Are you looking for ways to make your money in Australia last longer? Chances are that accommodation costs are a huge drainer on your wallet, but it seems like a necessary evil right? Well, that’s not entirely true. There are a bunch of ways that you can live with no accommodation costs while you’re travelling Australia. Let us show you how.
1. Working For Accommodation (WFA)
Have you thought about working for accommodation (or WFA as it is often called)? There are many hostels and private citizens who will offer you a free place to sleep and on many occasions free food and internet in exchange for a few hours of work each day. Work can be very varied, so be sure to read the advert carefully. The most common example of WFA is in a hostel, where you can expect to undertake 2-3 hours of housekeeping work per day in exchange for free accommodation.
These hostel WFA positions are often advertised on gumtree, as well as Working Holiday Jobs and the Backpacker Job Bord has it’s own page called Help Exchange that is the same in theory. can be a great way to spend a few weeks or longer in the one place, saving money by living cheaply and getting to know the local community. Even if a hostel is not advertising WFA positions, there is a good chance that if you write to them and ask about free accommodation for work, they will be pretty receptive. The only exception to this are YHA hostels, which generally do not offer this program.
We were recently in Mission Beach, North Queensland and there are three individual backpacker hostels here advertising that they need WFA staff. When there is that much demand for staff, there is really no reason to pay for accommodation.
2. Campground hosting
Also common are campgrounds that ask you to work for a few hours each day cleaning the bathrooms or acting as a welcome ‘host’ for new campers in exchange for a free campsite. You can find these sorts of jobs through either the State’s individual websites for National park campsites, or via sites such as Grey Nomad Jobs, No Boundaries and of course, via Gumtree.
For campsite host opportunities in National Parks within Australia see:
- Parks Web Victoria – campground host program
- Parks Tasmania – how to become a volunteer
- Environment South Australia – campground hosts program
- Queensland Government – campground hosts program
- Parks and Wildlife Western Australia – campground hosting
3. Farmstays and assisting in outback properties
The outback helpers website describes this opportunity better than I could, so here is what they have to say.
Quite often, we, on the stations, have jobs that need doing, (EG. painting, some carpentry work, a major spring clean in the house, a major garden overhaul, mustering.) They may need time to do something other than housework and other maintenance tasks, often it is not possible or practical to employ staff to do that. We might only need someone for a few days, a week or a month.
As you may know getting professionals out to the ‘bush’ is extremely costly and many travelers (both young and the not-
That is basically the long and short of it. Regional farms in Australia are drought-prone and doing it rough right now. Farmers need help and they are willing to open their homes and kitchens to you if you’re willing to lend a hand. It is a great way to get to know the ‘real Australia’ and see the outback in a safe way.
You can find these outback opportunities listed on Outback Helpers, Farmstay Australia (more for campers), the Outback Links program (proof that churches can do good when they put their minds to it) or via the VISE Angels program
4. Teaching in remote or disadvantaged communities
You will need to be a trained teacher for this one. VISE ask for a minimum commitment of 6 weeks and will provide you with accommodation whilst you work with children in outback communities. Your role will be that of a tutor to assist the children with their distance education, called School of the Air. If you’re a teacher and now aware of the Australian School of the Air education program, be prepared to be impressed!
Free accommodation is great but if your bank account is in really bad shape, you may want to look into finding a job in Australia – so long as you have the proper VISA of course. Click here for tips on getting a job in Australia.
5. Workaway (or Helpx)
We’re yet to exercise these sites but are planning on using them to travel Central and South America later this and early next year. The idea is that you have skills and you need accommodation. The hosts have accommodation and need skills. Whilst WFA opportunities will generally see you cleaning toilets and making beds, Workaway and Helpx positions are extremely varied. You can work in animal refuges, eco-lodges, kitchens, permaculture gardens, as a handyman, a surf coach, a teacher, a yogi – the list is literally endless. Generally the ask of for 5 hours work per day, 5 days per week, or 3 hours per day 6-7 days per week. Hosts offer in what they can offer but it is generally accommodation is a shared or private room, with at least one meal a day included.
6. Being invited to work with Indigenous Australians
I’m a big fan of the Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV) program, simply because they have the mission statement of not working in a community where they have not specifically been invited. They work with the indigenous community to achieve what the community wants to achieve. this is not a white-man intervention or recruitment to capitalism program. The community you’re working with will provide you with accommodation, and ICV will organise and pay for travel expenses to and from the project.
Head over and check out our article about ‘How not to be a douchebag when working or woofing in regional Australia‘ to make sure you don’t make an ass out of yourself while you’re out there.
7. Hospitality Exchanges (also known as freeloading)
There are many many of these stay for free sites popping up all over the place and many travel bloggers recommend them. We have noticed however, that the travel blogger recommending them are primary male. The is still an element if fear in the female travellers (myself induced) when entering someones house that you do not know and sleeping with them in the house. That being said, there are thousands of users of these programs who all vouch for their effectiveness and all have lived to tel the tale. the most popular hospitality exchanges sites are Couchsurfing, Global Freeloaders, Hospitality Club and Stay4Free. Most sites offer verification and feedback on hosts, so please make sure you read them and try to stay with hosts with good feedback and a lot of verification – just for your own safety.
8. Free Camping
Yep, grab yourself a tent or swag and you can camp Australia for free! It’s that simple. You can also hire a campervan and make your life super comfortable, as there are more options out there for free camping for ‘self contained’ vehicles than for tents. For list of all the free campsites in Australia you can head to Wikicamps and download the app, or grab yourself a copy of Camps 8 (either the app or the book) and between those 2 you will be totally informed of all you need to know about free camping in Australia. Just keep in mind that you need to take your rubbish away with you and to please respect the rights of other campers to have a quiet night’s sleep.
If you’re new to the Colour of Sunshine, then you will not already know how much we love housesitting. If you’re a return customer, then you already know all about our advocacy for the program. We choose to use TrustedHousesitters as well as AussieHousesitters and have saved an incredible amount of money (well over $500 in the first 6 months of travel) just by using these sites. You can read more about Houseitting here or head directly to TrustedHousesitters to sign up.
10. House Exchange
Note: You will need to own a house for this one (so this maybe one to impress the folks with). You literally swap your house for someone elses in another part of the country/ world – where you would rather be. The idea is that you pop your property online, then search for a travel-buddy who you can swap houses with for your cheap vaycay. Home Exchange is the largest website offering this however also worth checking out are Aussie House Swap and Houseswap Holidays.
Finally, there is WOOFING. Never heard of it? The idea is something very hippy and organic that has grown significantly and somewhat lost its path, as these things have a way of going, however the product that it has transported into is much more accessible and attainable for the international visitor. Basically it is farm-work for free food and accommodation. The time requirements and jobs vary dramatically from farm to farm, however generally you will live either with the farm owners in their house, or in specially built accommodation on their property. This maybe a private bungalow or a separate dorm room for al the WOOFERS. You might be provided with cooked meals daily or simply given a kitchen to prepare your own. As I said, each farm is very different.
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