The next instalment in the Expat Interview Series! I’ve reached out to expats in different countries to hear why people might choose to move abroad, and how they do it. If you want to know more about moving to a particular country this is the place. If you’re interested in taking part, or want to see a certain place featured let me know!
The latest interview is with Steph from Big World Small Pockets, one of my favourite blogs! Steph writes really informative posts about travel all over the world, but I’ve asked her to share her experiences of being on a working holiday visa in Australia. A lot of Australian working holiday visa holders move to places like Melbourne and Sydney, which are both great cities, but I was keen to share the experience of someone who moved to Noosa, on the Sunshine Coast for a working holiday, outside of the norm! Steph has now also moved on from a working holiday visa to apply for partner residency in Australia, but I’ll let her tell you the details!
Tell us about yourself
Hello! I’m Steph, travel addict and creator of budget travel blog Big World Small Pockets. Originally from Jersey in the Channel Islands, I’m currently living in Australia. I first arrived here as a backpacker on my working holiday visa, but then the love bug got the better of me and I’m now applying for my residency – boyfriend in tow! Before Australia I’d been travelling the globe solo for almost 10 years – including through Africa, Europe and Latin America – backpacking on a shoestring and a smile!
What made you decide to move to Noosa?
Rather predictably, the answer is love! I met my partner, when I moved in as his housemate in Noosa. I had come to this gorgeous corner of Australia’s Sunshine Coast looking for work and having been successful in my quest needed somewhere to live! Needless to say, things moved pretty fast between us and, as we already living together, it just seemed natural for me to stay! I spent the second year of my working holiday visa living with him and this allowed us to apply for partner residency, which is the process we’re in now!
Tell me about the cost of living.
There’s no denying it, Australia is an expensive country. And within it, Noosa is an expensive part! In fact, the area is renowned for its luxury, beachside atmosphere, but there’s far more to it than that – otherwise I wouldn’t be here! What tourism does however is push prices up, particularly when it comes to housing. Renting a room in a house share can cost you up $250 AUD per/week, although $180 AUD is about average. Buses are also expensive, operating on a zone system that means even a 5-minute ride can set you back around $4 AUD. You can save on this however, by buying a local Go Card. These are transport ‘tap on, tap off’ cards, which grant you discounted fares on buses (and trains) anywhere from Noosa down to the Gold Coast. A schooner of beer in a bar in Noosa is likely to coast you around $7 AUD and a loaf of the finest organic sourdough Is around $8 AUD – but it’s worth it!
How did you find the job seeking process?
Unbelievably easy, because I think it was meant to be! I arrived in Noosa at just the right time – November, the beginning of the busy summer season – and I actually got a job in the first place I handed my resume into! Hospitality and retail jobs dominate the tourist-driven town of Noosa, so if you have experience in these areas, as I did, you’ll definitely have an advantage. Going round in person to hand out resumes is also a good trick to picking up work here. I started working in a café and after a year was managing a restaurant, so it worked well for me!
Do you need a visa to live in Noosa?
Yes, you at least need a tourist visa to come to Australia. This can be applied for online. To work here you have to have a study visa (work restrictions apply), a working holiday visa (you can get 1 year and then extend to 2 by completing 88 days of regional work) or some form of residency or work permit.
What’s the social scene like? How easy is it to make friends?
Being a tourist town and a mecca for backpackers, it’s very easy to make friends in Noosa. Almost everyone has just drifted in here, so there’s always new people around and up for a good time. Noosa has quite a transient scene, so it doesn’t take long to become a “local” either. The bars and pubs keep the party happening most days of the week and the surf culture brings many together.
What’s the best thing about living in Noosa?
The best thing about living in Noosa is the incredible weather and the gorgeous nature surrounding it. From world-class beaches, to wildlife-filled national parks, there’s a lot of beauty here and it’s all easy to see and access! There’s also a real emphasis on healthy living, with a great outdoors and active culture, along with awesome local food markets.
What’s the hardest thing about living in Noosa?
I’ve got to be honest, the hardest thing about living in Noosa is the lack of artistic and cultural activities going on here. I’m really into my theatre and dance and I miss the offerings big cities like London provide in this area. Live music is also thin on the ground in Noosa and you really need to have a car to get anyway off the beaten track – poo!
How is your new home different from your old one?
Well, I don’t really have an old home, or at least I have a ton, because I’ve always moved round so much. From studying in Leeds and London, to living in Nicaragua, I’ve put down my bags for a while in a few places, but they are all remarkably different. I suppose I still consider Jersey in the Channel Islands my true home and ironically, it’s not that different from Noosa in many ways – culturally and lifestyle wise it’s quite similar – apart from the sunshine hours, that’s very different!
What’s your best local tip about where you live?
The Noosa Farmer’s Market, held every Sunday morning, can’t be missed. Go there to hunt down your cheap organic veggies, enjoy breakfast from around the world and try possibly the best smoothie ever known to man at the Sunflower Hotel (no exaggeration)
If we had just one day in Noosa what should we not miss?
Start with a coffee at Clandestino – the most amazing cup you’ll ever try – before enjoying breakfast on the river at Thomas Corner. From there try your hand at standup paddleboarding and then make your way to Main Beach for a swim and a sunbathe. Grab lunch at Café La Monde and then head into the Noosa National Park. Walk the coastal track, keeping your eyes peeled for koalas, echidna, whales and dolphins until you reach the enclave of Sunshine Beach! Enjoy a happy hour drink or 2 here at Mooshka, and then head back into the main part of town for dinner at Bistro C on the beach. Finish with a drink in the historic beer garden of Halse Lodge.
If you could give one piece of advice to people looking to live in Noosa what would it be?
Skip the main part of town and try to base yourself in Sunshine Beach. This is the more relaxed suburb around the corner from Main Beach, and it has a much more down to earth feel and a lovely village-like community. With its own strip of restaurants, bars and coffee shops, as well as a great surf beach, it’s a world away from glitzy pretension, while still offering the same great views.