Living the dream as a digital nomad is something that is within reach of more and more people in the gig economy. Millions of freelance writers, web designers, software developers, virtual assistants and more have the power to work from anywhere as long as they have their laptop to hand and a good internet connection.
Popular digital nomad destinations include bustling cities from Prague to Bangkok and sun kissed paradises from the Algarve to Bali. But one destination that practically every digital nomad has on his or her shortlist is Australia, with its golden beaches, unique wildlife and trendy cities with their nightclubs and casinos, plus a welcoming and relaxed vibe, there’s a lot for digital nomads to love about the land down under.
Digital nomad visa options in Australia
Unlike neighboring Indonesia and a handful of other countries, Australia has not introduced a digital nomad visa as such. However, don’t take that to mean Australians are anything less than welcoming towards digital nomads.
Most digital nomads arrive in Australia with a three-month tourist visa. The rules for working when traveling on such a visa are somewhat opaque, but thousands have found that it meets their short-term needs on an initial “fact finding” visit.
If you decide you are staying on beyond three months, you will need a 12-month working holiday visa. Again, this is quite simple to acquire. It is officially for people seeking work in Australia, but there is nothing to prevent you from working remotely. One small but important detail to remember is that if you want to renew the visa for a second year, you’ll need to complete 88 hours of eligible work.
This includes all sorts of farm labor type activities that are easy to find, so fitting in 88 hours of it around your usual work over 12 months should be no major hardship.
Preparing for life in the surfing and casino capital of the world
Hollywood represents Australia as a land of sun-bronzed beach Gods and Goddesses who spend their days riding the surf and their nights riding their luck at the sprawling super casinos of Sydney and Melbourne. The stereotypes have a basis in truth, at least to a certain extent.
One thing they got right is that Aussies love their casinos, and spend more per person per year on casino games than any other nation. Knowing the difference between a pokie and poker will put you in good stead. As for hanging out at the casinos, the Star and the Crown are certainly impressive and great for a night out celebrity spotting. But these days, most Aussies seem to prefer to play casino games online. You can check out CasinoAus’s list of recommendations to find out about the Australian pokies and other casino games like blackjack, roulette and baccarat that are available.
When it comes to the beach culture, it is another story. Yes, more than 85 percent of Australians live close to the coast, but only one in ten Australians own a surfboard. As for the beach-toned bodies, Australia has an obesity crisis that is not far behind that of the USA, so don’t worry, you don’t have to be super-athletic to fit in!
Selecting your destination in Australia
There are no wrong decisions when it comes to choosing where to set up camp in Australia. Unless you are a serious and experienced off-grid adventurer, you will want to base yourself in or close to one of the major cities.
Melbourne and Sydney are popular with those who want to be in the thick of the action and enjoy a hectic and bustling night life. They also offer the most mature infrastructures in terms of co-working spaces and shared offices, if these kinds of facilities are necessary for your work.
Hobart and Cairns are more peaceful and laid-back but still have great infrastructure. Brisbane is a good compromise that has the best of both worlds, plus amazing surfing in the Golden Coast if that is important to you. Perth and Darwin both have a vibe all of their own. The former is often compared with Los Angeles, perhaps because of its similar west coast location. Darwin, on the other hand, is the place to go if you want a taste of the “Crocodile Dundee” Australia. There is a wonderful rough and ready feel to the city, and the atmosphere is more “small town” despite the 150,000 population.
Wherever you choose, you only have to drive for 30 minutes inland for some Aussie outback adventures. You’ll feel a thousand miles from civilization with dirt roads stretching seemingly endless miles in all directions. Just don’t get too brave too fast, always keep to roads your vehicle can handle and follow all the safety signs to the letter – they are there for a reason.
Even a nomad needs somewhere to call home
Throughout Australia, from Adelaide to Zillmere, AirBnb is a popular platform for finding yourself somewhere to stay. Properties are let fully furnished and with all the necessary household bits and pieces such as crockery and bedding. Even better, you can get some serious discounts if you book for a month or more at a time.
The flatmates website is a useful resource if you are on a tighter budget and want to share. Also, having a flatmate or two can be a definite bonus if you are the gregarious type and want to start making connections straight away.
For the seriously cost-conscious There’s an impressive network of backpacker hostels that welcome singles or couples of all ages. These range from 10-bunk dormitories to private double rooms with en suites. Again, using these hostels is a great way of making contacts, so spend time hanging out in the kitchen and common room, it’s all part of the experience.
Whichever route you choose, get something booked before you travel and remember to think long-term. Australia is bigger than you think, and travel between cities expends time and money so look to spend at least a month at each destination.