10 steps to living FIFO – what I’ve learned along the way
It was seven years ago when I commenced my first graduate role in the resources sector, and since then, I’ve had my fair share of fly in fly out (FIFO) roles.
As the new year swings into gear, there may be a lot of new FIFO roles being accepted! While I’m pretty accustomed to dongas and mess halls, I can appreciate this way of living will be new to a lot of people, so I wanted to share my experiences to give you some insight into FIFO life.
Firstly, there’s no cooking! If you’re lucky enough to work on a mine site, you should be given access to the Mess Hall, which operates for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You simply arrive in time, grab a plate and select from the meal options available that day. The cooks work hard to bring you hearty food, including roasts, pastas, vegetable and much more for dinner options. The biggest decision you’ll have to make is chocolate or vanilla ice cream!
I made so many friends in my time working FIFO, who I remain in touch with today. Not everyone will experience or understand FIFO, so when you work with people who ‘get it’, you tend to form a lasting bond. There’s also not a lot you can do on the weekends in terms of a highly active social life, so forming friendships will give you a walking buddy, someone to catch up with for coffee, and a sports team to join!
Your bank account should also thank you for taking a FIFO role. It is well documented that resources and FIFO pay is above average, as there is a considerable amount of lifestyle sacrifice people make. FIFO isn’t for everyone, but with an increased income and lack of fast food joints and bars to eat into your savings, you can spend your spare time planning your next holiday, investment or saving for a house. Every bit you don’t spend makes a big difference! I was able to invest my savings into creating my business – I couldn’t do that on a metro lifestyle.
I’ve had lots of people tell me that the new industry workwear on the market has helped bring dignity and empowerment back into their FIFO day. You don’t have to slug it out in oversized men’s shirts and boots these days, with fashionable and practical workwear from my label, She’s Empowered and safety footwear from shewear.
The roster for a FIFO worker can mean working long days, and sometimes its 2 or 3 weeks on, and 1 or 2 weeks off. The idea of a week or two off is enticing, but when you’re working those 7 or 14 days straight, you can really miss the concept of a weekend every 5 days.
While technology has made living away from home easier than ever before, the internet and phone reception can be sketchy. It’s hard to be cut off on a phone or Skype call to loved ones particularly when you’re having a bad day and feeling lonely. It’s hit and miss but the times you do get to connect will be cherished.
If you think it’s been hot this February with 35 degree days, just try working outdoors in remote Australia when it’s pushing past 40 degrees! Not only is it scorching, but you’ll eat plenty of dust and the flies just won’t budge. It’s hard going these days.
The commute to get virtually anywhere can be frustrating. You have to have a car that’s equipped for dirt roads with lots of bumps and unfilled holes, and watch for wildlife all the time. It can take a few hours just to get into a town with a shopping centre and air-conditioning.
Give it a go
I know working in FIFO roles has helped shape who I am today. I am more resilient to adversity, and resourceful with limited possessions and activities on offer. I appreciate the company of my friends and family so much more knowing what it’s like to live remotely, and I am thankful for seeing parts of Australia so many people won’t get to experience.
Hit me up if you have any questions on FIFO living or working in mining!