Surfing and Working | How to find a job near the beach
Looking for ways to stay near the surf?
If your dream is to rent a room and settle in for a while alongside a beautiful beach, here's some tips on how to get a job and make money so you can afford to stay longer.
There are many locations around the world where surfers and beach-lovers flock, staying only until their money runs out. Then comes the harsh reality of returning home to get another job and make more cash to finance the next trip.
It can be tough being a tourist with limited funds. Surfing is free, but food and accommodation isn't.
Once you've found a lifestyle you love, it is hard to drag yourself away. So why not try juggling surfing and working?
How do you find a job near the beach?
Byron Bay, Australia
Everyone who comes to Australia's most famous beach town, Byron Bay wants to stay. Going home is never an attractive proposition.
The quirky nature of the town and its people, the laid back lifestyle, the natural beauty of the coastline and the rainforest, great surfing, plus the health benefits of fresh, organic food (and a water supply without fluoride) combine to make this area extremely attractive.
Following the waves
Yes, Byron Bay is one of the best places in the world to surf. :)
Working and surfing
Firstly, let's dispel the myth that nobody's working at a surfing location like Byron Bay. Of course we work. We might disappear to the beach if the surf's up, but we'll be back in a couple of hours to pick up where we left off.
If you want a job near a popular beach, you need to understand the brain of a typical beach boss. There's a good chance your boss will be a surfer. If they don't surf themselves, you can be absolutely certain your potential employer will know a lot of surfers.
Many of us who first came here as teenagers in the 1970s now live in our own beach houses, might have collected investment properties to rent to tourists, and probably also run a small business or two somewhere nearby.
When you are the boss, you don't have to ask for time off. The boss decides their own lunch time (which might be early in the morning or late in the afternoon, depending on the surf) and nobody can fire the boss.
So what does that mean for you if you love to go surfing and you really need a job?
You'll probably get lots of chances to catch some good waves on a work day if you are a surfing tradesperson. Locals here know that house construction slows almost to a halt when the surf is up.
If you are at Byron Bay, take a drive to the Pass or Wategos Beach on any day of the week when the surf's up. You only have to reach the carpark to identify vehicles belonging to painters, plumbers, electricians, tilers, brick layers, concreters, water-proofers, carpenters etc. The tools of their trade will be obvious through the windows.
Hang around and chat with some of them as they strip off their wetsuits before returning to work ... or slide a note in the windscreen of the ute or van that bears an appropriate paint-stained ladder saying you are handy with a paintbrush and roller and looking for work. (If you get a job as their off-sider, there's a good chance you'll be 'forced' to accompany them to the beach between jobs.)
The process of finding a job is made even more simple when the vehicle has signage advertising the business name and phone number. SMS a text message.
Don't assume you'll have the same success at Main Beach. Workers who are surfing are unlikely to park in full view of every car that drives up the main drag.
Besides, the surf is often better at the other beaches.
Buy what you need to make money
Be Your Own Boss
You don't have to be Einstein to see that the best way to dictate your own working hours is to be your own boss.
If you think you'll die if you can hear waves crashing on the beach while you are chained to the concrete floor of your workplace, there's no point applying for a regular job. Because let's face it, most jobs require you to be on site during the designated hours that you are being paid to work.
Fortunately there are a number of ways to have the freedom to catch waves plus make money at a popular beach if you are prepared to take responsibility for making an income based solely on your ability to provide a service.
- Fire dancing
- Portrait sketching
- Impromptu tour-guide for foreign tourists, although it helps if you speak their language.
Put your talents to work busking
- Wander around for a day and a night checking out buskers and performers on the streets, in cafes, alongside the beach and in any busy parks.
Ask them if they applied for official permission to perform. If they did, how hard was it to obtain? If they didn't, how hard is it to stay out of trouble?
- If you are staying in backpacker's accommodation, network with the people there. The visitors, staff and management will all have stories to tell about making a little extra cash.
- If you are a barista, chat to any business with an espresso machine.
- If you can cook, head for all the restaurants, cafes and bakeries.
- If you look good in beachwear, head for the retail outlets.
Networking is important for anyone looking for work. In a surfing community if you are a surfer you should find it easy to strike up a conversation.
Put your fitness to work
Working in a shop - selling to tourists
If you are a good sales person, a tourist resort like Byron Bay is bound to have lots of jobs ... for the right person. We have a plethora of retail shops happy to make sales to tourists.
But to get a job in a retail store, you need more than just an honest face and good people skills. Shops need to keep their doors open and have staff ready to sell things, so surfing is not really conducive with working in a store.
Of course some stores are open into the night, so surfers could try to get a late shift. The best shop assistants at a beach, however, tend to be people who enjoy the night life and social scene more than the surf. (As long as they can get up and make it to work on time in the morning.)
If you want to get a job in a retail store selling gear to tourists, you need to convince the long-suffering business owner that you will show up for work on time, come back promptly after your lunch break, and stay until close of business.
The Job Interview
I guarantee that 99.9% of retail businesses in Byron Bay relying on staff are painfully aware of how disruptive it is to their business when one (or more) of their workers is out on a board surfing instead of behind the counter, selling.
Here's the kind of line that will help you get a job in a retail store when the owner asks if you surf ...
"Don't surf, can't swim, hate the water!"
If they look at you with that questioning grimace that indicates your response seems insincere, I suggest you wash your hair and rinse the dried salt from your skin before your next job interview.
Retail outlets after darkClick thumbnail to view full-size
Working in the night
Okay, so you like the flexibility of going to the beach whenever the surf is up, but you really need a job. What kind of jobs can you get in the nighttime?
In addition to the usual jobs in cafes and restaurants at dinner time, you could try for a job in a late night bar or take-away food outlet.
Our town has a booming retail sector operating after dark. Lots of stores choose to keep their doors open until late, particularly during the busy holiday periods.
Yes, tourists can sometimes pick up shifts - particularly if you are a skilled barista who can make a latte look like a work of art, or a highly skilled bar attendant who works fast and furiously without letting your smile slip. You'll have a greater chance of getting this type of job, though, if you are staying in the area for longer than a month ... or able to if you get work.
If you get a night job, make sure you have enough energy to stay awake until the end of your shift. Surfing all day can take it out of you.
Finding work in Byron Bay
A popular surf beach where tradespeople and other workers can often be found on a work day when the surf is up.
Byron Bay's main street. At the top end (near the beach) you are central to many retail outlets that remain open for business after dark.
Put your online social networks to work
Did you know you can make money from your online social networks if you have enough followers on outlets like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?
What is your favorite beach location best known for? Beaches, surfing, beach fashions, surfboards, and a wide range of associated goods and services.
If you have hundreds of thousands of followers, and post hundreds of photos online every week, there's a possibility you might find yourself a sponsor.
Chat with retail outlets that suit your lifestyle, (and in Byron Bay don't forget to take a visit to the industrial estate on the road into town.) If you can demonstrate that you are influential to a very wide audience, you can put your online social networks to work.
Yes, you just might be paid to wear fashions or ride surfboards all day every day as long as you post photos. I know others who are!
© 2014 Alex Finn