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The Basics for Living Abroad on the Gold Coast, Australia

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Let me start by telling you a little bit about myself. My name is Ann-Marie, I’m now 31 years old and I love traveling and self-growth.

Last year I started my journey as a backpacker. I went to 6 countries in 6 months. Australia was one of them, and I totally fell in love! I didn’t even plan to go here, but a friend that was joining me for part of my journey really wanted to go, so I said, “Okay, let’s do it!”. 

I visited Australia for around two months. During that time I went to Melbourne, Sydney and THE GOLD COAST. 

This is where I fell in love with the ocean, the people, the atmosphere and loving vibes.

It was amazing! I was here on a holiday visa, meaning that I was simply just enjoying life! I met some amazing people, they showed me the beautiful nature and hospitality. One of them even took me on a road trip all the way up to Weipa, as far north as you can get. It was so exciting! 

Then I found out that I could go back on Australia's working holiday visa 417. It depends on which country you are from, but since I have a German passport, it was my last chance, since I could only apply until the year I turned 31. I applied and it got approved straight away.

Almost one year later I decided to move to the Gold Coast. 

An introduction to the region

The Gold Coast is a metropolitan region south of Brisbane on the east coast of Australia.

It’s well known for the endless, sandy beaches, surfing spots and elaborate system of inland canals, waterways, and beautiful rainforest.

exploring a river and swimming pond in the rain forest on the Gold Coast.
There's more than just beaches and city here!

It’s also the home to theme parks such as Dreamworld, Seaworld and Wet’nWild, hiking trails, crisscross Lamington National Parks mountain ridges and valleys and also it’s home to rare birds and some wildlife.

The funny thing about The Gold Coast, or Coolangatta in particular, which is close to where I’m staying, is that I am right on the border between two states, New South Wales and Queensland. In Queensland, the time always stays the same, in NSW, on the other hand, it changes by one hour from the first Sunday in October to the first Sunday in April. Therefore, during the Australian Summer, a puzzling situation is created: Sydney is an hour ahead of Brisbane although Brisbane is geographically further east. 

For me, that means that if I drive for just about 5-10 min, I’m in a different timezone. It can be very confusing sometimes. 

How to find a job on The Gold Coast

I'll be honest, it has been challenging. 

Finding a job is not easy these days especially because there are a lot of people, particularly backpackers, also searching for a job.

I started with a meeting with an organisation called Go Study, they provide information about jobs, studies, immigration and more. They helped me set up my resume and cover letter.

Other than that, you will need a profile on Seek jobs, Jora Jobs, Gumtree, Facebook marketplace to name a few. There are more out there and most of the jobs available are on these platforms. Apart from applying to jobs online, I go around from place to place presenting myself and starting conversations. 

The most important thing you need to keep in mind when you come here to apply for work is to make sure that you come in the high season and have enough savings to live on for a few months if needed.

High season is around Christmas, starting in November and in the north, it’s also around June-August. Just be patient and something will come.

I was lucky enough to find a family who needed help at home. I do housekeeping 2 hours a day 4 days a week for free accommodation. 

View of the lesser developed coastline on The Gold Coast with trees, beach, blue water and some small buildings
The views on The Gold Coast don't disappoint

There are many other ways to get “free” accommodation:

  • Petsitting (you take care of someone's pet while they're away)
  • Housesitting (you take care of someone's house while they're away)
  • Woofing (work, typically outdoors or farm, for accommodation)
  • Worldpackers or Workaway (volunteer in exchange for accommodation and usually food)

These options can save you a lot of money so it’s good to keep in mind.

You might also want to arrive to Australia with some certificates in order to be able to land a better job quicker:

  • RSA: Responsible Service of Alcohol
  • FSS: Food Safety Supervisor
  • RCG: Responsible Conduct of Gambling
  • Blue Card: Working with Children check
  • White Card: Working in Construction
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Traffic Controller

These are just some examples depending on the type of job you're hoping to obtain.

One other thing to keep in mind, be careful when you’re looking for a job. There are unfortunately a lot of scammers around and a lot of unusual jobs. Make sure you can find information about the company online and never pick up the phone when it’s a private number calling!

What to do for fun on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is the right place to be for thrill seekers! There are not only theme parks and beautiful nature but also a lot of pubs, bars, beach parties, free events, live music, markets and more. The best place to find all of these are on Facebook. There are a lot of groups for backpackers where you can find a lot of events. You can also use Eventfinda.com.au.

I’m not a big party animal anymore but I like to stay in shape so I’ve joined a lot of Facebook groups and events where I do yoga, pilates, mountain bike riding, dancing and so on together with other ladies. 

"Be croc wise in croc country" warning sign in Australia
Australia is a wildlife haven, perfect for those animal lovers...just keep your distance!

The boring but important part

Australia is one of the countries that is hard to get into so you need a visa to stay and work. The kind of visa depends on your age, nationality and what you wish to do while you’re here.

As I already mentioned a little bit about earlier, I’ve had a Tourist Visa and now I have a Work and Holiday Visa.

You can also find all the information you need on the official Australian Government page. When doing research on your own, just look for the Australian Government logo to make sure it's the most up to date information.

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Let's talk money

As I mentioned earlier, I recommend arriving in Australia with some savings, but it totally depends on where and how you want to live and what you want to do. Regardless, Australia is not a cheap country so you’ll need enough and a little bit extra after that. 

Here's an idea of what you can expect to pay if you move to The Gold Coast:

*Rent for one bedroom in a shared house can vary from 150 - 300 a month Australian Dollars
*As for groceries, I usually manage with around 70 - 100 Australian dollars a week being a vegetarian. 

How you can get around

I have my own car, but it’s a bit of a mission, so if you consider buying your own car look into regulations like a blue and pink slip and third party insurance. Keep in mind the regulations change based on which region you’re in when doing research. 

I’m the type of person that doesn't like to rely on others or public transport which is why I’ve chosen to have my own car, besides it’s very handy when you apply for work.

It’s also very practical if you wish to explore a bit more of Australia. My car is big enough for me to sleep in it, meaning that I can go away for a weekend and don’t have to worry about accommodation.

Beautiful view of the beach and highrise coastline on The Gold Coast at sunset
Stunning view of The Gold Coast at sunset

The one thing I wish I knew beforehand

When you look back, there’s always something you wish you knew beforehand. For me, I wish I knew how hard it would be to get a job here and that there are a lot of scammers. I was almost fooled once already.

Not to leave you on a negative note though, I'll end it by emphasizing how much I love living on the Gold Coast and how happy I am that I took advantage of the Work and Holiday Visa before I turned 31. If you can still make that cutoff and dream of living at least one year in Australia, go ahead and apply! The process is pretty simple and well worth it!

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