A Week In Melbourne, Australia On A $65,778 Income

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Today: A content writer working in higher education in Melbourne, Australia who makes $65,778 per year and spends some of her money on moisturizer.
Editor's note: All prices have been converted to U.S. dollars.
Occupation: Content Writer
Industry: Higher Education
Age: 27
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Salary: $65,778
Paycheck Amount (Weekly): It varies, because I work on a contract basis, but generally $885.30
Gender Identity: Woman
Monthly Expenses
Rent: $1,068.56 (I live alone in a one-bedroom.)
Car Loan: $142.47
Netflix/Stan/Amazon Prime: $7 (My mum, sister, and I each pay for one and share logins.)
Utilities: $85 (gas, water, electricity)
Phone and Internet: $85
New York Magazine Subscription: $12 (paid every three months)
Retirement/Superannuation Fund: 9.5% of my salary, paid by my employer
Savings: $720 per month, which also serves as my emergency fund

Day One

5:45 a.m. — I wake up and decide it's too cold to get out of bed yet, so I cuddle my dog for a few minutes while checking emails and social media. I got paid overnight, so I shuffle my money around: savings, rent, bills, and car payment. I don't even have the car anymore. I paid way too much for it, then the engine crapped out. I sold it for whatever I could get and was left with an $1,800 loan. Don't buy cars from shady dealers!! Eventually I have to brave the cold and get up to walk the dog. Melbourne gets freezing winters, so I put on a windbreaker and a beanie, and put my dog's warning jacket on him. He has anxiety and is fear-aggressive, so he has a bright jacket that says "NERVOUS" on it to encourage people to avoid us. Some people think the coat is a joke, so we try to walk when no one is around. We go for our walk, then he gets his breakfast, and I get ready for work.
7 a.m. — After the dog gets a thousand kisses goodbye, I head off to the train station. It's only a 10-minute walk, but it's through a wind tunnel, and the sun isn't up yet. Freezing!! I top up my metro card with $33, which will get me through the work week. $33
7:30 a.m. — Once I'm in the city, I get a latte ($3.40) from a café that does a lot to support youth struggling with homelessness; it's nice to know my money is going toward something positive. Plus, it's consistently good coffee. Melbourne has a reputation for its coffee culture, but that tends to lend itself to some super pretentious baristas with foul coffee. $3.40
8 a.m. — I'm the first one in the office, which isn't unusual. A lot of public sector offices offer flexible work options, and I prefer to start and finish early, so I'm usually at work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. I put my breakfast and lunch away (homemade baked beans for breakfast, baked potato for lunch), and read the news while waiting for content jobs to get requested. I work on a contract basis and get paid above market rate, but don't get sick days or annual leave, and I can be let go with only a day's notice. That can be challenging, and I've had stretches of unemployment, but the pay makes up for it. Plus, I've had some horrible experiences with permanent roles, and this is a great way to "try before you buy."
12 p.m. — During my lunch break, I go online to order my groceries, which I'll pick up on my way home. Crowds give me anxiety, and the supermarket turns people into animals! This is an easy way to cheat my anxiety. I'm trying to save money by bringing lunch to work every day and I've bookmarked some recipes, so I load my cart with pumpkin, cauliflower, spinach, onions, carrot, cucumber, garlic, oranges, clementines, plums, eggs, milk, sour cream, yogurt, seltzer, tinned tomato, Cannellini beans, turmeric, chili powder, and some dog treats to keep my dog occupied ($53). I spend the rest of my day in and out of meetings, hanging out with the office therapy dog (the BIGGEST perk!), and pounding coffee after coffee from the staff kitchen. Before I know it, it's 4 p.m., and I'm off home again. $53
4:30 p.m. — I stop at the supermarket to pick up my groceries and heave them home (now is when I'd like a car that WORKS). I also stop in at the pharmacy to pick up my antidepressants ($11). These are dispensed weekly as my doctor wants my intake monitored. My mental health has been really bad lately, and these are new meds, so we're taking it slowly and carefully. $11
4:45 p.m. — Home!! My dog and I do a loud and silly celebration dance because we're so happy to see each other. I let him out to do his business, put some kibble in his bowl, and get ready for the gym. I really hate working out, but it's helpful for depression and anxiety, so I try to make an effort. There's a gym in my building, and since I'm home earlier than most commuters, it's empty, and I can huff and puff on the treadmill without an audience. Once my obligatory 30-minute workout is done, I go back upstairs to shower and heat up some leftover soup for dinner.
8:30 p.m. — The coast is clear of other dogs and pedestrians, so I rug up and take the dog for a nice, long walk, free of stressors. We've been working with a behaviorist for a few months, and it's made a big difference. He'll never be the kind of dog who can come to brunch or go to dog parks. It's not a cakewalk to have an anxious and reactive dog, but that's my baby, and I do whatever has to be done to keep him happy and safe. Once we're home, I get into my PJs, take my meds, hop into bed, and watch an episode of Russian Doll until I fall asleep.
Daily Total: $100.40

Day Two

5:45 a.m. — I get to be a bit lazy this morning. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist at 8:30, so I doze a little after my alarm, then take the dog out. We run into an old man who power walks around the neighborhood every morning, and my dog used to HATE him. Still, the man was always really lovely and told me (from afar!) that he also has had anxious dogs and understands the struggle. Since my dog behaviorist gave us some great training tools, my dog has gotten a lot better, and this morning he ZOOMS up to the man for cuddles and kisses. I'm so proud of him!!!
8 a.m. — It was nice to have a lazy morning, but I'm paying for it when my train is way more packed than usual. I all but suffocate into someone's puffer coat (calm down, guy, Melbourne is chilly but it is NOT puffer coat cold) on my commute. Once I survive the train and arrive in the city, I'm a bit early for my appointment, so I get a latte. It's a wanky place that only offers one size and one type of milk and raw sugar blah blah blah, but it's right next door to my doctor, so whatever. ($3.22). Annoyingly, it's delicious. $3.22
8:30 a.m. — I have a quick appointment with my psychiatrist to check in on my new meds and discuss some therapy options. I've dealt with depression and anxiety for more than 10 years and have been on meds for the last two. I complement this with therapy, but I'm between psychologists at the moment. We catch up on my mental state, which has improved drastically after an incredibly low and troublesome month. Is it dumb that I'm proud of myself when my psych praises me for not being suicidal anymore? He refers me to a new psychologist so I can resume regular therapy, and I pay my bill ($36) and head to work. $36
9 a.m. — It's a pretty slow day today, and I get through my work quickly. I have my standard breakfast and lunch this week (same as yesterday), and spend most of my afternoon waist-deep in spreadsheets. The Melbourne Comedy Festival is on, and my friends and I organize to see Simon Amstell this weekend. I transfer my friend the money for my ticket ($27.20). I also spend a little time texting the guy, B., I've been seeing, and we make plans to meet up for dinner next week. It's still early days, and I'm more concerned about getting my mental health right than dating, so I don't mind that I won't see him this week. $27.20
4:30 p.m. — Home with my best buddy again! We do our hello dance, and I give him his dinner before starting on my own. I put some potatoes in the oven for lunch tomorrow (I've just rediscovered them after years of avoiding carbs, so I'm in love), and start making a curry-cauliflower soup. I snack on an orange and a clementine while it cooks, and end up making a chocolate mug cake for dessert. Whoops, but also, delicious. I'm still sore from my workout yesterday (I also just rediscovered sprinting. I've got short little corgi legs like my dog, and it's way easier than jogging!), so I don't go to the gym. When the street gets quiet, I take the dog out for his big walk, and do some basic clicker training to keep it fresh in his mind. He's super smart and does a great job! Then it's home for bed, meds, Russian Doll, and cuddles.
Daily Total: $66.42

Day Three

4:30 a.m. — One side effect of my new meds is that they make me super drowsy, so I was out like a light really early last night. Now I'm wide awake way earlier than I need to be — even the dog has no interest in getting up and going for a walk at this hour! I make myself a coffee and hop back into bed to finish off Russian Doll before we start our routine at a more reasonable time.
8 a.m. — It's Friday, and I decide that's a good enough reason to treat myself to a latte and a danish on my walk to work ($7.73). Yum! Most of the office either works from home or doesn't work at all on Friday, so I spend a quiet morning proofreading, editing copy, and window shopping online. I make pretty good money for my age and job, but living alone is expensive, and I don't get to splash out like I'd really like to. I spend a lot of time convincing myself not to buy a dress from The Outnet for my birthday. $7.73
12 p.m. — I take my lunch to the rooftop garden in my office building and enjoy a bit of sunshine. I've developed a terrible habit of eating my lunch at my desk, so I'm proud of myself for getting some air. Little wins! My psych recommended I take up meditating a while ago, but I'm usually pretty slack with it. I'm in the mood for it today, though, and do a 15-minute guided meditation. I decide that it's worth subscribing to the Calm app to unlock all the content ($59.99). It's a lot to pay all at once, but I figure if I invest in it, I might feel compelled (or obligated) to meditate more. $59.99
5 p.m. — Here are my wild Friday night plans: staying in with my one and only. A big part of my mental health is loneliness, so some of my treatment is to interact with others more. I'm a super introvert and spend a lot of time in meetings, so even the idea of that can be draining. I FaceTime with my best friend, R., and text a bit with B. — that's close enough, right? After the gym (10 minutes of sprints and five km on the stationary bike while listening to a podcast about the Zodiac Killer), I want some wine, but I'm trying not to drink lately. I noticed a pattern of binge drinking and waking up with some big regrets, so I'm trying to reign it in. Plus, drinking alone in my apartment doesn't mix well with depression. I have my cauliflower soup and a chocolatey mug cake for dessert. It's raining, and the dog hates the rain, so we only take a quick walk before he's pulling me back towards home. I turn in and watch John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City, and I'm out like a light.
Daily Total: $67.72

Day Four

7 a.m. — It's Saturday, and the dog has let me sleep in a bit, so I wake up in a good mood; the first one in a while. For being such a benevolent master of the house (he runs shit and he knows it), I take him on an extra long walk. The streets are pretty quiet on weekend mornings, so we even get to run around in the park (still on leash) without having to worry about any other dogs! I drop him home with a big smile on his face, and go down the street to buy myself a latte and a croissant for breakfast. $7.80
12 p.m. — I studied writing at university, but stopped writing for pleasure when I started working. I'm trying hard to get back into it, though, so I spend most of my day working on a new short story. It's really tough. Writing is a skill more than a talent, and I'm rusty. It's hard to revisit something you *used* to be good at. I just have to push through and allow myself to be bad at it for a while until I'm sharp again. I procrastinate with about a hundred cups of tea, a bowl of soup, some toast, and a plum.
5 p.m. — Time to socialize! I walk to the train and top up my metro card because the other day I only put enough for the work week. $6
5:30 p.m. — I meet up with my friends for an early dinner before the show. We head to Little Bourke Street, which is lined with excellent restaurants, and we decide on Chinese. The restaurant super cheap, and they allow BYO wine. We get dumplings, greens, spring rolls, and rice, plus three bottles of wine between the four of us. We pay separately and head off to see some comedy! $30
9 p.m. — After the show, my friends and I head to a bar for some drinks. We find a cute rooftop bar and splurge on cocktails. Alcohol is super expensive here, so cocktails are a rarity — we usually stick to house wine. I'm conscious of letting the drink get the best of me, and cap it at two cocktails for the night ($32.20), before heading home on the train to spoon a big bottle of water. $32.20
Daily Total: $76

Day Five

7 a.m. — Uuuuugggghhh why do I do this to myself? I turned out to be much drunker than I realized (my tolerance is way down after not drinking for a while!), and wake up with a hideous hangover. I let the dog out and schlep to the shop for Gatorade and a giant bag of chips ($5.10) before flopping onto the couch. I'm soothed by a couple of stand-up specials on Netflix (Tom Segura and Hasan Minhaj), and doze much of the day away. $5.10
12 p.m. — A big nap has helped, but I'm still in sloth mode today. These all-day hangovers are another reason I've not been drinking lately. A weekend already feels so short, and it's so depressing to waste half of it asleep and feeling like hell! I make a stack of toast and share some of it with the dog. True to Australian stereotypes, he loves Vegemite. We snuggle a while, and I putter about cleaning and doing load after load of laundry.
6 p.m. — Screw it, I give in and order a pizza and tiramisu from Uber Eats. I need this. $28.60
6:30 p.m. — I also need to watch Pride and Prejudice, so I download it from Apple while I eat pizza and tiramisu. $9.30
7:30 p.m. — I feel a pimple forming on my chin, probably thanks to last night's sugarfest and today's grease party. I remember that I'm running low on skincare, and order a cleanser and moisturizer from Go-To ($52.20). It's an Australian brand, and my skin really loves it. I'm pretty sure it recently launched over in the U.S., too! $52.20
7:45 p.m. — Despite napping most of the day, I'm ready for bed. I take the dog out for a quick walk, promising to take him for a super duper long one tomorrow. I accept his evil look: I deserve it. Sorry, buddy.
Daily Total: $95.20

Day Six

5:45 a.m. — This early morning alarm is super easy after my pizza coma last night, and I spring out of bed and take the dog out. We narrowly avoid an incident with another dog who was walking off-leash. Nobody was hurt, but it puts me in a crappy mood. Even though I know my dog's behavior is my responsibility, it drives me crazy that people walk their dogs without a leash because it puts us all in a dangerous position. I love saying hi to puppies as much as anyone, but the world doesn't revolve around them and their dog. Keep it on a leash!
8 a.m. — The incident this morning has made my anxiety skyrocket, and I'm in a bad mood all day. I eat my breakfast (yogurt, a banana, and a coffee) and lunch (soup and toast) before midday, and keep my headphones on at my desk all day. I bury myself in work to avoid talking to people when I'm on a short fuse. It's easy to get overwhelmed with sensory overload when my anxiety spikes, and I'd rather avoid crying at my desk because I can't find a file or because the printer is too loud. I really wish I kept Valium in my bag!
5 p.m. — Today dragged on forever, and I'm relieved to be home with my boy. I worry that my anxiety gives him anxiety, but sometimes you just need to cuddle something soft. We have a marathon snuggling session on the couch while I binge on Schitt's Creek. I've not got much of an appetite, so I graze on some fruit and take my meds early. We skip our evening walk, because I just want to sleep this day off, and I can't handle being on high alert for dogs and people while I'm already this tense. I take a super hot shower and finish with 30 seconds of cold water (I read somewhere that this helps with depression? I don't 100% buy it, but I've started doing it anyway), put lavender oil in my air diffuser and on my wrists and temples for a calming effect, and I'm asleep by 6:30.
Daily Total: $0

Day Seven

5:15 a.m. — To make up for missing our walk last night, I wake up early to take the dog on the long route. He's got short little legs, so 45 minutes of walking tires him out! He enjoys a carrot in his bed while I do a quick 10-minute guided meditation to try to avoid another high-strung day like yesterday. I also feel like I looked as bad as I felt yesterday, so I take extra time to curl my hair and put on some real makeup and I put a bit more effort into my outfit. I catch the late train and still make it to work on time.
11 a.m. — I get a piece of chocolate banana bread ($2.80) while on a break with my work husband, and we go over upcoming marketing campaigns. I really like this job and the people I work with, and I hope it gets extended. To show my coworkers I appreciate them, I stop at the convenience store and pick up a few bags of mini Easter eggs to share with everyone ($8.50). $11.30
6:30 p.m. — It's date night! I'm glad it's cold at night: My winter wardrobe is much cuter than my summer wardrobe. I'm 5'9", so I don't usually wear heels, but B. is pretty tall, so tonight I get to! It's a fun and easy boost to my confidence, and I gliiide out to Uber to a sushi place near B.'s house ($12.80). $12.80
9 p.m. — B. and I go freakin' nuts on the sushi bar and have some of pretty much everything ($40, my share), including sushi roulette: one of the nigri pieces is loaded with wasabi, but you don't know which. I win and escape unscathed, but B. isn't so lucky. It's always fun to hang out with him — I don't know the last time I dated someone *fun* and not just emotionally taxing! We cap off the night with cocktails ($42, my share) and kissing in the dark corner of the bar, but I stop it there: I'm not really ready to sleep with someone while my mental health is so erratic. He's great about it and is lovely enough to get me an Uber home on his account. $82
9:30 p.m. — The cold air will be good to sober me up before bedtime, so I put on some more sensible shoes and take the dog out. It's late to be walking, but I live in a super safe neighborhood, and anyway, there's no better self defense than a dog with a mean bite! Once we're home, I pop a couple of preventative ibuprofen and my meds, and force down a liter of water before taking off my makeup and hopping into bed.
Daily Total: $106.10
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression and need support, please call the National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline at 1-800-826-3632 or the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
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