Looking for a change..Toronto to Australia..Best place to continue my career and surf
August 12, 2010 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Hi all, My girlfriend and I are interested in taking advantage of the working holidaymaker visa offer by Australia to Canadians 18-30 inclusive as this is the last year it is available to me.

I'd like to hear you suggestions as to where in Australia we should move to based on the following ideals:

- love to be able to surf surf surf on our free time.
- I work broadly speaking in finance and would ideally find work in this general area as opposed to service industry backpacker type positions

Bonus points if you can suggest any recruiting firms in the region for me to get in touch with prior to arriving in Australia or once we get there.

Metafilter has been very helpful to me previously and I appreciate your generosity in sharing your time with me here.

Thanks in advance and I'm sorry this query isn't more interesting :)
posted by stealabove to Work & Money (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not sure if you've reviewed all the details of the visa, but you've got to change jobs every few months, which might limit your options if you're looking at finance. On the "obligations" page linked at the bottom of that site, I found both this...

Working for longer than six months with the same organisation, regardless of whether the duties or location of the employee change, is generally not allowed.

and this:

A Working Holiday visa holder may, work for independently owned franchises located in different areas for up to six months at each, as long as the franchisees are different employers with different Australian Business Numbers.

Perhaps a temp agency might be the best people to e-mail/call.

Though I'm not from Australia, I imagine that jobs in finance are going to be centered in the state capitals and big cities (especially Sydney, and perhaps in the national capital area as well).

And what does your girlfriend do? Knowing that might help people give you better answers.
posted by mdonley at 11:01 AM on August 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the reply mdonley!

I've reviewed the terms of the visa and noticed the provisions you mention.

My limited understanding is that if I was to find work, a 6-month contract it is relatively common, and then I would either apply for a sponsored visa if they are interested in keeping me on, or yes go and find another short term contract position.

She is able to find work easily either as a personal trainer or with her government/law/nonprofit experience.

Can anyone suggest the best location for surfing + finance type job opportunities?
posted by stealabove at 11:11 AM on August 12, 2010

Which is more important: surfing, culture, work?

I think Sydney will be the pat answer, but many of the banks and insurance companies are in Melbourne. I'm not familiar with West Australia, but it's going to be mainly natural resources. That said, finance is everywhere...

My understanding is that surfing in Victoria is really very, very good. It's just that it's cold water, open ocean and is full-on. It's also more than a short drive to get to the best locations south and west of Geelong. Think of the bight between the mainland and Tasmania and the roaring forties. Sydney is full of beach and surf culture and pretty much integrated into daily lifestyles, but maybe not as intense.
posted by michswiss at 11:14 AM on August 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks Michswiss!

I'd have to say that the job and the surfing as equally important factors in deciding where to move to.

The most important thing for me is to find a job in finance but it would have to be in an location that will allow me to go surfing all the time.

Perhaps Sydney is my best option?
posted by stealabove at 11:23 AM on August 12, 2010

How 'broad' is your work in finance? That will help clarify your question, but based on the info you've given, Sydney is your best bet (finance capital, great beaches in the northern and southern suburbs), or Melbourne (second for finance, best beaches in the towns to the west - Bells Beach Torquay is where they filmed the Point Break finale). Brisbane and Perth would also be options - not so great in the finance but good beaches not too far away (perth to the south - Margaret River - and Brisbane to the north, south and east - stradbroke island).

The Aussies are most likely asleep at the moment - hopefully they can help with recruitment firms. What does your girlfriend do? Will she be working as well?
posted by goo at 11:34 AM on August 12, 2010

Response by poster: This is extremely helpful.

My work experience has been mainly within government as a financial analyst / budget advisor, operational risk management in banking, and infrastructure project management.

So based on the consensus thus far it would seem my best options are:

1) Sydney
2) Melbourne
3) Brisbane or Perth

My girlfriend will be working if she decides she wants to nonprofits, law firms, government, personal training, service industry or she may decide to continue working on her novel instead.

It seems that Sydney and Melbourne best for finance jobs (1) + surfing(2), and Brisbane and Perth are tops for surfing (1) + finance jobs (2).

I look forward to hearing any additional input or recruiting recommendations.

Thanks for all the responses so far!
posted by stealabove at 11:54 AM on August 12, 2010

Best answer: I agree with your ranking - Melbourne has the *best* surf but it's quite a drive (1-2 hours) but Sydney has the finance and great beaches you can walk to if you live in the right suburb (cronulla, palm beach, bondi). Canberra, Darwin and Adelaide are right out based on your criteria, and the smaller towns that have great beaches won't have finance jobs unless you can telecommute. (i'm an aussie transplant in London).
posted by goo at 12:49 PM on August 12, 2010

Working holiday visa is really a backpacker work visa.

I think you will have trouble finding a finance position that will hire you on that visa. Unless you are at senior exec level, your positions are not on the skilled visa list. For an employer sponsored visa, they typically have to show that your position is not able to be fulfilled by an Australian.

I think if you dive into seek.com.au you will see most positions require valid visa already, etc. You might be up against a bit of an uphill battle , good luck.

Australia is great, would recommend that you get over there and see Bris/Mel/Syd to decide where to establish.....
posted by dripped at 1:17 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks Goo.

@dripped - thanks for the input. Your uphill battle comment is a bit scary but something I probably need to hear. I'm definitely not senior exec.

Having said that I do have a lot to offer an organization that has a temporary 3 or 6-month contract to fill - is this type of arrangement more uncommon in Australia than Canada?
posted by stealabove at 1:30 PM on August 12, 2010

stealabove - It is possible to get 'professional'-type contract jobs on the 'backpacker' visa. I lived in Australia in the 1990s and knew several people on this visa who temped in IT or finance/accounting type positions when I was there.

- Come over with references.
- Check out agencies and register with them.
- Be prepared to take 'backpacker' type jobs while you are looking to tide you over. It's all about the experience, after all, so be prepared to try something outside your comfort zonel.
- Of course, the economy isn't easy, but Australia has not been as hard hit as many other places.

But yes, entirely possible.
posted by plep at 3:22 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

(I'm from the UK, and the people I knew who 'temped' were also from the UK, many on working holidaymaker visas. Many went on to become permanent residents, though they had to leave the country, then come back to make it official - i.e. apply through an Australian HC/embassy overseas, even if 'overseas' was a trip to New Zealand).
posted by plep at 3:23 PM on August 12, 2010

Yes to most of the above, but be aware that CBD's of cities aren't the be-all-and-end-all of white collar work. For example, I rang my electricity provider the other day and found that the head office wasn't in Melbourne or Sydney. It is in Port Macquarie, north coast of NSW. But as that link shows, you can't be too picky about what work is available, and working under a visa complicates matters further.

Parramatta (western Sydney) is becoming quite a thriving metropolis, I imagine there'd be plenty of work opportunities for temps, but it's a good hour at least to drive to a decent surf beach (and much longer via the tragic public transport system.)

It's also cheaper to live further out in the suburbs away from the coast, you may have to decide between spending a fortune on rent or spending a fortune on petrol/fares.

If I were you, I'd be emailing temp agencies across the country to test the waters. Explain your skills, tell them what you've told us, and see what happens.

And please excuse me if I'm stating the obvious but a lot of people from overseas underestimate just how BIG Australia is, like this family who decided to take a day trip from Brisbane to Perth (which is a 3 day drive at least). Don't forget to take the sheer size of the place into consideration when deciding where to live and travel.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:48 PM on August 12, 2010

Seconding plep - Dripped is wrong; there are lots of 3 or 6 month contracts (often filling in for someone on pat/maternity leave) for skilled execs in all sectors; you will be fine.
posted by smoke at 4:54 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Love to be able to surf surf surf on our free time

Australian, Ex-Perth resident here.

Perth or Sydney will both fit the bill here.

Perth has beautiful, sunny, clean, warm surf beaches which will probably be less crowded than Sydney beaches.

Plus, you can drive down to Margaret River on long weekends.

Brisbane, while it has no beach, is a 1 hour 13 min drive from Surfers Paradise, so that is another option worth thinking about.

I work broadly speaking in finance and would ideally find work in this general area as opposed to service industry backpacker type positions

I just hopped onto the Australian job search engine Seek and plugged in finance, and found 1,052 finance-related jobs in Perth.
posted by Year of meteors at 5:12 PM on August 12, 2010

Oh, and as far as recruitment agencies go - Hays and Drake are both worth registering with for temp / contract placements.
posted by Year of meteors at 5:16 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can't comment on the finance side of things really, but Perth and Sydney are both locations with beautiful beaches. Perth is more isolated though, and more expensive to get to the east coast, which may be relevant if you need to move around jobs and thus locations. Although Year of Meteors may be right about the abundance of work. WA (the state that Perth is in) has a lot to offer in terms of the classical Australian experience-- desert, beaches, wine, the outback.

Sydney is bigger, more cosmopolitan and busier. I'm from Melbourne, which is lovely but not really the place to go if you want surfing to be a part of everyday life. I would recommend Sydney or Perth and take a trip down to Melbourne for a surf if you want to do the Victorian beaches. Of course if you want great food, a lovely city with gorgeous cafes, bars and restaurants and a thriving arts scene... Melbourne is heaps cooler. But you don't, so I will try to shush the part of me that needs to dis Sydney as part of my Melbournian make-up!
posted by jojobobo at 1:08 AM on August 13, 2010

I would second Hays for recruitment, as mentioned above. I was able to get government contract work very quickly with them when I needed something between jobs (well paid, good conditions of lengths between 6 weeks and 12 months). My experience was that I sent my CV in response to a generic ad they had up in my general field, and then followed up a few days later with a phone call. It seems if you take an interest, they'll take an interest. They may also be of use to your girlfriend, they cover a reasonably wide range of professions.
posted by AnnaRat at 1:29 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm in Perth, I surf, but I don't do much of it anywhere near here. The Perth coast is sheltered by a line of barrier reefs and islands. They cut the swell a lot - I reckon it only gets overhead about 20-30 days a year. And it's dead flat all summer long. That said, if you're up for a three hour drive, the South West is awesome. Lots of people head down on Friday nights and come back on Sunday evenings. Or just skip work when the swell's up.

(Getting fired for slacking off might also take care of that visa requirement that says don't keep your job too long... ;)

People have said it up above, but it's worth seconding the fact that Melbourne's a fair way from decent surf as well. I've heard of people surfing Port Phillip Bay, but I think mostly they were unwell. Here's some pics.

Sydney would be your best bet if you wanted to hit it regularly in the morning. It's not often huge, but it's always bigger than Perth.
posted by Ahab at 7:26 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: This great stuff everyone thank you.

Follow-up Question: If one was moving to Sydney without a vehicle and wanted to both surf daily and be reasonably near to the central business district (assuming there is one) where would you suggest is the best place to live?

Bonus Question - I've been given the following websites to use to find a sublet:

- www.gumtree.com.au
- www.domain.com.au
- www.realestate.com.au
- www.flatmatefinders.com.au
- www.studentflatmates.com.au
- au.easyroomate.com

Any recommendations?
posted by stealabove at 12:07 PM on August 13, 2010

Response by poster: I may have figured it out myself - Bondi Beach right??! :)
posted by stealabove at 12:11 PM on August 13, 2010

Response by poster: Hm. I think my original question has been answered so I should stop while I'm ahead.

Thanks everyone!
posted by stealabove at 12:25 PM on August 13, 2010

For the bonus question, 'sublets' in terms of getting your own place are not common in Aus - I think many leases are written to forbid sublets. If you are talking about a room in a house, then there are plenty of those and they vary as to whether the people living there want you to be on the lease or not.

Gumtree - good for share housing, keep an eye out for occasional scams, not so much in the way of whole places for rent
Domain/Real Estate.com.au - both good if you are looking for your own place, 6 month leases are available sometimes (usual is 12 months).
Flatmate Finders - very good for share housing because it is a paid site (you can look for free and only pay if you find something), this seems to weed out the idiots and scammers, I've had a lot of luck with this one
Student Flatmates - haven't used
Easy Roommate - seemed to cater for a younger crowd/different crowd to what I was after
posted by AnnaRat at 8:10 PM on August 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't imagine you would be as happy anywhere else as you would be in Sydney if the main criteria are surfing and finance job.
I wouldn't recommend Bondi as the spot for daily surfing, probably Maroubra would be a better bet from what people who surf tell me (although watch out for the 'bra boys). But certainly any on the eastern suburbs beaches would be suitable for daily surfing before/after work.
Cronulla is further from the CBD, but the train goes to within walking distance of the surf. The north shore has good surfing too, but suffers from poor public transport. If you wanted an awesome lifestyle, you might consider Manly, with a top surf beach and a ferry to work across the harbour.
Once you get here you can easily find medium term accommodation.
In terms of work, there are many temp jobs in finance and they routinely hire people on backpacker visas. Seek.com.au is a fair enough place to start.
Working in retail or other minimum wage jobs will get you about $16-$19 an hour. The median price for a rental apartment in Sydney is about $430 a week. The rent is higher near the beach, but the pay stays the same.
I grew up in Sydney and still work there, but live in the mountains to the west. Memail me if you have any specific questions.
posted by bystander at 11:03 PM on August 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

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