For the month of August, we were in Australia. We spent three weeks house sitting in a rural area outside of Melbourne and then flew to the beautiful city of Sydney. We stayed in Sydney for 4 days and then drove north to the town of Casino where we helped out on a permaculture farm for a week.
Australia for us has been a mixture of ups and downs. We are fascinated by the animals and birds and have made some good friends along the way. However we have also found Australia to be very expensive, especially if it is even remotely linked to tourism. Because of this, we have felt like we have had to limit some of the activities we would have normally done, as we could not justify spending the big dollars it would have taken do these activities.
So how did we do for one month in Australia? Excitingly, we came really under budget for a total of $1761.64. This further breaks down to $56.82 per day or $18.94 per person per day. During the month of August 1 USD equaled approximately 1.07 AUD
Our biggest expenditure this month was for food for a total of $665.80. We spent $561.83 for groceries and $103.97 for dining out. A couple factors helped keep our food costs down for the month of August. While house sitting, the owners were incredibly generous and stocked up for us on some of the basics before leaving. While in Sydney, we avoided eating out by staying in a hotel that had a kitchenette, which allowed us to prepare most of our meals in the hotel. At the end of the month, we did a helpx opportunity where we helped out in exchange for meals and accommodation.
When we first arrived in Australia, we were sticker shocked by the prices for dining out. This made us very nervous to see the prices in the grocery store. Thankfully we found that groceries were not nearly as expensive as we had feared. Before coming to Australia, we had been told by fellow travelers that the place to shop for groceries was at Aldi. After comparing prices at other supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths, we agree. Aldi by far is the cheapest grocery store to shop at. Aldi’s does not have a lot of choices, but the prices are by far cheaper.
Our next biggest expenditure for the month of August was for transportation for a total of $601.02. While we were house sitting, the homeowners gave us use of their car. This helped keep costs down, as we would have needed to rent a car due to the house being located in a rural area outside of Melbourne.
After house sitting, we then flew from Melbourne to Sydney for a total cost of $169.51 for the three of us. Our friends, Jane and Duncan, were kind enough to pick us up from the Sydney Airport and drop us off at our hotel. While in Sydney, we found a hotel close to the sites, so we could walk most places and avoid using public transport. Public transport in Sydney is not cheap, so finding accommodations closer in will help save money. While in Sydney, we did take the ferry to Manly for a total cost of $13.46 for the 3 of us. Taking the ferry to spend the day at Manly was definitely worth the cost and provided great views of the Harbor Bridge and Opera House from the water.
After Sydney, we rented a car for 13 days and drove to Casino to help out on a permaculture farm. The cost of the rental car fell between the budget months of August and September and has been divided between the two months. August’s cost for the rental car was $187.71. Here is some advice that we learned the hard way, be aware that one-way fees can be outrageous. We ended up paying $200 in one-way fees in order to pick up the car in Sydney and drop it off in Toowoomba.
Fuel for the month of August cost a total of $220.01. Fuel prices in Australia are approximately 1.50 AUD or 1.40 USD per liter, which works out to about $5.29 USD per gallon. Fuel in Australia is not as cheap as in the US, but is cheaper than Europe. We also had the miscellaneous cost of $10.33 in parking for the month.
Our next biggest expenditure was for lodging for a total of $291.59. While in Melbourne, we did a house sit located in a rural area just outside of Melbourne for 3 weeks. This meant we did not have to pay for accommodations while there. During our house sit, we took care of 3 dogs, 2 cats, 4 horses, 1 sheep, and a chicken. We enjoyed our house sit and taking care of our furry friends. We were also frequently able to see wild kangaroos hopping through the pastures. We found our house sitting opportunity through Trusted Housesitters.
House sitting is definitely a way of keeping costs down, but is very competitive. My advise to you is apply as soon as the house sit is posted and also just keep on applying. Do not get frustrated when you do not get any responses and do not give up. Someone will give you a chance, just like they gave us a chance. Also if you are thinking of doing house sitting to help keep costs down, before you leave try to do some local house sitting to build up references.
While in Sydney, we stayed at the Lido Hotel for 3 nights for a total of $286.92. Our hotel was in the more “colorful” part of Sydney aka the red light district. However we found the accommodations to be clean and safe. In our room we had a kitchenette with microwave, refrigerator and dishes allowing us to prepare some basics meals thus helping save some money on food. The Lido was also within walking distance of most of the sites in Sydney, helping us save money on transportation. While staying at the Lido Hotel, we also had miscellaneous expense of $4.67 for laundry.
After leaving Sydney, we drove up to Casino, Australia where we helped out on a permaculture farm. We found this opportunity through Helpx. In exchange for 4 hours a day of helping out, we received food and accommodations. During our week, we learned a little bit about the principles of permaculture, planted things, built thing and made new friends. We also stayed in an area that we normally would not have and got to experience a little of rural Australian life. It was really a positive experience and our only regret was that we didn’t do Helpx before Australia.
If you are looking at saving some money on lodging and food, Helpx.net is a great way to do this. It is not nearly as competitive as house sitting. It is also worldwide and there are a wide range of opportunities from helping someone design their website, to proof reading a website, to child care, to helping out on a farm.
Our next biggest expenditure for the month of August was for miscellaneous items for a total of $126.59. This included clothing for Jason, Sydney and I, cat and dog treats for our cute furry friends, and food for the cute Kangaroos while visiting Ballarat Wildlife Park. After being on the road for almost two years, our clothes are starting to look ragged and falling apart at the seams. We were hoping to wait until we got back to the US to start replacing our clothes, but we decided some things just needed replacing now.
Our total expenditures for entrance fees were $76.64. This was for seeing Ballarat Wildlife Park and entrance to Hanging Rocks. Both were worth the expense. As I have mentioned before, anything remotely associated with tourism is really expensive in Australia. So we have tried to be more creative in finding activities that are fun, but either free or low cost. Most national parks are free and we have enjoyed doing some bush walking. Also both the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne and the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney are free and well worth the time to visit. Also most cities in Australia have some excellent parks with BBQ’s and play structures. The one thing I do wish we had done while in Sydney was see a show at the Opera House. We just did not have enough time and had not planned for this. Perhaps another visit.
- If you rent a car try to return it to the same city. One-way fees can be hefty especially if returning to a different state. We paid $200 one-way fee. No joke.
- House sitting is a great way to decrease costs. But be prepared to apply to a lot of them before getting one. It is very competitive.
- Helpx is another great way to help decrease costs. This is by far less competitive than house sitting and there are lots of options for helping out from web design to working on a farm.
- In general the national parks of Australia are free. Enjoy a walk and maybe get the chance to see some of Australia’s iconic animals.
- If you rent a place or stay a hotel, find one with a kitchen. Eating out in Australia will really hurt any budget.
While in Australia, we have had our ups and downs, but I am glad that we decided to spend as long as we did. Along the way, we have been able to make some good friends, have some amazing experiences and see some fascinating animals.