Guide to Living in Sydney, Australia for Free (Almost)

by Layla
Published: Last Updated on
Living in Sydney, view of Sydney Harbour

Living in Sydney, Australia


Guide to Living in Sydney, Australia for Free (Almost)


“How do you get away with living in Sydney for free? 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 because I have done pretty much that.

For a year, my partner and I were living in Sydney on a very small budget, with barely any income. It wasn’t out of choice, and it was tough going but we did it.

And we still managed to see many places and do many things in Sydney.

We landed on tough times after moving there in late 2018 and we struggled to settle in and overcome some issues. We had been living in Sydney for almost a year before we got back on our feet again.

And then in 2020 — 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 meant we had 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 sometimes we had little to no income — especially during the pandemic. So we needed to do almost everything on this list to survive and make the money we did have, last as long as possible.

These tips are more suited to anyone wanting to live in Sydney cheaply, such as backpackers, long-term travellers or international students.

Everyone’s situation is different so pick out whichever few tips that you’d use or find helpful in your life. 

And if you’re already living in Sydney, you might already have established ways to live cheaply however, newbies moving to live in Sydney will hopefully find these travel hacks helpful.

So I’m sharing all the knowledge we’ve gained, and tips and hacks we’ve discovered, for anyone who wants to move to or is already living in Sydney, so you can learn to live there almost for free.

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


Living 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 super expensive. Hotels, hostels and Airbnbs 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 10 years. And nearly all of our time spent travelling in Sydney we were living 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 House sitting jobs if you are responsible and like taking care of pets. So have a look around on a few House sitting websites for housesits in the area you’re going to travel to.

I wrote this post reviewing which sites are the best House sitting websites to find jobs on and it’s full of useful House sitting tips too.

Living in Sydney House sitting in Sydney

One of our inner west Sydney house sitting jobs


Airbnbs in Sydney

We usually get our 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.

You can find Airbnbs in Sydney on a budget, you’ve just got to search a little. Check out this list of the best cheap Airbnbs in Sydney we have put together.


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 are based in Australia.  


Free or cheap food when living 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 usually in a housesit or an Airbnb, where we had a fully equipped kitchen we could cook in.

However, we did learn to stretch the small amount of money we had, as far as we could on groceries. And when we did have enough money to eat out, we always took advantage of deals and specials.


Look for lunch specials in Sydney

Lunch is often the meal you’ll find the most specials or discounts on. Eating dinner out in Sydney can be very expensive, so fill up at lunch if you’re going out and cook dinner at home. 

Here are the best cheap eats in Sydney under $20:

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

  • The Crown Hotel in Elizabeth St in the CBD does $10 lunch specials on certain days
  • Get a Hot Chip Roll with salad for only $6.90 at all El Jannah restaurants which are Sydney-wide
  • Marrickville Pork Roll is famed for their authentic, delicious $8 Vietnamese bánh mì in Marrickville, now enjoy the same at their Darling Square branch in Haymarket
  • At Chinese Dumpling Master on Enmore Road, Newtown you’ll find cheap delicious dumplings in a busy but cheerful small restaurant
  • Fill up on giant gourmet sandwiches for $9 at South Dowling Sandwiches in Darlinghurst or Alexandria  
  • North Sandwiches Cafe on Bridge St in the CBD do loaded sandwiches ranging from $10-15
  • 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 
  • Time for Thai in Newtown does lunch menus specials and so does At Thailand in Bankstown


Check out the food courts

If you go to the food courts in the shopping 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 vendors.

  • If you’re in Sydney CBD, Pitt St Mall’s food court is huge and has plenty of food options. Soul Origin sells their healthy 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 Metro Mall near Enmore Park has a decent food court with Asian cuisine outlets that sell their dishes at 50% off at closing times.  
  • For options further out west, Parramatta Westfield has a huge food court where you can pick up reduced dishes at closing time.


Search for supermarket reductions 

Grocery prices have been steadily rising in Australia recently and so bargain hunting in the supermarkets is now a regular practice if you want to save money.

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.

It sounds tedious but if you put the work in, you really can save lots on your groceries each week. 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 carton of beer, cider or wine, just by showing your docket or receipt in the partner liquor store.

Supermarket reductions


Groupon discounts in Sydney

On Groupon, you’ll find all kinds of discounts, but if you select the Sydney location and then select the Food & Drink category, you’ll find heaps of money-saving offers.  Items such as half-price coffee, bubble tea,  half-price bakery items, 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.


Use Sydney Cheap Tuesday 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 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 get $2 Tacos, $5 Pizzas, $5 Beers, and $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 these few Sydney Cheap Tuesday deals that we know of:

  • 🌭 Dollar Dogs ($1 Hot Dogs), $6 Mimosa’s and $5 Beers at Soda Factory in Surrey Hills
  • 🌮 $3 Taco and Tequila at Flying Fajita Sistas in Glebe
  • 🥩 $20 Steak & house drink at The Newtown Hotel on King St in Newtown
  • 🥩 Steak Night for $10 steaks at The Shakespeare Hotel in Surrey Hills
  • 🍗 $10 Schnitty’s at The Chippo Hotel in Chippendale
  • 🥟 Dollar Dumplings at Della Hyde in Darlinghurst
  • 🦪 Riley St Garage in Wooloomooloo for $1 Oysters and $5 Beers & $5 Wine
  • 🌮 $3 Taco’s at The Norfolk in Redfern
  • 🎥 The Dendy in Newtown is a much-loved Sydney icon and does $13.50 movie tickets on Tuesdays
  • 🎦 The Ritz Cinema in Randwick is only $10 for movies on Tuesdays
  • 🎥 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 yummy food truck options.

For ultimate savings, go in August for the month-long Paddington $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.

You simply 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 restaurant in the trendy inner-west of Sydney, with solid values that everyone should have access to healthy food, without borders of race or gender, or finances.

Lentil As Anything operates on a pay as you feel, not-for-profit concept serving delicious vegetarian and vegan food.

You pay what you can for your meal and there are even opportunities to volunteer for them in the kitchen.


Food delivery takeaway discounts

Or just eat takeaway at home, by picking up all the Uber Eats, DoorDash, MenuLog or Deliveroo special first-time order codes.

You can usually find these discount cards on most takeaway vendors’ 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 maximum savings.

Use our links to get money off your first orders with these food delivery partners:


Cheap bars and drinks in Sydney

Sydney is a city full of trendy and unique bars. However, a lot of these awesome city bars are expensive to spend a whole night out in.

So for cheap nights out, make sure you hit the Sydney bars when their Happy Hours are on.

Most bars have one 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:

🍸 $5 Lychee Margarita,🍹 $5 Aperol Spritz, $5 Espresso Martini, 🥤 $5 Pimms Cup, $5 Pink G&T, and 🍻 $5 Beer, Wine & Spirits. Plus $10 Wood-fired Pizzas 🍕 — what’s not to be happy about? 🙂 


Happy hours in Sydney 🍻 

A few other popular Happy Hours in Sydney are: 

🍸 $15 Sofi Spritz jugs at The Newtown Hotel – Saturdays from midday to midnight

🍹 The Carrington in Surrey Hills – $10 Cocktail Happy Hour, $6 Beer, House Wine & Rosé from 4 pm to 6 pm 

🍺 The Century Bar on George St for Jugs of Beer for $12 and $9 Koyomi Shochu Blend Highballs 

🍻 🍷Websters Bar in Newtown for rooftop views and $6 Beers, Wine and Ciders from 2 pm – 4 pm Monday – Thursdays.

🍻  All-day, every day, $5 Coronas at all branches of Guzman Y Gomez Mexican Kitchen

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


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 that 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. 

If you’re really broke or can’t get to 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, take it and sit on one of Sydney’s beaches or parks and watch the sunset.

Living in Sydney

Even The Opera Bar in Sydney has a Happy Hour!


Cheap or free things when living in Sydney

Try some of these other money-saving tips for more cheap or free things 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 foils, for colour or for a haircut, in the two years I’ve been living in Sydney.

How? Well, 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 sometimes 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, Edwards & Co and Oscar, Oscar was 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, and 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, lash and brow services, or other beauty treatments in exchange for discounted or free services.


Use grocery rewards cards

Woolworths and Coles are the two main supermarkets in Australia and they both have grocery specials 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 it somewhere to the Street Library network.

So keep an eye out for them around the city suburbs, there are hundreds of them, you can find your nearest Sydney Street Library here.

There are also larger ones often just inside buildings, like this one below on the Balmain ferry wharf. And is where we’ve scored a few excellent books.

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 to be able to take a book and then return it to any other Street Library location.

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 a ‘cheap travel day’ on the Opal card. So for flat rate of $2.80 per person, a 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 small 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.  


Explore the op shops in Sydney

Charity shops or Thrift Stores (or as the Aussies 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 each. 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 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.


Use the 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 scenic 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 in Sydney:


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 leaves at 6 pm and focuses on the historical Rocks area of Sydney, which is the site of the first European settlers.

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 great facilities, with the latest technology, and comfortable work or reading environments.

All Sydney libraries will have work-space, PCs 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 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 which has an on-site cafe for essential caffeine refuelling.  

Working in Sydney’s Woollahra Library


Free yoga classes in Sydney

For free health and wellness hacks, you may have heard that 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 each Lululemon store as times and availability for their free classes do change.

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 is host to lots of events throughout the year and some of these are completely free.

Of course, 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. 

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.

A free festival that Sydney hosts every year – Vivid Light and Sound Festival.


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 Sydney and Melbourne every week. There are also a small number of Films For Change events in smaller towns 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 payable, they also run many free taster 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 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.

Its three most well-known ones are:

  • Bondi Icebergs Pool at Bondi Beach
  • Bronte Baths at Bronte
  • Wylie’s Baths at Coogee

There are many other popular ocean pools in Sydney including:

  • Dee Why Rockpool
  • Fairy Bower Pool at Manly
  • McIver’s Women’s Baths at Coogee
  • 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. 

Sydney Bondi Pools

Bondi Icebergs Pool


Free outdoor cinemas in Sydney

Living in Sydney in the summer means you can 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 are 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 Kids’ 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, gardens and green spaces all over Sydney.

They’re all easily accessible even by public transport and they almost always come with free facilities 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 huge dog lover.

Some of the more popular Syndey Parks mot to miss are:

  • Hyde Park in the CBD
  • The harbourside Royal Botanic Gardens
  • The huge Centennial Park in the eastern suburbs
  • Bicentennial Park which is part of Sydney Olympic Park
  • Sydney Park in Newtown/Erskineville with its own bio-diverse wetlands area, lush landscaped gardens and cafe. 


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, apply sunscreen and get going.

The most iconic and popular coastal walks in Sydney are:

  • Bondi to Coogee coastal walk
  • The Federation Cliff walk in Dover Heights
  • 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 it 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 house sitting in Balmain, Sydney.


Free Wi-Fi 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, and in most places, you don’t even have to go in, you can usually pick up the signal just by 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.
  • Main CBD street areas of Sydney will almost always have a free Wi-Fi network.
  • Most shopping malls will have free Wi-Fi and sometimes the foreshore, beachfront or popular outdoor shopping 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 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.

The Star tickets cost us only $3 each and the movies tickets were only $12 each from Groupon. So the total cost that day was 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 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 got huge discounts on our entry tickets to Featherdale Wildlife Park in Sydney from Experience Oz. So the tickets only cost us $20 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, try 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


So, that about completes our Guide to Living in Sydney, Australia for Free (Almost).

I hope you found something helpful and are able to take away some valuable travel hacks for living in Sydney almost for free or more cheaply.

I managed to live in this very expensive city on a tiny budget for almost 2 years 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 living in Sydney almost for free? Do you live in Sydney now on a small budget?

Let me know in the comments.


Happy & Safe Travels 🙂



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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. 🙂

Layla 29 September 2020 - 12:40 AM

Glad you found it helpful and thanks for reading 🙂

Kitti 30 September 2020 - 7:07 AM

Wow what a great and detailed article! I’m planning on moving to Australia in the future (hopefully borders will open up soon) so this will definitely come in handy! I’ve always wanted to try housesitting I think it’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 🙂

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 🙂

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. 🙂

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! 🙂 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 🙂


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