If you’re under the age of 30, and from one of many eligible countries around the world, getting a Working Holiday/Work & Holiday visa for Australia is almost unbelievably easy. Furthermore, if you’ve entered the workforce in the past few years, going to Australia to work for a year might even help further your career!
Even though they talk a lot about the GFC (Global Financial Crisis), Australia has remained remarkably sheltered from many of the negative economic effects other places in the world have experienced. After I graduated in 2009 (with a degree in advertising, an area not doing the best in such an economic climate) I could not find a job. When I returned from my trip to South America and my visits to Sweden and Jordan, I made the decision to move to Australia more for personal reasons (aka a Swedish boyfriend and a vague “non-goal” I’d had for the past ten years). It wasn’t until I got to Australia that I realized what a great decision it was for other reasons.
Find better job opportunities
The unemployment rate in Australia is half of what it is in the U.S. While in the States we have a job shortage problem (with five unemployed workers for every job opening), Australia has a skilled workers shortage (with less than two suitably skilled applicants for each job vacancy). It was likely for this reason that in Australia I was able to get two really amazing jobs that I could never have gotten so easily in the U.S., especially considering all my experience included was a degree and a few internships. And if I hadn’t been on a somewhat restrictive visa (you can only work six months at each employer) I probably would have been called back for even more jobs, even more quickly.
If you are moving to Australia to work in a specific field, you may have to send out a ton of resumes, but if you are based in any of the big cities you shouldn’t have too much trouble landing something. If you’re in any kind of a situation like I was in the States, you will just be happy to GET a job. If you’re not picky, you can easily get a job in retail, street marketing, telemarketing, or even fruit picking, farm work or hospitality, almost right away
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg of why Australia is such a great place for a Working Holiday.
Make some serious cash
The pay in Australia is incredible. Yes, the cost of living is higher, but after returning to the States I can look back and say that the ratio is much better in Oz. I made more money in one week at my job in Sydney than I made in a month at my much-less-glamorous job back in the States. (Full disclosure: Upon return to the States I at first only worked part time in retail — not by choice but because I couldn’t find anything else.)
The minimum wage is double what it is in the States, and if you’re in a regular office job you’re probably going to be making double that. In other words, I made three times more an hour at my job in Oz than I made at my first job upon returning to the States. (Again, full disclosure: I was not in the best area of the country to be looking for work, especially in my field, so I just kind of took what I could get to make some money until I could find something better.)
Gain valuable experience
My job in Sydney was AWESOME. I worked in my field (marketing). I got to be creative, meet and work with really cool people, learn a lot of new things and basically enjoy what I was doing. Not only did I gain some great experience, but I gained some great international work experience, which is never a bad thing.
My job in Perth was also interesting, fun and in my field. I again got to be very creative and involved, worked with some really cool people, and I learned a lot through all the responsibility I was given. And even though I made less money than in Sydney (still more than in the States), I got to basically make my own hours and work from home.
Enjoy a better work environment
The work/life balance at my job in Sydney was fantastic. (I actually worked a 9-5!) Australia in general does a good job of promoting work/life balance and a pleasant, often more laidback, office atmosphere. Everyone in my office was extremely friendly. I got all kinds of great perks (like flying around Australia, being treated to ridiculously nice meals, etc.), and there was free birthday cake at least once every week. Also, they have really great paid vacation time, if you are able to enjoy that benefit. (Four weeks is the standard in Oz… And we’re happy to get two weeks?)
Explore a new country and culture
All that is not even taking into account the traveling I was able to do around the entire country. On the Work & Holiday visa, you can work as little or as long as you want (up to six months per employer), at as many jobs as you want. So as soon as you’ve saved some money (I saved a nice chunk of change after 5-6 months of work in Sydney), you can quit your job and go traveling!
Australians are so into travel themselves, you might even find a job that will let you take significant time off to travel. Or you might even join up with one of the many backpacker job opportunities that actually involve traveling (such as street marketing), where your travel costs and sometimes even accommodation are paid for as you travel around the country.
Read: Packing for Adventure
Live in one of the best cities in the world
There’s also the fact that many of Australia’s cities are considered some of the most liveable cities in the world. (UPDATE: In 2012 the four Aussie cities on the list apparently just became even more liveable, with Melbourne topping the list.) I had spent so much time in Sydney in my three visits to Australia that eventually I was ready to get out and see more of the country, but looking back I still can’t get over what a perfect place it is.
Sydney is a perfectly sized and geographically-appointed city, filled with fantastic parks, lined with spectacular beaches and anchored by an iconic harbor (Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, anyone?). It’s a very liveable and easily navigated city — not too big or too small, with pretty good public transit — boasting great weather year-round, tons of diversity and incredibly friendly people. What’s not to like?
Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth all claim similar near-perfection.
Embrace a lucky lifestyle
There’s a reason Australia is one of the happiest countries in the world. Better job opportunities, more money, fantastic work/life balance and quality of living, diversity, friendly people, excellent lifestyle, great cities to live in, and spectacular places to travel to experience great natural beauty, wildlife, history and epic adventures… Have I convinced you yet?
If Australia is at the top of your travel wish list, or if you’re dying to go traveling but you aren’t sure about putting your career on hold, then working abroad might just be the best decision for you!