Jackson Apartments for working holiday makers

Australia, Australia, Destinations, Moving Abroad

Jackson Apartments for working holiday makers

8 Comments 20 June 2013

Moving to Australia with a working holiday visa puts people in a somewhat weird position. You’re visiting places for longer than most travelers, often working and living, so you don’t really want to spend that amount of time in a hostel and it be a senseless waste of money to spend it on a hotel. Yet, most will only spend between six months to a year living a destination, making it hard to find a company that will lease you a private place for that short a contract.

This was the predicament Ric and I found ourselves in when we reached Melbourne in November 2010. I only had about three months left on my visa, so there were few real estate companies that wanted to work with us, but we were a new couple at that point and wanted our privacy, which wouldn’t happen in a hostel.

It was actually the day I arrived, a few weeks after Ric, that we actually found out about Jackson Apartments. The Melbourne rental agency focuses on short-term apartment seekers. In fact, they prefer them. I saw their ad in a backpacker magazine, but through internet searches for similar terms I couldn’t find them anywhere. The company ended up being perfect for our situation and you might find they are for you as well. Here is a round-up of our experience with the company.

The Hunt

As with most cities Ric and I arrive in, we had to act pretty fast in finding a place in Melbourne as our money was very low and we knew any place we wanted to rent would require a deposit. With a bit of pressure on us and a pretty wide range of choices, we literally moved into our new place the same day we went searching for apartments with the agency.

I have to say I was a little bit worried about the introduction process as we had to pay our deposit in cash $AUD500 as well as a week’s rent $AUD360, but we really didn’t have a choice. Luckily, it ended up working out. They were really good with paperwork and moved us in our new pad on the same day. They showed us at least four different properties during our hunt, taking us to them by car and were really friendly.


We stayed in two different apartments during our two and a half months with Jackson. The first was in St. Kilda and it didn’t quite work out as we were a bit too noisy for our neighbors. It was somewhat of an retiree complex. But the company didn’t blame us or hassle us, just recommended a new location and even came to pick up us and all our things on moving day. The second place we stayed was a million times better. Our three-bedroom apartment was fully-furnished and located right on Chapel Street in Windsor, which is full of bars, cafes and shopping. We had a deck, parking and we were right next door to this really cool Scandinavian clothing store that made their own beach in the back alley way.

Jackson Apartments

These were our neighbors… Only in Melbourne. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon


Between Ric and I, it costs $AUD360 per week for a fully-furnished room in a three-bedroom apartment. Now I’ll be honest and say that you can find cheaper if you’re willing to sign at least a six-month contact for a place in Melbourne, but we didn’t have that luxury. I’d say for our own private room in a really good location, we paid the same as it costs in Melbourne for two bunk beds per week in a six or eight person dorm. For this reason, I thought the apartment was worth it.

Customer Service

Everyone we talked to or worked with during our stay was really laid back and genuine. We didn’t have any problems. In fact, I felt like they really tried to make sure we were in the right place. A true testament to them being good people is that I needed information recently, three years later, for partner visas for Ric and I and they went above and beyond in providing it, asking for nothing in return.


It’s hit or miss with the apartments and rooms you’ll find. Don’t expect anything glamorous and some of the places are older and a bit shabby as there are a lot of older places in Melbourne. But the apartments are clean and if you have any complaints about things they’ll work on helping with it. We got very lucky with our second place. It had been refurbished not too long before we arrived.

Jackson Apartments

Christmas 2010 on the deck with our roommates. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon


I stayed in a million different places in Australia: hostels, trailers, bus stations, tents, friend’s couches and rooms that just happened to open somewhere by chance. Ric and I had only been seeing each other for about two months when we arrived in Melbourne and I didn’t want to go through that time with him in a hostel, but we had very little other choice. We tried to find a room with people on Gumtree, but even there they wanted people who were going to stay in the city longer. We had to move fast, so Jackson Apartments was actually the best possible solution for us. Not to add sentiment, but we had our first apartment together with them and I feel very lucky that they made it a good experience.

I highly recommend them to couples or even just friends traveling in pairs who are only staying in Melbourne for a short period, but want somethings a bit more private.

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I still believe in paradise

Australia, Australia, Blog, Destinations, Dispatches from Down Under, Moving Abroad

I still believe in paradise

7 Comments 19 April 2012

If you haven’t noticed, the theme on Heels and Wheels this week is Port Douglas. It’s been almost two years since I first stepped foot in the this tiny piece of paradise in Far North Queensland, Australia.

I still can’t stop thinking about it.

I didn’t write a lot about Port Douglas while I was there. In fact, I didn’t write much about anything. I was so immersed in the lifestyle there that all I did pretty much was…live. I didn’t waste loads of time catching up on places I wasn’t living or researching places I wanted to visit in the future. Instead I spent my time living like I belonged, as if no other life existed outside the town.

I’m a contradiction in many ways. I like pickles, hate cucumbers. I embrace city life, but long for seclusion. One of my biggest contradictions is that I love travel, but I have a slight obsession with small-town life.

I grew up in the suburbs of southern New Jersey. Sure I was close to small towns, beaches and big cities, but the suburbs where I am actually from was kind of like a limbo to all those things. Where I’m from there are a lot of people, open spaces, strip malls and schools. It’s not the city, but it’s definitely not a small town. Sure you might bump into someone at Wawa, but you don’t see the same barista every day at a one-of-a-kind cafe.

I don’t know if it was shows like Gilmore Girls or towns like New Hope, PA, but something long ago gave me this longing for small town life. A place where everybody knows my name. A place where I can walk into the town center from my house and bump into friends along the way. A place where there is a small enough number of people to feel like you’re part of a community, but more than enough people to keep things lively.

Yet, I also love visiting places where no one knows me, meeting new people and trying new things. I know I’m weird, but I found a place that brought these two contradictions together and it was Port Douglas.

The town is not very big. In fact its center is pretty much just one street. But it’s beautiful. God is Port Douglas beautiful. Plus it’s so relaxing. A visit there almost feels like one to the islands. Port is mainly a destination town, but a small number of people call it their home. So living there, you get a mixture of locals who you’ve known for years and visitors who arrive in bulk every few days.

How small town does this street look? Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

It was a job that led me to move there while living in Australia. At first, my time there was not going very well. I wanted to use my time in Port to work on my blog and get in shape. It all started out well enough. I was working, blogging and running. Plus I was meeting loads of people from my hostel, but the fact that I had set up a lifestyle for the town and not the opposite, led me to frustration.

Within a month of living in Port, I was hating the job that brought me there and didn’t feel like I was really getting to know people because I wasn’t going out so I could wake up early and run. Finally, I let go and though I lost that job that brought me to Port as well as my workout routine, I gained something spectacular.

Between the people at the hostel and the people at my new job, I almost felt like I was part of a big family. Every day I’d go to work and come home to find out what mischief “the guys” were getting into. We slept together (by that I mean six bedroom dorms), ate together and played together.

The guys.

After a few weeks the people I recognized from town started to recognize me. I had a coffee shop I visited every day and the guys there knew my drink, my name and a bit about me. I had a friend who I went for regular Sunday breakfasts with. Eventually I also found a partner here. This is where I met Ric, which adds to the town’s meaning to me.

When I was living in Port, that was all I was doing. It was the good life.

It’s been almost two years since I left and I still get choked up thinking about it, because the thing about Port Douglas is, I can never go back.

I said this to a friend as we boarded a bus to finally leave the Port Douglas.

She looked at me funny and replied, “Of course you can. You can always go back.”

But the truth is, I can’t. None of us can. Sure we can visit the town and I’m sure I will visit many times in the future, but the summer that I had there, the feeling, I can never go back to that. It’s sad, but I think it’s just a part of life. Sure Port is special to me, but I’m sure everyone has a place that’s special to them the same way. Everyone has a Port and while we may never be able to go back that place will stay with us forever.

“And me, I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not some place you can look for, ’cause it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something, and if you find that moment… it lasts forever…” – Richard “The Beach”

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Live and work in paradise

Australia, Australia, Destinations, Moving Abroad

Live and work in paradise

2 Comments 17 April 2012

The working holidaymakers guide to Port Douglas, Australia

Known for its luxury resorts, high-end restaurants and lavish tours, Port Douglas, Australia may not sound like the ideal backpacker destination.

But someone needs to cook for, serve, guide and clean up after the town’s many visitors. This makes Port Douglas a wonderful choice for twenty-something, working holidaymakers to find a job and much, much more during their year in Australia.

Located in Far North Queensland, most backpackers end up in Port Douglas desperately needing work after a few weeks or months of traveling the country’s east coast, a fun, but expensive trip. The mixture of beautiful beaches, a tent city and hundreds of party-loving travelers make the tropical village a haven for working holidaymakers.

Above all, make sure you have a work holiday visa or proper work permits to work in Australia. The country welcomes foreigners, but can be pretty harsh on people who work illegally in the country.

Those interested in making a home out of Port Douglas during their stay in Oz should arrive at the end of May and stay until about October, this is when the town is busiest and the weather is best. People arriving at this time of year need only to show up and book a room, the rest will fall into place.

To make the transition easier, here are five tips I can offer from my work holiday experience in Port Douglas.

Where to live

Whether you like hostels or not, it’s best to stay at one for the first few weeks of your stay in Port Douglas. Yes, it’s much cheaper than the area’s pricey hotels, but it’s also the best way to make friends and find out about work opportunities in town.

Dougie’s tent city is affordable and fun. Photo by Richard John Hackey

Out of the four or five hostels operating in Port Douglas, Dougies is by far the favorite for for affordability, scenery and community. The large hostel and campground is about a twenty-minute walk away from the town center. Situated across the street from Four Mile Beach, the massive hostel has a pool, bar, kitchen and common area.

What makes this hostel so special? 

Tent City. Located behind the dormitories, the camp area is packed with tents amongst jungle scenery. Filled with backpackers, tent city is a sort of travel commune. To top it all off, the resort only charges campers $75 per person, per week and your tent can be as large and lavish as you want. In fact, some of the tents here have refrigerators, televisions, mattresses and decor inside. It’s perfect for people who value their privacy, but enjoy the hostel life.

But camping in the tropics or hostel life in general isn’t for everyone, especially not for long periods of time. If you are planning to stay in Port Douglas for six months or longer, it might be a good idea to lease an apartment. With a few roommates this can be as cheap as $80 a week.

Those that don’t want to be tied down to an apartment can always rent a room somewhere. The best way to find one is by asking the locals at work or in town. They might have space or know a friend that does. Also, check for postings on bulletin boards at hostels or around town, read the town’s weekly newspaper, Port Douglas and Mossman Gazette. Gum Tree isn’t a good source in Port Douglas, but it’s always worth a try.

Where to work

It’s good to arrive in Port Douglas early to get first pick of the job market. That said, the start of the season can be pretty slow, so you might not receive a lot of hours until about a month in.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Most of the jobs offered here are in hospitality and tourism. Chef is probably the most readily-availble position in town. People can also find work as a divemaster/instructor, tour guide, waiter or waitress, housekeeper or bartender. That said, it is possible to find other jobs here. A newspaper, medical center and other businesses operate out the town.

The best way to find work in Port Douglas is to prepare a great CV and walk around town handing it out. People interested in work as a chef or server can pretty much visit all over town, but the bulk of the restaurants are located on Macrossan Street. Those interested in working on a dive boat should visit Marina Mirage.

Hotels lining Port Douglas Road require large staffs for positions in housekeeping, concierge or in their restaurants. For boutique hotels, it would be best to just visit and speak with a manager. This can also be said for larger hotels and resorts, but look out for when they’ll be hosting open interviews or job fairs. Large hotel companies will usually post ads about this in the local paper.

People should also look out for postings at hostels. To be honest, I just wouldn’t bother searching for work online, it’s more effective to search in person here.

Also keep hostel work in mind. A lot of hostels trade free accommodation in return for few hours work there a week. You can also find paid work at hostels. If you are staying at the hostel in which you receive paid work, they might offer you discounted room rates. Living where you work has its ups and downs.

Where to party

After all the basics are covered, money and shelter, it’s time to have a bit of fun. Port Douglas is by no means a party town, but party-loving backpackers always find a way to make this place exciting at night and throughout the day.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

While the best place to party changes each year, Iron Bar is always a great place to start. The centrally located bar has karaoke every Tuesday, live bands every week and usually stays open the latest on Macrossan Street.

Other great bars to check out, include Court House Hotel, Rattle n’ Hum, Central Hotel and Paddy’s Irish Pub. The town has heaps more bars and restaurants that will host parties throughout the season, so be on the look out.

Outside of the town center, Dougies hosts themed parties throughout the year. You’ll also hear about house and beach parties if you’re living here for the season.

What to do in town

The area has loads of activities and attractions, but if your making Port Douglas your home, you’ll probably be more likely to try low-key things. Of course Four Mile Beach is a great place to spend your days off swimming and playing in the sun. You might also want to try weekly activities like film nights at Central, $5 fish and chips at Lure and dinner deals at the Tin Shed. Basically, the more time you spend here, the more you’ll hear about things to do.

The view of Port Douglas’s Four Mile Beach from Flagstaff Hill lookout point. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

How to get there

Port Douglas is located just off Captain Cook Highway, about an hour north of Cairns. It’s easy to reach by car. Those traveling around Australia using public transportation must arrive in Cairns first.

The Queensland city has an airport and is easily reached by bus. From Cairns, use Sun Palm to get to Port Douglas. The local transit service charges $35 for a one way trip from Cairns city or airport to wherever your destination is in Port Douglas. They also offer transit around town and its surrounding areas.

Also, if you book your accommodation before arrival, check to see if the hostel or hotel offers free pick ups from Cairns.

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Buying a car abroad

Australia, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts, United Kingdom

Buying a car abroad

5 Comments 04 January 2012

Buying a car in a foreign country can be a daunting task, especially if you’re like me and have always relied on the help of friends or family who know about cars to help with your purchases at home.

The first time I bought a car abroad was in Australia. I have to admit that not much research went into the purchase of it. All that mattered was that my mate and I were able to afford it, as we were on a very tight budget.

Luckily we ended up with a fantastic car that got us from Melbourne all the way to Port Douglas in far North Queensland, with a little detour through the Blue Mountains and a few other little unplanned journeys.

This is the car I had in Australia – Photo by Richard John Hackey

However, when Bobbi and I bought our car in New Zealand we were in a far better position than I was in Australia. This meant that I had time to research what the best car for us would be and how to go about getting the best price.

Here are some tips that may help you on your way to getting your ideal travel mobile.

Set a price limit

By doing this you’ll initially give yourself a goal to save for, but also help narrow down your choices when searching.

Set a mileage limit

Setting the maximum amount of mileage you want in a car means you won’t be spending money on a car that looks nice but has been on the road for too long.

Research the car

Try and check out customer feedback on the models you are interested in. There were quite a few cars I saw that seemed fine but after a little detective work I was able to find out the common faults with certain models. You can read car reviews on sites like iSeeCars.

Where to buy your car

Start off by looking at verified sites like Trade Me in New Zealand or Gumtree in Australia. These sites will enable you to search for the car with what rough specifications you have. Through Trade Me I actually discovered a couple of auction houses that were in my area. I would have visited these if I hadn’t found such a bargain on Trade Me, but they are another good option.

Also try looking at bulletin boards in hostels. A lot of backpackers will post cars for sale there and if they have to leave the country asap, you could find a great deal.

Our newly purchased car in NZ – Photo By Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Cambelt (Timing Belt)

Most cars run using a cambelt. These need to be replaced every 100,00kms or so. If the cambelt goes whilst you have the car it’s going to cost between $800-$1100 to replace it. So make sure that the car has papers to prove that this has been done.

Buy Japanese

I’ve always been told to buy Japanese (Toyota, Nissan, Mazda etc.) when buying a second-hand car, because these cars have a better reputation for being reliable over longer distances.

Size of Car

You obviously need to take into consideration the amount of passengers and the amount of baggage you will be taking with you to decide what size car you’ll need. I wouldn’t recommend forking out for a 4×4 unless you intend on doing some serious off-roading.

Size of Engine

Depending on what you are going to be using the car for will depend on how big you want your engine size to be. Simply put, for traveling around cities and towns you need a relatively small engine, but for longer distances you’ll want a bigger engine that’s been designed for cruising.

Manual or Automatic

This is pretty obvious but don’t buy a manual car if you only possess an automatic license.

Hope this will be of some help to you.

Good Luck

This post was brought to you by iSeeCars.

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How to celebrate your first holiday season abroad

Australia, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, Other, Tips & Facts, United Kingdom

How to celebrate your first holiday season abroad

5 Comments 13 December 2011

It’s getting to that time of the year. The holidays are upon us and if you’re spending this holiday season abroad you may not even notice it.

Even the most adventurous travelers long to be home for Christmas, because no matter how hard a traveler tries, nothing beats the holidays with family. But don’t get too upset over it. Celebrating the season abroad can be a memorable and happy experience if you look at it the right way.

Here are some guidelines to making your celebrations abroad special.

Don’t expect everything to be the same as at home

Holidays are celebrated very differently around the world. In fact, your holiday may not even be celebrated in the part of the world you are visiting or living in this year. Iinstead of thinking your missing out on something, consider yourself learning something new and embracing another culture.

It was next to impossible to find a turkey in New Zealand for Thanksgiving, so we settled on two chickens. Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

This can mean not even celebrating the same holiday or it can just mean not having turkey for dinner. Either way, embrace the new. Don’t get caught up on everything being your idea of perfect. Learn about how this holiday can be, as all travel should be, a cultural experience. Ditch turkey for kangaroo. Try out Kwanza instead of Christmas.

Invite new friends or join their celebration

It always amazes me how kind people are around the world, even to strangers. There is no possible way a person could celebrate the holidays alone in a world as loving as this on days that actually celebrates that.

If you’ve been living in an area for awhile, ask new friends what their plans are for the holidays. Get to know other travelers in your hostel and plan a celebration with them. Look at online forums or local newsletters to see what is happening on Christmas day in the area. Churches usually have something or you could volunteer at a soup kitchen.

The point is, you really never have to worry about celebrating the holidays alone. There will always be something for you to do and a place for you to go.

Remeber to treat yourself

Go on, it’s the holidays. Eat that bag of cookies and buy yourself that dress you’ve been eyeing up for the last month.

All the trimmings. Photo by Richard Hackey

But watch how much you spend

I never fully realized how much the holidays cost until my first Thanksgiving and Christmas abroad. It really made me appreciate everything my parents put into all those holidays throughout my childhood and beyond.

Unfortunately travelers usually don’t have the luxury of splurging on a holiday. Don’t even try to match your holiday dinner or celebration at home. It took your family a lot of time and money to create that and you won’t match it even if you do buy the best of the best.

If you can get a group of friends together, split the meal amongst the group. It will save you a lot of time and money. Plus, it’s more fun to share these things with other people.

I got crafty. Stella bottles and flowers from the garden, nice decorations for little cost. Photo by Bobbi Lee HItchon

Take time to call home

Even if you can’t be at home this holiday season, the people there are thinking about you. With technology today, there’s no reason not to call home. Hell you can even sit at the dinner table via skype. Now if they could only figure out a way to send food in real time.

Whatever you do this holiday season, make it a good one. If you’re abroad, it won’t be like home, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing. Seasons Greetings!

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Three ways to get your tax back-Australia

Australia, Australia, Destinations, Moving Abroad, Other, Tips & Facts

Three ways to get your tax back-Australia

4 Comments 02 December 2011

A surprise to some, and lifeline to others, a nice end to any working-holiday year or two spent in Australia is receiving tax back and superannuation.

In a country where wages are high, these two things can accumulate to a large chunk of change. But in a country where living expenses are also extremely high, that large chunk of change may be needed just to book a flight home.

Depending on how much you spent on your working holiday abroad and how desperately you need money, there are three options to getting your tax back. However, your superannuation may be a bit more complex.

I have spare money so I’ll do my tax back whenever.

A year in one of the wildest countries in the world, in nature and party, and you’ve still managed to be thoughtful with the money you’ve earned. Good on ya!

If there’s no need to receive your Tax Back now, then do it on your own through the Australian Tax Office (ATO). This process probably takes the longest to complete depending on your knowledge of tax forms etc.

Don’t be too daunted by the process. It’s actually quite simple and the ATO website goes through the process with you.

When can I file my tax return?

The fiscal year starts on July 1 and ends on June 30, if you want to file for a tax return this way, you should wait until the June 30 following your year of work. This may mean filing twice for your tax return depending on when you worked in Australia.

What do I need?

Be prepared with personal information including your Tax File Number (TFN) as well as payment summaries from all employers in Australia. These are available at the end of each fiscal year.

How can I lodge my Tax Return this way?

The ATO website gives directions for lodging tax returns online or by mail. Go through their e-tax demonstration to learn about the process online. You may find most of the information needed to lodge your return is already available on their website. For people still in Australia at the end of the fiscal year, most news agents offer paper tax back guides and forms for free.

When do I receive my tax back?

For the basic working holiday maker, the process usually isn’t too complex. Though any tax office works at its own pace. Most people can expect Tax back anywhere from two weeks on. I received my tax back about a month after it was lodged. After six weeks, I would recommend a call or email asking for an update.

I’m traveling, so I would like the money soon, but don’t have time for paperwork.

If your adventure in Australia ends with the beginning of another adventure in some place new (tax back goes far in southeast Asia), then you most likely will have some money to spare, but won’t have the time or resources to lodge a tax return yourself. The best option is to see a tax agent.

When can I file my return with an agent?

Whenever you want. Even if your tax back with an agent includes work after July 1, but it is not yet June 30 of that same year, they can get your full return with an early tax assessment. Foreign residents applying individually can do this as well, but it gets a bit more complicated, so it’s better to leave it to the experts.

Try to meet with a tax agent while in Australia. They’ll talk you through the process, give you some paper work and let you know about any loose ends that need to be tied up before leaving the country. After leaving, just follow whatever they tell you to do post-departure.

What do I need?

Information needed on the application from a tax agent includes personal details such as your TFN, employment details (it can be as simple as the name of places you worked, they’ll research the rest, but the more information given, the quicker the process and sometimes the cheaper) and bank account information.

If you can keep the Australian bank account you were paid into open, then do. It makes the process easier for payment of funds and tracking how much you’ve earned.

You must also sign a power of attorney allowing the tax agency to complete this work.

Once all this information is returned to a tax agent, your work is done.

How much does it costs?

Some agents charge a percentage of your tax return, others charge a flat fee. Look into how much you’ve earned to pick which option is best for you, but usually it’s easier just to go for a flat fee. Make sure to go through an agency with a policy of only charging after your refund is complete.

When do I receive my refund?

It depends on how long it takes the agency to lodge your tax return as well as the tax return process by ATO. Good tax agents are very educated in tax law and usually sort out information and file it pretty quickly. I used this option and received my tax refund about two months after mailing in my application with no payment summaries.

How do I find a reliable tax agent?

A lot of travel agencies in Australia also offer tax back. If not they can recommend places to you. You can also find registered tax agents on the government website.

I don’t even have the money for a flight out of Oz. I need cash now!

Yes it’s possible to get your tax refund within a week or less, but it’ll cost you.

I’ve heard twice of people receiving up-front tax back payments. This means an agency does the usual estimate on the amount of tax back you will receive, pays that amount to you out of their own pocket and actually collects the tax back for themselves later.

You’ll go through the same application process as with a tax agent. Only difference is they must complete an identity check first to give the money up front.

Expect to pay at least 9% of your tax back. Backpacker Buddy offers what they call a 12-hour refund. They charge 19.8% of your tax back with a minimum fee of $250. This means no matter what your tax back estimate is, you’ll pay at least $250, but possibly more.

(Note: This is NOT and endorsement for Backpacker Buddy. I’ve never used them personally. I only mention their name, because they are one of the few agencies I’ve heard of that refund this way.)

Yipee, you’ve gotten some money back from your time in Australia. Now it’s time to get more. While superannuation refunds can be slightly more confusing, money is money, and all temporary workers who have left Australia for good are entitled to these funds. Click here to find out how.

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How to get your super refund-Australia

Australia, Australia, Destinations, Moving Abroad, Other, Tips & Facts

How to get your super refund-Australia

6 Comments 01 December 2011

Superannuation is a retirement fund set up in Australia for people who earn more than $450 per month. Your employer is obligated to put 9% of your earnings into a super fund once you reach this threshold.

You can create your own super fund, but most just have one set up with the company they are working with. This means it is possible to have more than one super fund account.

The money is entered into the share market, so how much you receive back depends on the market at the time.

Tax agents can also lodge your super refund, but in more cases than with tax refunds it’s not worth it to go through an agent as their fees, plus an automatic 35% tax by the government on any super at withdrawal, will leave you without much.

Luckily, the process of actually applying to receive your superannuation on your own is not as detailed as the tax refund process. You can withdraw your superannuation either through the company it’s invested with or through the government ATO website.

Either way, you must fill out a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP) form. You will have to fill out more than one of these forms if you have a superfund set up with more than one company.

At the start of your work with a company, they should give you forms regarding your superannuation that include all its details. If you no longer have these forms, contact previous employers to find out who the fund is with, then contact those companies to find out details such as your account number with that superannuation fund.

Now comes the most difficult part, whether you apply for your super refund with an agent or on your own, proving your identity and that your work visa has expired.

Since superannuation is set up as a retirement fund, in most cases only temporary workers can withdraw from it before retiring. Your temporary work visa must be expired to apply to receive your superfund.

If your visa has not expired but you want to claim your super, you must cancel your visa, which can be done by contacting immigration with your full name and date of birth, the passport number you had when you visited Australia, subclass of the visa you wish to have canceled (usually either 462 or 417 work holiday visas), current residential address and the date you departed Australia. Note, make sure you leave Australia or get a new visa before canceling your work visa.

Now back to receiving your super refund. To prove your identity, visa and its expiration and that you have departed the country you must make photocopies of the following:

  • your passport photo page
  • your arrival and departure stamps from Australia
  •  your visa (stamp or email)
  •  a second form of ID, such as a drivers license or two debit/credit cards from different banks

All these photo copies must be certified by someone qualified to do so such as a police officer, doctor, judge, etc. Whomever is certifying the document must write out, “I certify this to be a true and correct copy of the original document,” as well as sign and print their name, write their qualifications, their address, business hours, telephone number, registration number, date the document and stamp with an official stamp.

This all must be written or translated in English, making an already complicated task close to impossible when doing so in places like Hong Kong or the Philippines.

Once all this is complete, send all these forms and your application either to the government or individual super fund companies. Expect to wait at least 28 days to receive the payment.

Was this article helpful to the process of getting your superannuation back? Visit tomorrow to learn how to get your tax back from Australia.

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Finding work in a new town

Australia, Australia, Destinations, Moving Abroad, New Zealand, New Zealand, United Kingdom, USA

Finding work in a new town

4 Comments 12 September 2011

Moving to a new town on your travels is always full of new and exciting prospects; what new sights you are going to see, new people that you’re going to meet, new cultures to unearth etc.

But you also need to be prepared financially to support this new adventure. So job hunting will probably be a high priority when you first arrive anywhere.

Hopefully these tips may help.

In my experience I have always found that you will need a cushion of cash to tide you over, for the first two weeks or so, whilst you look for work. Unfortunately I have found myself, more often than not, having to beg and borrow off friends to keep me afloat until that vital first pay check. So here are a few pointers that may help you avoid the situations I’ve found myself in.

You need to have an impressive CV on hand ready to hand out to any prospective employers. Try a website like www.comoto.com to help you with this.

You also need to figure out a plan of action before you leave for another town as you could end up wasting crucial days figuring out where you are and where the best places to look for work are.

Photo By Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Spend some time researching what’s happening in your chosen town, where the job agencies are, where the cheapest and most convenient places are to live. All this helps in reducing the stress when you arrive.

Deciding what type of employment you are going to go into is also extremely important, for example: if you decide you want office work but move to a resort town then the chances of being employed are dramatically decreased.

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Photo by Bobbi Lee Hitchon

Some jobs pay more than others (obviously), so look into how much certain job sectors pay in your new home town.

Use the internet to find specific job websites for your new chosen area. For myself I mostly used www.gumtree.com.au in Australia, www.trademe.co.nz in New Zealand and www.craigslist.com in the USA. Although you may not always use them to find a job, they are usually a good barometer for what the job situation is like.

Hopefully this will be of some help to you if you are feeling a bit short on ideas.

Happy Traveling!!!

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How to move to Australia: five steps

Australia, Australia, Destinations, Moving Abroad

How to move to Australia: five steps

29 Comments 02 February 2010

A lot of the comments I receive about moving to Australia are, “I wish I could do that.” My response is, “YOU CAN!” Anyone can with a bit of time and hard work.

I know a lot of people my age worry about student loans on top of regular expenses, but if you are on a monthly plan you can still pay loaners abroad, you just have to work a bit harder to earn more before departing.

Regardless of what your circumstance, it’s possible. Everyone has to do something different to prepare, but the essentials are universal.

1.) Start saving: I recommend this step first, because it will take the longest and if the rest of the steps fail the worst that can happen is you’ll have extra money to spend on something else. The Australian government requires people applying for a work-holiday visa to prove they have $5,000. This is what they say, but I did not have to do anything to prove this.

Still, I wanted to have more than that amount so I didn’t have to worry as much about money and I could take some time to travel. You need to decide the amount that is right for you and what you are comfortable with, but I estimate you’ll spend at minimum $50 per day while living in hostels and looking for work. That is the bare minimum (hostel, food and basics), on top of that you need to consider transportation (taxis, public and long-distance), tourist attractions and nightlife. So I would recommend saving at least $7,000.

Saving is not easy nor quick. It took me six months and I know people who have saved money over two years for trips. You have to find a routine in which you can still live a happy life at home, but with less things. Some people move in with their parents, others get a second job and somew even sell their possessions. Stephanie Yoder wrote a great post on her blog Twenty-Something Travel that gives tips and commentary about saving cash.

2.)Apply for a visa: It’s easy to psyche yourself out of this step, but you shouldn’t. I researched 462-visas about once a week during my last two years in college. I read blog posts about people being rejected or claiming the country had a limit and it had been reached.

I had completely convinced myself that I would never move or work in Australia. Then, one night for kicks I applied at 10 p.m. I got an email at midnight that same night saying I had been approved. It costs $230 and you have to fill out a lengthy questionnaire. But if you are healthy, not convicted of any felonies and between the ages of 18-30, I am confident you will be approved.

While on visas, the country also requires you have travelers’ health insurance to receive a visa. I didn’t have to prove this either, but I recommend it. I recommend health insurance regardless, but you are at higher risk of getting sick or injured when traveling. Sick, because you are in contact with so many people, hostel living is not always the cleanest and a lot of major air-borne diseases are spread on airplanes. Injured, because you are more likely to do extreme things when traveling, such as sky diving or even hiking than you would in your everyday life. A large hospital bill can ruin your trip. Why even risk it? Ask your health care provider at home about travelers’ insurance or look at sites such as STA for more information.

3.) Book a flight: Some people have told me you can find cheap flights closer to the date or through stand-by. I have never found this to be the case with international travel. All the flights I have ever been on abroad have been packed and seem to raise in price the closer to departure date.

So much is invested in a trip this large and it’s easy to put off. Just pick a date and buy a ticket so you have something to plan around. I booked mine five months ahead of time and my flight from Chicago cost about $1,000. You may be able to find something cheaper earlier, but sometimes earlier than that can actually be more expensive or not even available.

A flights from pretty much anywhere to Australia is hell. I traveled for a total of 25 hours, 21 of which were actually in the air. You will most likely have at least one layover, if not more. You also lose a day coming from the states. Stopping in Hawaii or flying first class  are wonderful options, but unlikely for most people in their twenties.

The date you chose depends mainly on how fast you can save up money, but other things to consider are whether you want to be home for the holidays or a special occasion, what type of weather you want to travel in (the seasons in most parts of Australia are the opposite of the Northern hemisphere, but check the weather for where you want to go), how much notice your work requires, when your housing contract is up and how much long it will take you to prepare (packing, saying good bye, storing your things, etc.).

4.) Tax File Number (TFN) and bank account: A visa is just the first step to working down under. Businesses also require you have a TFN and a bank account. Both are easy, but you should get them out of the way early so you don’t have to worry about it when you finally get a job offer.

Ask someone at your hostel about where to fill out your tax form. You can also do it at a post office or online. It’s free and you can do it in most major cities.

The bank account works just the same as in the states and there are plenty of banks in Sydney, even Citibank and HSBC. Banks usually require you deposit between $10 and $100 initially in your account.

5.) Find a job: The last and sometimes most difficult step. I recommend traveling around a bit before settling down in one city. You can always come back if you want.

The tricks to finding work are universal. Dress presentable no matter what the job, be polite and network. You can find work on Gumtree (the UK version of Craigslist, which is popular in Australia) on job boards in hostels or internet cafes, in newspapers and just by looking around for hiring signs.

A lot of people look for jobs in the service industry, whether it be waiting or working at a hostel. Some jobs require a certification, such as bartending, so research that. Bartending requires you complete an Responsible Service of Alchohol  (RSA)course, which cost around $80 and can be taken at a local university or places posted on hostel walls.

Working at a hostel is not right for everyone, but it’s actually a great deal. I’ve seen a lot of hostels that pay $200 a week and allow workers to live in the hostel for free and sometimes even supply food. The hours can be strange, but that’s $200 solely for leisure. Plus you meet new people everyday and sometimes get to go on trips.

If a few days in a 10-person dorm with community showers is enough for you, then look for an apartment. There are flyers for roommates posted all over the cities. You also might meet someone during your travels that you want to rent a place with. Gumtree is a great source for this as well.

You can only work at the same job for six months with a work holiday visa, then you’ll have to find another one. A lot of people are doing the same thing as you so it can be competitive, but there is a reason Australia allows so many foreigners to do this, so don’t get discouraged. You’ll find something eventually.

Graffiti at Bondi Beach by Bobbi Lee Hitchon.

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