How far will $5000 get you in Australia, Europe and Asia?

February 26, 2014
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Hijacked turns to Expatistan, Trip Advisor and a bunch of travel blogs to compare budgets for your favourite overseas locales.


Cost of living: Last year Melbourne was ranked the world’s most liveable city – but does that mean it’s one of the least costly to live in? Not by a long short, thanks to our ridiculously high Aussie dollar. If you add up all the expenses of a Melbourne lifestyle – bills for two at $190 a month, a pair of jeans at $99, a Maccas meal at $8 – you’ll find that the cost of living in Melbourne is 31 per cent more expensive than in Berlin (a city Melbourne is often compared to), 18 per cent more pricey than the Rome rate and a whopping 205 per cent more expensive than in Mumbai, India. On the bright side, the Melbourne lifestyle is 14 per cent cheaper than the New York City equivalent. In Sydney, meanwhile, cost of living is only 7 per cent cheaper than in NYC. Yikes.

Cost of a night out: Can you believe that a night out in Sydney is more expensive than just about anywhere else in the world? Well, yes, you probably can believe it. Once the costs for accommodation, taxis, dinner and cocktails are added up, a night out in Sydney is $460, compared to $158 in Sofia, Bulgaria, $272 in Istanbul and a huge $581 in Oslo, Norway. As for Melbourne, well… there doesn’t appear to be data for Melbourne on Trip Adviser, so we can only assume a night out there is off the charts. From now on, when your friends are whining about bartenders in grungy inner-city nightclubs taking all their moolah you know they have a point.

Cost of a three-month trip: The Freepackers website advises that a budget of about $100 per person per day is enough to cover transport, food and accommodation at backpackers. In other words, a budget of $2500 to $3000, while fine for a month, will not cover the costs of “entertainment and activities”. (That sound you just heard? Countless European backpackers moaning in disappointment.) All in all, a trip around Australia could cost as much as $9000 for three months, and that’s without any cash splashed on local boutique beers, boozy Kings Cross outings or fancy ugg boots (#oxymoronalert). Sounds pretty bleak, but maybe we Aussies are used to saving coin with a goon sack pegged to a hills hoist in our mate Robbo’s backyard.

Verdict: Struth mate! At $9000+ for a three-month trip, your beaut Aussie extravaganza will cost ya.


Cost of living: The cost of living in various European countries is as varied as the continent itself: in London, for instance, its 26 per cent more expensive than in Sydney, whereas the cost of living is 29 per cent and 55 per cent cheaper in Moscow and Prague respectively. Shockingly, the cost of living in Paris is, according to Expatistan, about the same as in Sydney. Ooh la la! Does this mean all us Sydneysiders can haul our arses over to the so-called City of Love and our wallets will be none the wiser? Can we truly spend our days shopping on the Left Bank, musing over art at The Louvre and stocking up on pain au chocolat without a financial worry in the world? Non! Travelling is always more expensive than plain living, and besides, only Kanye can get away with haughtiness when it comes to croissants. Still, we can’t help but think our lives would be a little cheaper – and certainly more glamorous – if we ditched Adelaide for Amsterdam, Brisbane for Belgium or Melbourne for Malta.

Cost of a night out: Northway notwithstanding, the most expensive night out in Europe is in Zurich, Switzerland, where a hotel room, dinner, cocktails and three taxi trips will set you back $523. Woah! The cheapest night is in Warsaw, Poland, where all those nice things cost only $187. Don’t forget that a similar night in Sydney sets travellers back $460.

Cost of a three-month trip:  Aussie traveller Tom, the scribe behind a great blog called Active Backpacker, wrote a comprehensive post about how much backpackers can expect to set aside while gallivanting around Europe. For Tom, a 73-day trip with his girlfriend to England, The Netherlands, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, France and Spain cost about $84 per day and $5500 altogether, or $11,000 between two. How far did that pretty sum of money get these two lovebirds? For the most part Tom and Trudy stayed (and cooked) in hostel accommodation, yet the trip also appears to involve a lot of eating, a lot of drinking and some shopping to boot. (Tom even posts a picture of Trudy outside a Chanel boutique – albeit with tiny bags containing new lipstick.)

Verdict: Let’s round it up, shall we? Based on Tom’s figures – and he seems like a pretty decent bloke, so we’ll trust him – a three-month trip will cost about $6000 per person. Once you add some very decently priced flights, you’re looking at about $7000. Not bad, not bad – but if you want to get out of hostel accommodation, and you can’t find great flight deals, that price will just go up and up and up. Not unlike a certain Eiffel Tower. 


Cost of living: We all know that boozy fortnight in Thailand cost us far less than any fancy (or not so fancy) holiday in Europe, but how much cheaper was it? Should we just cut our losses and follow in the footsteps of cashed-up bogans livin’ it up in Asia off the back of the mining boom? The cost of living in Bangkok is a resounding 88 per cent cheaper than the Sydney equivalent and 72 per cent cheaper than in Melbourne, so the answer may be chi. (That’s yes in Thai.) After all, monthly rent in a furnished apartment in an expensive area costs about $1650, whereas it’s over $3000 in Sydney. This bounty of savings, however, does not extend right across Asia: the cost of living in Sydney is actually 8 per cent cheaper than in Singapore.

Cost of a night out: The cost of a night out ranges from $176 in Hanoi, Vietnam to $402 in Tokyo, Japan. If you think about all the hedonistic, sake-and-sushi-fuelled fun Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray had in Tokyo during Lost In Translation, that figure ain’t half bad.

Cost of a three-month trip: On her blog Be My Travel Muse, Kristin tells us that her “glorious” backpacking trip in Southeast Asia – during which she stayed in dorms, used local transport, divulged in street food and generally got by on a shoestring budget – set her back $11,000, including pre-trip expenses, flights and a rather pricey scuba diving trip. Before you freak out, that figure is based on six months and is in American dollars. Phew. If you’re an Australian, a similar jaunt around Asia – think Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia – will cost you in the ballpark of $4000 for three months, minus the scuba diving trip.

Verdict: This particular blogger recommended setting about $4000 aside, but you could probably do it for even cheaper than that. Just leave aside enough cash for awkward drunken karaoke in Tokyo. Go on, make Bill Murray proud.

Kristen Daly

Kristen Daly is Monash University Alumni and ex-editor of student publication Esperanto. She is a lifestyle writer, Daria wannabe and tweets at @kristendaly.