Finding Jobs & Housing in Australia: The Struggle is REAL
The undercurrent of discrimination towards backpackers here is coming as a shock.
It’s not really noticeable at first because Australians appreciate the tourism and economy boost that backpackers and travelers bring to the area. Day-to-day Australians are super nice and totally welcoming.
But any potential employers and real estate agents are so so untrusting of us.
I kind of get it. I quit my job at the restaurant here in the exact sort of way that must make employers hate working holiday makers (I just didn’t show up the morning of a 12 hour shift as a means of telling them “I quit.”). But it’s just like as soon as they see “working holiday” on our resumes or hear non-Australian accents they get a little cold.
When we were researching working holidays and trying to gauge how easy or hard it would be to come out the things we were reading were definitely skewed.
Nobody (myself included) wants to blog or Instagram in too much detail about the difficult or embarrassing or just downright not fun parts about traveling. Lewis and I definitely had a few very tough days during the apartment search that I tactfully didn’t document too well on the highlight reel that is social media.
We made such a big deal out of coming out here it kind of feels like you’re failing if things aren’t going exactly right. There was definitely confirmation bias in our research and a lot of what we were reading were the success stories… not the gritty ones.
Also, I think a lot of other backpackers are a little more flexible with their living standards than Lewis and I are willing to be. Because, sure, it would’ve been super easy to find a place to live if we didn’t mind finding some random roommates on Gumtree (Australian Craigslist) and moving into a share house with 10 other people. But that really wasn’t what we came out here to do. Also, I think finding a job and housing in Sydney or another major city like Brisbane is probably a completely different story. Sydney is a very transient city, like D.C., in that no one is really “from” Sydney, so I’m sure we wouldn’t have the same reaction from people when they hear our accents.
There’s also a lot of scammy kind of jobs in Australia that a lot of backpackers get tricked into. Door-to-door getting signatures and selling crap on the streets kind of things where you get paid by commission and need to meet some insane quota thats probably never going to happen. You can get those sort of jobs pretty easily too but again… not really what we came out here to do.
I’m not saying it’s impossible to find housing or a job in Australia, it’s just a lot harder than we thought it was going to be. I think the only “secret” out there to finding success is that it’s all about the timing. I think I only got my first job (the one that I quit) at the restaurant because someone had just quit on them the day I walked in and they needed to replace her. You’ve gotta be the one lucky person that comes at the exact right time. How do you be that person? Be relentless and apply for everything. I’m unclear on whether its more effective to walk into a place in person to hand off your resume or to just mass-email loads of places. Have had mixed results so far haha.
Talking to our friend Jack who’s been struggling with these same things back in Sydney we were laughing that out here you can be completely homeless and unemployed on Monday and by Wednesday have two jobs and need to be at a shift at the same time you need to be signing your lease… and then by Friday you could be unemployed again. Things just change so quickly out here it’s crazy. But it’s kind of cool because it’s a total crash course in not getting too worried about any one thing…because just when it seems like things aren’t going to work out they usually some how do.