Does the Pope shit in the woods? Yup, and Australia’s expensive. Duh! But for each new place we move, I think it’s valuable to do a full financial breakdown of our expenses and income, both for the sake of transparency in how much money it actually costs to live in the places we do, as well as for our own assessments in which countries we’d recommend for fellow young(ish), broke(ish) travelers looking to live in exotic places.

While I have personally been in worse financial predicaments in my own home country of ‘Merica (what up, NYC), I do have to say that the cost of living in Australia adds a definite amount of pressure to the decision to move here. In fact, and I hate to say this, but it’s not a long term destination I’d necessarily recommend for travelers who are just starting out, or anyone on an extremely tight budget.

That’s not to say we couldn’t live more inexpensively on the Gold Coast, and by extension, Australia – on the contrary, in fact – but at the end of the day, if we were to sacrifice the majority of our favorite activities in order to simply afford to live here, that’s kind of missing the point. Right? Right. So let’s get to it.

gold coast australia cost of living

Gold Coast Expenses Breakdown

Rent in Burleigh Heads, Australia = $1,000 AUD/Month (or currently around $765 USD/Month)

This includes the following amenities:

  • Fully Furnished Private Bedroom & Bathroom in a Shared 2 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom Apartment
  • Radical English Roommate with a Kickass Accent
  • Washing Machine (dryers barely exist in Australia)
  • Central A/C & Heat
  • Full Kitchen
  • Hot Water, Cable TV
  • Giant Balcony
  • Complex Pool & Garage Storage Area
  • Excellent Location between Tallebudgera Creek, Burleigh Heads National Park, Burleigh Beach & Palm Beach

Transportation = $200 AUD/Month (or currently around $153 USD/Month)

  • Gold Coast Go Card – Includes All Public Transportation on Busses, Trams & Trains
  • Uber – For When the Bus is a Real Piece of Shit, or It’s Late & You’re Tipsy and Ready to No Longer Wear Pants

Visa Costs = $56 AUD/Month Per Person (or $675 AUD/$515 USD Per Year) 

Miscellaneous Expenses = $1,330 AUD/Month

  • Utilities – $75 AUD for Belong Wifi Internet Service (who took over a month to install, by the way)
  • Groceries – Approximately $200+ AUD. I really wish we were better cooks. There’s only so many ways to eat pasta, eggs and PB&Js, you know? Sigh. Maybe next year.
  • Restaurants & Entertainment – $700+ AUD. Food is the most outrageously expensive aspect of living in Australia, and I’m sad to say it, but it’s not even all that good. The only thing worse is my own disappointing cooking, which is why I wince and hand over my dwindling little debit card for $16 mediocre sandwiches more often than I should.
  • Optus Cell Phone Plan – $30 AUD per person for unlimited texting, unlimited local calls, free music streaming and a $5 credit for international calls.
  • Student Loans – $150 USD (or currently around $197 AUD). C’mon, 2019!

TOTAL = $2,540 AUD/Month (or currently around $1,940 USD/Month)

burleigh heads gold coast cost of living

Gold Coast Income Breakdown

As I’ve previously discussed, finding a job in Australia has personally been a painful experience (Peter, thankfully, has had no such difficulty), resulting in me getting 4+ part time jobs in order to equal one full time job. While it’s not ideal, for now, it seems to be paying the bills, albeit some weeks are better than others.

In addition, the dreaded Backpacker Tax, which greatly increases the amount of taxes foreign workers pay, is set to begin on January 1st, 2017. If this actually ends up being enforced, despite the mass amount of protests from travelers, farmers and even local residents and business owners, I don’t believe Australia will continue to be a place where the average backpacker or traveler can afford to live.

Copywriting, Blogging & Social Media Management = $2,290 AUD/Month

  • Approximately 3 Hours/Week Blogging, Writing Newsletters and Scheduling Social Media Posts for Maui Tourism Sites – $19 USD/Hour
  • 10 Hours/Week Blogging, Writing Newsletters, Managing Social Media Accounts and Planning Creative Marketing Strategies for a Fashion Company on the Gold Coast  – $30 AUD/Hour
  • 3 Hours/Week Editing Website Listings for Rental Properties on the Gold Coast – $30 AUD/Hour
  • Approximately 4 Hours/Week Copy Editing and Copywriting for a Boutique Australian Marketing Agency – $27 AUD/Hour

Bartending & Event Catering = $600 AUD/Month

  • Approximately 6 Hours/Week Bartending and Serving for a Corporate Catering Company on the Gold Coast – $23-$29 AUD/Hour

Surf Photography = $2,000 AUD/Month

  • Approximately 25 Hours/Week Photographing Surf Lessons on the Gold Coast – Commission Based

Miscellaneous Income = $150 AUD/Month

  • Website Design
  • Writing Magazine Articles for Boat Gold Coast Magazine
  • Private Party Bartending
  • Two Tank Photo Photography Print Sales & Photo Shoots

TOTAL = $5,040 AUD/Month (or currently around $3,850 USD/Month)

cost of living for foreigners in australia

While we had originally planned our move from Bali to Australia as a means of making, and thus saving up, a decent amount of legally-made money, it appears that that may not happen at all. Money goes quickly here, and unless you’re willing to work very hard and play very little, be sure you come with more than you think you need. Then again, don’t stress too much – money’s money. It comes, it goes, and it’s generally not worth shedding any tears over. You do you.

Just watch out for the goddamn birds.

cost of living east australia