Working Holiday 2: Arrival

So you've got your visa, booked your flights, and now you've landed in Australia.  Great!  What next?

  • Find somewhere to live.  It's worth researching this ahead of time in order to get an idea of what you can expect for your money, but since you'll want to check the room out yourself and prospective housemates/landlords will want to talk you in person, the brunt of the effort will be done when you arrive.  Flatmates and Gumtree are the most popular.  Be aware that many backpackers share rooms, so if the weekly price is under $200 that's probably the situation.  Alternatively, you might wish to live in a hostel in order to be around other travellers, in which case Hostelworld is a good start but you might be better off Googling "backpackers" and the area you want to stay in, as some hostels offer discounts for long-term accommodation (like this one in Glebe, Sydney).
  • Get a tax file number.  If you are working out here, you will be taxed, and this will allow you to claim it back before you leave.  You can also claim money for any job-related training you are required to undertake, such as the RSA (see below).  You can apply online but you will need an Australian address for it to be sent to.
  • Find a job.  The Australian minimum wage is just shy of $17 AUD, which is pretty good, but the cost of living out here is high, so if you can, get a job that pays higher.  Gumtree is once again a good place to search for vacancies, also Seek.  Australians call it a CV and resume, but the format is closer to British than American I'd say.  A lot of backpackers out here work as "chuggers" as they are sometimes known at home, or street fundraisers, which usually pays a base rate of around $20/hr plus commission, and best of all puts you on all-expenses-paid trips around the country.  Stop for a chat with a fundraiser while you're here and they might be able to get you an interview (I had one on my first day!)  However, hospitality work is also very easy to get, and has a higher hourly rate on weekends.
  • Get your RSA.  If you do want to work in hospitality, or a bottle shop, or any job in which alcohol is served or sold, you need to be qualified for Responsible Service of Alcohol.  This qualification is state-specific too, so your RSA in New South Wales will not be valid in Victoria, etc.  However, it is vital for this kind of job, you won't get hired without it, and even if you did the fines were you caught are astronomical.  You can do a class in person, which for me was cheaper, or online if you prefer.  This is the official RSA page for NSW with a list of accredited training programmes: the OLGR is the institution that monitors RSAs, so if you're in a different state, search that.  Coffee shops often require barista training, which also has its own qualification here, and clubs or casinos will generally require the Responsible Conduct of Gambling certificate.

And that's about it!  These are the most important things to get sorted, because once all this is done you can settle in, hit the beach (these pics were taken on the walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi), and start making some money to travel, learn to surf or dive or all the other amazing things you can do in Australia.  Remember to budget for the initial part of your trip, because even though you will be earning decent money once you have a job, the initial costs of a bond for a room, or RSA training (in NSW anywhere between $100-$200) can set you back a fair bit.  Don't be disheartened if you don't feel like you're having an adventure straight away - it's more important to make sure you're solvent and won't have to fly home early.  And there are plenty of fun, free things to do in Sydney too, which I will write about soon!

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