Traveling in Melbourne, Australia was different from traveling in Southeast Asia in as many ways as you can imagine. One of the biggest difference was the cost. While I never expected Melbourne to be as cheap as Southeast Asia, I was still surprised at how expensive things were. But there are quite a few free things to do in Melbourne to offset the expensive ones. To get an idea of what it will cost you to travel to Melbourne, take a look at what I spent. All numbers are in US dollars.

Lodging: $415

In Southeast Asia I could easily have a room or bungalow to myself for around $10. Not so in Melbourne. I stayed in St. Kilda, which is a nearby suburb of Melbourne, because it was a little cheaper than staying in the city. Even so, a bed in a dorm was $35 a night. I stayed in Base St. Kilda in their female only sanctuary dorm, which was pretty nice. Breakfast was not included, but the sanctuary dorm provided a towel which could be swapped out after three days, shampoo and conditioner, a private bathroom for each of the eight-bed dorm rooms complete with a big shower and hair dryer, and free champagne for an hour each night in the hostel bar. I did book my own room for the first night since it took me 43 hours to get there and I knew I would need my own space. Unfortunately, they didn’t have singles, so I had to book a double to myself, which cost $112. I also spent one night in Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road for $25. For 10 nights, I averaged $41.50 per night.

Transportation: $50

Since I needed to get from St. Kilda to Melbourne, I bought a one week tram pass for $31. Despite my getting on the tram going the wrong direction a couple times, and getting on the wrong tram once, the tram system was actually really easy to use. The hostel I stayed at paid for my airport shuttle when I arrived, but I had to pay $19 for the way back at the end of my visit.

Activities: $205

My big expense here was the two day Great Ocean Road trip I signed up for, which was $185, not including lodging (see above) or meals. But it did include morning tea, which was really tea, coffee, or hot chocolate along with fruit and cookies which was a decent light breakfast. The hostel did provide do-it-yourself breakfast. I spent $20 on a movie ticket, which was painful. Even worse was that it was a ticket for Twilight: the one where they get married (sorry I really don’t know what it was called). Please don’t judge, I only went because the two girls I was hanging out with wanted to see it, and I wanted to be social.

Visa: $25

I had to pay $25 for the electronic visa that Australia has been doing for the past few years. You apply online, pay with a credit card, and get a confirmation through email. It’s a really simple process and you don’t need to print anything. When you arrive, passport control will be able to check their computers to make sure you have a visa. Check out their website here for more information, to see if you’re eligible (depends on country of citizenship) and to apply.

Food and Drink: $350

Once again, I didn’t do a great job of keeping track of my spending here. I did some rough math, and my estimation is that I averaged $35 a day on food and drinks. I didn’t have much alcohol there, just one night of a few drinks with Kayleigh and Lisa from the hostel, and some beer with Genevieve, also from the hostel. I bought some granola bars for breakfast and a few other things at a grocery store to cut costs, but I didn’t cook full meals in the hostel. Food, like many things in Melbourne, is expensive. I didn’t eat at any fancy restaurants, just some fast food like Subway, or an average restaurant in Chinatown.

Miscellaneous: $105

A whopping $69 of that total was for internet. No more free wifi at hostels. I could’ve gotten free wifi at McDonald’s but I really wasn’t willing to go down the street and sit in there for hours to blog, skype with Andy, and check email. Aside from internet, this includes postcards, a couple shirts, and laundry. One load of laundry, wash and dry, cost me $12 at a laundromat.

Total: $1,150

I averaged about $115 per day for 10 days in Melbourne, not including flights in and out. You could spend less on food if you cook your meals. You could spend slightly less by staying in a different hostel. You could spend less on the Great Ocean Road by choosing a less expensive day trip, although I really think it’s worth the extra expense to do a trip that’s more than one day. Overall, Melbourne is expensive, but if you watch your spending, it won’t break the bank and you’ll still enjoy this great city.

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43 comments on “Melbourne in 10 Days – How Much I Spent

  1. Andrea

    Internet and accommodation costs don’t surprise me. Melbourne is actually one of the more affordable cities to live in Australia if you can believe it! Cheap eats saved us when we lived there…

    1. Ali Post author

      I probably could’ve done more to find cheaper food, but usually convenience won out.

  2. Matthew Cheyne

    I did tell you that Melbourne is expensive :) It’s actually one of the ten most expensive cities in the world thanks to the value of the high Aussie dollar. That’s why I no longer live in Melbourne and only commute in when I need to because the city is so damn expensive. The load of laundry at $12 is double what I am used to paying but if you’re in the centre of Melbourne you have to take what you’re given. Internet wise you could have done a lot better than paid $69 but like you said it was for convenience. Food and drink are also very expensive in Melbourne. We have the highest rate of food inflation in the developed world and it shows in our restaurant prices. That said you should have taken me up on my tip about La Porchetta. Two people can comfortably eat there for a combined tab of under $50. If vegetarian is your thing there is a place in Elizabeth Street that advertises all you can eat for $6.50 at lunchtimes. A lot of it comes down to local knowledge and unfortunately it’s hard to get that in ten days.

    1. Ali Post author

      Yes you did! There was a laundry place right down the street from the hostel, right in the middle of the action in St Kilda, so that might be why it was expensive. The wifi expenses were all charges from the hostels, so definitely a convenience factor there. I think $50 for dinner for 2 people was a bit out of my budget, and definitely more than any of my friends from the hostel would’ve spent since they were on even tighter budgets than me. I did have a few $5 small lunches but for the most part, it was closer to $10 to $20 for a meal.

  3. Nate @yomadic

    I’m actually surprised that you can have a pretty good time in Melbourne, all in, for $115. Head West to Perth, and that would be a pretty tight travellers budget. Thanks for sharing the details, really interesting!

    1. Ali Post author

      I probably helped that I didn’t drink much, I bought granola bars at the grocery store for breakfast, and I didn’t eat anywhere fancy. It’s crazy how expensive Australia is, but it’s a fun country.

  4. Maddy

    Great, honest breakdown. You’ve inspired me to compile a list of my fave budget eats in Melbs – although I will have to update my research… that $3 pizza I had in Fitzroy in 2006 probably doesn’t exist now…

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Maddy! Favorite budget eats in Melbourne would be a great post!

    1. Ali Post author

      $4 pizza still sounds like a great deal!

  5. Christy

    For Australia that doesn’t sound too bad, but the lodging really does kill your budget, doesn’t it?! I would love to go back to Australia, but I just don’t think my bank account can handle it yet. :) I bet the Great Ocean Road trip was worth it though! It looks so gorgeous.

    1. Ali Post author

      Yes the lodging cost was painful after 2 months of cheap places in SE Asia. The Great Ocean Road was totally worth it, so beautiful!

  6. Kieu ~ GQ trippin

    We were lucky to be with an Airbnb host so unlimited WiFi. As for food, I LOVE Australia and their $2.50 sushi rolls! What a genius idea – ate it everyday. LOL. Great breakdown Ali! This would be very useful for Melbourne first timers. And.. awesome shot of 12 Apostles. Beautiful day. :)

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Kieu! I thought about doing AirBnB but since I was on my own, the price was still pretty high and I decided I needed the social aspect of a hostel. Sucks I had to pay so much for their wifi though! I did find a few really cheap places for lunch, and I’m sure that part of my spending could’ve been lower, but more often than not, convenience won over.

  7. Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    We haven’t been to Melbourne, but we have found Sydney to be very expensive. I still don’t understand the Internet in Australia – it costs so much and is so crappy. What is the deal with that?

    1. Ali Post author

      I have no idea, I had better internet, and for free, in Southeast Asia. Very frustrating.

  8. Red Hunt

    This is good to know….Australia remains on my bucket list for now, mostly because I know I’ll spend too much money there. Need to find a decent job in OZ to bring me there!

    1. Ali Post author

      It’s definitely expensive, but it’s a great country!

  9. Cherina

    Sounds like you did pretty well with your costs especially considering you included the journey along the Great Ocean Road. I live in Australia and so I know exactly how expensive it can be here. So glad you had a great time :)

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks Cherina! I’m so glad I did the Great Ocean Road too, it was amazing!

  10. Margyle

    Reading this made me think of my buddy who had just spent a few months in Asia (starting in Nepal and ending in the Philippines) before heading to Australia to meet up with me and he had the same reaction. It really is a shock! We spent about the same thing when we were in Melbourne – maybe a little cheaper because we opted to walk everywhere and only really splurged on the Great Ocean Road trip and only stayed for 4 days before spending a week in Tasmania, which in my opinion, is the best part of Australia. Looks like you had a great time!

    1. Ali Post author

      I did have a great time! It’s definitely a shock going from SE Asia prices to Australia prices. I haven’t made it to Tasmania yet, but I’d really like to someday.

  11. Jon and Jenny Stark

    Great post. Australia IS expensive. That’s why we have left Australia to travel the world off our rent! We can’t afford to retire in our own country but we can live a great life travelling and make a massive profit most weeks here in Asia. Enjoy your travels, Jon and Jenny

    1. Ali Post author

      That sounds like a great retirement plan! Thanks!

  12. Ted&Dani

    Great post.. As natives of Melbourne people think we exaggerate the cost.. It’s nose bleed expensive…Ironically when we return to London every now and then for a rest from travel..it’s cheaper….Enjoy NZ..tis a great place ;-)

    1. Ali Post author

      Thanks! That’s crazy that London seems cheaper compared to Melbourne!

  13. Rob - Migration Angels Australia

    I didn’t notice much of a price difference between Melbourne and Sydney, living costs seemed to be relative to income. @Ted 7 Dani, I don’t see how you can compare London to Melbourne, they are 2 completely separate entities. I find London to be ridiculously expensive for accommodation at least. A half decent, poky 1 bedroom apartment in London costs around £1400 per month. That’s $2100 and for that you would get a pretty swanky apartment in Melbourne. Maybe we start should comparing apples with apples?

        1. Ali Post author

          No problem :-) I’m not sure if they’ll even see it since the post is 3 months old. But really, who know *which* expenses they were referring to. Glad you’re doing better now!

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  17. Let G

    Thank you for the insights, we’ll be travelling (hopefully, once visa got approved) to Melbourne next year of March, my husband will be competing on an ironman race, and we’ll be at Melbourne for two weeks. As early as now, I’m going through the web to look for tips and tricks, and budget on how much we need for our travel. Good thing I bump on your sight. Thanks :)

    1. Ali Post author

      Glad to help! I highly recommend taking a side trip to the Great Ocean Road if you have time while you’re there, it’s so gorgeous. I hope you have a great trip, let me know if you have any questions!

  18. Let G

    Thanks Ali, our tourist visa got approved so we’re bound for Melbourne next year. I’m getting excited, I will take note of the Great Ocean Road tour, is this the same with the Bunyip tour? Thanks again. :)

    1. Ali Post author

      Yay congrats! I don’t know anything about the Bunyip tour. I did my Great Ocean Road 2 day tour through a company called Around and About, and it was a small group which was great. There are tons of companies out there, you just have to decide what kind of tour you want and sort through what the different companies offer. Let me know if you need any help!

      1. Timmy Jose

        Hi Ali. Thanks for your post – it was really helpful! My friend and I are traveling to Melbourne sometime in August this year for around 10 days ourselves. I have been looking at some options to stay in or around the CBD, but the costs seem appalling! Any idea about the YHA around the CBD?

        Also, we’re planning to keep our costs to a minimum while trying to get some good experiences and feel of the place and culture. Any recommendations apart from the Great Ocean Road? Places worth visiting inside Melbourne itself, and some good place to scarf some cheap food? And do you think it’s convenient enough to travel around some places around Melbourne?

        Thanks again, and really enjoying going through your other posts!

        1. Ali Post author

          Thanks Timmy! I stayed a little outside the city, in St. Kilda, so I don’t know anything about the YHA in the center, but I stayed at a YHA in New Zealand that was pretty good. Check the reviews on the hostel booking sites, but YHA usually has a good reputation. The prices are insane, which is why I ended up not staying in the center.

          The Great Ocean Road is the only major thing I did while I was there. I did a lot of wandering around the city and a few free things like the Australian Center for the Moving Image, which is on Federation Square, and Queen Victoria Market. There are some other museums and an aquarium, but in my opinion, Melbourne is really a great city for wandering and the cafe culture. Food is NOT cheap. I bought granola bars for breakfast, I ate at Subway a lot, and I ate in Chinatown a few times. Look for cheap(er) food on side streets away from the main roads, look for food hawkers. Walk down Swanston Street away from Fed Square and towards Burke Street and look for little food court type places hidden in between shops. Basically, you have to dig a little to find cheaper food, but you won’t go hungry in Melbourne.

          The public transportation system in Melbourne was pretty easy to use and worth buying a pass (day or week) if you’re going to use it a lot while you’re there. As for getting to places outside of the city, the transport will get you to some of the suburbs, like St. Kilda (though August isn’t exactly beach weather there), but to get further, you’ll probably have to book something. I only went to the Great Ocean Road and spent the rest of my time in St. Kilda and Melbourne itself.

          I hope this helps, but feel free to email me if you have any other questions! Have a great trip!

          1. KG

            Hi Ali,

            I enjoyed reading your sharing blurbs. My family of four will be going to Melbourne soon. As it is a very expensive city, I am hoping to cycle around Melbourne. Are there bicycles for hire and are they cheaper than trams? My two kids are 11 and 13 years old. Tell me more about the free places to go. Thank you very much.

          2. Ali Post author

            Hi KG, thanks! I am not a bicyclist but I did a quick search and found this: http://www.rentabike.net.au/ Based on the one week tram pass I bought, I’d say renting bikes is more expensive. But it also looks like there is a family rate and a weekly rate, so that might make it cheaper. There might be discounts on public transportation for children or a group pass that would be cheaper than AU$31 per person. Check out their site here to see what your options are: http://ptv.vic.gov.au/getting-around/visiting-melbourne/ Also check out this post to get you started on things to do, some were free, some had an entrance fee: http://www.aliadventures.com/2012/03/melbourne-basics/ I think your best bet is to start your trip with a visit to the tourist information office in Federation Square. You can tell them what types of activities your family is interested in, and they can point you in the right direction. I hope this helps! (I took your email address out of the comment because I didn’t think you’d want it out there for anyone to see.)

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