Kitty Gang Q&A on Living in Australia
Now that we're both back home from our Australian adventures, our friends and family have been asking us some great questions that we thought we'd share with you!
We hope that some of these things can help you plan a trip there yourself and will give you an idea of what you can expect.
Did you have a job lined up before moving to Australia?
KC: To be honest, when I had decided to move to Aus, it was because I ran out of money travelling in Asia and wasn’t ready to go back to Canada. We figured that it was the closest company with a great economy and was up for a new adventure with living in a new country.
KL: No, I did not. I moved to Australia a week after my University convocation and thought I’d just figure it out when I got there. It took a bit of time, but I think I’ve managed to figure it out.
Was it hard for you to find work in Australia?
KC: I found that if someone is in the hospitality industry like myself, then it is quite simple to find something. The number of cafes that lined Brisbane's CBD does not leave one with few options.
If you are a backpacker, they are screaming for people who don’t mind doing the grunt work that the locals' aren't willing to; they have found a great way to work together with people who aren’t looking to make a career.
If you are eager to step out of your comfort zone and are willing to try anything, then I know that you will not have an issue to find a way to support yourself.
KL: I found it was difficult to find to start on my “career” in Australia. I was hoping to find full-time work at an office job when I got to Brisbane, but the Working Holiday Visa only allows you to work up to a maximum of 6 months with one company.
It was really challenging to find work in what that I thought I wanted because it’s not worth it for companies to keep you on for only 6 months. I had zero hospitality experience, and it’s one of the most sought-after jobs with lots of competition, so I never got any callbacks from those applications.
But if you keep an open mind, you can find work. Temp agencies worked really well for me! I registered with both an administration temp agency and a nanny agency. I met incredible people through those jobs that led to interesting work opportunities that helped me start my career path online.
What’s your best piece of advice for finding work in Australia?
KC: Show that you are willing to go the extra mile. Being in the food and beverage industry in Canada we have to go above and beyond for our customers to make their dining experience enjoyable enough that they want to leave us a tip.
In Australia, tipping is not a requirement, but outstanding service is something that anyone appreciates. I found that letting my kind and caring personality shine through; I was able to hold on to some fantastic jobs and found that the people do appreciate when you give a little extra.
KL: Get professional advice on your resume. It always helps to have a second look at your resumes, so you’re not printing and handing them out in vain. Also, have an open mind. You never know what opportunities come outside of your comfort zone.
What’s the strangest job you’ve had in Australia?
KC: I tried door-to-door sales (or door-knocking as it is commonly known as) for solar panels. I lasted 1 day. I may not have lasted long but I am proud that I gave it a go and stepped so far out of my comfort zone!
KL: I was the queen of odd-jobs. I did everything from nannying, office temping, dog-sitting, furniture moving, and wedding styling. My favourite odd job was taking photos of a long-haired dachshund named Arthur and managing his Instagram account @arthur.majer. I still manage his Instagram.
How much does a working holiday visa cost?
It was just under $500 and you should hear about your approval anywhere from 20 minutes to two days.
Is Australia expensive to live in?
KC: SWEET LORD IT IS SO EXPENSIVE! I think that growing up in Vancouver, I thought that it was going to be very similar. I was wrong! The cost of living is higher, which in turn makes wages increase so as long as you found a decent job, it was alright.
I think the hardest part for me was the cost of eating out. At some places, $20.00 could get you only a plain cheeseburger- no chips and no drink! As someone who loves to eat out, it was a bit of a change for me.
If you find some amazing people to live with and cut back on eating out, it is totally possible to save some money for the next adventure.
KL: Australia is expensive to visit, but I didn’t think it was any more expensive than living in Calgary. The minimum wage is $18 in Australia, so I think it all balances out.
Even in the entry-level jobs, I was doing I started out at $25/hour. Plus, they have this thing called Superannuation. It’s something your employer needs to pay on top of your wage— It’s usually 9%, and it goes into a special account.
Superannuation is meant for Australian retirement, but travellers can get paid out once we’ve returned home. After a year, I had $1600 in my Super account, but the government does tax nearly 60% of it. It’s still a nice little saving.
Are there a lot of spiders? Any encounters with dangerous wildlife?
KC: Anyone who knows me knows that I hate bugs! I love them living their best lives outside of my home, but as soon as they cross that threshold, it is time to go.
I found that because the houses and older apartments were designed to keep cool in the summer, they had lots of easy access point for crawlies to get in. I was fortunate enough to not have any issues with spiders but I sure had my own fun time with bedroom geckos, ants, cockroaches and crazy possums in the house.
All of these are completely harmless and very very common. Anyone who says they didn’t have to deal with them is lying. I must warn you though that the birds are huge! The Magpies are notorious for attacking anyone that gets too close, or rides a bike, or wears the colour purple [????] When you see cyclists with things poking out of their helmets, do not be alarmed-it is what everyone has to do to protect themselves.
Also, lets quickly talk about sharks. They are quite common all along the coastal waters, but if you are smart and stay within the flags along the beach you should be okay. All of this is coming from a person who did not go in the ocean past her ankles the whole 10 months she lived there #realfearofsharks
KL: There are a lot more friendly spiders than there are mean ones. That being said, I'm not freaked out by bugs. The golden orb spiders are huge, but they’re not mean. They’re also never in your home or in the way. They hang out in trees and you wouldn’t just run into them because you couldn’t miss their webs.
Living in the city, I never saw a huntsman spider or anything poisonous. I think the most dangerous thing you can encounter in the city are the ibis birds, also endearingly called “bin-chickens.” They’re nasty garbage birds who will, at the opportune moment, steal a fry from right out of your hand.
What kind of license do you need to drive in Australia?
Your Canadian driver’s license works fine. You’ll need to follow the same restrictions on your license.
After 3 months, you will have to change over to an Australian licence. (KL: I didn't, and had no hassle...)
If your licence isn’t in English, then you will have to change over to an International Driving Permit from Automobile Association in your home country before you leave.
Your favourite city?
KC: Melbourne!! Without a doubt one of the liveliest cities that I have had a chance to visit so far. There are always people busking and performing on street corners. The bells of the trams echo down side lanes and the amount of beautiful art that can be seen will shock you. I highly recommend visiting if you have the chance, the cobbled streets are just waiting for new people to come and explore.
KL: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to travel to a lot of cities. I spent most of my time in Brisbane and was lucky enough to travel to Bali and New Zealand a couple of times. I only visited Sydney and lived in Brisbane. I loved Sydney. It was everything I thought it would be and more, but I have a special place in my heart for Brisbane.
What was your favourite part of living in Australia?
KC: All the new things that I learned. I found that I stepped so far out of my comfort zone on many occasions, learned a lot of new skills.
Anywhere in the world, people will try to take advantage of others, I found that in Australia I was able to stand up and voice my opinion more. I learned so much about my own value and what I know I am worth, something I know that I struggled with in Canada.
My journey in Aus was not always the easiest but I wouldn’t change anything. During these struggles, I managed to forge some of the strongest friendships that I know will stand the test of time and distance.
KL: The lifestyle. I lived inner city, worked from home, and the weather was always beautiful. It was just a really nice change of pace to the hustle in Calgary and the bipolar weather.
Even though everyones' adventures in Australia will be different from our own, we strongly suggest that if you have the chance to travel, make it a priority on your bucket list. The wildlife, scenery, and stories that you'll share sure make this country one hell of a beautiful place!
If you end up trying/ reading/ or listening to any of our recommendations, please share it with us on Instagram by tagging us @weare.kittygang.
We'd love to know what some your July favourites are too!