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No Worries, Australia is F@#%!n’ Expensive

How Expensive is Australia?

If there was any black cloud that was hanging over my Epic Trip To Australia, it was the cost of the country. Australia is expensive. F@#%!n’ expensive. I was unprepared for how much I would have to pay for even the smallest of items: Bottled Water, Ice Cream Cones, Hamburgers, even fruit was more than I could imagine.

I guess I’m spoiled. Having traveled to Africa and Asia, I’ve become accustomed to bartering at markets, finding cheap food and having a currency that works in your favor. None of that works in Australia. Take a look:

American readers will be familiar with Subway’s $5 footlong promotion. In Australia… $7

 No Worries, Australia is F@#%!n Expensive

The tourist-mecca that is Orlando, sells 3 T-shirts for $10 on roadside shops (in addition to farting underwear). In Sydney… 2 T-Shirts for $50.

 No Worries, Australia is F@#%!n Expensive

Seriously. I can go to Abercrombie & Fitch in New York and get a better deal! Bananas were as high as $4.54 lb. (I can buy them at my local grocery store for 99 cents/lb.

 No Worries, Australia is F@#%!n Expensive

In a suburban liquor store out of the tourist-disctrict, 700ml of vodka cost $35.00. The same bottle in the United States… $18.99 (and you get 50ml more). I thought this would be cheaper than paying $7-10 per drink at the bars. I was right, but found no deal.

The exchange rate to the U.S. Dollar is almost on par with the Australian Dollar. So you don’t win in the currency conversion (our dollar is actually weaker by a few pennies). Australia wiped my bank account clean. You truly need to be Oprah to travel here long-term.

Surely, You Must Have Known About This in Advance…

Perhaps. I built my budget around hotels, entertainment and transportation. Before I left, I knew what I would spend in those categories (and came quite close). I was budgeting $4,000 for 3 weeks. With a food allowance of $40/day, I thought it would be possible (apparently my tastes in food are higher than many guidebooks). There was no corporate card on this trip!

As it turns out, I spent almost 6k.

“No Worries”, as the Australians would say (a common expression used in any apologetic situation). I had no choice. I wasn’t going home. So I swiped the credit card and got over it. There was nothing you could do at that point. Sure you could worry, but that wouldn’t get you anything. I decided to live this trip like I was a rockstar. After a week, you became numb to the fact that it costs over $50 to fill up your compact car with fuel.

Was it Worth It?

 No Worries, Australia is F@#%!n Expensive

Absolutely. Sure I followed the usual traveler tips and cooked food at the hostel, split costs amongst friends and took public transport whenever possible, but it wasn’t enough to stay within my daily budget.

Make no mistake, I splurged a bit too; drank a lot and purchased some high-price tours. But I don’t think I’ll ever spend that much money again on a vacation, at least not for a while. It took 2 years of saving and a lot of discipline (which is why it’s important to have a strict household budget). For a brief moment in time, I lived like a king. Everyone should have that experience just once. Treat yourself.

I may never return to Australia again. So I’m glad I spent what I did. I have no regrets, and that’s how adventures should be.

How do you cope with having to pay high prices when you travel? Share by commenting.

I’ll see you out there…! At least you don’t have to tip in Oz

Comments

dougaljess

Although Australia can be expensive, our median wages can be higher than other countries. It’s not uncommon for a university grad’s starting salary to be between 50-70,000 and for it to climb regularly after working either each six months (in the public service) or each year. I get very surprised when I compare salaries in Australia with those in supposed ‘power’ economies such as the US. However, larger median salaries do come with higher house prices and higher cost of living.

A year later, bananas are back to $1.99 AUD per kilo (99c per pound), you’ll be happy to note. They were in short supply for approximately twelve to eighteen months during your visit because a cyclone and then two series of floods wiped out the banana plantations and half of Northern QLD. Several people died and thousans people lost their homes, so nobody cared about paying more for bananas. It was pretty awful. Anyway, I’m really glad to hear you liked your trip! You’ve definitely seen more of Aus than I have. :)

adventureswithben

Glad to hear that the bananas went down in price. I read about the floods, but didn’t realize that was why. I actually got in trouble for taking a photo of the banana prices here in the U.S. I had to explain that I wasn’t taking a photo of people, but the crazy low price of bananas in the U.S.! It’s true that Aussie’s make more money than here in the U.S. (in general). So yes, it helps offset the cost of living, but still. It’s sticker shock everyday.

Izy Berry @ The Wrong Way Home

Wow six grand in three weeks is a lot of money – I’m glad you balance things out with visiting cheaper countries, too! Australia’s cool (I’m a New Zealander so that’s as far as my affection will stretch) but I’m saving the serious Australian travel for when I’m older and hopefully more financially stable.
Izy Berry @ The Wrong Way Home recently posted something special..iPhone Photography

adventureswithben

I knew it was going to be pricey, but I had no idea exactly how pricey it would be. And boy, was it pricey! But worth every penny. I’d do it again if I had the cash.

Ryan

mate its called the exchange rate and the american dollar is so low right now but i know what your saying however the only reason the bananas are that much is because of the cyclone in qeensland where they grow them

adventureswithben

The exchange rate wasn’t too bad. The Aussie dollar was just a big higher than the U.S. dollar. For example, the Subway Foot Long costs $5 in the U.S.. The Aussie price was $7 (and just a bit more when you convert to U.S. Dollars.

sandy

It is definitely one of the most expensive places I’ve been to. Like you, when I go, I usually blow my budget (bites) but heck, I love it there, and live it up. I now try to really allot for going over $1-2K (US dollars) for every week or 2 I’m there. It’s always sticker shock when I go and compare prices in Los Angeles. At least I have friends I can crash with in my fave cities, Syd, Melb, and Bris. so I can save a bit of cash on hotels.

adventureswithben

$1,000-$2,000/ week sounds about right, plus airfare. Kudos to you for befriending some Aussies!

Nisha

It sounds like you had a great time!
i never thought that Australia would be that expensive, I thought things would be affordable!, I’d better start saving up more than I thought then!
Nisha recently posted something special..Golfing Holidays

jeff noel

Ben, my good friend, love that you ‘just did it’, and moved on and had the time of your life. And that you’ve written a great story about it. :)
jeff noel recently posted something special..Tip

adventureswithben

Thanks Jeff. It was worth every penny. No regrets. That’s the way it outta be. Carpe Diem!

Andrea

It is expensive in Oz. We found it so hard when we were living there to even take short trips on the long weekend. You have to book flights far in advance to get good deals and hotels/hostels are terribly pricey. That’s why so many Aussies opt for trips to Thailand, Fiji, Bali and the like. It’s cheaper, even with the international airfare.
Andrea recently posted something special..Patagonia’s Gauchos- The Cowboy Way Photo Essay

adventureswithben

I don’t blame them! But it’s nice to have that strong currency to be able to travel to places like Fiji and Bali. Those are way too expensive for most Americans to get too.

Grace

6k! Ouch. I have been hearing about how Australia’s economy is getting stronger. But I didn’t realize that the AUS dollar was already at par with USDs. Good thing is that you enjoyed yourself!

adventureswithben

Yes, a good thing that it was money well spent, otherwise I would have been very disappointed!

Sabrina

I have never been to Australia and I honestly don’t know the cost of living, but your article and those replies are very informative.

The NVR Guys

We hear you. We were amazed at how expensive it was. Having been there several years ago, we were shocked at just how much more expensive things seemed on our second visit. Despite lots of planning, we just weren’t totally prepared.
The NVR Guys recently posted something special..Travelogue – avoiding “Memory” in Prague

adventureswithben

I keep looking back and wonder, “how did I not see this?”. Oh well. The credit card is paid off now.

Christy @ Technosyncratic

I read another post recently from someone claiming that Australia was a CHEAP place to visit… and was a little confused I’ve never been, so I couldn’t really chime in, but everything I’d heard elsewhere claimed otherwise.

With the evidence you provide, though, I think it’s safe to say that the land of Oz is a little pricey!
Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted something special..Photo Essay- White Sands National Monument

adventureswithben

Australia is not cheap! Guaranteed. I’ll show you my bank statement, lol.

Jozef @ Where Now

Oh crap!!! We are heading to OZ for a month at the end of our 5 month RTW so will have no money by that point anyway!

We are gunna try and save money by hiring a camper and living like hobos for a month!
Jozef @ Where Now recently posted something special..The Jungle Inca Trail!

adventureswithben

Let me know how the hobo life is. Depending on what you’re paying for the camper, you might be ahead of the game. I would have loved to do that one!

The Dropout

Ouch! Double ouch because I’m an Aussie heading home in about a week.
Prices keep going up in Australia. It’s crazy. And the Australian dollar is at an all-time high. One USD now gets you only 95 Australian cents and one Singapore dollar gets 79 Australian cents (that is VERY ouchy because my salary is paid in Singapore dollars).
I don’t have a solution for you, unfortunately. There are cheapish places to eat. Your best bet is to ask a local for a recommendation. We are very friendly, you know.
The Dropout recently posted something special..Banh Cuon – A Chopstick Challenge Worth Winning

adventureswithben

I agree, Australians were very friendly. Even the police officer who gave me a ticket – a story for another day.

Christine

Living in Australia now, and can definitely relate–although the working holiday visa makes it much more feasible to travel long-term as you earn much higher wages! I know that produce prices are particularly high at the moment due to all the flooding…but basically everything is expensive here! Evens out for the locals, but very rough for travelers.

adventureswithben

I suppose if that’s all you knew, you’d be used to it and think nothing of it, but for the traveler, holy smokes. What a wake up call!

Evi

Glad I stumbled on this so I could vent a little too! We started 6 months ago in Spain, and went to Italy, Austria and Germany before heading to Asia for several months. We just arrived in Brisbane last week, and I AM IN SHOCK!! I can’t believe I had no idea how every little thing is so outrageously expensive! Much much more than even Austria. A small bottle of water at the cheap grocery store here costs $3!! (Though you can drink out of the faucet at least.) Six pack of mediocre beer at the store? At least $15. Eggs and toast at a cheap diner for breakfast? $12.

We’ve been eating at food courts for lunch every day as a result. Yesterday, at the ugliest, supposedly cheapest food court in the city, we paid $16 for two plates of “Indian curry” which was much more like green gruel over stale rice.

Yes, the city is really pretty and we’re excited to get out to enjoy the country and beaches, but man, this has been a brutal wake-up call after Cambodia. Hopefully I’ll lose some weight?
Evi recently posted something special..Goa- IndiaI’m getting warmed up here … now that

adventureswithben

It can get really frustrating when EVERYTHING costs an arm and a leg. You feel like you’re constantly being taken advantage of. Makes me yearn to go back to SE Asia too!

Jillian Tobias

Eek. On the one hand I’m glad we skipped Australia because of the cost, on the other it looks like despite the high cost you still had fun. I would have been the same way, you saved and you’re already there so live it up!

adventureswithben

Live it up exactly! It’s just money, right?

Claire

The $2 can add up. All of a sudden you will check your wallet and have $20 hiding! I’ve been away from AU for about a year now and each day is an eye opener. Even in Canada which I wouldn’t call cheap, everyday things like books, clothes, toiletries etc are so much cheaper. Sadly… salaries are also lower here. I actually found that living in Oz it’s often cheaper to ship stuff from the states than buy it locally, which is crazy!. Glad you enjoyed it though.
Claire recently posted something special..How am I tracking–2011 March travel goals update

adventureswithben

Someone told me the Australian minimum wage was somewhere between 500-600 dollars/week, which explains al the high prices. They have to overcharge to pay for their employees!

inka

Oh,oh,that’s pretty stiff. Just as well that Australia is not on my agenda, but Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong are. I cope with unexpected expenses exactly like you: get through and get over but never ever cut an adventure short.

Renee

Good heavens…guess I won’t be seeing OZ anytime soon. It’s almost poetic that their money is so colorful….seems to be almost as useless as monopoly money….no offense Aussies…..
Renee recently posted something special..Helen- Georgia – Bavaria on the Appalachian Trail

adventureswithben

Their money is really cool. So at least it’s fun to spend it!

Nicole @ WomanSeeksWorld

It’s crazy expensive in Aus these days! Ive been in the UK for a few years and every time I visit it gets worse and worse…I think its one of the most expensive places in the world now!

But, sounds like you had a blast and made good use of your $50 dollar notes, or ‘golden drinking vouchers’ as we used to call them!
Nicole @ WomanSeeksWorld recently posted something special..Top 5 Stations For Art On The London Tube Network

adventureswithben

Golden Drinking Vouchers! That made me laugh out loud. But you’re absolutely right. And when you pay for your drinks, they reward you with a fistful of Gold Coins. I lost so many of those blasted $2 coins!