Surfing on a hot day in Bondi in the glistening sun, exploring the scorching Outback, or bushwalking through the hills of Tasmania? It is hard to picture a more exciting place to explore, or live in, than the distant continent of Australia. Picking up and starting a new life as a Sydney local may seem a daunting prospect, but living in Australia doesn’t have to be just a pipe dream. There are several ways to make it happen. As someone who has done it, I’d encourage everyone to live abroad at some point in their life.
If Australia is on your bucket list, there are several ways to make the move. The below is a quick run-down of the most popular visa options available to those thinking of making the move over.
Working Holiday Visa
The Working Holiday Visa scheme allows citizens of many countries (including the UK, USA, many European and some South American and Asian countries) to live and travel in Australia for up to a year. Dependent on where you are from, you may be eligible to extend your visa an additional year. This is by doing regional work for three months, such as working on a farm or cattle station. Currently open to those under the age of 31, there are talks to extend the age range up to 35. This could be great news for mature travelers.
This visa is a fantastic way for almost anyone to spend an extended amount of time exploring, living, and working in Australia. The limitation is that visa-holders can only work for an employer for a period of six months or under, as it is designed for working holiday-makers. Jobs are still readily available, especially retail, hospitality, or labouring. Also, consider temporary contact roles, best organised through recruitment agencies. Also worth noting that American citizens are not eligible for the second year extension.
If you’re planning to stay permanently, the six month employment limit can be frustrating, but it is a good way to get your foot in the door, so to speak, and often employers do sponsor workers to stay on.
Employer Sponsorship (457 Visa)
If you work for an international company, it is worth asking if they have Australian offices, and might be willing to help you transfer overseas. It is also worth reading through the list of skilled occupations. This changes yearly and consists of occupations in high demand in Australia.
If you happen to be qualified in one of these in demand jobs, check out more information here about how you may be eligible to relocate on a 457 Visa .
De-facto (partner) Visa
If your partner or spouse is of Australian, or possibly New Zealand origin, this opens up the option of moving to Australia on a de-facto visa, even if you aren’t married. Same sex couples are also eligible. The application process is cumbersome and expensive, but opens the doors to permanent residency and citizenship.
A lot of documentation and evidence of the relationship being genuine is needed to lodge the application. Start preparing well in advance, to make sure you have everything needed.
If the above options aren’t applicable to you, or time is limited, consider an extended holiday in Aus. Most visitors are eligible for a 90-day tourist visa, which gives you three months to travel and immerse yourself in the country. Although unfortunately not eligible for working rights, it gives you a long time to get a feel for the Australian way of life.
All entrants to Australia need a visa, to be obtained in advance, but the visitor’s visa can easily be organized online before your trip. The details can be found here – Border.gov.au
Once you have found your way to Australia, you’ll find some of the benefits of employment here include high hourly wages, nationalized health care, a minimum of four weeks of annual leave, and often the flexibility of working from home, or flexi-shifts, depending on your employer.
The laid back feel of the country (generally) extends into the workplace. The warm climate means casual clothes are basically the standard 9-5 dress.
While Australia’s big cities can be expensive, there are always ways to save money with your flights over and your travel. Lodge fare watches to get alerts on any flight sales, booking longer layovers/less desirable flying times, or booking with two separate airlines are options. Once you’ve arrived, consider a hostel or a flat share to save money. That way you can get a feel for which neighborhoods you might want to live in, before having to commit and sign a lease.
Once you’ve made it here, there are infinite places, beaches, and exciting experiences to be had, so make the most of it! I’d recommend starting with a glass of bubbly at Sydney’s Opera House to toast to your new life down under.
I’ve written the above as a guide, or starting out point, for anyone considering a move down under. However, your best bet is to contact the Department of Immigration, or an immigration lawyer, to discuss your options. That being said, if I can help point anyone in the right direction, please feel free to comment below. For more tips on expat life in Australia, please check out some other blog posts here and here.