Is Australia expensive to travel in – our 2020 nomadic travel costs

australia map

Is a year in Australia more expensive than travelling overseas for the same time period?

Over the past few years I have documented in various blogs how affordable it is to travel the world full-time. At the start of 2020 I decided not to continue doing this as I felt I had published enough real world evidence to show this.

However, 2020 saw us travelling/residing in Australia for the entire year due to Covid-19 and Australian travel restrictions. Each time we’ve returned to Australia from overseas we’ve always been surprised to see how expensive our home country is compared to other parts of the world.

From our experience, Australia is one of the most expensive countries in the world. “Sticker shock” is a phenomenon that many ex-pats and travellers experience when visiting new countries or returning to their homeland after many years away. We have not been immune to this and it takes some time to adjust to the new normal after arriving somewhere.

Even though I had not intended doing a post on this subject I still kept track of our expenditure for our own purposes. I was very interested to see exactly how much it would cost us to live in Australia as itinerant nomads.

House sitting opportunities in the first 7 months of the year were few and far between. As such, we expected our costs would be much higher because we would be paying for accommodation.


Our total expenses for the whole year in Australia was

AUD $40,449 ($110 per day)
USD $27,917 ( $76 per day)
EUR €24,439 (€67 per day)
GBP £21,743 (£59 per day)

Surprisingly, 2020 ended up being only slightly more expensive than our travel costs in previous years.

It’s always a surprise when we review the year and see exactly how it is split up – both in regards to cost and also how many nights we did house sitting.

We had very few house sit nights from March to July as this was at the height of Covid restrictions within Australia.

But even so we finished up doing 17 house sits covering 209 nights! I was pretty gobsmacked by that figure – I thought it would be much less.
Paid accommodation ended up being 137 nights and staying with friends and family was 20 nights.

Is Australia expensive - table showing percentage of days with paid accommodation

We don’t plan our year with a specific number of nights sitting or paid accommodation in mind. We do generally try and have roughly a 70/30 percent split between these. This gives us a break from sitting and allows us to have ‘free time’ to explore or visit specific places we’re interested in.

The past year (2020) ended up being a 57/37 percent split with much more time sitting than I would have thought.

The figures

Firstly, here’s the breakdown for each month.

Graph showing 2020 expenditure by month to illustrate is Australia expensive

January was our most expensive month with over half the month’s expenditure attributed to a 3 week holiday to Thailand.
Interestingly, and unsurprisingly, the least expensive months (Feb, Aug, Sep, Oct and Dec) were the months we were house sitting.
We also house sat in March but had extra expenses assisting our son return to Australia from SE Asia when the pandemic struck and Australians were encouraged to return home.

The expensive months of April through to July was when we hunkered down and rented an apartment in Maroochydore, Queensland. November was also a more expensive month as we took a road trip for a few weeks through Queensland.

Where did it all go?

I’ve listed below the top 97.5% expense categories for the year.

Table showing 2020 expenditure by category to illustrate is Australia expensive

Unsurprisingly, the largest cost category of 2020 was paid accommodation. Having over 4 months (137 days) of paid accommodation during the year took just over 28% ($11,369) of our expenditure.

We all have to eat and groceries, dining out and take aways (which also includes snacks, cafe drinks, etc) took up around 24% ($9,792) of our annual costs.

So, 52% of our costs were for a roof over our head and food in our bellies!

Activity/Entertainment and the General categories include paid activities, entrance fees to museums, entertainment, cash payments, etc and accounted for 13.5% ($5,491).

Pie chart showing 2020 expenditure by category

As mentioned earlier, we expected a year in Australia to be way more expensive than overseas but were pleasantly surprised once we collated the figures.

It is important to note that two costs that we normally incur that were not expended in 2020 were international flights and annual travel insurance (excluding a short 2 week trip to Thailand in January). These would normally amount to many thousands of dollars.

Instead, they were replaced by paid accommodation which was much more than usual. We don’t have private health insurance as all Australian citizens are covered by the government Medicare scheme which provides free health care.

So, there you have it. Whilst the cost of living in Australia is more expensive than many overseas countries you can still travel and stay here for not much more than travelling full time overseas!

Other information

We do hope that you’ve found this information and other travel cost posts we’ve published previously interesting and beneficial. Their sole purpose is to illustrate that travelling the world full time doesn’t have to cost the earth.

Other posts worth taking a look at are:
Travel the World full time for less than $100 per day
2019 travel costs review
2018 travel costs review

If you’re retired (or not) there is a way to have an exciting life with the world as your oyster. We’re proof that it can be done.
If you want to learn more about how we achieve this feel free to contact us or take a look at our Introduction to House Sitting page.

If you’ve found this post useful or interesting then please leave a comment or LIKE the post.
Feel free to share this post too so more people can be aware that there are alternative ways to spend your retirement. Glenn & Jacqueline


  1. I’m glad you did this post! You know I enjoy your annual spending reports and great to see that your year wasn’t a blow-the-bank one! 209 nights of sitting is unbelievable last year. We were fortunate to get 135 nights ourselves after 17 booked sits canceled. Like you, we thought paying out-of-pocket would mean we’d be nowhere near our target. Because our year was so affordable, we gave away a big sum in late December to charities and cash gifts. A win for everyone! In case you didn’t see our 4-part series about our first nomadic year, here’s the playlist – May we meet (again) on the road soon enough!


    1. We also had loads of sits cancelled but were lucky that we were in Queensland which opened up travel within the state earlier than other parts of Australia. This generated many house sits so it was very fortuitous for us. I have watched and commented on your recent videos and very happy to see how you guys have adjusted to your new circumstances.
      Looking forward to catching you guys somewhere in the future.


  2. I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for keeping track of your expenditure & sharing your annual costs for 2020. It’s inspiring to read, despite the pandemic, your annual expenditure didn’t bust the bank, as you perhaps initially expected. House sitting certainly make travel very affordable, wherever you are in the world.


    1. Thanks Estelle, glad it was informative for you. The house sitting opportunities certainly helped in making the year more affordable than we expected. Just proves that this lifestyle works in even the more expensive countries of the world.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s