One of the questions I get asked most is, “How can I do a working holiday?” I’ve compiled this page to list as many resources as possible for those interested in a working holiday. Most of my advice is in terms of the Australian program, but it shouldn’t differ too much for other countries. I’ve also added links to posts by other bloggers.
What is a Working Holiday?
A working holiday visa, or work and holiday visa, is a special visa for those between the ages of 18-30, and in some countries 18-35. It allows you to live in a country for a specific amount of time, usually six months to one year. The details differ by country but may require you to be a student or to work at each job for a maximum of six months.
Why Should I Go On a Working Holiday?
Working holidays allow you the chance to really live in a country and experience it as a local. You also get the chance to work in another country and earn money for your travels. The visa also means you don’t have to save up quite as much to make your dream trip happen as you can save as you go.
Overseas work experience also sets you apart from other candidates when you’re interviewing for jobs. It can also be a good start if you ever want to apply for permanent residency.
- An Open Letter to Twenty-Somethings in America, Backpacking Matt
Am I Eligible for a Working Holiday?
Different countries allow other countries to participate in these schemes, so check your individual home country’s website to be certain. Most visas require that citizens be between the ages of 18-30 and or a student. The following countries are eligible for visas through the listed countries. Also included is the age range and length of stay.
- Argentina– 18-35; 12 months; Australia, Denmark, France, Ireland, New Zealand.
- Australia– 18-35; 12 months with second-year extension for subclass 417; United Kingdom, Canada, The Netherlands, Japan, Taiwan, Ireland, South Korea, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Finland, Cyprus, France, Italy, Belgium, Estonia, Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and USA.
- Austria– 18-30, 6 months; New Zealand. 18-30, Canada, graduate students.
- Belgium– 18-30; Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
- Canada– 18-30; Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
- Chile– 18-30; must have proof of insurance; Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
- Czech Republic– 18-35; 12 months; Canada, New Zealand, and South Korea.
- Denmark– 18-30; 12 months; Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
- Estonia– 19-30; Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
- Finland– 18-30; 12 months; Australia and New Zealand.
- France– 18-30; 12 months; Argentina, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
- Germany– 18-30; 12 months; Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan; 18-35, 12 months, Canada.
- Hong Kong– 18-30; 12 months; Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Japan, and South Korea.
- Ireland– 18-30; 12 months; Australia, Canada (18-35), Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and New Zealand; students from USA.
- Israel– 18-30; 12 months; New Zealand.
- Italy– 18-30, 12 months, Australia and New Zealand; 18-35, 12 months, Canada.
- Japan– 18-30; time length varies; Australia, Canada, France, Germany, South Korea, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom; 18-25, Ireland.
- Malta– 18-30; 12 months; Australia and New Zealand.
- The Netherlands– 18-30; Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
- New Zealand– Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, and Uruguay.
- Norway– 18-30, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand; 18-35, Canada; seasonal work
- Poland– 18-35, 12 months, Canada; 18-30, 12 months, New Zealand.
- South Korea–18-25 or 30, varies; 12 months; 18 months for USA citizens; Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Taiwan and the United States.
- Singapore– 18-25, 6 months, recent graduates, Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
- Slovakia– 18-30, 12 months, New Zealand.
- Slovenia– 18-30, 12 months, New Zealand.
- Spain– 18-30, 12 months, New Zealand.
- Sweden– 18-30, 12 months, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Korea.
- Switzerland– 18-35, Canada.
- Taiwan– 18-30; 12 months; Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and the United Kingdom.
- Thailand– 18-30; 12 months; Australia and New Zealand.
- United Kingdom– 18-30; 2 years; Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, South Korea, Taiwan and New Zealand.
- Uruguay– 18-30, 12 months, Australia and New Zealand.
Where Should I Go On a Working Holiday?
- Argentina– The land of the tango and steaks has plenty to offer working travelers.
- Australia– One of the most popular working holiday spots, the sun and surf will make you want to stay.
- Austria– It’s more than the Sound of Music in this mountainous country. Look for jobs at ski lodges or in cities like Vienna or Salzburg.
- Belgium– Use this country as a base for European travels, enjoying the famous beer and chocolate of Belgium.
- Canada– Work on ski resorts during the winter and swim in glacial lakes in the summer. Or soak up the artsy culture of Toronto and old world Montreal.
- Chile– Explore Patagonia and hike the Andes as you work your way down the country.
- Czech Republic– Teach English in the Czech countryside or work as a barista in classic Prague.
- Denmark– As one of the newest working holiday programs, this is a great opportunity to experience Scandinavia.
- Estonia– Most people know very little about this country, so you get the chance to live “off the beaten path.”
- Finland– You’ll be glad to have a work visa when you’re in one of the most expensive countries in the world.
- France– Live la vie en rose at a Provencal bakery or become a private English tutor for a posh Parisian family.
- Germany– It’s more than bratwursts and beers in Deutschland. Check out the financial hub of Frankfurt and artsy Berlin.
- Hong Kong– Modern Hong Kong is as cosmopolitan as anywhere and is a great base for other travels throughout Asia.
- Ireland– Learn how to properly pour a Guinness by working in a country pub.
- Israel– Work on a kibbutz with other travelers in the Holy Land. Also look at the MASA Experience.
- Italy– Train as a barista in the mecca of coffee.
- Japan– Live a life in translation as an English teacher.
- Malta– This small island nation has lots to offer travelers and working holidaymakers.
- The Netherlands– Experience more than just Amsterdam by working in the famous coffee shops or as a receptionist.
- New Zealand– Second only to Australia, many travelers go to New Zealand to work the ski resorts and other extreme sport opportunities.
- Norway– See the Northern Lights up close on a break from your work, which must be seasonal.
- Poland– The country is a great place for teachers.
- South Korea– As one of the top destinations for TEFL teachers, you shouldn’t have trouble finding work here.
- Singapore– While it’s more difficult for foreigners to find jobs in Singapore, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
- Spain– A visa may be harder to acquire than in other European nations due to the fragile economy, but travelers will find jobs picking fruit and other forms of farming work.
- Sweden– Taxes may be high here, but you get great benefits as a worker in Sweden.
- Taiwan– Only 1,000 working holiday visas are handed out annually to this island nation, so apply early.
- Thailand– Instead of simply traveling in Thailand, Australians and New Zealanders have the chance to work there, teaching English or working in cafes.
- United Kingdom– Travelers from all over the world apply to work in the UK every year. Work in hospitality for the authentic experience.
- Working Holidays Around the World, Y Travel Blog, guest post by Roy Marvelous
- How to Work Abroad, Four Jandals
- Why Move to New Zealand: A Guide for Americans, 30Traveler
Where Do I Start Planning?
Start by taking a look at the qualifications for your chosen country’s working holiday scheme. From there you should get an idea of how much money you will need to set aside for your visa.
Kate offers this advice for applying for a Canadian working holiday visa: “I have just applied for the Canada working holiday visa. I think the regulations may vary by country, but for New Zealanders you can apply up to age 35 (I’m 32) and you have up to 12 months to enter Canada once you’re approved. The length of the visa is one year from the time you enter Canada. I’ve applied for it as a backup in case I want to use it earlier but I probably won’t enter Canada till early 2014.
Also read the blog links I’ve listed beneath each category for more on experiencing working holidays firsthand.
- Applying for UK Youth Mobility Visa, The Aussie Nomad
- Singapore for Grads and the Working Holiday Pass, Expat Edna
- Making of a Lifelong Working Holiday, Lateral Movements
Working Holiday in Australia
Since my knowledge is primarily on Australia, here is my advice for planning a working holiday in Australia, taken from my FAQ page.
The first thing you should do is save up some money. The Australian government charges $
270 440 AUD for the visa. Secondly, decide which type of visa you need. There is the working holiday visa (subclass 417), which applies to residents of Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and United Kingdom who are between the ages of 18 and 30. These visas are renewable for a second year after working on a farm. Then there is the work and holiday visa (subclass 462) for residents of the same age from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey and the USA. These visas are not renewable for a second year. You can apply for both of these visas online and you will hear back usually within a week via email. From there you don’t need a stamp or anything for your passport because everything is handled electronically. The government suggests having at least $5,500 in your bank account and a return ticket, but I was not asked for either.
Once you have your visa approved and have arrived in Australia, you should apply for a tax file number. You can apply online and will receive the number in the mail. You must have this before you can start work in Australia. Then you can set up a bank account with your passport. The top banks in Australia are Commonwealth, St. George, Westpac, NAB and ANZ. They all offer accounts for working holidaymakers.
From there, you can start looking for a job. Websites like Gumtree and Seek are helpful, as is registering with a job agency that can give you temporary work until you can find something more permanent. Remember that you can only work at each job for six months. Popular jobs include bartending, working in a cafe and fruit picking.
- 15 Tips for Your First Experience Backpacking in Australia, Backpacking Matt, guest post by Lauren Fritsky of The Life That Broke
- How to Survive Your First Week in Australia, Pack Your Passport
- 15 Tips for Your First Experience Backpacking in New Zealand, Backpacking Matt
How Much Money Should I Save?
It’s always a good idea to save more than you think you’ll need, especially as it may take a few weeks to get settled in, finding a job and apartment. I would budget at least $6,000 (in the destination’s currency) to bring with you with at least $1,000 in cash until you have time to set up a local bank account.
As for flights, you can either book a one-way flight or book a round-trip and change the date as needed. One way flights aren’t cheap, but they’re less expensive than a $250 rebooking fee. And one last thing to factor in is travel insurance. You must have some form of coverage as a condition of your visa and if your health insurance from back home doesn’t cover you while abroad, you may want to invest in Travel Insurance through a company like World Nomads, which I used on my trip.
- A Year in Australia- The Costs, Finding the Universe
- 7 Ways I Saved for My Australian Adventure in Only 6 Months, Pack Your Passport
- The Cost of Traveling in Australia: My Budget, Caroline in the City
What Do I Pack for a Working Holiday?
It seems like a next to impossible task to pack for a year-long working holiday, especially as temperatures change. I only packed for 3 months at a time because I figured after that time I would either go home or buy new clothes. I’ve included my original packing list below, as well as the things I ditched along the way.
It’s a good idea to pack at least these minimum items: unlocked cell phone to use with local SIM card; one outfit that passes for professional to wear on job interviews (basic black pants and top); a quality travel adapter; appropriate medications and first aid kit. The worst case scenario is that you have to buy a few things when you arrive.
- Australia Packing List, Caroline in the City
What Type of Job Should I Look For?
Working holiday jobs vary by where you are living, but are typically more manual labor rather than office jobs since the government doesn’t want you getting too attached or taking well-paying jobs from their citizens. They range from bartending, farm work, barista work, pearl diving or fruit picking. Just remember that under most visas you can only work at one job for 6 months, followed by another job for 6 months if you so choose.
Have a CV or resume typed out and printed before you leave so that you can easily start handing them out as soon as you’re running low on funds. I looked for work on websites like Seek and Gumtree (or Monster or Craigslist) but ultimately landed one by walking into a place and asking.
- Bartending Down Under: What I’ve Learned, Caroline in the City
- Facing My Fears: Working On a Vineyard in Australia, Pack Your Passport
- WWOOFing in New Zealand: Tips and Experiences, Backpacking Matt, guest post by Melanie Coleby
- Working Abroad: How to Find a Job in Singapore, Little Anastasin
- Kiwifruit Packing: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Heels and Wheels
- Live and Work in Paradise, Heels and Wheels
- Jill of All Trades, Lateral Movements
- The Unconventional Cubicles of a New Zealand Working Holiday, Lateral Movements
Where Will I Live?
Finding an apartment can be tricky in some cities, so scope out websites like Gumtree or Craigslist before you leave to get an idea of prices and neighborhoods. If you need to stay in a hostel for a few weeks while sorting out a place to live, you won’t be the only one. You might even meet someone at the hostel who is also looking for an apartment. I found mine on Gumtree, a small room in a three bedroom apartment in Sydney’s Inner West, which I paid $750 AUD per month for.
- Moving to London, The Aussie Nomad
How Will I Make Friends?
It’s a rational fear, but making friends on a working holiday is easier than you think. All of my friends I met through work, my roommates, at hostels and through various meetups. I recommend looking up meetups (Sydney Massive, in my case) before you go. Also join groups on CouchSurfing and Meetup.com.
- How to Make Friends Abroad, Heels and Wheels, guest post by Lauren Fritsky of The Life That Broke
How Can I Stay for Longer?
If you fall in love with the place you’re living (or in love with someone where you’re living), your best bet is to get sponsored by yours or your partner’s job. Some visas, like the working holiday visa in Australia, allow you to earn a second-year visa after three months of farm work. From there, you can apply for permanent residency, which is a very long process.
For more long-term travel resources, see the page over on Legal Nomads.
All information was accurate at the date of publication, but visa agreements change regularly so get in touch with errors. If you have something to contribute, feel free to email me at carolineATcarolineinthecityblogDOTcom.