This post is the final post of a series about the cost of traveling in Australia. It will cover everything else you could possibly need to know, including living expenses, transportation, shopping and other thrifty tips.
Since everything is so spread out, Australian flights can be a nightmare. Getting from Sydney to Alice Springs and from Adelaide back to Sydney on the same airline was next to impossible, as I found out the hard way. There are only a few carriers, Qantas, Virgin Australia, JetStar and Tiger, so they can keep prices high. JetStar and Virgin often have sales, but you have to book quickly.
When possible, take Greyhound buses for a cheaper method of transportation. I took the bus to Cairns with dozens of stops along the way for only $300. The cost of driving myself or flying between cities would have been significantly more.
There are a few train routes throughout the country, including the famous Ghan through the Outback. These are more scenic routes and not meant to save you money or to get you to your destination quickly.
Local transport varies from city to city but Sydney had an extensive rail, bus, light rail and ferry network. Save money by purchasing a MyMulti or MyBus pass for multiple rides rather than individual tickets, which typically start at $3.30 per ride. Unfortunately, most transportation ends at midnight on every night of the week, so I often took $40 taxi rides home after work. There’s not much to do about this unless you want to wait an hour for a bus. There’s always the free option of walking if you can.
It was my experience in Australia, or Sydney at least, that the girls were very fashionable and dressed up to do simple tasks like going to the grocery store. I felt underdressed, as I wore mostly sloppy backpacker clothes and hand-me-downs from my roommate. Thankfully I learned an important lesson after a few months in Australia. Shopping at thrift stores like Vinnie’s and Salvo’s, as well as chains like Ally, Cotton On and SES, can keep you looking fashionable without breaking the bank.
NEVER pay for WiFi! There are a handful of remote places that don’t have other options, but scout out places like Pie Face, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Breadtop and Gloria Jean’s that offer it for free or with purchase of a drink. It may not be reliable, since no internet in Australia is reliable, but at least you won’t be spending money on it.
Living Expenses, Medical Expenses and Employment
Once I settled into Sydney, I found an apartment in the suburb of Marrickville. I found that apartments in Sydney were very expensive. Many postings on Gumtree, like Craigslist, advertised shared rooms and apartments in very distant suburbs of the city. My rent was comparable to that of my first apartment in downtown Charleston, at $750 per month ($175 per week) with all utilities included. I had a very small room and shared a bathroom, but that didn’t bother me as the rest of the house was nice. The average cost of an apartment in inner Sydney is $200 per week. A bartender in Adelaide told me that his rent was half that, so choose where to settle down wisely.
My job had a lot of great benefits, namely the pay, hours and discounted hotel stays. I also got lots of random things like discounted movie tickets and rewards for hard work. If you want to know more about bartending in Australia or about working holidays, see the relevant posts. As far as food and beverage jobs go, I would expect at least $12 per hour plus tips. Your job is required to set you up with superannuation, a retirement account, which you can claim once you leave.
Australia has national healthcare, known as the Medicare system. This means that even if you don’t have coverage, they have to provide you with treatment. There are hundreds of walk-in clinics, known as general practitioners (GPs) in any given city. I received a doctor’s visit and medication for less than $50 without insurance. In the US, that is a standard co-pay with insurance.
Anything I missed about the cost of traveling in Australia?