How to Live in Sydney for Almost Nothing: Sydney on a Budget

by Layla
Published: Last Updated on
Live in Sydney Sydney Harbour

Living in Sydney, Australia – Photo by Mudassir Ali from Pexels


How to Live in Sydney for Almost Nothing:

Sydney on a Budget


How can you live in Sydney for almost nothing? How do you do that?! That’s the question I get asked the most, about living in Sydney, Australia – often in disbelief and surprise. Probably because Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia, the most expensive in the Oceania region and the 11th most expensive city in the entire world.

Well, believe it – I have done exactly that. For over a year, my partner and I have been living in Sydney on a tiny budget and on barely any income. It was tough going but we did it. And we still managed to see and do many things in Sydney.

We had landed on tough times after moving to Sydney and we struggled to settle in and overcome some issues. We were living in Sydney for almost a year before we got back on our feet again and then…the covid pandemic kicked off and we lost everything we’d worked so hard to build up.

So when times were tough, we learned to adapt so that we could survive.  Some of it wasn’t fun, a lot of it required us to be very resourceful on a daily basis, but all of it saved us so much money and enabled us to live in Sydney for that long.

We used all of these tips and hacks because we sometimes had very little income – especially when the pandemic happened – so we needed to do almost everything on this list to survive and make the money we did have, last as long as possible. You might only want to pick out a few that you’d use or find helpful.  These tips aren’t really suitable for tourists looking for a lavish trip or loaded itinerary in Sydney but aimed more at people trying to live in Sydney on a small budget.

If you live in Sydney and have done for years, you might already have established ways to live cheaply and save money but visitors or newbies to Sydney will hopefully find these travel hacks helpful.

So I want to share all the knowledge we’ve gained, and the tips and hacks we have discovered, with anyone who wants to move to or live in Sydney. It’s equally useful for people already living in Sydney who want to save money, or for tourists or international students, who want to visit Sydney on a budget.

And I also hope that my tips and advice on how to live in Sydney on a budget will help out someone else, who may be going through hard times.


Live in Sydney:

How to get Free or Cheap accommodation in Sydney


First things first, having somewhere to stay or live in Sydney is pretty important and Sydney rents are famous for being ‘way up-there’ expensive. Hotels, Airbnb’s and hostels are all great places to stay but they’re not very affordable long-term. So if you want cheap accommodation, renting a room in a house share is a good way to go. But if you don’t have a bond or rent deposit and you’re really broke – there are ways to find free accommodation in Sydney.


House Sitting

House Sitting has been the main source of free accommodation for us, for the past few years. And nearly all of our time in Sydney has been in house sits.

House Sitting is when a Homeowner goes away on a trip and entrusts their property and pets to a housesitter. Housesitters get to live rent-free in exchange for house sitting responsibilities such as taking care of their pets, garden maintenance and housekeeping.  It’s an excellent way to live in Sydney for free (or any expensive city) because accommodation is always one of the biggest drains on your budget.

It’s easy to become a housesitter and get housesitting jobs if you are responsible and like taking care of pets. So have a look around on a few housesitting websites for housesits in the area you’re going to travel to. I wrote this post on which ones are the best housesitting websites to find jobs on and it’s full of useful house sitting tips too.

Live in Sydney Living in Sydney House sitting in Sydney

One of our inner west Sydney house sitting jobs


Airbnb in Sydney

We usually get house sits set up to run back to back, but when we can’t make the dates work, we use Airbnb accommodation in Sydney to fill the gaps in between house sits.  Follow this link for a $55 coupon code off your first Airbnb booking.


Help Exchange

When there wasn’t any house sits, or if we didn’t have the budget for Airbnb accommodation, we used Help Exchange placements to live in Sydney. Help Exchange is an arrangement where volunteer helpers work for a host (a farm, hostel, lodge, B&B, camp-site, or home-stay), and offer their skills for 4-5 hours a day in exchange for free accommodation and food. There are many online platforms you can use for finding Help Exchange positions, including HelpX and Workaway.


Au Pair accommodation

If you are good with kids or have worked as an Au Pair before, it could be a great solution for living on a budget, as most Au Pair roles include accommodation within the remuneration package.  There are lots of Au Pair roles within the Sydney area, so check out a few websites for available jobs, such as Select Au Pairs or AIFS Au Pairs – both in Australia.  


Free or Cheap Food when you Live in Sydney


Completely free food is hard to come by in Sydney unless you’re into foraging or dumpster diving (and if you are dumpster diving, always check the rules).
We almost always bought groceries and cooked meals at home, which was easy because we were always in a house sit or an Airbnb, where we had a fully equipped kitchen we could cook in.
However, we did learn to make the small amount of money we had, stretch really far on groceries. And when we did have enough money to eat out, we always took advantage of deals and specials.


Lunch Specials in Sydney

Lunch is often the meal you’ll find the most specials or discounts on. So fill up at lunch if you’re going out and cook dinner at home. Eating dinner out in Sydney can be very expensive. Here are a few to try at lunchtime:

(Check their social media pages before going – as some specials do change).

  • Time for Thai in Newtown do specials on their lunch menus and so do At Thailand in Bankstown
  • The Crown Hotel in Elizabeth St (CBD) has $10 lunch specials on certain days
  • Get a Hot Chip Roll with salad for only $6.90 at all El Jannah restaurants
  • Giant gourmet sandwiches for $9 at South Dowling Sandwiches in Darlinghurst or Alexandria  
  • Get 2 x huge Pizza slices and a Can for $11 at Manny’s Pizza Diner in Chippendale
  • Chickpea, layered veggies and hummus plates with Falafel for only $5-$6 at Shwarmama in Surrey Hills 


Food Courts

If you go to the food courts in the malls at closing time, you’ll find all kinds of reductions on fresh food. Go between 4 pm and 5 pm and hang around to catch all the good discounts, although closing time varies between vendor.

If you’re in the city, Pitt St Mall food court is huge and has plenty of food options. Soul Origin sells their superfood veggie and salad meals at 50 – 70% off at closing times, so we almost always go there and pay only $9-10 for three tubs of healthy food.
And if you’re in the inner west Marrickville Mall has a decent food court with Indian and Vietnamese outlets who sell their dishes at 50% off at closing times.  


Reductions in Supermarkets

Supermarkets reduce a lot of their fresh produce food items when they’re near their expiry or use-by date, by as much as 70%. The times they do this varies by supermarket but I have found Woolworths & Coles in Sydney, reduce their meat & dairy products early in the morning and other reductions around 3.30 pm to 4 pm. It’s usually done before the after-work rush hour and you’ll get fresh food produce & deli reduced items like packaged veggies, salad, stir fry and also deli food, pizzas or ready meals.

Then there are the closing-time item reductions which are usually bread, pastry and cake items and these are reduced around two hours before closing time.
I’ve found amazing reductions like grass-fed beef and salmon for as low as $2, whole deli chickens for $5 and many fresh veggies packets for 75c – $1. 

*PRO TIP* – At the bottom of your supermarket docket or receipt, you’ll also find an alcohol docket deal where you can get a discounted six or twelve-pack of beer/cider or bottle of wine – just by showing your docket or receipt in the partner liquor store.

Live in Sydney Living in Sydney


Groupon Discounts in Sydney

On Groupon, you’ll find all kinds of discounts, but if you select the Sydney location, then select the Food & Drink category, you’ll find heaps of money-saving offers such as half-price Barista coffees and Bubble Tea,  half-price cakes, sandwiches, sushi and snacks, and discounted lunch deals. 

Groupons are downloadable instantly and can be used immediately, so they’re really handy if you’re caught hungry in the city and don’t want to spend money on expensive lunches or snacks.


Sydney Cheap Tuesdays deals

When you live in Sydney, it’s worth knowing that on Tuesdays in Australian and New Zealand culture, there is an institution known as ‘Cheap-Arse Tuesdays’ or sometimes known as ‘Tight-Arse Tuesdays’.
It’s when some services drop their prices for one night of the week and you can get discounted takeaways, drinks or movie tickets. So you can quite often get $2 Tacos, $5 Pizzas, $5 Beers, $10 Cocktails at some places on Tuesday evenings.

As living in Sydney is notoriously expensive, there aren’t many Cheap Tuesday deals in Sydney or they’re very difficult to find. Check out a few of the Sydney Cheap Tuesday deals that we know of.

  • ๐ŸŒญ Dollar Dogs ($1 Hot Dogs), $6 Mimosa’s and $5 Beers at Soda Factory in Surrey Hills
  • ๐ŸŒฎ $3 Taco and Tequila’s at Flying Fajita Sistas in Glebe
  • ๐Ÿฅฉ $20 Steak & house drink at The Newtown Hotel on King St in Newtown
  • ๐Ÿฅฉ Steak Night for $10 steaks at The Shakespeare Hotel in Surrey Hills
  • ๐Ÿ— $10 Schnitty’s at The Chippo Hotel in Chippendale
  • ๐ŸฅŸ Dollar Dumplings at Della Hyde in Darlinghurst
  • ๐Ÿฆช Riley St Garage in Wooloomooloo for $1 Oysters and $5 Beers & $5 Wine
  • ๐ŸŒฎ $3 Taco’s at The Norfolk in Redfern
  • ๐ŸŽฅ The Dendy in Newtown is a much-loved Sydney icon and do $13.50 movie tickets on Tuesdays
  • ๐ŸŽฆ The Ritz Cinema in Randwick is only $10 for movies on Tuesdays
  • ๐ŸŽฅ Event Cinemas in the middle of the city is only $15 on Tuesdays to see any movie

Generally, you’ll find more Cheap Tuesday deals when you ask around your local area. Always check their social media pages before you go, as these deals can change or be put on hold.


Paddington Markets

Paddington Markets are an iconic feature of the weekends in Sydney. These artisan markets are held on Saturdays on Oxford St and you’ll find local designers, craftspeople and artists.  They also have many food options.
For ultimate savings, go in August for the month-long $5 Food Festival, offering $5 plates of delicious food at the International Food Court.


First Table

First Table is a valuable travel hack to use when you want to go out for dinner in Sydney – or in other expensive cities. First Table is an early bird dining platform, where you’ll find a list of high-end restaurants and eateries and each one has a limited number of reservations available at specific off-peak/early times.
Pay a $10 booking fee to book one of these ‘first tables’ and the whole of your table will get 50% off their food bill. It’s a great option to use for restaurants that are usually out of your budget.


Lentil As Anything

Lentil as Anything is a donation-based vegetarian restaurant in the trendy inner-west of Sydney. Lentil As Anything operates on the values that everyone should have access to healthy food, without borders of race or gender, or finances.
You pay what you can for your meal and there are even opportunities to volunteer for them in the kitchen.


Takeaway Discounts

Or just eat takeaway at home. Pickup all the Uber Eats, DoorDash, MenuLog or Deliveroo special first-time order codes – you can usually find these discount cards on most takeaway vendor’s front counters – or just go in and ask if they have any. Then download the app and use each of these discount codes on your first order for each platform. If you’re a couple or a group of friends, download the apps and use the discount codes on all phone numbers you have, for ultimate savings.


Cheap or Free Bars and Drinks in Sydney


Happy Hours in Sydney ๐Ÿป 

If you live in Sydney, you’ll already know it’s a city full of trendy and unique bars, so check out any Sydney bar for their Happy Hours. Most bars have them and they’re usually on from 4 pm to 7 pm. Most of them only run on weekdays, although you can find a few that extend their Happy Hours into the weekends.
The bars around Sydney Harbour are great value, as you get cheap drinks and a waterfront view.

The Argyle at The Rocks has one of the best Happy Hours in Sydney, on Wednesdays to Saturdays from 4 pm to 7 pm and you can choose from:
๐Ÿธ $5 Lychee Margarita,๐Ÿน $5 Aperol Spritz, $5 Espresso Martini, ๐Ÿฅค $5 Pimms Cup, $5 Pink G&T, and ๐Ÿป $5 Beer, Wine & Spirits. Plus $10 Wood-fired Pizzas ๐Ÿ• – what’s not to be happy about?

Which leads us onto….


The Happiest Hour 

To find Sydney’s best Happy Hours, download and check out the Happiest Hour App for all of the current Happy Hours at bars all over Sydney. The Happiest Hour is a food and drinks specials platform which allows venues to promote their food & drink offerings in real-time, so you can always find out where the best deals are and at what time. 

A few popular Happy Hours in Sydney are: 

๐Ÿน The Argyle at The Rocks on Monday – Saturday from 4 pm to 7 pm – for $5 Cocktails, Wine and Spirits

๐Ÿธ $15 Sofi Spritz jugs at The Newtown Hotel – Saturdays from midday to midnight

๐Ÿน The Carrington in Surrey Hills – $10 Cocktail Happy Hour, $6 Beer, House Wine & Rosรฉ from 4 pm to 6 pm 

๐Ÿบ The Century Bar on George St for Jugs of Beer for $12 and $9 Koyomi Shochu Blend Highballs 

๐Ÿป ๐ŸทWebsters Bar in Newtown for rooftop views and $6 Beers, Wine and Ciders from 2 pm – 4 pm Monday – Thursdays.

๐Ÿป  All-day, every day, $5 Coronas at all branches of Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Kitchen

If you’re really broke or can’t access a bar, just go buy a beer or pre-mixed can from a liquor store  (yes, you can buy just one bottle) for a few bucks and go sit on one of Sydney’s beaches or parks and watch the sunset.

Live in Sydney Living in Sydney

Even The Opera Bar in Sydney has a Happy Hour!


Cheap or Free Stuff when you Live in Sydney


Free Hair Cuts and Colour in Sydney

Getting your hair cut or coloured in any city can be very expensive. Although it may surprise you to know, I’ve never paid more than $35 for a foils colour or for a hair cut, in the almost two years I’ve been living in Sydney.
I discovered that in Sydney, there is a huge group on Facebook called Hair Models Sydney and hundreds of Stylists post in this group to request models for their training and assessments, in return for heavily discounted haircuts or colours.

So you can get haircuts, treatments and blow drys for free, and colours, foils and balayage only costs around $30 – $50. 
I’ve had my hair cut and foils done many times through this FB group and I found Toni & Guy (look for Chloe at Mosman – she’s brilliant) and Edwards & Co were the best, as they seemed to invest a lot in training their stylists.  Most of my hair cuts were free and the most I paid for my full head of foils was $35. 
It’s worth remembering you would be a model getting heavily discounted services, so it’s only polite to be patient, flexible and remember some stylists are still learning so – although it rarely happens – sometimes it won’t be a perfect result. Always turn up once you’re booked in though, some stylists rely on their models to gain their assessment marks.

You can often find posts for models needed for waxing, shaping or other beauty treatments, in exchange for discounted or free services.


Grocery Rewards Cards

Woolworths and Coles are the two main supermarkets in Australia and they both have specials on each week, that change every Wednesday. So if you’re planning your food budget ahead of time, you can check out what specials or offers they have on their website.

Make sure you pick-up a Woolworths Reward Card and a Coles FlyBuy card so you can collect points when you buy your groceries. When you reach a certain amount of points, you’ll get money off vouchers that you can use to buy groceries, gifts or alcohol. FlyBuys is an excellent rewards platform that you can also use in their partner stores like Liquorland, Kmart, Target, on and you can even convert your rewards points to air miles.


Sydney Book Exchanges or Street Libraries

Book exchanges or ‘Street Libraries’ are becoming popular in Sydney. People plant a cute-looking wooden box on a stand in their front yard or garden, to be accessible from the street and they’re an invitation for anyone to take a book for free. The idea is you just pass the book on to a friend or return somewhere to the Street Library network.

So keep an eye out for them around the city suburbs, there are hundreds of them – find your nearest Sydney Street Library here. There are also larger ones often just inside buildings – like this one on Balmain ferry wharf – and is where we’ve scored a few excellent books from. They’re ideal for us because when we were house sitting in Sydney we moved suburbs a lot and we couldn’t always join a local library. So it was really helpful for us being able to take a book and then return it to any other Street Library location.

Live in Sydney Living in Sydney

Brilliant free street library setup in Balmain wharf in Sydney


Cheap Travel Day in Sydney on Opal Travel Card

The Opal Card is the public transport travel card that’s used in Sydney. They cost $10 and you can buy them and then top them up online, at newsagents or at any train station. And if you’re living in Sydney without a car, you’ll definitely want to get an Opal card, to get cheaper public transport trips.

(UPDATE – Sadly Transport NSW have recently changed this Sunday deal to a weekend travel cap of only $8.05).

What a lot of new visitors to Sydney don’t know is that every Sunday weekend is ‘cheap travel day’ on the Opal card. So for a flat rate of $2.80 per person, travel cap of $8.05, you can travel anywhere in the Greater Sydney area. And because the Greater Sydney region covers a HUGE area, you can explore SO many places on a budget, if you go on Sundays at the weekends.

So at weekends, you can go all the way out west to the Blue Mountains, or all the way north up to Palm Beach (yes, where Home & Away is filmed) for under $10 round trip. Or you can just cruise around the city circle, checking out all the sights. Sydney public transport will get expensive if there are two of you and you’re making multiple trips, so this is the way we’ve been able to travel to so many different places in Sydney – whilst on a small budget.

On one Sunday, we jumped on some of the ferries and got to cruise Sydney Harbour and see all the beautiful bays en route – all for a tiny price.

*TRAVEL SAVVY TIP * After you’ve completed 8 trips on an Opal card, you’ll reach a Weekly Travel Reward and for the rest of the week, your trips will be half price.  


Opp Shops in Sydney

Charity shops or Thrift Stores (or as the Aussie’s call them ‘Oppo or Op Shops’ – short for Opportunity Shop) are full of bargains and perfect for when you need to buy clothes on a budget. They’re not like they used to be either, charity or thrift shops can be a treasure trove of bargains and unique items.

When we needed clothes for a last-minute job interview, we picked up shirts and trousers for under $10 apiece. And when I couldn’t survive the Sydney winter anymore in just a hoody, I found a cute French Connection jacket for just $17 at an inner west Vinnies op shop. 

There are heaps of Op Shops all over Sydney and you’ll find the fully stocked ones, in the more densely populated suburbs. Our faves were Leichhardt, Newtown and Randwick Op shops.
Vinnies and the Red Cross are aplenty and where we’d find the most choice for clothing, but there are also the Salvo’s (Salvation Army) which have lots of furniture bargains and Lifeline Shops too. For the best vintage fashion shops, check out independent thrift shops in Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Newtown and Marrickville.

Also, we discovered after any public holiday – such as Christmas – is the best time to score a thrifty bargain, as that’s when most people are on holiday and more likely to be doing clean-outs and donating their belongings.

*PRO TIP* – Go check out the Op Shops in the more affluent Sydney suburbs, quite often you’ll score lots of designer bargains – try Potts Point, Mosman, Randwick/Coogee, Surrey Hills or any Northern Beaches suburb.


Free Outdoor Gyms in Sydney

There are lots of Outdoor Gyms or Outdoor Fitness Stations in Sydney and they’re completely free to use and are open 24 hours a day. They’re also often in beautiful locations such as by the beach or in a park. Some of the more popular locations are Bondi Park’s Outdoor Gym, Observatory Hill Outdoor Gym near the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Park Gym in Erskineville.

If you’re not into working out in front of everyone, go early in the morning when it’s quieter as most people are doing Personal Training sessions in the surrounding parks.



Free Things to Do in Sydney 


Even though it’s an expensive city, there are actually lots of free things to do in Sydney, you just have to know where and when to go. Check out some of these free things to do when you live in Sydney but have no money.


Sydney Walking Tours

Sydney City runs City Walking Tours twice a day called I’m Free Walking Tours. The Sydney Sights Free Tour is 2.5 – 3 hrs and leaves at 10:30 am and 2.30 pm from Town Hall Square. There is also a second 1.5 hr walking tour that focuses on the historical Rocks area of Sydney – the site of the first European settlers – and that one leaves at 6 pm.

The Tour Guides that host the tours are volunteers so although the tour is free, they are a decent length and of good quality, so a small donation would be gratefully received.


Sydney City Libraries

Sydney has some of the best libraries in Australia, and most of the Sydney City libraries network have been renovated and offer modern decor, the latest technology, and comfortable work or reading environments. All Sydney libraries will have work-space, PC’s to work on, quiet rooms, wifi, printing facilities and research areas.
And a lot of the newer ones will also have a cafe, contemporary interior design, great views and other trendy, modern additions like 3D Printers or sometimes iPads to use.

And of course, you can always check-out items including books, eBooks, DVDs, audiobooks, magazines, eMusic and you can often transfer books between library branches to collect.

I love libraries in general, but I really like using libraries to work in when I travel, so I make it my mission to explore as many as possible in the world.

The best ones I visited in Sydney were Woollahra Library, Green Square Library and Marrickville Library. 

Live in Sydney Living in Sydney

Working in Sydney’s Woollahra Library


Free Yoga Classes in Sydney

Some Lululemon stores in Sydney hold a weekly free yoga class. The Lululemon store at The Ivy on George St definitely does one on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm – BYO yoga mat. But always check with the store as times do change. Also, check with other Lululemon stores as they might do free classes.
There’s also a free outdoor yoga class on Sundays from 10 am -11 am called Yoga by The Harbour at First Fleet Park in The Rocks area of the city.


Free Events in Sydney

When you live in Sydney, you’ll learn that this city hosts many events throughout the year and some of these are completely free. New Year’s Eve is the most famous free event in Sydney. There are fun things happening in and around the city and Sydney Harbour all day, then at night, you can choose one of the many free vantage points around the city to view the New Years Eve fireworks from. 

There are also other free events in Sydney such as Australia Day Celebrations, ANZAC Day and Vivid Festival – all are completely free to go to.


Live in Sydney Living in Sydney

A free festival that Sydney hosts every year – Vivid Light and Sound Festival. Photo by Srikant Sahoo on Unsplash


Eventbrite Events in Sydney

Check out the Sydney section on the Eventbrite website and you’ll find all kinds of free events in Sydney. You can find anything from free yoga classes to free festivals, exhibitions, markets or free workshops and masterclasses. You book your place or ticket to the event by just signing up with your email.


Free film screenings at Films for Change 

Films for Change are an Australian educational events enterprise and a community of independent filmmakers, who support the power of documentary. These are the people who bought you documentaries such as Blackfish, The Cove and Super Size Me.
They offer free events and film screenings of these documentaries and often other small events around in Sydney and Melbourne every week. There are also a small number of Films For Change events in smaller town and cities.


Free courses at General Assembly Workshops

General Assembly is a leader in education and career transformation and specialises in providing today’s most in-demand skills.  They have campuses in 20 cities worldwide providing dynamic training in Coding, Digital Marketing, Business, Data Analytics and UX Design.

Although their courses are accredited and usually cost something, they also run many free courses and workshops – in-person and online. I have taken part in a few online marketing and analytics workshops to upskill for the world of freelancing and running a website. It’s a really great way to learn new skills or to network with like-minded people at the in-person events. 


Free Ocean Pools in Sydney

Sydney has lots of free Ocean Pools around its coastline, that you can access in the warmer months. It’s most well-known ones are Bondi Icebergs Pool at Bondi Beach, Bronte Baths and Wylie’s Baths at Coogee. There are many other popular ocean pools including Dee Why Rockpool, Fairy Bower Pool at Manly, McIver’s Women’s Baths at Coogee and Fairlight Rockpool.

Bondi Icebergs are $6, Wylie’s Baths are $5 and McIver’s Women’s Baths are $2  for casual entry – but most other ocean pools in Sydney are completely free to use. 

Live in Sydney Living in Sydney Bondi Pools

Bondi Icebergs Pool – Photo by Belle Co from Pexels


Free Outdoor Cinemas in Sydney

To live in Sydney in the summer means you’ll be able to take advantage of more of the free things to do in Sydney, as most of them are on in the warmer months. Sydney has the perfect climate for outdoor lounging and movie watching at one of its many outdoor cinemas is not to be missed. Although some of them can be pricey, there are a few that are completely free to catch an al-fresco movie. 

Check out these free open-air movie experiences:

  • Strathfield Movies in the Park in Strathfield Park
  • Movies by the Boulevard Outdoor Cinema at Sydney Olympic Park
  • Night Owls Kidsโ€™ Film Festival at Darling Quarter Village Green, and if you’re there at Christmas, you can also catch:
      • Christmas Movies At Darling Harbour in the Darling Quarter Village Green.


Free Parks in Sydney

There are free parks and gardens everywhere in Sydney. They’re all easily accessible – even by public transport – and they almost always have free facilities within them such as water bubblers, bathrooms, seating areas and bbq facilities. There are dedicated Dog Parks too, which are perfect if you’re a dog owner or pet-sitter like myself – or just like partaking in some dog stalking – which I do often as I’m such a doggo lover.

Some of the more popular ones are Hyde Park in the CBD, the harbourside Royal Botanic Gardens, the huge Centennial Park in the eastern suburbs, Sydney Olympic Park and Sydney Park in Erskineville which has its own bio-diverse wetlands area. 


Sydney Free Coastal Walks 

Sydney’s beautiful coastline has a number of beautiful walks you can do all year round and are completely free to access. Just pack some snacks, water and sunscreen and get going. The most iconic and popular coastal walks in Sydney are the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk, The Federation Cliff walk in Dover Heights and the Manly to Spit Bridge walk.

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk – looking ahead to Bronte Beach


Free Fireworks in Sydney

Every Saturday night, Darling Harbour has its own small fireworks show and it’s completely free to attend. You can watch at Darling Harbour or from any other vantage point around the city. We used to get a great view of them from Balmain Wharf when we were doing a house-sit in Balmain.


Free Wifi in Sydney

There’s been a few times when our budget has been strained and we haven’t been able to top-up our mobile phone credit. Luckily, there are many places that offer free wi-fi in Sydney, most places you don’t even have to go in, you can usually pick up the signal just standing outside.

McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, KFC and Woolworths all have free wi-fi networks. Most hotels and cafes will have free wi-fi that you can pick up outside if you can’t make a purchase. The main CBD street areas of Sydney will almost always have a free wi-fi network. Also, most malls will have free wi-fi and sometimes the foreshore, beachfront or popular outdoor mall areas will offer free wi-fi networks too.


And if you’ve got a small amount of money to spend and you want some cheap things to do in Sydney, here are a few ideas for things to do in Sydney on a budget.


Cheap Things to Do in Sydney 


Sydney is expensive for things to do like activities, or going on tours or experiences, so I usually book through the following websites to get discounted ticket entry and great deals on tours and activities in Sydney.


Groupon Deals in Sydney

For cheap things to do in Sydney, visit Groupon for cheap cinema tickets, harbour cruises, deals on sports and fitness classes, dance classes, online courses, adventure activities and guided tours.

We only had a small budget to celebrate a birthday one year, so for part of it, we bought Event cinema tickets for $12 each and a ride on the Star at Darling Harbour – which is a huge Ferris Wheel – for amazing views of Sydney Harbour and the city skyline, for only $3 each from Groupon. So it cost us only $15 each to go do something fun – even on a small budget.


Experience Oz deals in Sydney

Experience Oz has over 3,000 discounted experiences and attractions across Australia and New Zealand and you’ll find hundreds of cheap things to do in Sydney on here. You’ll find discounted entry tickets to theme parks, wildlife parks and popular Sydney attractions. And deals and discounts on harbour cruises, day tours, adventure experiences and dinner deals.

We went to Featherdale Wildlife Park in Sydney and got huge discounts on our entry tickets by buying them on Experience Oz. So the tickets only cost us $21 each instead of $35 each, and we travelled there by train on a Sunday for ultimate savings.

Live in Sydney Living in Sydney

At Featherdale Wildlife Park in Western Sydney – Wallabies with their Joey’s


KLOOK for Tours and Activities in Sydney

Klook is the number one activity booking platform where you can book amazing things to do all around the world and make huge savings. You’ll find deals and offers on city attractions and shows, adventure activities, family-friendly experiences and nature and wildlife expeditions.

To live in Sydney means you have regular access to one of the world’s most famous and loved harbours and there are so many awesome activities centred around Sydney Harbour. Try Kayaking on Sydney Harbour, a budget-friendly Sydney Harbour Highlights Cruise, or the ultimate harbour activity – climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Klook offers lots of other exciting activities and tours in Sydney such as Blue Mountains Hiking day tours, Sydney Harbour Whale Watching Cruises and Hunter Valley Winery Tours – all at discounted prices.

Live in Sydney Living in Sydney Kayaking Sydney Harbour

Cheap things to do in Sydney with Klook – Kayaking Sydney Harbour – Photo by Mads Schmidt Rasmussen on Unsplash


That about completes this post on how to live in Sydney for almost nothing. I hope you found something helpful and are able to take away some valuable travel hacks to help you live in Sydney for almost nothing – or at least on a small budget.

I managed to live in this very expensive city on a tiny budget for over a year and a half and I still got to see a lot of Sydney whilst I was there. It’s definitely not luxury travel, it’s simply living differently and you do have to be flexible and very resourceful, but if you’re savvy, you can totally make it work.

This lifestyle is a frugal one, it’s not for everyone! But sometimes you’ve got to be resourceful to get through tough times, keep trying and eventually, you will move forward. Forward is forward – even if it’s only baby steps.

Have you discovered any travel hacks on how to live in Sydney for almost free? Do you live in Sydney now on a small budget? Let me know in the comments.


Happy & Safe Travels ๐Ÿ™‚


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Liz 28 September 2020 - 10:49 PM

This is a great article. Whenever I find myself in Sydney I will be sure to refer to this article. ๐Ÿ™‚

Layla 29 September 2020 - 12:40 AM

Glad you found it helpful and thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

Kitti 30 September 2020 - 7:07 AM

Wow what a great and detailed article! Iโ€™m planning on moving to Australia in the future (hopefully borders will open up soon) so this will definitely come in handy! Iโ€™ve always wanted to try housesitting I think itโ€™s a great way to live somewhere for free.

Layla 30 September 2020 - 9:41 PM

Thanks so much Kitti, I tried to make it as helpful as possible and it was my way of living in Sydney for a long time. House Sitting is amazing, you do have to move a lot but we didn’t pay rent anywhere in Sydney in the whole year and a half we were there.
P.S – Aussie House Sitters is definitely the best one for Australia house sits, have a look at my house sitting posts for more info.

I hope you get to move to Australia soon, we’re all hoping their strict travel rules will be eased soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Alma 11 October 2020 - 12:10 AM

Great article and worth knowing if I ever go back to Sydney. We found it so expensive after we converted our weak currency (ZAR) into $ for a holiday!

Layla 17 October 2020 - 7:14 PM

I know what you mean!! Even GBP doesn’t convert into much these days in Australia. It’s fast becoming a city that’s extremely difficult to have a budget holiday in. Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

skigrl985 11 October 2020 - 12:54 AM

These are awesome tips, many I never thought of! I’m not near Sydney, but these are great ideas to look up similar things near where I live! Great post!

Layla 17 October 2020 - 7:13 PM

Thank you and yes, some of these tips can be transferred to any expensive city. ๐Ÿ™‚

olliechinny 11 October 2020 - 5:39 PM

This guide is really informative! I live in Switzerland (a really expensive country) and if there’re tips and tricks (Swiss version) like this article you wrote THAT WOULD BE PERFECT ALREADY! It’s inspiring how you learn to lead a lifestyle with less, but making the most out of it! The part about General Assembly’s free course sounds very helpful, i hope it is offered internationally!

Layla 17 October 2020 - 7:12 PM

Ah yes, I know what you mean. I wish I had this post BEFORE I moved to Sydney!! It would’ve made things so much easier.
I am also going to do one of these posts for each city I’ve lived in on a budget. Unfortunately, I have not yet visited your country Switzerland, but I have heard it is also very expensive. I feel your struggle! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for reading.

Cedric Noronha 13 October 2020 - 4:27 PM

Very good post. Highly informative for travellers who want to visit Sydney. Keep up the good work.

Layla 17 October 2020 - 7:09 PM

Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚


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