Advice for your Working Holiday in Sydney

Over 125,000 people aged between 18-30 travel to Australia on Working Holiday visas each year. Today we have put together our top tips to help you save money while you are travelling and working in Australia.  You can find out if you are eligible to apply for a working holiday visa here

If you are in planning a Working Holiday in Australia chance are you plan on spending a few months in Sydney working before you head off travelling. I have put together a few tips that can help you save some money, which will come in handy while you head off exploring the country.

Time your arrival Sydney carefully

If you are trying to decide when the best time to go on a working holiday in Sydney is then well done!  This decision is worth thinking about because the savings start before you even leave home. If you can, try to time your arrival to land in Australia in spring between September and November. 

Sydney Harbour tours

As the weather warms up so does the job market.  These months are the best time to find work, particularly in hospitality and retail.

Obtain work licenses or training you need for your working holiday

The best jobs on a holiday visa jobs are usually in areas like hospitality, construction and retail. You may have already heard that us Aussies like to regulate things. While we are not as bad as Singapore we do love our rules 😉

Many jobs require you to have completed a safety certificate or other licence before you can begin working. This is particularly true for contract and casual work. You can get off to a good start if you have this covered quickly on arrival, it will make the job hunt much easier.


A considerable number of working holiday travellers work in hospitality either bars, cafes or restaurants. There is also some work available in hostels and backpacker clubs. This industry is heavily regulated, and you will find almost impossible to find a job without one of the licences below.

Working holiday hospo job Tray with wine glasses

RSA – Responsible Service of Alcohol

To work in behind a bar or in any establishment that serves alcohol you need to have done this short course. You can do it online or in person.  There is one course you can do that covers all states in Australia except NSW which has different requirements and therefore a different class.  Most people who are planning to travel do both.

There may be some rules about which courses you can do if you are on a student visa so please check this with your education agent.

RGS – Responsible Service of Gambling

The RSG certificate will allow you to work anywhere people are participating in gambling such as hotels, casinos and clubs.

You can do these two courses in one day, and there are often deals if you combine them.

Working on a building site

Roles include general labourer, demolition work, skilled work for tradesman and even traffic control which is very popular with female travellers who don’t want to be stuck all day indoors.

Tradesman working on construction

White card – Prepare to work safely in the construction industry – You cannot enter a building site without a NSW WorkCover Construction Induction White Card.

Traffic Control card – Lots of travellers get jobs working on traffic control at building sites and special events, particularly over the summer.  To get one of these jobs, you need to complete the Stop/Slow Bat Course

Find the right place to live

Finding share accommodation that won’t want to make you go home is one key to happiness on your working holiday trip.  It’s ok to stay in a hostel for a few weeks when you first arrive but if you are here to work rather than play then you will tire of the hostel party life quickly.

Terrace houses in Darlinghurst

You can search for the perfect share flat via websites like Flatmates, or if you are staying in Sydney for at least six months, you could rent a place to share with other working holidaymakers.

However, both of those options require you to be pretty well set up with your own basic furnishings, a bed at the very least.

Consider buying a car for your long-term travels.

If you are planning an Aussie road trip, then it’s a good idea to start shopping for your vehicle early.  This gives you lots of time to find the perfect a car, something roadworthy and comfortable to sleep in if needed.  I suggest you keep an eye on the second-hand car sales on Gumtree, a popular site for buying and selling in Australia. 

Paddington street of shops and lovely old homes

You often see other travellers selling their cars, and vans here when they are about to head home, and you can pick up a bargain if they are leaving soon and need to sell quickly.  If you decided to try for the second year visa, you would be required to do some agricultural work, and you will really need a car if you don’t want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere every weekend!

Don’t spend too much of your money on sightseeing tours

Sydney can be an expensive city but there is so much to see and do that is free or very low cost. Want to explore the Blue Mountains? Head up by train on a Sunday, and the fare is only $8.40 return. Check out my tips for seeing the best of the Blue Mountains without a tour.

Blue Mountains scenery

Another excellent service is Sydney Greeters. Greeters are locals who volunteer their time to show visitors around the city for 3-4 hours. It’s a great way to see the city from the perspective of someone who lives here and the perfect way to get some insider tips for the rest of your time here. They can also help explain the transport system.  You should book your free greet 2-3 weeks in advance.

Meetup is also a great place to find new friends. There are groups for just about every interest you can imagine from professional/ job-related groups to hiking, sports and singles groups.

Make sure you have adequate health insurance

If you are not lucky enough to come from one of the countries that Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement (RHCA), then I recommend you get yourself some medical insurance. While not nearly as costly as the USA health care is not free for visitors unless you are from the UK, Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, Norway, Sweden of the Netherlands. 

A trip to the Dr and some medicine can set you back quite a few dollars.  Several companies offer visitor cover including Bupa, Alliance and many of the travel insurance policies. Just make sure if you do have a travel policy that it will cover you for one year.

Need free help planning your working holiday in Sydney? Join our Sydney Expert Facebook Group where you can ask questions, stay up to date with what’s happening in Sydney and meet a bunch of friendly locals happy to offer their advice!

2 thoughts on “Advice for your Working Holiday in Sydney”

  1. Although I never considered moving to Australia (too far away from family in Europe), Sydney is a city I would so much love to visit one day, I only heard good things about it, at least from tourists point of view. You made a good point by not spending your money on tourist tours at first when looking for jobs, but I think it’s a hard task right, with so many things to see and do 🙂

  2. Ooh, even though we aren’t looking to move to Sydney at the moment, we are planning to visit soon! Thanks for the tip about Sydney Greeters (and what a brilliant idea!), we’ll definitely look them up. Off to read your post about the Blue Mountains without a tour 🙂

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