The aftermath of this election has left a nation divided. Threats range far and wide from friends and family claiming #hesnotmypresident to moving to Canada. However, if we have seen one thing it’s that Canada just isn’t equipped to take all Americans and for so many people, Canada just might not be far enough away. That’s why I made my guide on how to move to Australia in two months or less.
After my freshman year of college, I took a risk and decided to move to Australia for a year. I wasn’t in a study abroad program. I had no real idea of what I was going to do, and no ticket home. It was the best thing I have ever done. It gave me the chance to travel and more importantly, it gave me the chance to find out who I am (at least a little bit more). I spent my time in Australia working odd jobs, traveling to South East Asia, eating some of the most amazing food, and having a really good time. After a year and a half living abroad, I came home a little bit more well traveled and with a bit of a better grasp on what I wanted from college and life. Whether or not this presidency has you aching to move or it’s just time for a change, here is my step by step guide on how to move to Australia.
This is designed for US Citizens between the ages of 18-31. For more details on visa restrictions feel free to ask below in the comments or check out border.gov.au.
STEP 1: Apply for a working holiday visa.
The price for the visa is $355 USD.
In order to apply for this visa you must:
- Be outside Australia
- Have a passport
- Not have a dependent child
Have all of these documents (click here for a more detailed list)
- certified copies of your passport (bring to a notary)
- certified copies of your birth certificate (bring to a notary)
- two recent passport sized photos
- evidence of sufficient funds AUD $5000
My visa arrived within two weeks. During certain times of the year, there is a higher demand and it may take longer. When I was lodging my application, I was super stressed out that I wouldn’t get it or that I had submitted something incorrectly. Let me save you some drama. After applying for over five visas, I can say with some authority that if you take time when filling out the application and provide everything requested, then you will have no problem.
STEP 2: Book your plane ticket (a one-way)
I would highly recommend booking your flight on Skyscanner. They usually have the cheapest tickets. If you are strapped for cash, this is definitely the place for you. Booking a round trip ticket with over a year in between just isn’t realistic because so many things can change in that time. I ended up extending my stay by 6 months. You just never know. A one-way ticket will leave more opportunity for adventure and serendipity.
STEP 3: Find a place to work.
You can earn money working in Australia, but you don’t need to find a job before you get there. In fact, I don’t recommend it. I tried to apply for jobs before I got over there and it ended up confusing employers and was a lot of unnecessary work. Once you arrive and get settled, log onto Gumtree, this is the Craigslist of Australia. Here you will find jobs listed for travelers. Apply for them all. I ended up doing quite a few jobs during my stay including being a nanny, a barista, a receptionist and a daycare manager. I was not qualified for any of these jobs, but if you go in with a good attitude, and willingness to learn, you’ll be sure to succeed.
STEP 4: Find a place to live.
When you first arrive in Australia I would take some time before moving into a place. A great way to meet people, possibly your future roommate, is by staying in hostels. There are so many options for travelers that want shorter-term housing and these are the sites I used to find the two different places I lived in Sydney.
Check these sites for great options to find a place to live for long durations.
Check these for short term stays
STEP 5: Stay healthy while traveling.
I can personally say the Australian healthcare system will help you out. I went over there with my own insurance and would highly recommend getting traveler’s insurance or something additional while you are abroad. I had a few trips to the doctor’s office for sinus infections or shots before I went to South East Asia and the cost was always very reasonable.
I also had the unfortunate case of appendicitis while I was abroad and had to spend three days in the hospital. This is why having insurance is so important! Here are a few of my recommendations on where to get travel insurance.
- Travelguard: they help you if you need to change tickets, loose luggage or have a medical emergency.
- Medex: provides only medical insurance while you are abroad.
Your current insurance: If you already have medical insurance be sure to contact your provider and see what they will cover while you are out of the country.
Pro-tip: Before leaving go to all of your doctors. I went and got a physical, filled prescription requests for the year, and got my teeth cleaned before I left.
STEP 6: Figure out your finances.
I was fortunate enough to have the support of my family, so that when I applied for my visa they supplied documents to demonstrate savings of $5000 AUD required so I didn’t have to worry about making all of that money within 2 months. I went over to Australia with about $3000 and this was enough for me. It allowed me enough time to find a job, have fun, and not stress out.
The way I earned that much money was working full-time, not spending ANYTHING, and selling my car before I left.
Consider what you’ll need for 30-90 days, and depending on your comfort level, decide what amount of money makes sense to bring for you. This will vary for everyone.
STEP 7: Turn your dream into reality.
You may be wondering, “Is moving to Australia really possible?” frequently throughout this post and trust me I understand! I was skeptical about my choice to go to Australia, even when I was there. The fact is you can do anything you set your mind to. I can’t thank the people in my life more for supporting me through this process and putting up with my nervous days waiting for the visas and homesick tears before I left. I want to be that person for you too! If your dream is to pick up and leave for a year or to take a spur of the moment trip to Europe, I am here to tell you that you can. There will never be the perfect time or situation to take a leap of faith and do these things, so trust your gut and set your mind to what you want and #makeithappen.
I can’t thank the people in my life more for supporting me through this process and putting up with my nervous days waiting for the visas and homesick tears before I left. I want to be that person for you too! If your dream is to pick up and leave for a year or to take a spur of the moment trip to Europe, I am here to tell you that you can. There will never be the perfect time or situation to take a leap of faith and do these things, so trust your gut and set your mind to what you want and #makeithappen.
Q & A
How long is the flight?
Flying to Australia is no joke, this flight is 15 hours of flying from LAX to SYD. Make sure to dress comfortably and bring a pillow.
How do you keep in touch with friends and family?
I had Skype and Facebook Messenger on constantly. This was the best way to keep in touch and send updates.
Is the wildlife really THAT deadly?
I only ran into a few large house spiders and never was attacked by a poisonous animal. Don’t let your fear of Australian wildlife hold you back.
How is the cuisine?
I love Australian dining. They have some of the best Thai food and all of their food is a lot fresher. Eating out is more expensive in Australia, so if you are living there make sure you have a good kitchen.
How much clothing should I bring?
I only brought one backpack and a tote with me. I think the less you can bring, the better. As seasons were changing or clothing wore out I would purchase something new, but for the most part it was important for me to keep my baggage small and my experiences big.
Can you leave Australia and come back while you are on a working holiday visa?
Yes! I went to South East Asia for 7 weeks and had no problems. This stipulation does change depending on the visa you apply for so make sure to check when you are applying for different visas.
Why did you go on the working holiday visa?
This was the easiest visa to get and cost the least. The working holiday visa gave me enough flexibility and didn’t require a huge commitment on my part. If you are looking at a more permanent option, this is always a good place to start and then you can extend from this visa.