So you just came from South East Asia and are used to spending $4 for a night in a guesthouse, $2 for your daily meals and were happy with the money left in your wallet after a night of liver destruction and tuk tuk rides.
Then you came to Australia to earn some money and almost fainted at the sign ‘Pint of beer, only $7!’
It is time to budget and hang on to those colourful ozzie dollars, as they are going to go quickly without a plan. Accomodation, food, transport and alcohol are your primary requirements. But you’re not ready for that all inclusive farming job yet, you just came from busy cities so need to wind down.
Hostels vary in prices, but that adds up, especially if you need to settle in an area for a while, an alternative is to buy a camper van and sleep in car parks, with the odd night at a hostel for shower facilities.
A better route however is to get your own place; A shared room in a house is possible and often is cheaper than hostels. Having a fixed address is also advantageous for job and bank applications on arrival in this new country too.
As an example I am in a 3 bed small house at the moment, the rent is Oz$1358 a month. Scary number right? However it is 3 bedrooms, therefore the rent is split 3 ways, so we’re now down to $452 a month. But you’re used to dorms right? A backpack doesn’t need a whole bedroom, so another bed and person in there means your rent is now $226 a month, or $56.50 a week. Now it’s starting to sound better then that $25 a night hostel isn’t it?
Believe it or not, you can get your $1 (or even less) noodles here too. You just have to cook them yourself. This is the key to cheap living here. A lot of houses in Asia don’t have kitchens, which is one reason why eating out is pretty cheap. However like most of the ‘western world’ in Australia dining out is a luxury and therefore expensive, so get that white hat and apron on, and purchase your goods from the supermarkets and local markets to do a bit of home cooking.
A 4kg bag of potatoes and 1kg of cheese can be had for $4 and $10 respectively and provides a weeks worth of dinners for one (you can share the cost with your new housemates so this won’t be the same daily meal). A 5 pack of noodles can be had for $2.26, add hot water and the included sauces and it’s ready to go. Eggs are reasonably priced too at $3 for a dozen. Tinned vegetables work out cheaper then fresh and work well in fried food. Meat is fairly expensive. Kangaroo (give it a try, it’s better than beef!) tends to be one of the cheaper meats, but 1kg of mince beef can be had for under $5 if you shop about and gives flexibility in what can be made (burgers, meatballs, spaghetti bolognaise). Rice and pasta also works out as a cheap base for meals.
Of course transport is a necessary to travel too. Public transportation in Australia is reasonably priced and not as hard on the wallet as some countries can be (avoid the taxis though). However for long term (3 months+) you’d probably be better off getting your own transportation providing you have a licence. A driving licence in your own country is valid for use in Australia for up to a year after your arrival.
Check out newspapers, ads in local hostels, travel agents and websites such as Gumtree for vans, cars and motorbikes to suit your requirements.
You might not want to hear my best advice for this subject, simply: cut it down.
Bottle shops are popular in Australia and sometimes a cheaper alternative to buying from supermarkets, shop about and find whats best near you. Typically it’s best to buy a crate with a large number of bottles in then a pack of 4 or 6, look out for offers in supermarkets too, they do happen.
If you have any more tips for cheap living in an Australian city, please leave them in the comments section below.