Australia

Living in Byron Bay | Your Guide to Australia’s Coastal Gem

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Known for its laid back, bohemian lifestyle, living in Byron Bay is the epitome of beach, music, and art! This popular holiday destination sits along the eastern coast of Australia and is one of the most relaxed cities you’ll experience!

Byron Bay offers a perfect balance between beach and city life. Also, due to the educational quality of Australia and the major tourism of the town, Byron Bay is a great place for international students looking for job opportunities.

In this detailed guide, we’ll walk you through everything you should know to settle and live in Byron Bay. By the end of this reading, you’ll be ready to embrace the “hippie lifestyle” of this coastal, golden town.

Quality of Life in Byron Bay

woman reading in a hammock

Imagine living in a town surrounded by art, music shows, and a glistening ocean view. That is what it’s like to live in Byron Bay, the happy hippie town. Everywhere you go is just a few quick steps to the beach, where you can grab a surfboard and waves in the sun.

Located in the state of New South Wales, Byron Bay is a small town, having an estimate of 5,000 permanent inhabitants. As a major tourist attraction, the number of people triples during the vacation season due to tourists and backpackers.

The atmosphere of this town is ideal for connecting with nature and supporting a healthy lifestyle. In Byron Bay, you can find dozens of organic food markets and leisure activities, such as yoga. Only while living in Byron Bay will you discover hidden waterfalls through forest trails and some of the best spots for snorkeling or whale-watching.

Weather in Byron Bay

people at a beach in byron bay

If you love sunny days and outdoor activities, Byron Bay is the ideal place for you. The town has a humid, subtropical climate, which means the sun almost year-round. Throughout the year, the temperature can vary between 11°C and 27°C. It rarely drops below 7°C or rises above 29°C, making Byron Bay perfect for picnics and spending the day at the beach.

During the summer season, which runs from December to March, temperatures average 27°C and are considerably humid, especially at night. In the winter season, which runs from June to August, temperatures average between 11°C and 19°C. It may not be the ideal temperature for surfing, but still great for walking and playing outdoor sports.

Cost of Living in Byron Bay

piggy banks to save for living in byron bay

Despite the relaxed lifestyleliving in Byron Bay can be quite expensive. As a city that runs on tourism, the higher cost of living makes sense. The Australian Government estimates that general living expenses are around 21,041 AUD per year. On the other hand, a recent survey showed that international students spend between 20,000 and 27,000 AUD per year.

Fortunately, choosing an experience through our GrowPro network includes a budget creator to assist in your planning. You can also use an online budget calculator like Money Smart budget planner. With that said, let’s review the cost of living in Byron Bay through four main aspects: accommodation, food, transportation, and leisure.

Accommodation

If you get accommodation during the low season, you can find a small rental between 400 and 600 AUD per month, depending on the location. To find apartments or studios within your budget, you can use websites such as Rent.com.

Food and Dining

In Australia,an individual may spend an average of 160-240 AUD per month on food. To give you a better idea, we’ve listed the prices (in AUD) of common groceries and food purchases:

  • Fast Food meal: $11.92
  • A meal in a cheap restaurant: $23.84
  • Beer in a local bar: $ 11.13
  • A cup of coffee: $4.37
  • Water bottle: $ 3.97
  • Liter of milk: $2.38
  • Bag of white rice (1kg): $3.97

Transport

Regarding transportation, you will have an advantage while living in Byron Bay. As a relatively small town, you can make almost all your trips on foot or by bike. A third option if one day you are lazy to walk is by public transport: Greyhound and CountryLink are the bus companies that operate in the town and can be useful to reach the furthest points of Byron Bay. There is a station on Johnson Street from where you can catch the bus to any destination in town.

Leisure

Living in Byron Bay means enjoying free outdoor entertainment! Here, you can enjoy impromptu concerts, art galleries, yoga classes, screenings, workshops, and museums. The town is perfect for lovers of culture.

Work and Live in Byron Bay

men working in a cafe

Byron Bay is one of the most touristy Australian cities, so, although it has a population of 5,000, this number can multiply during vacation times. This means that you can find jobs easily during the peak season of tourism! Before going into the details, however, let’s make sure you meet the basic requirements for working in Australia.

Requirements to Work in Byron Bay

Working in Byron Bay has the same requirements for working in any Australian city:

Be of Legal Age

You must be at least age 18 or older to work in Australia under any visa.

Have a Visa

Whether you are visiting or plan to stay long term, you must have a visa for Australia to live and work there. Below are the most common visas that allow you to work while living in Byron Bay.

  • Student Visa (Subclass 500)– allows you to study in Australia for up to five years, as long as it is in alignment with your school enrollment. Under this visa, students can work a maximum of 20 hours per week during the school semester and 40 hours per week during the holiday or vacation break.
  • Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462)– for individuals exclusively between the ages of 18 and 30. With this visa, you can stay in Australia for one year and work full-time.
  • Working Holiday Visa Australia (Subclass 417)– also allows people between the ages of 18 and 30 to live and work in Australia for up to one year. The difference from Subclass 462 is that it extends the age range to age 35 for Canadian, French, and Irish citizens.
  • Temporary Graduate Visa Australia– allows recent graduates from an Australian institution to continue living and working in Australia between two and four years. You must be under age 50 to apply for this visa.

Obtain a TFN or ABN

To work in Australia, you are required to have a Tax File Number (TFN) if you are working for a company, or an Australian Business Number (ABN) if you are freelancing or running a business. A TFN and ABN are equivalent to having social security numbers. To apply for either, you must have proof of identity (in this case, your passport) and proof of residency (your Australian address). You can apply for both the TFN and ABN for free through the Australian Taxation Office website.

English Proficiency

While many companies in Australia require employees to have strong proficiency in English, don’t let that discourage you! Throughout our years of helping international students study and work in Australia, we’ve encountered many people who were still able to find work with minimum knowledge of English.

Certification or Permit

Some jobs in Australia require you to have permits or certifications. For international students, the three most common of these permits are:

  • RSA Certificate– A Responsible Service of Alcohol certificate is necessary when working in hospitality, such as bars, restaurants, and hotels, that serve alcoholic beverages.
  • Blue Card– You will need this certificate for working with or caring for children, including Au Pair/Nanny jobs. This certificate costs about 90 AUD.
  • White Card– This permit is needed to perform any construction-related work in Australia. Having this card means that you have completed general construction induction training from a registered training organization.

Most In-Demand Jobs

Tourism in Australia provides many job opportunities for international students. Some of the most jobs in demand include the following:

  • Chef and kitchen assistants
  • Waiter
  • Sports instructor (diving, yoga, surfing, etc.)
  • Cashier or store clerk
  • Barista
  • Bartender
  • Hotel attendants

Tips for Finding a Job in Byron Bay

With so many tourists coming to Byron Bay, it is easy to find work in local restaurants, shops, and bars. The traditional method of handing out resumes is still common in Australia. Of course, be sure to go out with a positive attitude that reflects your work ethic.

To find jobs outside of hospitality, however, you must take a different approach. Here are some job search tips to get you started:

  • Job Search Portals. Local businesses in Australia often post job postings online. You can frequently check websites like GumtreeIndeedSeek, and Jobsearch, all of which update daily.
  • Networking. The people you know can be your best ally for finding work in the Byron Bay area. Ask your friends, teachers, or classmates if they know about any open positions or someone who is hiring.
  • Social Media. You can find job postings on LinkedIn as well as Facebook and Twitter. There are usually Facebook groups that cater specifically to sharing job postings in certain cities, especially for international students.

Accommodation in Byron Bay

studio apartment accommodation in Australia

Being a small town, living in Byron Bay can seem congested. Most of the city residents live within two main streets: Jonson Street and Shirley Street. Therefore, you can consider moving further out of the city center, where rental prices will be much more affordable. Here are four areas to find accommodation:

Where to Live in Byron Bay

  • Downtown (CBD). In the heart of Byron Bay are dozens of cafes, restaurants, and shops. The area is expensive, but the advantage is that you are in proximity to the business district.
  • Suffolk Park. This area is next to Tallow Beach, a calm and secluded beach. Despite being a 40-minute walk or 20-minute bike ride to the south, it is a popular area with students and long-term travelers. The costs here are much more affordable than in the downtown area.
  • Sunrise. Located just a 15-minute bike ride north of the CBD, Sunrise is one of the cheapest areas to live in Byron Bay. It is an ideal area for leisure, where you can find plenty of shops, cafes, and supermarkets near the beach.
  • Lilli Pilli. This residential area is away from all the hustle and bustle of the downtown area. Accommodations here are much closer to the tropical forest and have lower rental costs. To reach a supermarket, however, you will have to do it by bike or car.

Tips on Finding Accommodation

The size of Byron Bay can make accommodation a bit tricky. Many people looking to live in Byron Bay may be discouraged by the expensive rates. Despite the high costs, you can still find accommodation within your budget. Here is what we recommend:

  • Stay in a hostel temporarily. Hostels allow you to spend time in the city and explore the neighborhoods. It is much easier to search for long term housing when you are there. You can use YHA Australia to compare and book a hostel in the Byron Bay area.
  • Find a Roommate. To split rent and living costs, consider sharing an apartment with friends or with students.
  • Search outside the metro area. Residential areas that are further from the city center are generally cheaper.

Best Places to Go in Byron Bay

local market in byron bay

There are some pretty cool places throughout the Byron Bay area to go and explore. Here are the most popular ones:

Main Beach

From its name, you may have already guessed that Main Beach is the most popular beach in Byron Bay. From Main Beach, you can get a nice view of the famous Byron Bay Lighthouse. The atmosphere at Main Beach is vibrant and relaxing. Along this 3-km beach, you will find barbecue stands, picnic tables, and two of its attractions: the Surf Club and Apex Park.

The Rails

In the heart of Byron Bay is an old train station renovated into a now popular bar and restaurant called The RailsFor over 30 years, The Rails has been a popular hangout for locals gathering after work to enjoy live music, including reggae and rock, as well as great-tasting food and sports screenings.

The Beach Hotel

Located on Bay Street, The Beach Hotel is one of the busiest spots in the city and a popular nightlife attraction. As a hotel, cafe, bar, and restaurant combined, this is the perfect place to meet up with friends, listen to live music and relax beachside.

Things to Do in Byron Bay

two bicycles in byron bay street

Living amid music, urban art, multicultural gastronomy, and concerts seems like a dream, right? The truth is, this is the day-to-day in Byron Bay! You can watch the early sunrise from the infamous Byron Bay lighthouse, head to the beach after a long day at work or school to sunbathe, and take an excursion through the forest to find waterfalls and take a refreshing swim in the lakes.

If you head into town, you will discover cultural expressions on every corner. There are plenty of cafes and pubs to grab a bite to eatand enjoy the public scenery. Aside from restaurants, it is common to eat at food trucks and farmers’ markets in Byron Bay.

Last but not least, Byron Bay has a buzzing nightlife. Unlike the bigger cities of Australia, Byron Bay has a laid-back, bohemian vibe. Many restaurants and bars here turn into clubs that last until dawn.

Places to Visit in Byron Bay

We can list things to do without telling you of the best places to visit in Byron Bay! Below are the top destinations to check out:

Cape Byron Lighthouse

Constructed in 1901 at the easternmost point of the Australian continent, Cape Byron Lighthouse is an active landmark that also serves as a museum. The lighthouse is also a popular spot for viewing sunsets and whale watching. A fun way to travel to the lighthouse is through the Main Beach coastal path, a trail that takes you through a breathtaking forest directly to the lighthouse.

Cumbebin Wetland Sanctuary

Another essential point in Byron Bay is the Cumbebin Sanctuary, a perfect place to lose yourself in nature. Located just a 10-minute walk from the center of Byron Bay, the Sanctuary is a humid forest with wooden walkways, perfect for an afternoon stroll in nature and sightseeing the diverse fauna of Australia. The Cumbebin Shrine is also a popular location where many locals have picnics.

Artisan Markets

Living in Byron Bay is equivalent to spending entire afternoons at the artisan markets that run every week. With organic food, crafts, books, jewelry, decor, and paintings, you will find everything here! Listed below are some popular markets you cannot miss:

  • Farmers Market: every Thursday morning.
  • Byron Bay Market: First Sunday of every month.
  • Artisan Market: every Saturday afternoon from October through March.

Study While Living in Byron Bay

group of individuals studying

Many people who come to live in Byron Bay do so as international students. If you plan to study in Australia, there are the requirements you need to meet beforehand.

Requirements to Study in Byron Bay

To make sure you have everything you need to study in Byron Bay, we’ve put together a helpful list of the requirements:

  • Be at least 16 years old (18 years old if you plan to work).
  • Secure enrollment in the Australian school where you will take the course.
  • Have a student visa or an approved Work and Holiday Visa.
  • Obtain student health insurance for the duration of your stay.
  • Have an up to date passport.
  • Write a GTE (Genuine Temporary Entrant) letter explaining why you want to study in the country.
  • Depending on your nationality or process, you may need to take biometric tests.
  • Demonstrate financial solvency, meaning proof you have sufficient funds to pay for the course and your time in the country.

Courses to Study in Byron Bay

In Byron Bay, you will find language schools and educational institutions that offer vocational programs for entering the Australian job market. Let’s review them more in detail below:

English Language Courses

Intensive English courses are perfect for improving the language between a span of two weeks and three months. An English course is a popular option for students who have a short vacation period but want to make the most of their stay in Byron Bay. Students staying an extended time in Byron Bay can take advantage of General English courses, which generally have classes that run from three months to two years.

Exam Prep Courses

If your level of English is advanced and you want a certificate that demonstrates it, the official exam preparation courses are ideal for you. These focus on explaining how to study for English language tests such as TOEFL, IELTS, or Cambridge exams.

Vocational Courses

As an alternative to college degree programs, you can start your career through VET courses. Vocational Education and Training, or VET courses provide in-class training and skills to prepare individuals to work as a technician or for employment in a skilled craft or trade. Below are a few VET courses in Byron Bay through GrowPro:

Living in Byron Bay | How GrowPro Can Help

group of surfers on a beach in byron bay

Now that you know living in Byron Bay will be an incredible experience, what’s stopping you? If you still have doubts about moving abroad or would like assistance with the process, our team at GrowPro Experience can help you! We are proud to say that we have helped thousands of adventurous souls like you to travel to Australia and other countries around the world.

Once you choose the experience that most interests you, our Experience Managers will contact you regarding the next steps. Whether you need assistance with your visa application process or opening a bank account while living in Byron Bay, GrowPro has all of the resources you need. Fulfill your dream of living abroad today!

About the author

Charlotte Koks
Charlotte Koks

Hey there! My name is Charlotte, and I'm working as an International Project Manager at GrowPro Experience. My goal is to help students all around the world to live the experiences of a lifetime 🙌🏽. I'm trying to inspire students by means of telling the story of former growers, showing what we are doing at each destination and writing about our cities and tips on our blogs. I got a big passion for adventures, doing sports in the park, learning new languages and seeing new places 🌏. That's one of the reasons why I studied European Studies and why I currently work for GrowPro, to expand my horizons. Hopefully, I can inspire you to do the same!