Australia and New Zealand? Should I go?

Time to Plan

For any long term readers of this website you’ll know of my poll on my about page. It gives you a chance to say where you think I might find home. I put it up quite some time ago and here’s what’s come in so far —–

Europe, and Australia / New Zealand are in the lead with nearly a quarter of the vote each.

As you can see there’s a fair indication of the web these days as Europe still ranks really high coming in at around 20%.  Granted I’ve not traveled all of Europe, nor ruled it out.

Asia also ranks fairly high, which considering where I am; is fair enough.

Australia and New Zealand – Should I travel there or not?

It’s an easy answer to most – yes. But here’s my dilema in a somewhat ordered list:

  • It’s expensive to travel there so …
  • I have to work there to supplement travel, but …
  • I don’t qualify for a working visa (over 30)
  • I don’t have a degree
  • I don’t have a sponsor
  • I don’t have any reputable contacts

So what to do?

Take a chance and get a 3 month tourist visa and disapear under the counter for a while?

Or skip it altogether.

Or am I missing something?

As my living on an island attempt in the Philippines draws to a close I am in planning mode. I am closer than ever to Australia and New Zealand, they fall into many of my categories for possible potentials as home. But, bureaucratically I’m not welcome.

I’ll have to make a choice soon, and as of yet, I’m still undecided. Contacts are my biggest thing. I simply don’t have any. I don’t just mean a bed for the night either. I mean work contacts, volunteering contacts, heck even just friends to meet up with that don’t want to go out for beers every night.

The majority of Austalian’s New Zealanders I’ve met in the Philippines have been either retired with potential drinking problems, or young surfer dudes that might well be heading that way one day (no offence meant). So I really don’t know anyone outside of this scene.

Why is this a factor?

Well from what I’ve learned so far, this is will be very important if trying to find home in a developed country. And this is not easy …

Fellow travelers one meets in hostels are mainly a younger crowd looking to live life up a little. They see the sights during the day, and at night party. Not a practical scene for me.

Other people are busy with their own lives, work etc.

Keep in mind these are my experiences in traveling in search of home so far.  Which I rely on. And while others may have a different take on this. I have to go back to what I know through my nearly 5 years of travel on this journey.

To be very honest as I sit here I am thinking: no, I will not go.

It’s a financial crux mixed with a mesh of experience over the years. The thought of sitting in a dorm room hostel trying to find contacts, places, work, high end budget and searching for an ideal place in a place where I’m bureaucratically inept; sends doubts through my bones. It has me thinking back on how this worked during my travels in Europe … It may also just about break me if things do not go well.

I don’t actually envisage going to Australia nor New Zealand anytime in the next few months, there’s still a lot I want to do in the Philippines: but I want to start addressing this issue now.

So as I go through my own list of pro’s and cons:

What do you think about me going to Australia and/or New Zealand in search of place called home?


Here is my second more recent post on how to plan travel in Australia or New Zealand

Coming Soon:

Yep … Time to leave El Nido

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29 Replies to “Australia and New Zealand? Should I go?”

  1. Hey there fellow traveler! I have been following your blog now for a few months, and while I am both inspired and in awe, I also empathize with you about how expensive traveling is. It is easy to say “I’m going to travel the world!”, but harder to actually put the money issues in perspective.

    As far as going to Australia and New Zealand, I would have to say you can’t miss it! I personally have never been, but I am headed to travel Asia in early Feb for about a year, and will most likely hit up Australia and New Zealand after that. It does seem a little daunting in terms of the expense, but you can’t miss the scenery, the people, and the island life.

    I can see how it is a little more difficult because you are over the age to get a work visa, but don’t let this discourage you. As you may know from traveling thus far, there are possibilities to work without a Visa. Sometimes ‘under the counter’ work is easy to get, and the best option for traveling/living in a place for a short period of time. I worked at a bar in Spain and didn’t have any sort of Visa. So it can be done.

    Australia and New Zealand have a ton of agriculture opportunities for work as well. Working on a farm is sometimes a great way to live, work, and eat in these areas I’ve heard.

    As I’m writing this I’m realizing maybe I’m not as convincing as I hoped to be! I’ve never been to either place, and I’m only 25. Ha. I apologize for my lack of information, but encourage you to go if you can. I have heard nothing but amazing things about both places. You should check out a fellow blogger by the name of Brooke. She is living in Australia now, and might have some tips for you about work.

    Hope this helps. And good luck!

    p.s- I think your home should be somewhere in a small village in Spain!

  2. …I was writing a story about AU in 2005, couldn’t get any background info from traditional sources (I needed a moutain, a river, dingo fencing, and aero-med service..lolo..but where?) so I joined AU, and everyone that wrote me, I told them what I was looking for—and some stayed on as friends.

    …and well, next year I will be visiting my friends “over there”…..yep expensive, but loads of train service, if you get the right sort of ticket..

    …so you have the time, “make friends” then go. I will not be staying at any hotels, but will be visiting melbourne, ayers rcok, and perth….I have lost my friend in the kimber over the years, but I was kind of scared to go up there anyways—big croc country.

    ….a big adventure, and all because I needed ,”a mt, a river, a dingo fence”, etc…for a story I never read anymore.

    My vote? Go.



  3. Hi

    I can understand how do you feel about making the decision. It is always hard to do it. But once you have the chance to make the decision, you are free. All the comments and suggestions are just a reference for you, don’t caught up with it. Spend a night or two, in a quite space, listen to your heart, it will lead you to the place the heart belongs… If you want to find a place to stay, how can you miss any single places on the earth? Maybe that is the place for you to be. :) Who knows??

    The is a website calls “WWOOF” that you can register and work three to four hours a day in the organic farm and you will get a free accomodation, search online. Also, Harvest Trail, it might help you to get some employments to stay and explore NZ and Australia. Australia is a funny place, very developed in the city but outback is very rural, try to find look into it…

    Don’t miss this place, especially Ayer Rock, there is no place calls home, the sky and the earth is our parents, find a place within yourself, so that you can live on…

    My best regards to you

    Be and Sascha

  4. Hi I live in Australia and have just walked the Bibbulmun Track in WA There I met many overseas travelers who were living on an absolute shoestring – less than $20 per day. They were getting an awesome experience not to be missed. You can get around in an old camper bomb and tour the country on the cheap or you can stay 5 star and pay a fortune in Americanized accommodation. Enjoy your stay – not to be missed. Nick

  5. What sort of work are you looking for?

    Unfortunately i would only have working contacts in the winter sport season here, i.e. March 2010 onwards.

  6. Well, first you have to ask yourself. Do you really want to go there? If yes, then give it a go. You will never know how it will turn out unless you try it yourself. Of course, there will be lots of obstacles; it won’t be easy, nothing is easy in life however nothing is impossible as well. There are always ways to figure out and to fight for what you really want.

    Yes, things are much more expensive, you don’t qualify for working visa and else, nonetheless I believe you wont have any language barrier which is a very important issue if you trying to live in a foreign country. In addition, I suppose you won’t have much cultural shock at both countries as well.

    Following you journey until now, I remember you only found the feeling of ‘Home’ in Nepal so far; it’s because you traveled there, lived there, get acquaintance with locals, and you experience it yourself.

    No one can tell you where your ‘Home’ is, it’s YOU who have to find it yourself. So, if you think Australia or New Zealand fall into your categories of potential home, give it a try; on the other hand, if you have any doubt, then you should rethink.

    In the mean time, I honestly wish you the best of luck in your journey to find your home. It’s almost 5 years and I know it’s not easy. As much as I like to follow your journey and blog; nevertheless I truly hope it will end up soon as I know once it stops; it’s when you find your home :)

    Again…all the best of luck to you :)

  7. Over 10 years ago my husband asked if I wanted to move to Australia–my answer was no way. After 5 years in southern Spain, we wanted a change and ended up in Oz. We have been in Southern Australia for over a year and all I can say is that it has been an amazing journey.
    I know that it is a very expensive country, and I have heard that work is hard to come by–we are on a 457 visa, so we didn’t have to look for work. However, I would not discourage you from coming down for a visit. I never imagined that I could live in Australia, but it is now home for me.

  8. No no no. Do Not Go. Australia has a huge rate of unemployment right now. You have no degree. You cannot get working visa for being over 30. You will end up in hostels looking at drunk balding men and getting depressed as they tell of their failed dreams.

    You’re better to keep doing what you are doing now. Breaking new ground and telling travel the way it is. That’s why I enjoy reading your blog. You write with uncanny honesty. Long may it continue as you find new places to find home, and not follow the masses. You are different. I can see this.

  9. The simple fact that you raise the question is a way of getting the answer. Besides, I do not think it would be good to decide before – and rationally – where “home” will be. “Home” can be everywhere, if and when you feel that a place has struck your heart. Just go, visit, explore and follow your instinct. A day will come when you’ll find “home”.

  10. As full-time travelers for the last 3 years, we’ve been “stuck” in Australia for 1.5 of them – and happily so! We live in a rural area so the cost of living is lower with a simpler life (and yes, we did get “sticker shock” when we initially arrived in Oz from Asia). We are also over 30, but serendipity connected us with working visas after we volunteered full-time for 2 months during the bushfires last year.

    As far as under the table work goes, it varies. Fellow travelers have had so-so luck with it; with so many travelers on working-visas willing to pick fruit (for example), it doesn’t make tons of sense for employers to risk hiring under the table. But it all depends on where you are and what you’re doing.

    Even on a tourist visa you can work in trade for your accommodation and meals; finding a gig like that could help you get your feet wet.

    And of course you have a place to stay with us! Cheers.

    1. -Kate– Hi Kate, thanks for your useful suggestions. Yep the age / working visa is a bit of a bummer. The expensie of Australasia is something I really have to factor in. It’s a make a break situation. Again, I appreciate your help and kind words. Not ruled Spain out yet ;)

      -danette- Thanks for advise on places and things to do. You make a very valid point in making friends of people from there before going!

      -Be and Sascha- Wwoofing is certainly something I have to spend time looking at. I’ve not heard of Harvest Trail, but I will certainly look into both in the coming weeks. Travels not an issue, but sustainable travel certainly is! Thanks again.

      -Nick- Indeed a camper van for travel is always an option. Again travel is not really a huge factor here. It’s more something to keep me in one place to figure out if I like Oz or NZ well enough for it to be home.

      -Damien- I would say just about anything other than bar work. Basically a job that can put a roof over my head so I can get to know the country and the people a bit better than just a normal traveler. Actually that time of year is just fine, as I mentioned about I am planning well in advance for this one. So if you do know of anything at anytime of year then please do drop me a mail here.

      -yee- Thanks for your insight. Yes from what I’ve learned so far, the start of home is certainly getting “that” feeling. This is some of the problem I face as without being in a place, it’s impossible to tell. Likewise it’s not possible to visit everywhere attempting to do so. In this case it’s an educated guess, hence I opened it up to comments. Again, like I mentioned, so far nothing about OZ or NZ is jumping out at me. We’ll see over the coming months.

      -Maya Gonzales Berry- I am very glad to hear you have found your home in Australia. Yes, as I mentioned in a comment above sometimes you can only know once you are there. At the moment I am weighing this up with some other options. Thanks for taking the time to read, and comment here.

      -Renny- Thanks for your comment. No is still very much an option, high unemployment and other such difficulties do weigh on my mind. That said I wouldn’t sacrifice such a journey just for the sake of continuing this website. It is after all only my journal, the journey’s end destination is much more important.

      -waitinginthedark- Yes you are very correct. One can only know once one gets there. Sometimes your gut will tell you this could be it before you get there. But one only knows once you’re there. On this occasion though, it might mean ending the journey in place that’s not home. With no going back. So I need to be sure.

      -Nora- Serendipity was a great thing for you as I know the story. A great one. Yes such things could fall into place for me too, who knows. I appreciate your honest travelers insight into this scenario very much. Also the offer of a place to stay ;) I’m taking everything on board!

      -All- Thanks for all the comments, and emails I’ve received from this post. I am not making any decision straight away as I mentioned in the post. I am in one way, ‘thinking out loud’. Which often helps. Likewise with such feedback, it’s certainly reminded my of some other options. And, as always it’s great to hear from others experience down under.

      I certainly will not be making a final call on this for a few months. As mentioned it could be a make or break trip. And for me if it’s a break then it’s the end of just a journey. Hence I am giving it serious thought. Time will tell as I continue to plan and add things up. No gut feeling on it, but it may come over the coming few months as I travel again.

  11. hi there fellow traveler,

    you’re right, bureaucracy and money limits a lot of us from traveling. it sux but it’s a fact that we all have to deal with.

    i think you’re a very resourceful person because you’re able to manage to travel for almost 5 years and maybe you could go even more…

    i think you should go to australia and new zealand to find out if its a potential home for you. i suggest you check wwoof for possible employment and couchsurfing for possible accomodation and contacts in australia.

    btw, you’re doing a great job in this blog. it’s very inspiring and not the usual travelogue that i see online. keep on writing…
    keep on traveling until you find your home…



    1. -flipnomad- Hi Flip,

      Thanks for your comment. Yes once I get to some good internet I will check out wwoofing. Again couch surfing to me often leads to more party and going out than home. At least in my experience so far. I am also looking at house minding down under.

      Many thanks for your kind words about the blog. It means a lot that it provides some inspiration to others. BTW I finally got around to updating my travel directory and included your submission. Safe travels!

  12. Ah, I am a traveler too, although not on the scale that you’ve been doing. New Zealand is a wonderful, magical, awesome place. If you could get there you might find a way to make it work and survive there, that I don’t know. But the south island especially is so worth seeing. Good Luck!

  13. I moved to Australia (Melbourne) in March and have been loving it. It is pretty expensive, but there are plenty of ways to cut these costs back if you try. The visa issue is a hard one – I asked my employer to sponsor me, and once I signed a contract saying I would stay for 18 months they did, but I believe you can get a 6 month working holiday visa, and in that time you can try to find someone else to sponsor you – a number of people I know who live here got their visas that way. All I can say is I am really enjoying my time here and I’m really glad I took the extra effort to make it work.

    I saw someone mentioned the unemployment rate – as far as I’ve seen its actually quite low here in Melbourne – I even know plenty of people who have confidently quit jobs and found new ones soon after. If you have any idea of what you would like to do its worth joining some expat websites to meet people as ask their experiences and see if they have any advice and/or can help you find something.

    If you have any questions about it feel free to shoot me an e-mail. As I said I am very happy that I moved here so am more than willing to help if you want to try.

  14. Hello, I surely understand how you feel. I got the same issue before going to Australia and New Zealand since I am over 30 I couldn’t apply for a working holiday visa, altough my aim wasn’t to work for earning but only to substain my travel while there. I am not a great fun of hostel and crazy nights i much more prefer visiting new places and explore natural landscape. even without a visa i think you could do it pretty well if you manage well your finance. You could still work for free in exchange of food and a place to sleep in many farms with no need of visa and if you buy a van you could just set it up to sleep on the back like a campervan and then sell it after. It’s very common and it’s what i am doing, i am pretty confident i could sell it even for the same price i bought it, they are very in demand among backpackers. so for me you DEFINETLY SHOULD GO!! There are simple two amazing countries. I will be more than happy to call New Zealand my home, especially the South Island, and wouldn’t mind either Australia but for now my home is waiting my return to Italy.

    1. -Chris- Thanks for the comment Chris. Glad to hear I’m not the only over 30 who’s face this. Yea, driving Australia is certainly an option. And certainly New Zealand seems very appealing to me. I don’t get a big jump out feeling about OZ, not yet anyway. For me it’s certainly more about landscapes, places and people. I really can’t afford, nor particularity want to join the party crowd. Been there and done that a long time ago. Much like some other countries I search for a good feeling, and if I get it, then I try to stay. With these two countries the cost is a huge factor, hence I am weighing everything up right now.

      -lee- Hi Lee, thanks for the comment and all that information, I found it very helpful. Good to hear about the employment level, I guess it’s a sector thing. With some areas doing well and others not so much. I think you’re on the right track with the sponsorship thing. And once in, with a job, if it’s not all that great, look for another sponsor. Not sure if I have the skill set to be so selective. But certainly it’s not something I heard of too much, so I appreciate your input! Thanks all so for the offer. I’m weighing all this up in mid to late December, and might shoot you over a mail around that time as I come closer to a decision.

      -Loran- Great to hear a big plus for New Zealand. I’ve not had much feedback on NZ so far. Especially on the job front. I guess it’s bigger neighbor over shadows it a little at times. Nonetheless I have a bigger pull for it for the scenery and so on. I’ll have to delve into looking for information about work there a little more.

  15. I just started reading your website and it’s truly an inspiration and very helpful. It’s kind of ironic that the first post I read on your website is about Australia. I am moving there is about 2 months on a work visa. But I feel your pain about looking for one and all the rules that stop you from going there. I can’t offer much since I am just a visitor myself, but I can offer friendship and a travel companion along the way. Doubt you need one, you seem like quite the expert. Some advice: look into WWOOF-maybe you can volunteer while your over there. I don’t know for sure, but they may be able to help you with visa information as well. Best of luck.

    1. -Bobbi- Glad to have you reading here, and thanks for the kind words. I’m happy to hear you managed to get a working visa for Australia. Yes, I’ll certainly be looking into the WWOOFing options as it seems like something that might well open some doors should I head down under. Always happy to travel with people, especially if there’s a common link, like looking for work. However it certainly won’t be until the new year before I make a decision.

  16. Hey Bro, I’m here in Oz, based in Brisbane. Come down here and say hello! You’ll have a great time! Yes, the Australian dollar is strong at the moment, but there is always a way.

    How about couch surfing around Australia? Using Twitter as well?


    1. -The Travel Tart- Hey Anthony, thanks for the positive vibe. Tried couch surfing, but in the end it cost me more than a hostel! Eating out to say thanks etc.

      Yes to Twitter, in fact we are already following each other! :) @TLWH

  17. You know, it’s kinda funny that you’re such an experienced traveler, have such a great website, and yet you’re not selling products on traveling. You could easily be making enough money to live in any western country.

    You’re missing one hell of an opportunity mate ;)

    1. -Sam- Hi Sam, thanks for the comment, and the kind words. You bring up an excellent point.

      Any Suggestions on what products?

      I am actually working on this as we speak. You might also have just inspired an article on the subject!

  18. I know this comment is a bit late, but hey…you never know.

    Having lived in NZ for a year, I have to tell you that there are parts of this country that should not be missed by Anyone. I am a native Argentine NYer with the urge to travel in my blood after years and years of travel with family, friends, and the like. All of this out there, I have to say that living in NZ was by far one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

    The South Island, specifically the West Coast, offers some of the most incredible scenery I have seen in my entire life. The Fjordlands are gorgeous, the tramping ridiculously breathtaking and inspiring, and the Mountains/Glaciers are beyond compare in many ways. What makes this Island all the more beautiful is the utter lack of civilzation in many parts. So many people talk about the overly touristy parts of NZ since the release of the Lord of The Rings series but I assure you, there are untouched parts of this country that should not be missed.

    The North Island, though much more populated, provides incredible sights and experiences as well. From the beaches just 45 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Auckland, to the Lakes and Mountains in the South of the Island, and the Glow Worm lit caves…the North Island offers adventure, beauty and charm.

    Though parts of NZ life can be expensive, you can do things cheaply as well. And when all else fails, how can you miss the opportunity to hang out in a country with 40 million sheep?!

    Suggestions galore if you’d like them and connections in abundance if you need them. I just moved back to the states in early April in preparation for some more travel (looking at 3+ years to cover everything I want to) so the people I know are still there.

    All the best…


    1. -Alana- Hi there, no it’s never too late! I’ve not been there yet, so am still very open to suggestions.

      Thank you very much for what you have included here. It’s all helpful and a great resource. If I go, I will drop you an email.

      Cost is still a major factor here, as is bureaucracy, e.g., working to afford the travel and accomplish what going there should mean. Certainly I don’t envisage I would be able to spend as much time as I would like in New Zealand, nor travel it as well as it should be.

      But the game is not over yet, and there are still options. I have an update to this article planned quite soon. So I’ll let everyone know.

      In the mean time, suggestions and help are still open to anyone who wants to leave them here!

  19. My first post, greetings from Palawan ! I seem to be looking for a home too same as you. Yes at the moment NZ and Australia have very strong currencies, you will be paying the same for a hostel dorm as for an en suite room in Palawan. But if you are a world traveller, you cannot miss them out really. NZ is cheaper, the motels are like homestays. Rotorua is the great tourist draw on North Island , the centre for both geothermal and Maori cultural activities. South Island is BY FAR the most interesting, it is basically a mountain range with a couple of plains where nearly all the 1 million South Islanders live.

    I arrived at your site because i was searching for “living in Palawan”, thanks for good tips about Puerto and Port Barton (Why did u leave ?). I have read most of your blog, the Philippine part was yes, a brilliant compelling read. The earlier European blogs, was stereotypical American “Wednesday is Germany”, stuff.

    Being English i find American restaurants a little exotic too, Shakeys etc, i like these places in Puerto. I am foodie too and love the tuna here too, and i followed most of your advice about places to eat and stay (hmm, Manny was quite annoying though , i found).

    Yes you will like NZ and Oz, back to first world, but also with first world prices, especially Australia!
    I have decided to live here in Palawan, finding a lovely lady certainly helps with the quest for “The Longest Way Home”.

    1. Hi Martin,

      Welcome! Yep, there will be a huge budget change in traveling NZ or OZ. But it comes with the territory I guess.

      Beach life is not for me, so no Palawan. El Nido is a fantastic place, I hope the oil discovery does not destroy it. Nor the tourism department / private industry should they try to turn it into another Borocay. Which would kill it off for me. Sufficed to say, beach life is still not for me.

      I don’t have the time nor the resources to go back, and reedit the older Euro, Asian travel blog parts of the site. I’ve thought about it, but it also shows who the site, and journey has moved on. It started as notes to myself, and to what it is now. Who knows in the future.

      Some people find Manny okay, others find him a little annoying. Depends on the type of traveler you are! I found the backpackers place down the road to be a lot more annoying!

      Thanks for the comment, and you’re welcome back anytime

  20. Hi Dave!
    I came back from NZ last December, and it´s one of my favourite countries so far. Don´t be put of by drunk backpackers (I really had no trouble of the kind at all – may be I was lucky), I did end up skipping Queenstown and staying in Wanaka to actually avoid them and it was such a great choice to do so!
    About not being able to work what I can recommend is Woofing. I had some great time doing that and there are places you can stay all over NZ. If you are helpful during your 4-5h of farm work usually your hosts will be able to show you around and most places have great hiking, scenery opportunities close by. There are also hostels that offer accomodation as exchange for your stay (I didn´t actually do that but it´s something you can do on a tourist visa because you´re not actually getting paid money).
    About travelling around, I found 2 travel mates to share a car rental with on the Thorn Tree forum of the Lonely Planet website. It may sound risky but ended up being amazing. The people were great and we got a really cheap car deal. There are also lots of relocation opportunities from car rental companies, especially from South to North. I´d actually recommend hitch-hiking, can´t think of anywhere safer in the world to do it and you can get a lift to anywhere.
    If you want especific hostel tips just mail me and I´ll be happy to share the ones i stayed in that were absolutely spotless and rather cheap (it´s definetely worth getting a BBH card – it´ll get you $2-5 discounts on accomodation and also great deals on some activities like walking on the Franz Joseph Glacier).
    As for hikes and activities there are always lots of free options near the paid places (glowworm caves, etc).
    Well, I guess there´s a lot more that can be written about it. All I can say is don´t miss out on New Zealand, kiwis are amazing people to get to know, very friendly and polite and willing to help you with anything you may need (it´s a great country for couch surfing).
    Hope this was helpful and congratulations on your great blog!

    1. Hi Anna,

      Many thanks for getting in touch and offering up so much valuable information. It’s very good to hear that you managed to avoid the drunk backpackers crowd. Indeed, I might post closer to the time on LP TT about looking to share a car, the same with OZ. And then see who comes back in terms of compatibility etc.

      I’ll steer clear of Woofing for now. The only reason I would do this would be to get away from it all for a while. Or if I really start to like NZ and am looking to extend one way or another.
      Nice tip on the BBH card too! There seems to be lots of those cards around from my own research, always hard to pick one. I’ve been looking at the Franz Joseph Glacier so it sounds like a good card to get.

      Very nice info about the free options next to pay hikes. This is the sort of information that’s rarely found anywhere! So thank you for mentioning it.

      I’d be more than happy for a list of the places you stayed. It sounds like you choose well, so I could trust you recommendations. No rush though! I think you have my email now with this comment.

      Many thanks again for taking the time in getting in touch with all this great info Anna.

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