Sydney is a city where you can quickly spend a lot of money… You can meet a lot of people, have a lot of parties, but you will also spend a lot of money! So to try to save some money while enjoying the city, here are some of our tips!
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Accommodation at a lower cost
Let’s start with the basics: in Sydney, for accommodation, whether in a flat or a hostel, you spend on average between $150 and $200 per week. If you are staying for a long time, it will be difficult to reduce your expenses on this point. But if you are just passing through, the most economical solution is couchsurfing.
Many young Australians host couchsurfers. Here the houses are big, there is always at least one couch free, and the people are very nice. It’s a great way to meet locals and sleep comfortably on a budget!
Working in a hostel
Another common solution for backpackers is to work in a hostel. Indeed, many hostels offer free accommodation in exchange for a few hours of work per week as a housekeeper, barman or receptionist for example.
Working in a hostel may not be your dream job, but it can give you free accommodation and help you meet other travellers from all over the world!
As any Sydneysider knows, getting around the city is not cheap. In terms of public transport, you can choose from a comprehensive network of busses, trains and trams (called the LightRail). All can be used either by ‘tapping on and off’ using an Opal card (similar to London’s Oyster card) or you can use a debit card.
You should take an Opal card to pay less for your travel. When you use it on weekdays, the maximum daily limit is $15/day. However, every Sunday the maximum daily limit drops to $2.50, so this is the best day to explore the city for less.
Please note that students benefit from reduced fares on all public transport. The city sometimes has free travel periods (trials), check the official website HERE.
Another solution is to get around on foot, by bike, skates, scooters or skateboard. Even though Sydney is a main city, the city centre and the nearby suburbs (Newtown, Glebe, Surry Hill, Potts Point…) are still very accessible for a pedestrian.
For those who love to drive, Sydney also offers daily car hire. At Budget, you’ll get away with about $100 a day without insurance, while No Birds Car Hire offers deals at $39 a day for a 7-day rental. Use an online comparator to get the better deals:
Getting around and life generally nowadays is hard without access to the internet! So there are several solutions to take advantage of it for free: McDonald’s offers free access to the Internet though it is not necessarily the best quality connection. The same goes for Hungry’s Jack and many other fast food chains.
For a more studious atmosphere, libraries are another ideal place to find free wi-fi. Some public spaces also offer internet access on simple registration, such as Westfield centres in the city. Finally, don’t forget the many cafés throughout the city that offer free wi-fi.
Here, sport is religious and there is no shortage of opportunities to let off steam for free. Most buildings here have free gyms and pools. Sydney’s sports facilities are everywhere, both indoors and outdoors!
You can easily find a gym for about fifteen dollars a week. Still too expensive? Many gyms offer a free trial week, so there’s nothing to stop you trying a different gym each week! Let’s not forget sponsorship, which allows you to get discounts off some gyms or other health facilities.
Don’t hesitate to ask around at hostels near you. Some offer free sports classes. For example, the Sydney Harbour YHA runs free yoga classes every Monday morning.
Not into the gym? Wherever you are in the city, you can find a place to run: Hyde Park, Bondi Beach, Centennial Park, Mosman or Ruschutters Bay, there’s no shortage of open spaces here.
You can choose from one of Sydney’s many beaches for a little swimming, beach volleyball or even a little surfing in classic Aussie style.
For swimming fans, the Maccalum Pool at Cremorne Point is free!
Getting around by bike is still a good way to get your exercise in while saving time. Bike club offers you to come and repair used bikes, and then you get to leave with them for free. The centre is open 2 days a week at the end of the day.
Finally, there are many scenic walks that allow you to enjoy the city and its beautiful views: the Bondi to Coogee walk, the Manly tour, a tour of the Botanic Gardens, etc.
Passing the RSA with a discount
If you are looking for a job in a bar or restaurant in Sydney, you should know that it is mandatory to pass the RSA. This is a certificate that allows you to work in establishments where alcohol is served. You can take the RSA after a short online course through EOT. If you are not comfortable taking it online and prefer a classroom course, you can take it through Edway.
For more information: Get your RSA in NSW
Don’t mistake us, it’s hard to find places that will offer you a ‘cheese/charcuterie’ platter for $10 but if you want to eat out and eat well, there are a few solutions.
When you go out to bars or clubs, keep an eye out for their posters. In Sydney, it’s common to offer deals on days of the week when there are fewer customers. For example, at Scubar in Central, it’s all-you-can-eat pizza for $10 on Monday for student nights, while watching a crab race. Almost every bar has deals like this, just look around.
Overall, the best day for the wallet is “cheap tuesday”. Many restaurants of all kinds play the discount game on Tuesdays. The most famous are Domino’s with $6 pizzas or Hungry Jack’s with a free 2nd burger. With a bit more budget, you can even have a real meal for about ten dollars. Indeed, in Sydney, many pubs offer a meal for between $8 and $12 for a very good steak and mash or fish and chips. Concrete Playground makes it easy for us to eat out on a budget Monday to Sunday.
Shopping on the cheap
If you prefer to eat at home, here are some options. In hostels, you will often see some very cheap meals. For example, some people will eat Chinese noodles and tuna cans (or even use free rice from the hostel) to break records for meals under $1. If you’re a bit more of a cook, you can head to Paddy’s market, at the entrance to Chinatown. This one is famous for its competitively priced fruit, vegetables and eggs.
You should also consider the discount sections when shopping. Coles and Woolworths offer discounted products as the expiry date approaches. This is a good way to shop on a budget. There are also discount supermarkets where you can buy food for less, such as Aldi, which is located in Sydney’s south.
Don’t forget to look carefully at the back of your receipts: apart from the “two for one” bottles from Coles, you can find all kinds of discounts behind the receipts: petrol, gym, travel…
Going out at night
Sydney is known for its wild nights out. There’s not a night of the week when there’s nothing on. So after taking advantage of the two-for-one wine deals on Coles tickets, we go in search of free drinks in the bars. For the gentlemen among you, you can dare to dress up as a woman on Tuesday to get some free drinks in the bars doing the ladies night. Also worth noting the promoters on the street; they don’t all want to sell something, some just offer you free drinks to attract people to their bars.
It is not always easy to find free drinks. Fortunately, many websites list all the best deals if you just search online.
In terms of activities, the Darling Harbour fireworks on Saturday night or the fiery juggling show in Glebe once a month.
We tend to forget this part in Sydney but a little culture never hurts! Firstly, take advantage of the city’s free museums: the Nicholson Museum at Sydney University, the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour (free on the first Thursday of the month), the Rocks Discovery Museum, the Art Gallery of NSW or the Contemporary Art Museum. In addition, it’s easy to find free exhibitions all over the city.
Sydney’s most famous landmarks are also worth a visit! You can admire the Opera House from the outside (it’s free), walk along the Harbour Bridge, stroll along Darling Harbour…
If you want to read, you can go to the bookshops, which almost all offer book exchange, which doesn’t cost a penny. They sometimes even buy back your books if you don’t want them in exchange. It also means you don’t have to carry around extra pounds in your suitcase! They often have books in all languages and of all genres.
On another cultural note, Tuesday is still the cheapest day to go to the cinema, and you can get a seat around $10 instead of $20.
Free guided tours
Several times a week, organisations offer free guided tours of the city. This is an opportunity to discover or rediscover Sydney and to meet new people. At the end of the tour, you are free to leave a tip or not for the quality of the explanations received.
When we talk about shopping, we mean shopping for pleasure as well as shopping for essentials or household items.
First of all, you can go to Gumtree, the Australian’s classifieds site. The classifieds site has a reputation for being a great place to find everything at any price! You can also visit Marketplace on Facebook, with lots of second-hand clothes, objects and shoes!
For fun, don’t hesitate to visit markets such as Glebe or Paddy’s market, which sell clothes and accessories at low prices. You can also visit the outlet stores around the city, which offer factory prices.
Second Hand Shops
For the useful, you can go to Salvation Army or Red Cross where you can find camping equipment at bargain prices. And what’s more, you’re doing a good deed! You can also visit Vinnies, for clothes, kitchen accessories, camping gear, etc. And if you like second-hand clothes, the Newtown district is really the place to go for vintage lovers (clothes, accessories, souvenirs…).
In the streets
Finally, to furnish your accommodation, other than from Gumtree, to simply open your eyes: the streets of Sydney are full of all kinds of furniture that people leave in the street.
Just type “free haircut” into Gumtree and you’ll find ads galore for hairdresser apprentices who need models and will do everything for free. They may even offer colouring for a small fee. Salons also offer discounted rates when their apprentices are practicing on you. They are fully supervised so don’t worry! This is a pretty common practice in most countries.