If you’ve ever thought about working and living abroad, the fear that it’s too difficult keeps many people from trying it. Where do you even begin? How do you apply for a working visa? This is where Swap Working Holidays comes in.
I used Swap when I first moved to England, but was it worth the cost? Check out my review on Swap Working Holidays below!
What is Swap Working Holidays?
Swap is a Canadian company that helps young people work, teach or volunteer abroad in various countries. In short, they help you fill out the appropriate paperwork, make sure your eligible and guide you through the whole complicated process.
They can either get you a working visa for certain countries, an opportunity to teach in Thailand or two different volunteer options in South Africa.
Countries you can work in with Swap:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States
However, just because they help you get the working visa to live and work in that country, doesn’t mean they will be lining you up with a job. For me personally, I join Swap and they helped me apply for the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme visa for the United Kingdom. I ended up living in England, and have been here every since!
Countries you can teach in with Swap:
Countries you can volunteer in with Swap:
- South Africa
- Either an orphanage, or a wildlife conservation
How must does Swap cost?
Swap’s services will depend on what program you end up going for. There will also be different prices whether you decide to work, teach or volunteer.
Typical prices include:
Swap to work in the UK costs $395 CAD
Swap to work in Japan costs $400 CAD
These services include getting you applied for the visa, walking you through the process, answering any of your questions, access to certain Swap resources, etc. They will not set up your job for you or pick your accommodation. It’s more like they get you ready for the move, help with some aspects when you arrive, and then let you get on with it yourself.
It’s important to note that your payment to Swap does not include your visa fee, or any other fees your chosen foreign country requires you to pay. Essentially you’re paying Swap to help you, but you’ll still need to pay for all your flights, visa, and fees for that new country.
Swap to teach in Thailand (1 semester) costs $1800 CAD. However this includes your paid teaching position (for 1 or 2 semesters), accommodation, orientation, language lessons, social and cultural activities. This program is much more structured and Swap really organizes it for you (hence the increased cost as well).
What about when you land in your new country?
This will be different for everyone, and specific to each country, but this was my experience with using Swap when moving to the United Kingdom.
Once I landed in England, I had access to Swap’s UK counterpart company called BritBound. They actually provide the same type of services like Swap. I was provided with a free orientation at Britbound’s headquarters in London during my first week in the country. Here, I was given a form to fill out to receive my National Insurance Number (it’s required for you to work in the UK).
They also did a powerpoint presentation about London and some quick tips on getting a job and finding accomodation in the city. I was also able to mingle with other expats at the orientation, many of us coming from around the world.
However, the presentation and almost all of the information provided by Britbound was solely for London. Many expats choose to stay in London, so this makes sense, but it doesn’t help any of us who will not be living in the city.
This meant that Britbound couldn’t help me find a job or accomodation.
It’s not the end of the world, but it did feel like I had paid for that and wasn’t able to receive it like those living in London.
Before you get long-term accommodation, you might need to stay in a hostel beforehand. Worried about safety? Check out my article “Are London hostels safe?” before visiting the city!
Britbound also hosts events nearly every day, either at their headquarters or around London. This was events like a movie night at their headquarters, going out to dinner, going to the cinema, visiting museums, etc. Overall, a really lovely and easy way to meet other expats! However, the biggest downfall is that it’s almost solely in London. I could have trained in, but it was have been a long and expensive journey, just to turn around and go home after a few hours.
They did also host day-trips to places like Oxford or Stonehenge, which are obviously outside of London. However, you would all need to meet in London before leaving.
As a member, you’ll also have access to BritBound and Swap’s Facebook groups, which are a great way to ask questions, meet other expats, find roommates and sell items online. I actually found a handful of my friends through the Facebook groups!
Would I use Swap Working Holidays again?
If your anxious about moving abroad, using Swap really takes the stress and anxiety away. They easily walk you through the whole process, provide all the forms you need, check your forms before you submit them and answer all your questions.
Moving to the United Kingdom was pretty straight forward and I could have done it myself. However, if you’re looking to move to a country that speaks a foreign language, I can definitely see how beneficial Swap would be in that situation.
The Britbound services in the UK wasn’t really beneficial for me since I wasn’t going to be living in London. However, I did meet people through their Facebook groups which was really helpful. Making friends is hard!