We all love travel, but even a brief vacation can be really expensive. But what if there were a way to travel and make money at the same time? Not many people know about it, but there actually is. They’re called working holidays, and they allow you to work in a foreign country while traveling. Is a working holiday right for you? Let’s dive in and find out!
What is a Working Holiday?
A working holiday visa allows you to live, work, and travel in a foreign country for a certain amount of time, usually between six months and 18 months. You simply choose a country, apply, and once you’re approved, you can work while you travel there.
Who Can Apply?
It varies by country, but you generally need to be between 18 and 30 years old. In Australia and New Zealand, anyone with a high school diploma can apply, but in Ireland, South Korea, and Singapore, you need to be a recent graduate. Application fees vary widely. For example, Korea has a fee of a mere $45, but Australia charges over $350.
Where Can You Go?
U.S. citizens can apply for work holiday visas in South Korea, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or Singapore. If you have a non-US passport, many other options like Japan, Hong Kong, and the United Kingdom are available.
How Much Money Will You Make?
Your earnings will vary by country. The minimum wage in Australia is AUD $17.70 (currently about $13.50 USD) while it is only 6,470 won (around US$5.70) in South Korea. And although Singapore is one of the richest countries on earth, it has no standard minimum wage. That doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily earn less in Singapore or South Korea—indeed, these advanced economies have many high paying jobs—but as with anything, you’ll want to be sure you do your research.
Consider the Cost of Living
Just as your wages may vary by country, so too will your cost of living. I like to use Numbeo’s cost of living calculator to compare different places I might travel or live. It will help give you a rough idea of your living expenses in different countries. There are always tradeoffs. Although living costs in Singapore are high, they have one of the world’s best public transport systems and you’ll never need a car. Australia, on the other hand, is literally the size of an entire continent, so traveling outside of major cities will require a car. Here are some specific requirements by country.
Korea’s working holiday visa allows Americans aged 18-30 up to 18 months of time to travel and work in the country. You’ll need to be a recent graduate and prove that status. This visa won’t just give you the right to work—you’ll also be permitted to take language courses if you want to brush up on your Korean. Seoul is a great city, and Korea is well worth a look if you are considering a working holiday. However, if you’re considering teaching English in Korea, you’ll need to apply for a different visa.
Singapore allows recent graduates aged 18-25 to apply for a working holiday visa that will allow you to spend six months in the country. While there is no minimum wage, Singapore is an amazing country with world-class infrastructure. It is not only a truly global city, but has also frequently been ranked as the safest country on earth. English is an official language, so you won’t have any communication issues here. If you want to see Asia with minimum language barriers, this is your best option.
Australia allows Americans aged 18-30 to apply for a working holiday visa. Interestingly enough, you don’t have to be a recent graduate; in fact the only educational requirement for Americans is that you have graduated from high school. If you’ve ever dreamed of starting your morning by running by the Sydney Opera House or spending quality time with Koalas, this option is for you.
New Zealand allows any American aged 18-30 to apply for a 12-month working holiday visa. There are other requirements, you should be aware of. You’ll have to prove you have $4,200 NZD (approximately $3,000 USD) in savings, and you’ll need to have a clean criminal record. New Zealand is a beautiful country (they filmed the Lord of the Rings here) and this program is well worth a look—especially if you are not a recent graduate.
Ireland allows recent graduates the ability to travel and work in Ireland for 12 months. Unlike other countries, Ireland places no upper age limit on working holiday visa holders. That makes this a great option for graduate students or others who are leaving University later in life. Since Ireland is an English-speaking country, it will be easy for you to get around here.
Even if you decide not to go the working holiday route, it is still possible to travel and make money. You can teach English in a foreign country, or you can always work remotely. Plus, the USA is so large that doing a cross-country road trip and working on the way is another solid option. If you think that living in another country sounds great but still haven’t gone to school, check out this post on going to college in a foreign country—it can save you money and allow you to travel.
Are you considering doing a working holiday? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!