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Australia Working Holiday Regrets: What you should have done before leaving home

AUSTRALIA | Thursday, 11 November 2010 | Views [13982] | Comments [3]

Everything always seems so clear in hindsight, but if you haven't left yet for your Australia working holiday then you just don't have the benefit of prior experience to learn from.  This dilemma often leads working holiday makers down a path with a few regrets by the end of it. They could be something small like wishing you had started the visa at a different time of the year or spent more time living in a different city; they could be something as massive and trip-deciding as simply saving more money before leaving home.

Not every working holiday maker is the same, so it is hard to say whether or not this is a problem for everyone, or if it is a possibility for everyone to avoid.  We come from different backgrounds and situations -- some fresh college grads, others full-time professionals; some having the world at their fingers, others seriously limited by time.  However, I must say that out of all the working holiday makers I have talked to while in Australia (it was a job of mine for a while to interview such people), the biggest regret they had dealt with money and how they wished they had saved more before coming to the land down under.

My Own Personal Regret

I had exactly the same issue when I decided to come to Australia back in March of 2009, but saving more money wasn't really an option for me.  I was teaching English in a country where the currency was devaluing more and more each day, and that meant my US dollar equivalent was dwindling.  I took a chance by cashing in all my pay and hopping over to Australia with the thought in mind that I could also just get a job there right away to make up for the lack of funds.  Sounds reasonable, right?

Well, not so much.  There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account before heading to Australia with a limited amount of money in the bank.  Without doing so can lead you to having less money for travel, fun and just plain living sooner than expected.

Reasons to Save More Money

High Cost of Living

Living in Australia is shockingly expensive.  In Sydney City, you can easily spend $220+ for a room – of questionable standards – in a share house, and that is a per week price.  Add on food, transportation and having a bit of fun now and again, and you have yourself a pretty hefty monthly bill.  Australia is just a costly place to travel and an expensive place to live in general.  I, personally, found that any pay check I was receiving went to cover these costs and not much more than that.

Extra Set Up Costs  

Whenever there is a move to somewhere new, there are generally the extra costs of getting set up to deal with in the beginning.  There's the need to buy household goods, bedding and a SIM card/phone plan to name a few.  I remember arriving in Australia and being shocked by the lack of free Internet.  This unfortunately led me to buying mobile broadband, which was yet another big expenditure on my list.

Extended Job Hunt  

I was lucky to find a job and a place to live within two weeks of my arrival.  Others have not been so lucky.  It's a tough mix to deal with being new to a city, finding a place to live and hitting the job hunt; some individuals said it took months to get their foot in the door.  Now whether or not that has to do with the individual's job hunting tactics is really beyond me, but it is just another point to keep in mind.  Even if it only takes a few weeks to find a job, there is usually a bit of lag time between the start date and receiving the first pay check.

Economic Downfalls  

You may not expect it, but there is always a chance that the money you have saved in your normal currency can devalue in relation to the Australian dollar.  That means your American, British or other money may not last as long as you originally expected; if you are already scraping by because of the other points above, it can just add to the stress.

An Australian working holiday is supposed to be a time of both work and holiday, but it seems that some visa holders are doing more “working” and not seeing as much of the latter.  I, too, was in this category and didn't experience much more than just Sydney for a very long time strictly because of my financial situation.  Again, not everyone coming on a working holiday has this problem, but from personal experience, I can highly suggest thinking about saving more money before leaving home. 

Related Articles:

What To Do When No One Wants To Hire Working Holiday Makers

Working Holiday Decisions: Travel first, then work?

What about you? What  do you wish you would have done before leaving home?

About the Author 

Brooke Schoenman is a world traveler turned Australia expat.  She's done the whole work and holiday thing herself and can definitely tell you a thing or two about traveling down under.  For some travel inspiration, be sure to check out more of her work at Brooke vs. the World and WhyGo Australia.

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Tags: accommodation, advice, australia, finances, money, sydney, working-holiday




Great article. I've thought of moving abroad so many times and there are always things that come up that break the bank and it make it so much tougher than you initially think it will be.

  Bethany Nov 11, 2010 12:11 PM


I applied for Jobs from New Zealand before organizing the job interviews, so I've only been in Oz half a week and I start work on Monday, though I agree, the cost of living is f**king insane, I come from Christchurch, NZ where Rent is cheap, though I think I've settled into a reasonable situation at Kings Cross/ Potts Point, the Backpackers for the next four weeks in a 4 bed dorm at $200 a week, includes, Fridge, clean toilets/showers Cheap meals most nights, (heavily discounted for the backpackers). And I'm seriously loving it. The train station is close, but not too close, got the supermarket a block away. 20 Minute walk to work (Or 5 minute Bike) in the CBD, 20 minute Train/Bus to Bondi Beach, pretty good night clubs and events happening most nights, It's hard to get bored. And with all of the discounts, food is cheap, beer at the pub is much cheaper in Oz too, where I can get a $3 dollar pint at some places around Oz, it would be $6-9 for the equivalent in NZ. Sydney has been kind to me so far, I'm sharing the 4 bed dorm with 2 other blokes both from the U.K. both professionals, so there's no interruptions, the weather has been bliss, beats the shitty crappy weather back home.

  Dave Nov 21, 2010 4:43 PM


I will be I love this article

  canda kawambwa Feb 19, 2011 11:35 PM

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