant on a farm – this does not count. You must be physically doing the role of farming, construction etc.
How do you know which areas are classed at regional? Check out this list of regional eligible locations here.
Starting your regional work at the beginning of your WHV is highly recommended if you’re planning to extend your visa beyond 12 months. This approach safeguards against potential exploitation by some regional employers, who may take advantage of your urgency to complete the required 88 days as the visa expiration looms.
By starting your regional work at the beginning, this means that if you feel uncomfortable with work conditions, you have plenty of time to move on and find other opportunities.
As the title suggests, the work can be in highly remote locations, often unreachable without a vehicle. I highly recommend buddying up with someone so you don’t go alone, doing so can make you vulnerable.
Finally, for the work to be classed as eligible the employer must pay you at least the National Minimum age. The minimum national wage in Australia is $23.23 per hour (as at September 2023).
How to find regional work
The Australian government has compiled a Harvest Guide for travellers who want to help pick, harvest and gather produce in Australia’s rural – yet beautiful – farming towns. Farm work is seasonal, so best to check out this guide so you can plan ahead.
There are various Facebook Groups such as Australia Backpackers or 88 Days Farmwork in Australia that regularly advertise vacancies for regional specified work.
The group has people recommending places to work as well as information about which to avoid.
An Australian Working Holiday Visa is an incredible opportunity to explore Australia, whilst working to fund your trip. The experiences on offer in Australia are so vast that your experience can be whatever you make of it!
Are you planning to go on a Working Holiday in Australia? I hope this guide has provided you with lots of information to make sure your trip is a success! If you have stories or tips to share from your Working Holiday Visa in Australia be sure to drop a message in the comments below.