living overseas: sydney, australia

Doing a Working Holiday in Australia:

Ready to do your working holiday? Not really sure what to expect? Everyone’s experience is different, but let me tell you about mine, and some of the people’s that I met along the way. I’ll break it down for you so it’s easy-you can just read what you care about. I’ll walk you through some key aspects, what I did, and what I recommend (I’ll tell you a bit about me so you can decide if my reccos are worthy). Just a disclaimer, I’ll be totally honest. I won’t speak to things I haven’t done, I’ll let you know if it’s just something I’ve just heard. Also, I’m Canadian. So any logistics I speak to are for Canadians. Shall we dive in?

Your Working Holiday Visa:

obviously you need your Working Holiday Visa (WHV), most likely class 417. You apply for this on the Aus government website. It’s really easy-takes about half an hour to fill out and is usually approved fairly quickly (if you’ve got a clean record). Mine was within 10 minutes. It’s got a steep price of about $450 CAD, but get used to high price tags.

Immigration Requirements:

there are a few things you technically need to be able to produce if immigration were to ask you.

Health Insurance:

They may ask you at immigration, but even if they don’t, give Mom some peace of mind (it’s $100 to even see a doctor at the walk in). I use One Cover and made one claim that I got back in a timely matter. Not gonna lie, Mom takes care of that, so I can’t speak too much to other companies.


they say you need “sufficient funds” to enter the country ($5000), but again, I was never asked. $5000 is a pretty comfortable amount though (after the $1500 flight!!). Australia (especially Sydney) is expensive, and if you’re planning to do some (or a lot) of drinking, that 5k will go in no time.

Things to Bring & Your Mobile Phone:

Sorry, I am not going to give you an item by item list, if you’re ready to move across the world I’m sure you can figure that out. That being said, if you are Canadian, BRING POLYSPORIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve realized how much I’ve taken it for granted. Also they don’t sell brands like Aleeve or Gravol, and I haven’t bothered to find the same ingredients, so if you’re like me and swear by your brands (placebo-I know, I know), bring some along. Also prescriptions. With regards to your phone, UNLOCK IT!

Stay in a Hostel:

Have some fun first! If you know the area you want to be in (City, Manly, Bondi), head there and book a hostel for a week (download the hostel world), remember, it’s a working holiday. If you’re not sure where you want to settle (or if you want to settle at all), spend a week or two jumping around- get a feel for where you could see yourself. Personally, I’m addicted to Manly. While it’s probably the most expensive, it’s (in my slightly biased opinion) the place to be (a lot of my content will be geared to this opinion). It’s got beach, bars, and a city feel (movies, malls, restaurants), and it’s easy to get to the city.  (BY THE WAY, “Sydney” encompasses “the city”- essentially downtown CBD, plus places like the Northern Beaches (Manly), Bondi Beach, etc; they can be reached via ferry (Sydney Harbour), busses and trains. It took me awhile to understand what people meant when they said they were “going into the city.”

What You Need to Work:


if you do choose to “holiday” for a few weeks (an excellent way to meet potential roommates) it’s wort it to spend one day doing some logistical tasks. There are some things you need to be able to work in Aus, but don’t worry, it’s very easy. PLEASE DO NOT pay someone money to do things you can (I promise) easily do yourself. You need a tax file number (TFN) which you can order online , and a bank account. The TFN takes a bit of time to be mailed to you, so do that early (check with your hostel that they have a reliable mail system). ”

Bank Account:

opening a bank account is as simple as walking in and asking, I recommend ANZ purely because I’m with them, have never had an issue, and have an everyday, savings and super account and pay no monthly fees (the guy waived them for me and put me as a student). The superannuation account is a good thing to have once you start working (Canadians-think CPP but since you aren’t retiring in Aus you can claim a bit back)- more on that later.

Phone Plan:

did you take my advice? Is your phone unlocked? Get a SIM, or you won’t be able to get calls for jobs. Yomojo does really good monthly SIM plans (no contract); around $30/month for unlimited calls/texts and 6GB (Canadians- how cheap is that?!) You can order a SIM from them online (even do it ahead of time if you know the hostel you’re headed to). If you want it right away, you can go the mall and get one, but Yomojo is the cheapest I have found ($20 for 2GB!).

Finding Accommodation:

Some people choose to live in hostels (Manly Backpackers is a prime example), but to me that gets old, and they never have ovens (fresh baked goods please). Whether you’ve met people you’d like to live with or you’re solo, an account on is a great tool. A paid account is worth getting because it lets you message people before free accounts can, and good rooms go fast. Facebook and Gumtree (Aus version of Kijiji) are good too ( just search *where you’re looking* rooms to rent)

What It'll Cost:

It may be a bit shocking at first- you may see “$350” and think “that’s amazing!” But that’s if you’re like me-and come from somewhere where rent is monthly- you’ll think you’ve hit the jackpot. So sorry, but that’s per week. If you choose Manly (or surrounding areas) expect $250+ per week for a private room. Expect to pay a little bit more for lease-free flexibility (very good for those who don’t like to stay put for too long). You can look in nearby neighbourhoods to save a few bucks: Freshwater, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Brookvale. The former three can get you right by a beach, the latter near the mall (good job opps).

You Can Afford It:

If these prices have made you suddenly re-think your WHV, don’t worry. You make way more money here. I’ve thrown a lot at you right now and hopefully have helped you get started, or at least feel more confident about the whole process. If I’ve helped you at all maybe I can help you again-what comes after month 1 in my “once you’re settled” guide (getting a job, ways to get a around, and a few tips and tricks). I’m coming to the end of my time in Aus and I want to live vicariously through anyone about to start theirs. I love Canada and it will always be home, but for now, I’m better off abroad!                         Sunset over Palm Beach                                                                    Sydney Opera House                  Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk  


I’m 22 and originally from outside of Toronto, Ontario. I have a BA in Psychology but have been travelling since I graduated two years ago. Writing and travelling have always been two of my favourite things and blogging is a perfect creative outlet so I thought I’d give it a shot! I’ve been to almost 40 countries and have no intention of slowing down!