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Monday, 18 November 2013

Relocating to a New Country with Under $5,000: 16 Essentials tips for moving to Australia

This post is based on my experience of moving to Australia with less than $5,000.  I met one person who moved to the Land Down Under with just $1,000! There truly is no magic number of savings you need. It all depends on your comfort level. The less money you have, then the more motivated you will be to find work and live cheaply.  Although this is about my move to Sydney, it will hold true for relocating anywhere in the World.  I have lived in Prague, Czech Republic and am currently residing in Gwangju, South Korea.  Since Sydney is known as one of the most expensive cities in the World, I thought it would be a great example for those who think they don’t have enough money to travel or move somewhere new. Moving to a new country is not as difficult as you might believe.  Even with the language barrier here in Korea, it really has been ALMOST as simple as moving to Australia. 

                                   (This proves I am Koalified to blog about Australia)

I had nothing lined up before I left the USA for Australia, actually I had no clue what I would do for work when I moved to Europe either.  Both worked out extremely well though!  In Sydney it took me around 2.5 weeks to find a job; I would spend about 4-5 hours searching at night and all day on the beach.  The unemployment is very low in Australia, but many companies are hesitant to hire backpackers due to work restrictions.  Don’t let this discourage you; there are still plenty of opportunities. If you want to find an office job though, I recommend searching for a temporary contract.  Sydney is not cheap, but if you are smart and have good spending habits, it will be no problem.  Drinking is by far the biggest shock, because alcohol in the store is similar to the price in a bar.  So you will learn to pre-drink and get an acquired taste for goon.  

Living in any foreign country comes with difficulties, but it is an amazing thing to experience. Hopefully these 16 tips will make your trip easier!

Before you book a flight you should do a few things:
1.)    Open a travel credit card.  Doing this allowed me to fly for FREE from the US to Sydney and I was even able to do a FREE layover in Hawaii for 3 days.  Click here for more information on travel credit cards. *Don't forget to notify ALL your Debit/Credit Card companies that you will be out of the country.*

2.)    Start researching visa information. Australia, New Zealand and Ireland all have easy visa programs for working and traveling. But Europe is not so easy to find legal work (for Americans). *See bottom for more visa information

3.)    Dust off the cobwebs from your resume and start applying for jobs before you leave.  CHANGE your address to local friends or hostel.  Most of the time recruiters will not even look at a resume if you aren’t living in the city.

4.)    Apply for your Australian Tax File Number (this is done online and will be mailed to a friend or your hostel). Doing this a week or so before you leave will save you some time and you NEED this number to get paid.

5.)    Don’t stress so much, everything will work out fine.  There is only so much you can do before you actually get to the city.

6.)    Unlock your cell phone. Sprint was able to unlock to my iphone 5, so when I arrived it was simple to get my phone working. Check craigslist for used cheap phones. The US has by far the cheapest cell phones. Calling the US & UK is FREE for most Vodafone and Optus plans (you get around 200 minutes a month, use them!)

7.)    Most important is to start networking and get in contact with anyone you know or might be acquainted with. Use sites like or if you have no network of friends.  Couchsurfing is also a great way to meet people and look for a free place to stay. 

8.)    Decide on the priorities. I wanted to start working right away. But if you can afford it I would suggest traveling for a month or two. This way you get to meet a ton of new people and it will be easier to find a job. Figure out if you want casual work or full time? Do you want to work at a bar or in an office? Maybe you just want to work in a hostel to live there for free. Deciding these things will help narrow your job search and will change the strategy on finding a job.

Once you Land in the Country:

9.)    After you land. It is time to head to your hostel or place to stay. Luckily for me a friend was generous enough to let me crash at his apartment (Thanks again Digby!) Hostels run around $150-200 per week and this was similar cost for my apartment in Bondi. It is best to stay somewhere temporary until you find a job.

10.) Use your illegal “student discount.” Sydney public transport is expensive, but necessary depending where you live.  The weekly unlimited pass was around $45, but students get half price. Over 6 months living there I was never checked, nor were any of my friends, but beware you will most likely get a $200 fine if you are caught due to the fact the discount is only for local students.  BUT in Europe having an ISIC or any valid student card will get you a ton of great discounts even for foreigners.

11.) Spend hours on (Australian Monster) and (Similar to Craiglists) to find jobs. Find a hostel with free internet (Sydney is very stingy on FREE Wifi, so finding internet can be a hassle). Hint: All the travel shops on George Street offer free Wifi and Computers.

12.)  Beware of the too good to be true sales jobs.  A lot of these are a waste of time and pay commission only for door-door sales. Luckily I found a great sales job on, although it had some minor bumps, it was a lot better than door to door sales.

13.) If you are a good looking girl, you can make around $25 /hr working in a bar.  $20-25 per hr is about the average pay in Sydney. About 95% of bartenders seem to be girls, so it’s a good job if you can get enough hours. If you are a guy and want to make a lot of money, manual labor is the way to go. Some friends were making $50 /hr working maintenance in factories.  Find something that fits your personality and overall goals. 
(This was during a work meeting, sales was a good fit for me) 

14.) CALL a temp or recruiting agency. STOP sending emails.  Be proactive and give the recruiters a call or stop by their business.  I had little luck with emails and the bigger agencies tell you to submit online. Find an average sized agency and arrange a meeting. 

15.) Go crazy on Tuesday! Tuesdays have a ton of specials in Australia, Half price movie tickets, pizza specials at dominoes, Hungry Jacks deals, and a lot of places have $10 steaks on Tuesday/Wednesday.

16.) No worries! Have fun and relax it is the Australian way mate! You are in a new country. By far the best way to land a job is by meeting people.  Go out with the group in the hostel.  Networking is a lot more important than sending random emails or job applications. Be proactive and ask hostels for help/suggestions. A lot of job openings are advertised in hostels.
                      (Australia's most Eastern point with a bunch of friends I met in Hostels)

Remember that once you find a job, things will not seem as expensive since the average salary is pretty high. Everything is weekly in Australia, pay and rent are all on a weekly system.
 To break down a week of normal expenses let’s look at my average week expense statement. Income $1000 per week ($660 after tax the other $340 per week is returned to you when you file for taxes.) You can apply to be an independent contractor for some jobs and pay less out of you paycheck.

Rent $170 + Food $100 +Alcohol $80 +Transport (cabs/public) $45 + Other (cell, etc) $45= Total $440

So that’s a total average of savings around $560 per week.  I worked for about 4 months and traveled for 2 months and still had some money left over.  This is just my spending habits, but people have done it for a lot less and of course more.

Groceries are surprisingly not that expensive compared to America. The essentials are all reasonable, but some things are way more. Mainly fruits and veggies (Remember the backpackers picking these are getting paid $20/hr) so the price reflects that. Not sure why, but Gatorade and Powerade are extremely overpriced as well.

Average costs of things in Sydney:
Box of Goon wine: $12
Bottle of Vodka: $28-35
Case of beer: $40-50 (always cheaper to buy a case, 6 packs are overpriced)
Weekly rent: $150-200 for shared room ($350-400 for private)
Cost of a decent meal $15-20 (lots of specials on Tuesday like $10 steaks)
Beer at a bar: $4-7
Can tuna at Coles: 5 cans for $4 (lived off tuna for 6 months)
Milk, Eggs, Bread and pasta noodles can all be bought for around $1 (Coles Brand)
Footlong at subway: $7 (six sub special)
Eat Kangaroo, it’s cheaper than most meat and deliciously healthy  

The visa process is super easy and can all be done online. See the link below. It took less than 48 hours to get approved. Applying for an Australian visa I super easy, but there are a few restrictions. You can only work 6 months for one company over your yearlong stay.  A lot of companies have separate branches which can be used as a loophole and allows you to work for a full year under “two companies”.  There are a lot of opportunities for work here in Australia, but I’ll be completely honest. You will have to work hard to find a good job. I spent 2.5 weeks sending out resumes and interviewing before I found a good job. Before moving out here I would at least allow for 4-5 weeks before you find something you like. Sites like and are best for finding work, but nothing beats word of mouth. I highly suggest staying in a hostel when you first arrive to find out about more opportunities.
Click here for the info about getting a visa in Australia (USA Link) (


  1. Nice one Swiggy!! I always think it is hilarious that we seem to be the only country in the world with 2 animals on our Coat of Arms and we eat both of them. Keep in touch.

    1. Thanks Simon! Yeah, it was strange at first, but Kangaroo is delicious...similar I think to how we eat deer (aka Bambi) in the US. Hope all is going well for you in Europe!