A Way Abroad Logo
The ultimate resource for women dreaming of a life abroad

An Expat's Guide to Living in Gold Coast, Australia

write for us!

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 the loving vibes.

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 Gold Coast. 

Short on time? Here's the cheat sheet:

💭Living in Gold Coast means living surrounded by natural beauty, great beaches, and a lively city.
🛂Many foreigners move here on the Working Holiday Visa, Student Visa, Work Visa, or Partner/Family Visa.
🏠Most choose to live in one of the surrounding neighborhoods like Burleigh Heights or Coolangatta instead of the city center.
🛏️I recommend staying at a hostel when you arrive to apartment hunt in person. The Surfers Paradise International Backpacker Hostel is a great choice to start networking in the tourism sector on day one.
💰The cost of living will vary based on your lifestyle and which neighborhood you choose to live in. Earn travel rewards on all expenses with a Capital One Venture Card.
☂️It can be really tough to get a job in Gold Coast...
☀️But if you stick with it and come prepared with some savings, the extra effort will be worth it to live in this stunning Australian city.

Getting to Know Your Surroundings

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

Gold Coast is a city and 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.

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

The funny thing about Gold Coast, or the suburb 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. 

Visa Options

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

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 mentioned, I was previously on a tourist visa but now I'm living in Gold Coast thanks to Australia's Working Holiday Visa.

Other foreigners I've met living in Australia are on either a work visa, student visa, or family/partner visa.

The Working Holiday Visa is one of the easiest ways to move abroad to Australia and I highly recommend checking the requirements to see if this visa would work for you, too, before you try a different path.

Australia's Working Holiday Visa

With this visa, you're allowed to move to Australia for a year or 2 and legally get a job while here. Instead of only spending 3 months here on a tourist visa, this allows you to get to know the country more intimately but also to financially support yourself while you're here.

The general requirements to get the Working Holiday Visa are:

  • Hold an eligible passport (31 eligible countries)
  • Be aged 18-30
  • Have no previous Work & Holiday visa with Australia (there is a 2nd visa you can apply for afterwards)
  • Meet the education requirement for your country
  • Meet the Character Requirement (certain countries will need a letter of support from their government)
  • Have no outstanding debts to the Australian government (this can include family members’ debts)
  • Must have a functional level of English, usually defined in a test (if not a native speaker)
  • Sign an agreement to adhere to Australia’s Code of Conduct
  • $450 AUD Application Fee (at the time of publication)

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.

Serious about
browse all articles

Finding a Job in Gold Coast

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

Since you can legally work here, most on this visa will want a job, like I did. I'll be honest though, job hunting has been challenging. 

Finding a job in this area is not easy these days especially because there are a lot of people, particularly backpackers, also searching for a job. The competition can be quite high.

I started my job hunt with a meeting with an organization called Go Study. Go Study provides information about jobs, studies, immigration, and more. They helped me set up my resume and cover letter. I highly recommend using their resources as a good starting point.

You'll also want to make a profile on:

There are more out there but 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. 

Getting Free Accommodation

If not paying rent sounds good to you, luckily it's not super uncommon. Maybe you meet people that want to hire you to work in their home or as a live-in nanny. Otherwise, these are a few other common ways to get to live in Gold Coast without having to paying costly rent prices:

  • 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.

Bonus Tips to Getting a Job

You might also want to arrive in Australia with some certificates in order to be able to land a better job quicker. Having these certificates in hand will help speed up the job hunting process when you arrive to Gold Coast.

These are some helpful certificates I've noticed many ask for:

  • 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!

The Best Areas to Live in Gold Coast

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

Gold Coast has a dense urban feel with loads of high rise buildings and, unless you're a big city person or will be working in one of the offices, most people don't choose to live in the city center.

To me, the best part about the Gold Coast are actually the suburbs and neighborhoods that surround it, where you have stunning beaches and great access to nature. Plus, these areas offer a more relaxed lifestyle that most, like myself, crave when moving to Australia.

The most popular areas to live in Gold Coast are:

  • Broadbeach/Surfers Paradise: These are the central beaches right off the city center and are the most popular places for tourism. While you might not want to live here, there are a lot of job opportunities in the hospitality industry here.
  • Northern Suburbs: If you're planning to study abroad in Gold Coast, this is the most convenient area for students with the universities in this area. Otherwise, there's not too much going on.
  • Burleigh Heights: This area and the surrounding neighborhoods are super trendy areas with a quintessential Aussie feel. You'll be within walking distance to cool coffee shops, vegan restaurants, and great nature.
  • Coolangatta: This is the Gold Coast neighborhood I live in and I absolutely love it. It's located farther down the coast from the city center but since I work where I live, that distance hasn't been an issue for me. It's beautiful here but you'd most likely want a car if you moved to this area. '

If you're not quite sure where you want to start your life off in Gold Coast, start off at a hotel, hostel, or vacation rental home while you job hunt and find a long-term stay. I recommend starting off somewhere centrally located in Gold Coast so you don't need to rely on a car on day 1.

📍These are great places to stay in Gold Coast to get a feel for the city:

  • Budget Stay: Bunk Surfers Paradise International Backpacker Hostel: If you think working in the tourism sector will be your best bet, a stay at this affordable hostel (with bunks and private rooms) will put you in a good spot to network.
  • Mid-Tier Stay: Meriton Suites Broadbeach: For more space and access to a private kitchen, the studio apartments here are great options and in a centrally located area.
  • Luxury Stay: Designer Suites - Versace On View: For a bigger budget, a stay at this high rise will offer great views and a high-end experience, it just might be hard to leave once you settle in here!

Things to Do for Fun on Gold Coast

Photo by City of Gold Coast on Unsplash

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. 

Cost of Living in Gold Coast

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 to 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.

The 1 Thing I Wish I Knew Beforehand

Photo by City of Gold Coast on Unsplash

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.

Having some savings, relying on any network you might have, and moving to Australia with some unique experiences and certifications on your CV will help.

Will You Try Living in Gold Coast?

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!

keep a way abroad fueled!
Consider making a donation

A lot of effort went into making this amazing piece of journalistic genius. If it helped you out, send us a quick thanks by buying us a coffee. All the money donated through Ko-Fi goes towards keeping A Way Abroad awesome. Big thanks!

Pick an image to pin it!
Go back up arrow