Thinking About Leaving the US? Are You Under 31? Come on Down Under!

Are you looking for an adventure, fed up with the political situation in the United States, or a combination of both? Are you under 31? If so, I would recommend moving down under. Australia, and New Zealand, has a visa that allows people from certain countries under the age of 31 to come work for a year. It is called the Work and Holiday Visa:

Australia visa info

New Zealand visa info

Both visas allow you to live and work in either country for a year but you are limited to 6 months with an individual employer. If you complete 3 months of work in the agricultural or hospitality industry in northern Australia, you can extend your visa for an extra year. Also, if you have specific skills like engineering, accounting, IT, and many more, you can look for an employer who would be willing to sponsor you. This means after 6 months, you can get a work visa that allow you to stay in the country for 4 years to work. After 2 years with that employer you can apply for permanent residency.

The Process

Having dealt with US immigration system many times trying to help friends, I can tell you the Australian and New Zealand immigration systems are better and easier to navigate. I applied for visas to both countries online, right before I turned 31. It took me about 45 minutes to complete each application. I paid the fee, I recall around $300 USD for Australia, New Zealand, for whatever reason, waived the fee. I received emails back from both countries within a few days informing me the visas were granted. Once granted the visa, you have one year to show up before the visa expires. The visa is electronic, you do not require a physical one in your passport. Both countries require you to show proof of having $5,000 USD and health insurance. Commonwealth countries have an agreement where their citizens can use Australian healthcare. Americans do not qualify for this so you need health insurance. I purchased a high deductible, catastrophic plan. Visiting a doctor here is much cheaper than in the United States so I recommend the highest deductible plan you can find. (Neither countries customs and immigration officers asked me to show proof when I arrived, they just said welcome and stamped me in)


I got arrived in Auckland in mid-December. I spent a few days there to check things out but also so I could activate my visa. You must show up to the country in person to activate the visa. I then moved on to Sydney. Wages are higher in Australia, the economy is larger and there are more opportunities. However, I have met a lot of people who worked in New Zealand and had a great time. A lot has to do with personal preference. I had to get visas to both countries at the same time because I was turning 31 but if you are younger than that you could do one after the other. (Both countries are currently considering raising the age to 35)

I had a hostel booked in Sydney. After I landed I got an Opal Card at the airport, this is a card you put money on that you use for trains, buses and ferries in New South Wales. You can top it up all over Sydney, it is very convenient. It costs $15 AUD from the airport to Sydney. I stayed in the hostel for a week before I found a room to rent. Gumtree and are good places to look for a room. Sydney is very expensive to live but wages here are pretty high. You can expect to earn at least $20 AUD an hour, more if you are a native English speaker or have a skill or trade. I came at kind of a bad time, things really shut down here for Christmas, it is like their summer break. Lots of people go on holidays. Things are beginning to pick up. I am looking for a company that is willing to sponsor me, so that makes it a bit more difficult, but not much. I have met people from Germany, France, Chili, Canada, the US (by far the fewest) and many other countries who are working, or have worked, in hospitality, construction, agriculture industries all over Australia. I have also met many people who came here on this visa and got sponsored. Many are permanent residents or citizens now. If you want to work here you will find work.

So if you want to go on an adventure, are tired of the political mess in the US and want to experience a different country with great people and great opportunities, I suggest coming down under. The vibe here is great. Sydney is a very diverse place with lots to see and do. Australia is about the same size as the continental United States but only has 24 million people, a small amount compared to the nearly 320 million people in America! They want and need people here, why not be next? Nothing is stopping you.


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