Sydney is a bustling and vibrant metropolis, making it a destination for many globetrotters. Beginning with the aboriginal tribes that once inhabited the land, to the penal colony the laid down the foundation for the city we know today, Sydney is rich with cultural history. The region is characterized by its humid subtropical climate, making it ideal to visit any time of the year. There’s always something to do or see in Sydney. The cost of living is one of the highest in the world, but there are plenty of ways to survive on a shoestring budget.
Where to Stay
Sydney has everything in the way of accommodation, from multi-bunk dorms, to ultra luxe five-star serviced condos. For better or worse, you truly get what you pay for in this department, and the price gap between hardly habitable and just good enough is pretty large.
Hostels ($750 - $2,475 per month)
If you can handle it, there are certain hostels known for their party reputations, and also their lack of privacy or cleanliness, that’ll run you about $25/night. If you want to stay in a more adult environment, the city definitely has some nicer hostels. Bounce Sydney has a fantastic reputation of quality and comfort. The aesthetic is very modern and clean, and they have a rooftop terrace and BBQ, from which you can enjoy the skyline. They are also located near Central Station, which makes exploration beyond that neighborhood and breeze. An 8 bed mixed dorm can be had for $43/night, or for some added solitude, a private double room costs $82.50. Make sure to plan in advance if you want to try to get a room at Bounce—it is a very popular place, and bookings fill up fast.
Hotels ($2,400 - $30,540 per month)
That $80-ish price point is pretty much the low end of what you’ll be looking at for any private room in the inner city, be it in a hostel or proper hotel. If you don’t mind staying in a suburb, or compromising the quality of your room, you can find some rooms closer to $55/day. The mid-range starts at about $150. Springfield Lodge is a great option if the mid-range fits your style and budget, and it is located in the very cool Potts Point/Kings Cross neighborhood.
If you’ve got the funds, spend some nights at the Park Hyatt. It’s on the water and offers some truly stunning views for $1018/night.
AirBnb ($545 - $2000 and up per month)
Renting a room or apartment from a local on AirBnb might be your best value for long-term stays. For a private bedroom in an inner city apartment, you can find a few at the reasonable rate of about $545/month. If you wish to have an entire place to yourself, expect to spend at least $2000/month.
Transportation ($192 per month)
Getting around Sydney is a breeze on their public transportation. There are city-wide busses, light rails, trains, and ferries to get you to all the sites of interest, work, lunch, or back home. Single trip costs vary, depending on what form of transport you will be riding, but assuming you want to explore your new city a bit, there are weekly passes available. These tickets, called “MyMulti”, give you unlimited travel on most every line in the city, and even in nearby towns. There are three types of the “MyMulti” passes, with varying degrees of access, the cheapest and most limited costing $48/week. There is also a special fare card called “Opal”. It is a pay-as-you-go card, but there is limited availability to foreigners. If you are lucky enough to be studying abroad in Sydney, specifically on full time scholarship, you may be eligible.
Sydney is oozing with culture and entertainment, so keeping yourself occupied should be no problem. Once you’ve spent a good chunk of your money on getting a room, you might enjoy spending some afternoons in a fabulous city park. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park is the largest in the city, at 59 sq. miles. History is abound in this park, as it is known for it’s preserved records of indigenous habitation. Within the park, there are many sights to behold, including cave drawings, rock engravings, and middens. There are also volunteer opportunities, if you wish to get involved. The Royal Botanic Gardens is another lovely option. Plenty of flora to see there, with free guided tours offered daily.
Eating Out ($5 and up per meal)
Your average sit down meal in Sydney will run you about $15. If you are looking to save in this area, the Chinatown Markets take place every Friday from 4pm-11pm. There, you will find hundreds of food stalls, serving up affordable and delicious meals. A must eat for the city is a pie from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels. The first caravan in Woollooloomoo has been open for over 70 years, and the popularity of the pies has called for an additional ten locations to open all over Sydney. Find your nearest location, and take in the beefy, mashy, pea mushy goodness for about $5.
As with any major metropolis, the sky's the limit for what you can spend on dining. Treat yourself once in a while—there is plenty of gourmet to be enjoyed!
Australia offers some great visa options to get you in, and in some cases, let you stay. If you are coming over to work abroad, hopefully your new employer has sponsored a 457 visa for you, which is good for up to four years. If you do not have the support of already having a job waiting for you, there are some options beyond your basic Tourist Visa. There is a Working Holiday Visa, and for US citizens only, a Work and Holiday visa. The coolest way to work, in my opinion, is by way of the 189 Skilled Migration Visa. To be eligible, you’ll have to check out the Skilled Occupation List and see if your particular field is on there. It’s a long list, so if you are in most any specialized field, from carpentry to neurology, your skill set could gain you permanent residency.