Australia’s a unique nation, mostly because a large chunk of us are never actually here. DFAT estimates that, at any given time, almost a million Australians are living and working overseas. For a nation of 21 million, that’s a sizeable proportion of the population in absentia. It makes you wonder how Parramatta Road can still be so clogged with so many Australians not using it.
Australia likes to start its’ citizens young on the overseas working thing. How many people do you know who did the UK-behind-bar stint before coming back to study or a serious job? Then think about how many people have done the USA camp aide, or the Canada ski season, or taught English in Eastern Europe or Japan.
If you’re thinking about getting some time out of the country before you settle into real life, you’re probably wondering how much money you will need and whether it will set you back financially. If you are going overseas to build or further you career, experts seem to think it’s beneficial for your skill set and your bank balance. But what about 12 months in the behind-bar-Aussie army?
Work, no holiday
Firstly, let’s be frank, the best way to save money during a gap year is to work at home. If building up your financial fitness or avoiding student debt are your major aims for your gap year, staying home is realistically your best bet. Get a full-time job, appreciate the Australian sun and save yourself a nice little packet.
Line it up
If a year spent behind a desk doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then start planning ahead early on. If you’ve got a part-time job throughout the last year of school, try and put aside some of your earnings now. You need the upfront capital for plane tickets and work visas. Organised gap year trips take a lot of the stress and planning out of the situation, and can help find you a job. If you’re doing it solo, try and line up work before you leave home so you can walk straight into a job. Often with working holidays, the employer offers accommodation as well which takes away a lot of the usual costs associated with travel.
Think about what skills you would like to pick up in your year off. Don’t settle for fruit picking straight up- there’s a lot of work or volunteering that can be a helpful addition to your resume. Teaching or working as an au pair both require responsibility and organisation, volunteering is always a boon to prospective employers.
Know your visa
For instance, if you have a UK working visa and don’t want to get banned for life, I would suggest respecting the 12 months work in 2 years rule. After all, a big fine isn’t going to help your gap year finances. The same goes with tourist visas in the USA- call me a wimp but the immigration people scare me, and there’s no way I would mess with them.
So, what does it mean?
Working overseas in your gap year probably won’t boost your finances. It will, however, give you a chance to travel and work overseas inexpensively, and can provide essential skills and experience for whatever your next step is. Working overseas will mean you can return home without a dent in your wallet and a lot of experience under your belt.