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Living in Australia

The Cost of Living in Australia

The average cost of living in Australia may be higher than most people expect. While most Australian cities are still relatively cheaper than places like New York City, London, or Paris, the country’s vast expanse and remoteness make it an expensive place to live.

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At a Glance

  • Although Australia is not among the Top Ten most expensive expat destinations in the world, it often ranks as Number 11 or 12.
  • Expats should expect to pay a high amount for electricity in the summer months due to the need for air conditioning.
  • Public education and healthcare are free for citizens and permanent residents. Everyone else will have to pay.
  • Australia is split into six different states, each with a capital city. These cities are usually the most expensive places to live in the country.
  • There is a variety of transportation options throughout the country. The most expensive, yet fastest, option is domestic flights.

Cost of Living

Is it Expensive to Live in Australia?

Living expenses in Australia are moderately expensive, and foreigners moving here should not expect to save a lot of money. The majority of your monthly expenses will go towards housing. This is especially true for expats residing in, or around, the capital city of Sydney. Daily expenses such as groceries or eating out will also add up overtime, although this cost can be reduced significantly dependent on your lifestyle.

Overall, the average cost of living for a single expat in Sydney, the country’s most expensive city, is around 1,440 AUD (1,000 USD) per month, not including rent. A family of four can expect this number to run to nearly 5,220 AUD (3,600 USD).

Read on to learn more about what makes up these costs and ways expats can save.

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Living Expenses in Australia

Living expenses in Australia are higher than the US, but lower than the UK. In global rankings, the island country often falls just shy of one of the Top Ten most expensive countries in the world. Much of this expense comes from housing, but also the country’s geographical disposition as an island, meaning many goods must be imported from overseas.

Australia Food and Alcohol Prices Australia

Food and alcohol prices vary across Australia. Expats living in the country’s big cities can expect to pay higher costs than those living in rural areas. If you live in a beachside town that is popular among tourists, you should also expect to pay a hefty price tag.

In general, food for a single person typical runs between 250-350 AUD (170-240 USD) per month. For people living in Sydney, this amount may be even higher. Chain supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths will often run daily or weekly deals. A good way to save money is to check paper ads or ask the clerks at your local store.

Grocery Prices

Item AUD USD
One gallon of milk 5.00 3.50
One loaf of bread 3.00 2.00
One dozen eggs 4.50 3.00
Water bottle 2.60 1.80
One pound of potatoes 6.00 4.00

Eating Out and Restaurant Costs

If you enjoy eating out, you will find a range of options in Australia. Choices vary between cheap, fast food meals; independent establishments; large, chain restaurants, and fine dining. On average, people living in Australia spend about 90 AUD (60 USD) per week eating out.

AUD USD
One meal at a fast food restaurant 12 8
Meal for two (cheap restaurant) 40 30
Meal for two (mid-range restaurant) 100 70
Latte at a café 4 3
Domestic beer (one pint) 8 6

Utility Costs (electricity, internet, gas, water)

Utilities in this country are fairly high. Basic utilities include electricity, gas, water, and internet. During the warmer months, electric bills are particularly high because of the need for air conditioning.

Utilities for one person living in a studio apartment are typically a little less than 220 AUD (150 USD) per month. Two people living in a two-bedroom apartment can expect to pay around 360 AUD (250 USD).

For more on setting up utilities, see our Housing section.

Cost of Education

Public schools in Australia are free for citizens and permanent residents. Everyone else will have to pay, but the costs are relatively low. Expat parents can expect to pay only a couple hundred dollars in tuition fees and on school supplies. If you choose to send your child to a private institution, expect to pay fees of around 10,000 AUD (6,840 USD) per year.

International students coming to Australia for university are required to pay more tuition than local students. The average tuition for an undergraduate degree is between 20-48,000 AUD (15-33,000 USD) per year. For a postgraduate degree, it is 28-53,000 AUD (20-37,000 USD).

For more information on the cost of education, including daycare, international schools, and language schools, read our Education section.

Healthcare Cost

Australia has a universal healthcare system, which is funded through taxpayers’ salaries. Public healthcare costs are free or heavily subsidized for citizens and permanent residents. If you need private insurance, the cost of the coverage will depend on your needs. Below is a look at the cost of three standard monthly private healthcare plans:

  • Basic—200 AUD (140 USD);
  • Medium—300 AUD (205 USD);
  • Top—300 AUD (210 USD).

For more detailed information on healthcare costs in Australia, visit our Healthcare section.

Travel and Transportation Cost

The average cost of a single-ride city bus ticket in Australia is 3 AUD (2 USD). A day-pass is roughly 8 AUD (5 USD). A one-way ticket for the tram or train is around 2 AUD (1 USD). Long distance bus journeys through companies like Greyhound or Premier typically cost between 35-65 AUD  (24-45 USD) for a ticket. For example, a single ticket from Sydney to Melbourne will cost around 65 AUD (45 USD). Overnight trips are anywhere between 60-70 AUD (40-50 USD). Taxis start at around 3 AUD (2 USD) and add 1 AUD (1 USD) for each kilometer.

The fastest, yet most expensive, way to travel around the country is by plane. Below are sample fares by two of Australia’s most popular airlines.

Qantas Airline
Routes One-Way (AUD/USD) Round-Trip (AUD/USD)
Sydney—Melbourne 89/60 178/120
Sydney—Perth 236/160 471/319
Sydney—Cairns 190/129 380/257
Melbourne—Perth 226/153 451/305
Melbourne—Cairns 206/139 453/307
 Tiger Airline
Routes One-Way (AUD/USD) Round-Trip (AUD/USD)
Sydney—Melbourne 64/43 155/105
Sydney—Perth 170/115 330/223
Sydney—Cairns 120/81 240/162
Melbourne—Perth 179/121 350/237
Melbourne—Cairns 119/81 230/156

The Most Expensive and Cheapest Cities

It won’t come as a surprise that Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia. This Southern Hemisphere capital is consistently ranked as one of the Top 20 most expensive cities in the world (and often falls just shy of being one of the Top 10).

After Sydney, Melbourne is the second most expensive city in Australia (when combining living expenses and average monthly rent). This is followed by Canberra, Hobart, and Brisbane. Much of this expense comes from housing costs, although these cities are also popular tourist destinations, which helps to drive up prices at restaurants and shops. In most of these cities, expats find that living on just one income is tight. Couples and families may be able to afford a larger financial cushion.

The most affordable cities are Adelaide, Perth, and Darwin. Housing prices in these areas are more stable, and, in some, such as Perth, they are even falling.

Cost of Living in Australia by State and City

Australia is split into six different states: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, and Tasmania. The most expensive state is New South Wales, which is home to Sydney. It is followed by Victoria and Queensland, which are home to the second and third most expensive cities: Melbourne and Brisbane.

See below for the estimated cost of living in the capital city of each Australian state. Monthly estimates are given without rent and include everyday essentials such as groceries, eating out, regular coffees, entertainment, etc.

Sydney, New South Wales

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,450 1,010
Family of Four 5,250 3,660

 Brisbane, Queensland

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,350 950
Family of Four 4,800 3,350

Melbourne, Victoria

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,300 900
Family of Four 4,650 3,250

Perth, Western Australia

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,300 900
Family of Four 4,700 3,300

Adelaide, South Australia

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,160 810
Family of Four 4,100 2,860

Hobart, Tasmania

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,250 870
Family of Four 4,400 3,070

The Most Expensive and Affordable Cities for Rent

The most expensive and affordable cities for rent in Australia are similar to the overall cost of living: Sydney and Melbourne rank as the highest, and Perth and Adelaide are two of the most affordable.

Before you leave your home country, it is best to check out the current rental and purchasing prices in the Australian state and city where you want to move. Prices often fluctuate and looking on the outskirts of a city may prove more affordable than living in the city center (however, this is not the case when it comes to Sydney).

Rent Prices

Rental estimates in the charts below are all monthly and based on average prices near or within the city center.

Sydney

AUD USD
Single Expat 2,650 1,850
Family of Four 4,800 3,350

Melbourne

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,800 1,260
Family of Four 3,650 2,550

Brisbane

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,700 1,180
Family of Four 2,800 1,950

Adelaide

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,350 950
Family of Four 2,300 1,600

Hobart

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,350 950
Family of Four 2,800 1,950

Perth

AUD USD
Single Expat 1,500 1,050
Family of Four 2,450 1,700

For more information on what it is like to rent or purchase property in Australia for a foreigner, see our Housing section.

Updated on: July 20, 2020
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