There’s never been a more expensive time to visit Australia. The Australian economy isn’t suffering to the extent of it’s counterparts in the UK and USA. The Aussie dollar is strong, virtually on par with the US dollar at the moment, which makes it expensive to buy. Wages in Australia are high, and while that might be good for locals or working holiday-makers, for tourists that sucks. It’s the perfect storm for expensive travel.
How expensive is Australia?
I should note that certain things are actually cheaper in Australia than in New Zealand – groceries are cheaper, petrol is cheaper and clothing is cheaper… but that’s about it.
Eating out is horrendously expensive – a plate of pasta in the local Italian restaurant on the Sunshine Coast is an astounding $30+. A modest sushi lunch for our small family – at least $25. A smoothie or fresh juice at a kiosk near the beach – $7. Getting about isn’t that much cheaper – a single cash fare on the bus here in Mooloolaba costs $4.80 for a one way journey. A taxi for the ten minute ride from the airport to our house – $40.
Don’t even get me started on what it costs to do anything here! A ticket to Australia Zoo – a whopping $59 for adults. I’m sure it’s worth it but we just can’t justify spending that amount of cash.
Is Australia just too darn expensive?
We’ve been in Australia for six weeks now and we’re spending WAY more money than we ever anticipated. We were actually hoping to save a bit of money for our first few months of full-time travel by just taking it easy in Australia. Some idea that was!
We had figured, based on past trips, that we could get away with $50 a day when we weren’t travelling around. We have a free housesit here in the Sunshine Coast (courtesy of Lee’s travelling parents) and we still struggle to spend under $70 most days, some days it’s up over $100 a day. We don’t even do that much. All our entertainment consists of is going for walks, kayaking from our own backyard, going to the playground and hitting the beach. We take a few bus trips a week to the shops but most of the time we walk everywhere.
Just living here is costing us an extraordinary amount of money. We can afford it for now, and we do enjoy it here, so I’m not really complaining. I’m just thinking out loud as to whether there is a better, more cost-effective place for us to be right now.
What are the alternatives?
The only sensible antidote to the horrendous cost of living in Australia is leaving!!! I’m starting to think it would be cheaper to fly to Thailand and rent an apartment in Bangkok or Chiang Mai than stay in Australia in free accommodation.
We just missed out on an Air Asia sale last week where we could have got the three of us to Thailand for under A$750. Provided that a good deal came up again in the next few months we could make it out of Oz for under $1000.
Chris and Angela from Tieland to Thailand outline their spending habits in Chiang Mai. They spend just under US$1200 a month for everything! They have a great little house, go out for delicious Thai meals, get massages and still manage to come in under their US$1500 a month budget. If we go out for Thai food, we spend anything from A$30 to A$70! A massage? In Australia? Forget about it! It’s cost at least A$70 for a one hour massage.
Basically, our living costs in Thailand would be around half what they are in Australia.
Should we stick to our Australia plan?
At the moment, our plan is to stay put in our house sit here in the Sunshine Coast until late November. We’ve got a week in Melbourne booked for the first week of August, a short trip to the Gold Coast for the Problogger Conference in September and we are hoping to squeeze in a road trip up to Townsville and maybe, this is a big maybe, a flying visit to Vanuatu before the end of our time in Oz.
The most realistic alternative would be to fly to Thailand from the Gold Coast in mid-September and spend the last three months of the year in and around Thailand. I think we could get away with spending around US$2000 per month (for the three of us) if we stayed put in a rented apartment in Chiang Mai or Bangkok. Over three months, staying in Thailand would save us an extra $5000 to $6000.
What should we do?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what we should do. This will probably be the last time we’re in the South Pacific for the next few years so should we just suck up the cost and make the most of it? Or should we bail in September and spend a few relaxing months saving money in Thailand?
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.