Why Move to Canada From Australia on a Working Holiday

Trading Down Under for the Great White North is like visiting your super cool distant cousins. Australia and Canada have been Commonwealth buddies for ages. It’s why Aussies and Canucks get along so well! While you might have to trade kangaroos for moose (yes, the plural of moose is moose), the bush for boreal forests, and surfing for snowboarding, both countries have this in common: endless adventures.

Given its similarities to Oz and its incredible natural beauty, it’s no surprise that so many young Australians head to Canada for a working holiday — but how exactly does one move to Canada from Australia?

Many Aussies opt for Whistler, and it's easy to see why with views like these.

What’s different about living and working in Canada?

When you make the big move from Australia to Canada, you’re bound to notice a few differences. Although plenty of traditions and values are shared between both countries, there are plenty of local intricacies.

The Weather

For starters, no one will be surprised by this fact: the weather’s a tad different. Being on two different hemispheres, Australia’s and Canada’s seasons are swapped. When Australia’s summer is blazing, Canada’s winter is freezing—and vice versa. Don’t believe the old rumours, the Great White North doesn’t boast snow year-round … well, we doubt you’ll be heading that far up north. From June to September, you’re looking at anywhere from 20s °C to 40s °C. In the winter months, depending on where you are, you could experience a mild -5 °C or a frosty -40 °C. Spring and fall are gorgeous transitional seasons and the weather is all over the place during those months, you’ve been warned!

Working in Canada Vs. Australia

When it comes to the work culture in Canada, it’s fairly similar to Australia. On average, Canadians’ work schedules are 8 hours a day or 35 to 40 hours per week full-time. Obviously, this depends on your gig. Lunch breaks tend to be 30 minutes to an hour and depending on the province, breaks of varying lengths are mandatory as well.
The minimum wage is lower in Canada than it is in Australia. However, a lot of gigs in Canada come with tips which are pretty much mandatory here. Not all jobs pay minimum wage and the cost of living varies depending on the city you find yourself in. It’s nothing to be scared about, it’s just good to know.

Payday comes around every two weeks and, contrarily to Oz, there are no weekend or evening pay increases (sorry). There is, however, a public holiday pay increase of, usually, 1.5 times your regular pay. Thanks to Commonwealth, most holidays are the same in Australia and Canada, although every province has their own extra holidays.

One place where Canada’s and Australia’s work culture differs greatly is the “Super.” That’s not a thing in Canada. People are expected to save for retirement on their own. In some cases, companies will help out, but it depends on the company and industry.

When it comes to leaving work and coming back to your home away from home, keep in mind that rent is paid monthly in Canada!

A Few Other Key Differences…

And for some fun rapid-fire differences: did you know that in some provinces, Canada packages milk in bags? Yup. A $1 coin is a loonie and a $2 coin is a toonie. Canadians drink a version of a bloody Mary with clam juice in it, and it’s delicious (it’s called a Caesar, give it a shot). Taxes are non-inclusive in Canada, meaning that you have to do some fun math when looking at something in a store to know how much it will be at the register (sorry). Canadians drive on the other side of the road and you can turn right at a red light! That about covers it.

Swap sun for snow on an epic ski season in the Great White North.

How do I make the move from Australia to Canada?

Wait, first, what’s a working holiday?

Canada has a youth mobility agreement with around 35 countries which allows young people to live work and travel in Canada for 12 to 24 months—lucky Australians get 24 months. This program is called IEC, short for International Experience Canada and includes a working holiday visa. In short, a working holiday is an extended vacation where you can work to help you pay for your trip as you go.

Black bears, cinnamon bears, grizzlies, spirit bears... there's no shortage of wildlife in Canada.

Can I move from Australia to Canada?

Yes! … Probably. There are a few working holiday visa requirements you must meet. Australians are fortunate to get an unlimited number of spots in IEC’s annual program. All other countries have a limited number of places for their participants every year, but Canadians just love their Aussies, don’t they?

In order to qualify for the Canadian working holiday visa, you must:

  • Be between the ages of 18 and 35 (inclusively);
  • Have a valid passport that will not expire while you’re in Canada;
  • Have health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay;
  • Have at least CAD$2500 (approx. AUD$2750) in the bank;
  • Have a return plane ticket to Canada or enough money to buy one; and
  • Be allowed to enter the country (i.e., not have a criminal record).

How do I make this happen?

With a little help from your friends in Canada—that’s us! Most of the Stepwest team originally made the move to Canada on a working holiday. So we’ve been there, done that, and are here to help. We know the struggle, which is why we’ll get you a job, a place to stay, plenty of insider knowledge, help with your work permit and all things to do with your Canadian adventure!

Whether you choose to become one with the Vancouverites and live the cosmopolitan Canadian life, experience the postcard version of Canada with a snowy ski resort gig or you’re curious about what summer here has to offer, you’re sure to make the most of your move from Australia to Canada.


Get in touch with our team for a free consultation on how to make your Canadian dreams come true.