Better Living on a budget, Sydney

Whether it’s from to too much shopping or a pile of unexpected bills, we all have months where we have to tighten the belt. This, however, does not mean we cannot live well with a little thought and imagination. Having just had such a month, here is our updated guide to Sydney on a budget.

Activities: Sydney has a stunning number of free or inexpensive activities to avail yourself of at all times of the year. The Bondi to Bronte Coastal Walk or Manly to Spit are amongst the best urban walks in the world or you can trek in one of the practically desserted national parks before going for a dip in the ocean. It is worth remembering that these options are something residents of many other cities in the world can only dream and should be taken advantage of as often as possible.

Cultural activities are also on offer including a visit to the Jeffery Smart paintings at the NSW Art Gallery, contemporary Asian art at the superb White Rabbit Gallery or one of the often interesting exhibitions at the MCA.

Day trips: Further afield, make the most of your car and get out of the city. Patonga is our place of choice as it is only 90 minutes north of Sydney, yet feels like your on holidays. Walk around the town, eat fish and chips on the beach and have a beer in the pub overlooking the bay. Cheap, brilliant fun.

Also, explore Sydney with food-based trips to areas you do not normally visit. Friends coined this ‘Discovery Sunday’. Whether it is Middle Eastern food in Lakemba or Vietnamese in Cabramatta, Sydney offers an incredible variety of food and experiences. Make a list and spend each weekend with a different community.

Bicycle ride: make the most of the ever-increasing number of bicycle paths and cycle to the beach or cafe instead of driving. It is a wonderfully sensuous thing riding in the autumn sunshine that changes the experience of travelling. Try riding the 35kms of bicycle track at Sydney Olympic Park or cycling from the city out to Bronte for a swim.

Coffee: This is one of the cheapest quality of life boosters. Pick a place that takes its coffee seriously and go several times a week. See our list of the best coffees in Sydney which includes Single Origin, Gumption, Sample, Mecca, Edition Coffee Roasters and The Grounds of Alexandria.

Drinks: Reduce the quantity (fewer hangovers make this a bonus) and go for quality beers (Local Taphouse, Young Henry’s), wines (121BC, Mille Vini, The Winery) and cocktails (Baxter Inn, Earls Juke Joint). Then either head home for dinner or eat at on the quality cheap eats listed below.

Food: Budget month is not a time for Tetsuya’s. Chinatown, Lakemba, Cabramatta and any number of inner-city venues serve up tasty food that will not break the bank. A few of our favourites include Din Tai Fung, North China Noodle, Old Town, Jasmins, The Bun GallerySpice I Am, Bau Truong, Shenkin Kitchen, Boon Cafe at Jarern Chai Grocer and laksa at Malay-Chinese.

Finally, cook at home. Buy quality provisions relatively inexpensively at Salt Meats Cheese or Claudio’s at the Fish Market and pull out your cookbooks for a month of slicing and dicing. Recommended books include Bill Granger’s Everyday Asian and Jill Dupleix’s Old Food.