Location Independent Update From Australia

Australia TravelGreetings we are in Melbourne, Australia now, waiting to go to Sydney this afternoon.  I wanted to give a quick update, because I will probably be offline for the next few days again.

Australia – Natural Paradise

We just spent a couple of weeks with my cousin on Bribie Island. We were absolutely thrilled to do nothing in this small resort town. Ocean-side walks, clean air, abundant wildlife and the sound of nature are a welcome respite, after the pollution, noise and overall insanity of Bangkok. We were different people there.

The Most Expensive Country in the World

We are really surprised at how expensive Australia is. Restaurants, hotels and transportation cost a fortune and you generally get pretty mediocre quality and service. Many people believe that Japan is expensive, they should visit Australia. A $20 entree is a great meal with fantastic service in Japan. In Australia, it is a basic dish.


I hate travel again. I love being in new places but all the moving around is too much. I am looking to settling down for the summer in Calgary. We are having a great time, but I just want to be in one place for a few months again. It can be anywhere, I just don’t want to be moving so much.

I still have some big dental surgery to do, so it looks like we will be going back to Thailand later in the fall. We really enjoyed our stay in Chiang Mai, so we are planning to stay for several months next time.

Special Mentions

Thank you Mike Vardy from Lifehack.org, for including my manifesto in 10 More Insanely Awesome Inspirational Manifestos. I wanted to do one for a long time, and his first post pushed me to do it. I’m pleasantly surprised at the response. Thanks Mike!

Cody McKibben of ThrillingHeroics.com and the Digital Nomad Academy, kindly mentioned me in a post of his. Thanks Cody. Sorry that we still haven’t met.

My last, How to Really Make Money from a Travel Blog post had a fantastic reception. Thank you everyone who helped promote it. Copy that formula. It works.

Thank you to everyone who came out to the Digital Nomad Unconference  and the How to Make Money with a Travel Blog meet up in Thailand. We had a great turn out at both events.

Thanks to Jason Demant of Unanchor.com for the great travel guides. I appreciate it.

I am going to the World Domination Summit in Portland.

I bought my tickets and am super excited to meet all the cool people at Chris Guillebeau’s WDS this year. If any of you are going, please stop me and talk. I am not good in big crowds, but I would love to hear about what you are working on.

Guitar Virtuoso Plays Lousy Tourist Rock Bar in Thailand

I’ve come across a stupendously amazing rock guitarist in Thailand. Picture Yngwie Malmsteen playing in a third world bar in front of 15 people, 10 of which don’t really like the music.

I was spellbound and had to go back for a second show.

Best of all. I have about 20 minutes of video of this guy dancing his fingers up, down and all around an Epic guitar with a half Marshall stack. But, I ‘m just telling you that to build up the excitement for a future post. 🙂 I’m not going to share that video yet.

The disappointing part is that this world class musician was playing in a popular tourist area, with hundreds of intoxicated backpackers numbing their brains with techno ‘duff-duff’ music and lousy cover bands. Almost no one recognized the genius in their midst.  Unfortunately, most people don’t really know what talent is, unless it is sold to them in a pretty package.

It reminds me of the Washington Post experiment with the concert violinist Joshua Bell. He was playing a million dollar violin in the subways of Washington D.C. and barely no one noticed. What a sad world we live in where people only consume what is popular and mass culture.

Here is a video of Bell playing in the subway.


What do you think? Would you recognize great talent if you saw it in a grungy bar in a third world country or in a subway in your home city? Would you care?

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My name is John Bardos. My wife and I gave up our business, house and possessions in Japan to search for more meaning and fulfillment in our lives. We've discovered that a satisfying life is about rich experiences, quality relationships and meaningful contribution, NOT consumption.

10 Responses to Location Independent Update From Australia

  1. John,

    I was just having a discussion/debate yesterday with a friend about how expensive the food is in Australia; I was on the side of it being expensive. This post will be getting forwarded on just as soon as I leave this comment : )

    I really like your blog, your story is inspirational, I’ve been following along in the shadows for a little while, and will continue to do so…keep up the good work!

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment.

      Everyone warned us that Australia was expensive, but I never expected it to be this much. I don’t mind paying for quality and service, but the value for the money doesn’t seem to be here. Japan is definitely cheaper than Australia now.

      Surprisingly, restaurants in Sydney seems to be a bit more reasonable than Melbourne or Brisbane.

  2. Michael M says:

    Hi John, my wife’s Australian and the original plan was to head for Melbourne but it just seems to be way too pricey right now. I keep waiting for currency to shift in a more favourable direction, just as well there is so much of Asia to explore. I’ve been having a discussion with people lately about how places are never quite as ‘cheap’ as we’d hope. That includes Chiang Mai which is theoretically the holy grail of great value. I don’t know if this issue is one of expectation or the fact that I expect tiled floors, bug screens, my own kitchen and air con as standard. I guess I suffer when comparing it to days of old when I’d sleep anywhere and eat anything so long as it was cheap.

    • John says:

      Hi Michael.
      Thanks for the comment.

      We were able to find some decent accommodation in Chiang Mai with a small kitchen and air conditioning in a clean modern building for $350 per month. I thought that was a pretty good price. There are cheaper places but we didn’t want to spend too much time looking around. Our monthly expenses in Thailand were about $1200. In Australia, it was pretty hard to get by for less than $200 per day as a couple. That was probably five times our expenses in Thailand.

  3. Nancy says:

    I was just granted a Working Holiday Visa for Australia and currently planning to travel to Melbourne in October, but now I’m a little worried after reading your post! It sounds like an exciting and lovely place to be, but I’m afraid I’ll be broke before I even start job-hunting. Did you find accommodation difficult in Melbourne?
    Great blog by the way! I’m a new reader so I will be spending the next hour reading through all your past articles!

    • John says:

      Hi Nancy,

      Melbourne is fantastic, I’m jealous of your opportunity to live and work there. However, yes it is very, very expensive. We only stayed there for a short time so we stayed in a hotel. Unfortunately, I don’t have much advice for longer term accommodations.

      I do know of some cheap apartments in Fitroy on the corner of Brunswick and Hanover Street. They were right above the laundromat. I don’t know the exact prices but we met a guy staying there and he said they were very cheap for Melbourne.

  4. Rob says:

    By the sounds of things it’s become quite a bit more expensive than it was only a few years ago. I lived in Sydney from 2007 – 2009 and it all seemed relative. Living cost vs. quality of life was pretty good! Maybe it’s also because the rest of the world is going through a slump and the dollar is stronger at moment. In 2007 £1 was equal to $2.50, now it’s only worth $1.55.

    • John says:

      Hi Rob,
      Thanks for the comment. Yes, the appreciation of the Australian dollar is a big part of the problem. Also, the booming resource industry is skewing prices of everything for Australians as well. The same is happening in Canada with the oil industry. House prices, and virtually every other expense has doubled in my home city of Calgary in recent years. However, Australian prices are still noticeably higher.

  5. Rob says:

    Roger that. Unfortunately where there is oil, there will be investment. I can imagine it would be quite frustrating, but at the same time it presents fantastic investment opportunities.

  6. Joe says:

    I loved our few weeks in Oz but the prices were a shock! Especially coming from London which is supposed to be quite expensive.

    If you live and work in Oz the prices are ok as the wages are high but if you are visiting it can be tough.

    Have a good time in Chiang Mai.

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