Living in Australia doesn’t have to be expensive. There are plenty of places where you can purchase things cheaply to ensure you don’t blow your budget. From household goods to social activities, here’s where you should be shopping if you want to save money.

Daiso

If you don’t already know about this Japanese variety chain, check in to your nearest store ASAP. Daiso stocks everything you need to set up your new home and more. Homewares, personal care, cleaning products… even Japanese food and drinks can be purchased here – all for $2.80 each.

Kmart and Target

For furniture, homewares, clothing, sporting equipment and outdoor goods, you can’t go past Kmart and Target. Known for offering stylish products without the high price tag, items at both stores are good value for money. Study desks, for example, typically cost under $40, and you can usually find kitchen utensils for as low as $2 each at Kmart.

Kmart and Target stores are dotted throughout Australia, with some stores open 24 hours.

IKEA

IKEA may not be the first brand that comes to mind when you think of bargains, but many of the chain’s household items are very affordable. You can also sign up for an IKEA membership to receive a heads-up on sales dates and get access to exclusive deals. 

Plus, most IKEA stores have a clearance section where end-of-production items or previous display items are heavily discounted. Next time you’re at IKEA, be sure to keep an eye out for this section.

For students living in Sydney, you can take advantage of IKEA’s take-back service at its Tempe store. That means that if you decide you no longer want your IKEA mattress or desk and it’s still in good condition, you can get an IKEA voucher if you return your item. 

Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace

If you’re in no rush to purchase straight away, it’s worth jumping online to take a look at secondhand goods. Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are full of affordable used items that are generally much more expensive if bought in-store or brand new. You can usually find furniture, homewares, clothing and even cars on both sites.

As with most secondhand deals, you can negotiate on price. But, be sure to ask the seller all your questions and inspect the item in person before purchasing, as returns are generally not accepted.

Apart from secondhand goods, many people use Gumtree or Facebook to look for new renters or housemates. So, if you’re looking for a new place to call home, it’s worth checking both websites.

Op Shops

Thrift shops – or ‘op shops’ as they’re more commonly known here – are popular in Australia. Large op shops carry refurbished furniture and mattresses, as well as clothing and homewares – all of which are extremely well-priced. 

There are several op shop chains in Australia, and they’re usually run to raise money for a charity or parish. Major op shop chains include Sacred Heart Mission, St Vincent de Paul (known as ‘Vinnies’ in Australia), the Salvation Army (known as the ‘Salvos’), and Red Cross Shops

There are also dedicated recycled clothing and consignment shops that carry designer brands for a fraction of the cost. For your chance to grab a designer bargain, check out Recycle Boutique (Melbourne and Hobart), SWOP (Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne) or Savers (Adelaide and Melbourne). 

A complete list of op shops throughout Australia is available here.

Markets

If you want to try your hand at haggling, check out the weekend markets in your city. Apart from finding pretty much anything you might need, you may come across a treasured vintage piece for a very good price.

To save money on your weekly groceries, head to a fresh produce market about an hour before closing time on a Saturday or Sunday. Many vendors will mark their prices right down to sell as much as they can before close. You might even be able to grab an entire bag of vegetables for as low as $1.

Online Deals and Discounts

If you’re looking to save on social events, research Meetup and various Facebook groups to find your next fun activity. There are plenty of language exchange and international meet-up groups that hold social events at student-friendly prices.

For example, the Melbourne-based Facebook group New to Melbourne provides heavily-discounted tours to the Grampians or the Great Ocean Road for a little over $50 per person, while Meetup’s New to Sydney group for women holds cultural orientation workshops to help female newcomers settle in. 

Groupon and other deal websites are worth a look for outdoor activities such as ice skating, water adventures, or skiing. Their deals are often much better-priced than conventional tour packages.

Also, don’t forget to check out our very own Student Deals page, which is full of fantastic offers dedicated to international students studying in Australia.