So Australia is next on your list. The Outback, the Great Barrier Reef, the beautiful views over Sydney Harbour — it’s enough to put you on a plane with your knees in your face for an entire day, maybe more. That’s really saying something. And yes, Australia really is worth it. It’s a place that offers adventures that simply cannot be found anywhere else. But the reality is that a trip to Australia is almost never going to look economical. The flight alone weighs down that dream. So how does one explore Australia without breaking the bank? What about filling your itinerary with the best budget cities in Australia? Now we’re talking.
So we’re looking for places where the cost of living drops but the activities and setting compete with those of expensive cities. From capital cities to smaller out of the way towns, all it takes is a little more research. Lucky for you, we’ve done it for you. Here are our favorite budget cities in Australia.
Gold Coast/Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland
The aptly-named Surfer’s Paradise is an excellent place to catch some of the Gold Coast’s best swells at an affordable price. The area has two sides that compliment each other nicely. You can begin the day looking out over the ocean from your high rise Airbnb or down in the sand with your feet up relaxing. In the afternoon you can shift into the area’s more active mode and catch some waves then hit the beachfront market to explore. Come night time you’ll have plenty of options as the beachside community has some of the area’s best bars and nightclubs. Whether you want to relax and feel the ocean breeze or surf and party, Surfer’s Paradise does both extremely well.
As for accommodations, the beachfront is packed with hotels and high rise apartment buildings. The abundance of options has pushed prices down. While you can do plenty in nearby Brisbane, your money will almost certainly go farther in the Gold Coast area.
Hobart is proof that not all capital cities break the bank. Island life is slower and more relaxed than you might find in many mainland cities, but the natural beauty and accommodations prices will be hard to beat. You have to be up for a little more travel, but it’s certainly worth it. From exploring the city’s beaches to climbing Mount Wellington, Hobart will keep you busy and lower prices will keep your wallet relatively full for exploring.
With plenty of students living in the city (Hobart is an extremely popular destination for students studying abroad), the city has plenty of apartments and rooms that you can rent short term. Prices are down and you’ll find plenty of options.
Wollongong, New South Wales
Excellent beaches, proximity to Sydney and a low cost of living make Wollongong both an attractive and affordable place to live. Like Hobart, the city has a big student population that pushes median house prices and rental rates down. Finding a place to drop your bags will be relatively easy and much cheaper than in more expensive Australian cities.
Just 50 miles outside of Sydney, Wollongong makes day trips into Australia’s largest city easy, but don’t think Wollongong is a sleepy town. The balance between the beach scene and the lively “city center” gives you plenty of reasons to stay in town. Such a lively city at such a low price is a rare find.
Adelaide, South Australia
What if you’re looking for a big city experience, but you can’t quite manage the prices? Enter Adelaide, South Australia’s capital, commonly recognized as Australia’s most affordable big city. Combine excellent beaches with an even better food and wine scene, and Adelaide has quickly found itself toward the top of your list of destinations.
From art shows to history museums to markets to wine tours to wide beaches and beautiful coastline, Adelaide packs quite a punch. While the buzzing city center might hit you with some higher prices, the city as a whole has a low cost of living that certainly saves some frugal travelers. The city’s three universities also help drive costs down. As far as variety in accommodations, you get all the befits that come with a large city. What’s not to love?
Newcastle, New South Wales
Another Sydney neighbor, Newcastle used to be looked down upon by many Australians. It was always overshadowed and seen as Sydney’s dirty, coal-producing little brother. Thanks to some of the region’s best beaches and a sort of city-wide renaissance, Newcastle is no longer second-rate — quite the opposite, really.
The beaches are an excellent place to start and whether it’s picking a spot in a sand or hiking along the coastal cliffs for a sweet view of the harbor, it’s hard to go wrong. When the sun sets you’ll find a diverse restaurant world and excellent nightlife that won’t empty your wallet the way Sydney will.
So Australia is expensive. That’s hard to dodge. But it doesn’t have to be the all-out robbery you might think. These cities are affordable places to live that offer an even more affordable take on tourism Down Under. And don’t worry, they pack plenty of adventure too!