The Truth about a Working Holiday Visa in Australia

We moved to Melbourne around eight weeks ago on a WHV (Subclass 417), and since moving here it’s not been the dream that everyone expects it to be. Don’t get me wrong, its been lovely to experience new things – but its also not been the smoothest journey.

We’ve met a lot of people who’ve previously done WHV in Australia and loved it, and we’ve seen hundreds of people online on travels groups saying how amazing Australia is, and how much fun it was.

Last year when we travelled around Australia for three months we loved it, and found out how much more money Tom could earn here as a chef – so we decided to take the plunge and apply for our visas and spend a year over here.

In mid-October, our time finally came to move over here, and we flew over from Bali to Melbourne. We’d decided we would settle in Melbourne for the first six months before exploring a bit more for our last six months and doing our farm work.

We are eight weeks from now, so I’ll share our experiences so far with you.

The Good Things
Tom came across a decent, full-time and well-paid Chef job within the first few weeks of being here and started quite easily. He’s been working with that hotel for nearly a month now and it’s going pretty well. Although he works hours, it’s giving him some decent experience to add to his CV when we return back to England.

We have made so many new friends, from lovely British couples we’ll get to spend Christmas with, to locals who take me on day trips. People have generally been really friendly.

When the weather is good, it’s really good. On the good days, the sun will shine all day, and it’ll reach tops of 36 degrees.

The Bad Things
Living in Melbourne can be pretty tough, especially since it’s been named ‘one of the most liveable cities in the world’, people flock here to spend large amounts of time – similar to us. With the city being that busy it makes every ounce of city life competitive, from finding an apartment for six months to getting work.

Luckily Tom was managed to find work quickly, but I’ve not had the best luck. I’ve had a few decent freelance contracts, but apart from that most everything else I’ve applied for has been rejected. With five years of career-oriented¬†experience on my CV, its been pretty hard to persuade the local cafe that these skills are transferable and that I will work hard to do a good job for them!

It’s not as easy as I thought it would be to make friends. We’ve made a couple of decent couple friends, and I’ve made a selection of decent girl-friends but apart from that, I’ve found it quite a tough being on my own most evenings while Tom is at work. I’ve tried joining groups, joining apps such as Bumble Friend and chatting with as many people as I can. Locals generally don’t want to be friends with someone who will disappear again in six months, and other travellers are coming and going so quickly it’s hard to spend any decent quality time with anyone.

We miss my family and friends. It’s hard to watch your friends move on and change while you aren’t there to experience those things with them. Its hard to not have your family live around the corner from you.

Living with anxiety and general mental health problems makes you question yourself, ‘can I really do this restaurant waitress trial, what if I’m not confident enough? What if I don’t remember enough? What if I don’t learn quickly enough?’. There’s nothing anyone can really do to help you with these thoughts – the only thing you can do is not give up and give everything a go.

Although everything hasn’t been perfect over the past few weeks I think it will be worth it when it comes to the end of our six months in Melbourne.

There’s never a steady ‘perfect’ week in anyone lives, no matter where you live so you just have to take the bad with the good and accept it. Experiencing new things, and taking on new challenges I’m sure will build our characters and confidence. And well, if it doesn’t work out at least we haven’t lost anything, right?