Australia is one of the most popular working holiday destinations with good reason! Not only do they have an abundance of available jobs to help you find work, but being on the other side of the world, it makes a lot of sense to spend as long as possible in Australia to make up for the expensive plane ticket and hideously long flight over. On top of the distance, Australia is a huge country with a lot to see and staying for a few months just isn't going to cut it.
Besides all the practical reasons for spending up to a year here, it goes without saying that Australia is a bloody fun place! With beaches, rainforest, a great sporting culture and lively locals who love a good piss-up, you will definately find something that interests you and have a lot of fun along the way.
Australian's are lucky because their government has set up a lot of Working Holiday Programs with other nations. This means that Aussies have a lot of options when it comes to working abroad and also means that, because the program is reciprocal, there will be a large mix of nationalities that you'll meet on your working holiday trail.
So while you will no doubt meet lots of Australians, you'll also come across countless British backpackers, plenty of Irish, loads of Germans, heaps of Japanese, the occasional Malaysian, the odd Yank, some Swedes, a lot of other Canucks and people from at least 10 more nations from around he globe. This makes Australia a great stop for first-timer Working Holidaymakers who intend on heading off to other countries to work because you'll no doubt make friends with lots of different nationalities and have connections all over the world!
Sydney hotels are a great option for new arrivals who have just survived the long flight to Australia and want to lay down their luggage in comfort. It can be a good idea to relax and recoup a bit before braving the job and apartment hunt in whichever city you decide to lay down roots in.
Prices in Australia will vary greatly depending on where you live and in what kind of accommodation you choose. You will probably find yourself staying at a backpacker's hostel for awhile when you first rock up. Most offer weekly rates that will range in price from $100-$120 for a dorm room. Generally speaking, the larger the dorm room, the lower the price and cities like Sydney and Melbourne will be more expensive than small town hostels. Many people will live in hostels for their entire time in Australia as it allows to you pick up and leave on a whim, is a great place to meet lots of people, and you don't have to clean! But if you don't mind cleaning, working a few hours a day to cover the cost of your bed can usually be arranged.
There are some things in Oz that are bargains like big, juicy steaks and fresh produce but overall food isn't cheap. Since prices change all the time, I've included links to the most popular supermarkets. Eating takeaways and at retaurants will kill your budget fast, so cooking at home or in your hostel is a good habit to get into.
Oz has a huge drinking culture and getting caught up in it will be very easy. Prices at pubs are probably on par with prices in Canada but if you buy drinks at the liquor store you'll save a bundle. This is especially true for wine by the box - also called 'goon'. If you're looking to save money on booze without having to give up drinking then goon will be your best mate. It costs between $12-15 for 4 litres, sometimes 5. It's of dubious quality and varieties include 'red lambrusco' and 'fruity lexia' but it does the trick!
Because Australia is so huge, transportation will be a big expense unless you plan to stay put in one place. Getting to Australia can also be expensive but there are cheap flights to Australia available if you do your homework. Cheap airlines like Virgin Blue have been popping up making flying a lot more affordable. Buying a car is a great option if you've got the money up front (at least $1000 for a clunker). Greyhound operate here and you can buy a large variety of passes. Hitchiking and ride sharing is common and a great way to save money, meet new people and get to some places you might not have thought of yourself. Along the coast it is possible to join yachts, share the costs and sailing and get a great view of the coast. Check message boards in Cairns, Magnetic Island, Airlie Beach and anywhere else with a large boating community.
If you're an adrenaline junkie then your wallet will probably take a beating. You can pretty much do it all here in one place or another from skydiving to snowboarding. Hostels and backpacker-oriented companies will all be very eager to help. They get commissions from all the companies so make sure to do a bit of research on your own and take what they say with a grain of salt. Expedia offers great travel guides for cairns and other major cities. They have a listing of the things you can do in Australia.
Getting a bank account in Australia is a reasonably pain free process. There's always that slim chance that you'll get a wanker who'll turn you away, but if you do there are plenty of other banks that will be happy to do business with you. Generally all you'll need is your passport and an address where your statements can be sent. Employers usually prefer directly to your bank account so without one they'll have to write a cheque and you might be charged as much as $10 to cash it.
To avoid being taxed at a criminal rate of 49%, you'll have to sort out your tax number as soon as possible. Getting this number will reduce your tax rate to a still appauling 29% but without it you probably won't be able to survive. If you've secured employment before arriving in Australia, your employer will ideally help setup your taxes. You should ask if the employer has a business insurance at AAMI.com.au policy in case a liability issue ever arises while you're there.
Getting your number is pretty straightforward and it's best to get it online, applying just after entering the country. You can't apply from abroad. You can get more information and apply at the Australian Taxation Office website. You will need your passport number, a postal address for your Tax File Number to be sent to (I used a hostel address) and it will take about 20 minutes. If you want more info and would prefer to speak to a person head to your nearest ATO office or call 132861.
Getting a tax return in Australia is a bit of a grey area but there are loads of companies out there that want to help in order to take a piece of the return or a flat fee. Or if you've got some patience you can have a go at it on your own. I'm afraid it's all a bit beyond me but you can get help at the Australian Taxation Office.
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