RSS Feed

My Flickr Feed

Latest Blog Entry


Moving to Australia: An American’s Helpful Tips

Since I’ve been back in the States from Australia I have had many people who are amazed with my story.  My past 9 months consisted of moving to a country where I knew no one- to live, travel, and work while having the time of my life.  Everyone has loved hearing my story and wishing they could do something similar.  I’ve explained to numerous people how simple and easy it can be with the right background information and a little bit of money in the bank.  Oh and let’s not forget to mention- balls.  Moving to the other side of the world is kind of a big step, but trust me it’s worth it and the experience will be amazing.  With this blog I hope to help those of you out there that are interested in moving to Australia for an amazing adventure.  Also refer to my previous blog Working in Australia: An Americans Experiences and Tips.

Port Douglas

Doing the tourist thing in beautiful Port Douglas

First Things First – The Legal Stuff

The first thing you need to assess before embarking on this journey is getting the proper visa, which can be done online.  As an American citizen you can be granted a year Working Holiday Visa Subclass 462 if you’re between the ages of 18-30.  It is a one year visa and you can work anywhere for up to six months but your visa can not be extended.  Commonwealth countries such as Canada, England, and most countries in Europe are able to get a similar visa, Working Holiday Visa Subclass 417 and a Second Working Holiday Visa can be granted if certain circumstances are met. You can also get an Australian ETA Short Stay Visa for 3 months and work under the table, technically illegally but there are plenty of places- especially around touristy areas- that will do this.

Also to work for a legit company you will need to apply for a Tax ID number which can be done online or by phone and is usually processed within a week.

Finding Work & Where to Work

I’ve found that most people that are interested in this visa are looking to go to Australia to party and have a “BS” job and I definitely encourage that.  I know that if I had to be in an office during the weekdays and working 9-5, my trip would have been a lot less exciting and consisted of many days at the office hungover.  On that note I would recommend a job in hospitality.  I worked at a pub called The Grand and you can read about my experiences in my blog Australian Pub Culture: A Bartender’s Tales and Tips.  I worked for a great company called Merivale, which owns numerous bars, restaurants, and clubs in Syndey.  Generally big companies will have higher wages and great benefits- such as 50% off bar tabs. :)  I made $19 an hour and usually walked with around $50 in tips after a solid 10ish hour shift, but keep in mind that is with me giving spectacular service and being a lady.  Some sites to help you look for jobs are : Seek, Career One, Gumtree, & My Career.

If you do happen to be looking for more of a “real” job I would recommend checking out recruiting agencies such as Hays Recruitment.

Living- Costs and Areas

Finding a good place to live is key while living abroad to enhance your experience and also to help you feel settled.  Knowledge about different suburbs, cost, and standard renting procedures are all important aspects of finding the right place.  Doing research before the big move is a great idea and will only help the ‘flat’ hunting process when you arrive in Australia.  I definitely wouldn’t recommend signing a lease or agreeing to anything until you have physically seen the place and are aware of all the terms.  Some sites to check out regarding renting are: Gumtree- a free classafied ad site- similar to Craig’s List and–  Just a warning Sydney is a verrrry expensive city regarding everything- and that includes rent.  For a decent furnished place in a good location expect to spend around $200-$250 a WEEK.  Yes a week.  I lived a furnished two bedroom and one bath apartment in Bondi about 5 minutes walking to beach and paid $250 a week.  Most other large cities like Melbourne are also expensive, but you can find some good deals farther north- like up in Cairns.

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach- My home for 5 months in Sydney

Communication- Phones & Internet

With regards to having a cell phone abroad the advice I have to give is keep it simple.  Bring any unlocked cell phone or buy a cheap one for like $30 and purchase a sim card when you arrive- they even have kiosks in the airport.  I found that Vodafone has the best plans regarding “Prepaid,” which doesn’t involve a contract and is cheap and simple.  Vodofone’s numerous “Flexicap” plans are valid for a month and map out charges for calls within Australia and also internationally. I generally purchased the $29 Flexicap and most of the time it didn’t quite last me the month, but it’s easy to recharge at convenience stores, online, or through your phone with a credit card.  Vodofone is great while in big cities but I found that when traveling down the coast I was left without service a lot.  I simply just bought an Optus Pre-Paid Sim, and was good to go while I was in between the larger cities down the coast.

Similar to everything in Australia being expensive- internet is not an exception.  Unlike the wireless plans we’re used to in the States, the ones in Australia are generally not unlimited.  This is key because once you go over your download limits, your internet is practically useless.  For those of you that are just looking for internet cafes or hot spots all around Australia, Global Gossip has reasonable rates for internet and can be used on site or with your laptop using wifi.


One of the gorgeous places to visit while in Australia- The Whitsundays

I hope this blog was helpful to those considering taking this big step and move abroad.  I can honestly say it was one of the best experiences of my life and would do it again in a minute if I legally could.  Please feel free to contact me with any specific questions or advice about your situation! Happy travels! :)


  1. On May 26, 2012 @ 12:55 pm Eli said

    Lovin reading about your travels! Very informative! I’m an american as well who just got my working visa for Australia class 462. I want to leave mid October 2012 and I want to just get a one way ticket because of uncertainty about the future. Can i do this? Can i arrive in Sydney without a returning flight? What kind of requirements did you have to prove on arriving in Australia?

  2. On May 28, 2012 @ 7:48 am Lauren Smith said

    Thank you Eli and congrats on the visa! :) A one-way ticket is a definite possibility, but tend to be a bit more expensive. It is great to have freedom in case you want to leave the country and travel via Asia or something….and you’re right much more flexible! You should be fine with getting into the country on a one-way as long as you can ‘prove’ you have the funds to buy a ticket out of the country in the future. I was not questioned at all..they may ask you about your money situation and just say you have enough saved up and prove that you have your visa and you’re all set!! Safe travels and feel free to msg me with any other questions! :) -Lauren

  3. On June 8, 2012 @ 12:10 pm Katy said

    I am waiting on my visa now and plan on moving to Australia by myself in September! I am so excited. I love your blog. It has been very informative! I am kind of nervous about going by myself but I am happy to hear you had such a positive experience. My big question, what did you do the first couple of nights there? Did you have a place arranged to stay? Did you do some job hunting? That is mostly what I am concerned about are the first few days! Thanks!

  4. On June 18, 2012 @ 7:58 am Lauren Smith said

    Hi Katy! Glad you enjoy my blog and find it helpful! Thank you…that’s what it’s here for! Anyways I actually had a friend fly up from Melbourne for the first few nights so it was a bit easier. I would recommend booking into a hostel or somewhere in which it’s possible to meet some people. I didn’t do anything about a job until I was there since I was just looking for bar work. What are you looking to do? Send me an email and I can help you out a bit more with some more specific recommendations! SO excited for you and your upcoming adventure, you will love it! :) -Lauren

  5. On June 24, 2012 @ 5:23 pm Julian said

    Hi and thanks for writing the article its always good to get some advice and also to hear that you had a great time! Now a few questions. I like my comforts, did you ever get sick of never having any privacy and living from a case in a big room full of people? what did you do in the evenings when you just wanted to relax? Also do you think its easy enough to get a good job out there? I`m planning a permanent move and really want to get myself setup quickly, I`ve got a BA Business Management Degree so hopefully Ill be able to land a half decent job but the 6 month thing sounds like it would make me unattractive to employ for any skilled jobs. I have read that the same job can be worked in for a further 6 months provided its on the second year visa, meaning id have to get the 3 months agricultural work out of the way at the beginning of my trip and then work for 3 months, then change job to the more serious one for the full year. Any comments or advice appreciated!!! :)

  6. On October 18, 2013 @ 1:41 pm buy crash bandicoot said

    I hope these tips helped you save some time and money.
    For party of that kind, one can buy beer online from
    ebottleo and can have the liquors delivered at their
    doorstep within 24 hours. You can buy the specific cartridge from a computer supply shop or online.

Have an opinion? Leave a comment

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>