10 Life Lessons From Two Working Holiday Visas
As a couple, we have just finished our working holiday visas in Australia and our working holiday visas in Canada.
Both have been incredible experiences, and we documented a lot of our experiences in this blog you are reading.
Thankfully this has also helped so many people who were in the same shoes as us about to start their working holiday visas.
Was it all sunshine and roses? Noooo way!
These working holiday visas have not only changed our lives, but we now live and work from anywhere!
We are those annoying digital nomads you hear about all the time.
Doing no work and getting paid haha. Except we really do work.
You can see our tips for starting your own blog here.
Now back to the life lessons!
1) Moving country is fricken hard!
A lot of people see their friends Facebook post “woo off to Oz to get some sun for two years” followed by a selfie from Bondi beach.
Don’t be fooled! While moving to Australia can seem glamorous on social media it can be extremely hard for a lot of people.
We first arrived in Perth in 2013 and took us over a month to find any job!
Our savings dwindled while the beer and stress did not.
Thankfully we had family over there who put us up.
If it wasn’t for them, we don’t know what we would have done.
Many are not so lucky.
Some people, on the other hand, rock up and get a job the next day and don’t know what everyone is complaining about.
From packing to adjusting to a new (HOT) climate things are not easy.
But our advice is to embrace it! It will be hard but likely make you a better person.
There are pros and cons to moving on your own or moving as a couple.
Once you get that first paycheck and rent your first place, you quickly forget how hard everything was.
2) One of the best things we did was move around
People are doing working holiday visas for many reasons.
But one of the biggest regrets we hear from people over the years is that they stayed in the same place and didn’t travel.
They get stuck in a job or “get comfortable” as people would say.
The Australian working holiday has some restrictions which actually work in a lot of peoples favour.
You can only work for one employer for six months, and you have to do that fun and exciting regional work(NOT!).
But as a result of these restrictions, we saw a whole bunch of western Australia met some cool people and did our first epic road trip from Perth to Melbourne.
Then just as we were getting comfortable in Melbourne(it is an amazing place, well until winter haha), our six months were up in the company we worked at.
Work, save money and move on.
You might be sitting on Scarborough beach in Perth thinking that this is the best place in the world but then you move on, and your mind is blown by how amazing your next destination is.
3) Travelling to surrounding countries was one of the best things you can do
One of the best parts about making a gazillion hour flight to Australia is that Bali is a short few hours away.
Or from Canada, you can relatively easily pop over to Vegas or New York for a weekend(well with a bit of saving!).
If we hadn’t gone on our working holiday visas, then chances are we wouldn’t have done the long haul flights to all these countries.
If you are coming to the end of your working holiday visas and are heading back home, it is well worth it to take a month or two to travel the surrounding countries.
It is an opportunity that you will not only remember for the rest of your life but also very practical as you can just add stopovers onto your flight back home.
When we were living in Australia we were just about to start of our regional work and our friends were chilling in Bali.
So we did the only thing we could do and popped on a 3-hour flight from Perth to Bali!
One of the best decisions we ever made.
Now you might be saying “sure we are not all millionaires!!!” but we actually saved money by living in Bali for a month haha.
Super cheap flights, super cheap cost of living and low rent meant that we were spending way less than we were in Perth.
4) You will work in some of the shittiest and best jobs of your life!
Apologies for swearing but man oh man did we do our fair share of crap jobs!
Steve once got given out to by a German manager of an Irish bar for not correcting glasses seriously enough.
All he wanted to do was walk out of there, but we were so stuck for cash that we had to smile and say YES MAM!
The worst was when we were doing our regional work.
It was before you legally had to get paid and could work for free.
So basically if you were working(WOOFING) you would have to get a side job to get by.
Steve had to get a train from Mandurah to Perth to work a night shift to earn some extra cash.
Literally driving to the train station on a nearly empty fuel tank.
When we got there, we went to buy a ticket, and we were $4 short with zero cash and no money in our bank accounts.
We awkwardly started poking the machine, and a staff member came by asked us if we were okay and kindly donated the $4.
In Steve’s first job in Perth, the boss was the biggest bitch you have ever met.
We unfortunately again had to put up with it as we were pretty much broke.
You might be saying “Steve has the worst luck haha.”
But Sabina had her fair share of sh** jobs too.
So don’t worry if your first and even second job sucks it will be okay.
The worst situation you can get yourself in is not having other options.
Most of the times we had no other choice but to suck it up and stay there.
So our advice would be to put some money away for that rainy day when things do not work out.
That way you can kindly leave the German owner running an Irish bar to collect her own glasses haha.
5) You will get homesick!
It doesn’t matter if you are the hardest person out there.
At some stage, during your working holiday visas, you will miss home, family or just the way things used to be.
Don’t worry this happens and in time it will pass. The important thing is to surround yourself with new friends and family.
As we mentioned, it is not easy to move to a new country. They won’t get your humour, or you will feel like a complete foreigner but stick with it, and it will all be okay.
This is where we found it is better to travel as a couple as you can support each other, but solo life can be rewarding too.
Remember if you are feeling down please talk to someone!
Keeping things to yourself does nobody any good.
If it gets to the stage where you just can’t take it anymore, it is okay to return home.
Even if people don’t understand it is your life and not theirs.
After it is all said and done you will be a stronger person for it.
So don’t worry!
6) Things back home change(slowly)
The first time we went back to Ireland after a year in Australia we were expecting that the whole of Ireland had changed.
But in reality what happened was the same people worked in the same jobs, the same people were talking about moving to Australia someday, and everything else was exactly the same.
This is a weird thing to experience especially the first time you go back.
But like you, your friends and family get older.
You will find small things like birthdays and larger things like your friend’s wedding harder and harder to return back for.
You will feel like you have grown into a new person, but people back home will still see you as that same person who first left.
Don’t fret though as everyone experiences the same thing and again we want to point out in this article is you are not alone.
7) You will get a new appreciation for people
You might be saying “you lost me, guys, what are you on about now.”
But travel is one of those things that opens your eyes to other cultures, people and experiences.
You make new best friends, new memories and new lifelong lessons.
One thing it does help you realise is that you are not above anyone.
It is because of the evil bosses we both worked with and the terrible jobs we hated that we realised just how important it is to be nice to people.
A great quote we loved was
You are never too improtant to be nice to people
Had we have stayed back home in our own country we might not have realised this so quickly.
8) Where would we be without online communities
One of the biggest lessons we learnt is that Facebook is awesome when it comes to connecting people and community.
Buy and sell, meetups, jobs, advice, suggestions and everything else has never been easier with Facebook.
Not only did Sabina get a job two days after landing in Vancouver but Facebook groups have helped us countless times over the past five years.
9) You appreciate your home country way more when you return
Back when we first left Ireland in 2013, we couldn’t wait to escape the endless rain, depressing atmosphere and cold climate.
It took some time but by the end of the second year in Australia we both kind of said to each other “Ireland is actually pretty awesome!“
It is funny how time away from a place will make you appreciate it more.
We found this was common with a lot of people.
We stayed in Ireland for around nine months before starting our working holiday visa in Canada.
It was great! While we still couldn’t wait to move to Vancouver, we actually enjoyed ourselves.
The depression that was once there had left us.
10) We have no home anymore!
One of the biggest and last lessons we learnt from two working holidays visas is that home can be anywhere you want it to be.
We are lucky enough to be able to live anywhere right now as we both earn income from our blogs.
Others are not so lucky, and home has to be a place where work is.
Many other factors lead people to decide just where home is.
Some have had to go return back to their home countries for family reasons.
In a way having the choice taken from you by having to stay in one place can be a blessing and a curse.
Our advice is to embrace it wherever you end up despite the circumstances.
When Steve first returned to Ireland he complained about the rain for about six days straight until one of his friends said: “what are you complaining about, it rains here every day and complaining does nothing for no one.”
Such a simple mindset shift can completely change the way you think about the place you are in.
Final thoughts after our two working holiday visas
Many people aren’t able to do what we did, many can’t afford to travel to another country, and many can’t even get access to Australia or Canada because of visa restrictions.
We are completely grateful for every moment over the past five years.
If you are sitting here reading this and still questioning whether or not to do a working holiday visa
Go for it!!
Working holiday visas changed our life for the better and hope it will yours.
Thanks so much for reading and be sure to share with others it means a lot to us.
Steve and Sabina