Planning a big move to Australia? You’ll probably be looking forward to the glorious climate, scenic beauty, and dynamic, multicultural cities. But you’ll probably also need to learn a few practical things, like how to file taxes, and how the Australian education system works. There’s also the question of your living expenses Down Under, and that’s where this guide comes in. Let’s break down what you need to consider regarding the cost of living in Australia.
Whatever you’re planning to do in Australia, one of your priorities may be to find the right place to live. The amount you can expect to pay will depend on factors such as the size and condition of the property. Location can have a major impact as well on the cost of living in Australia.
Perhaps surprisingly, given the iconic status of Sydney and Melbourne, it’s actually Canberra that has Australia’s most expensive rental market. According to property portal Domain, the median weekly rent for an apartment in the Australian capital is $530 per week. That’s compared to $490 per week in Sydney. Melbourne is typically even more affordable, with a median rental price of $375 per week.
Why is it typically more expensive to live in the Australian capital than the other major cities? For one thing, there’s high demand and relatively few properties to go around. The Australian Capital Territory, where Canberra is located, also boasts the highest average wages in the country. This means locals can and will pay higher prices for properties.
These figures only provide a general overview. You can use listings sites like Domain and Realestate.com.au to seek out properties far below the median price point. For example, you may get a studio apartment in Sydney for as little as $300 per week if you’re willing to compromise on space and location.
As you might expect, public transport in Australia is first-rate, with plenty of ways to get around. Let’s take Sydney as an example. Fares for public transport depend on distance travelled and whether you’re using the metro, bus, train, and/or light rail services. The most adults ever have to pay is $16.30 per day on weekdays and $8.15 per day on weekends and holidays. There’s also a maximum cap of $50 per week, which helps keep travel costs in check.
Interestingly, public transport in Canberra is cheaper, despite the higher rental costs we noted earlier. The maximum amount you’ll have to pay for travelling on a weekday is $9.60, while the weekend cap is $5.87.
It’s worth noting that students, seniors, and others may be eligible for discounts or even free travel depending on where you’re located in Australia. Travelling during off-peak hours may also come with lower rates on weekdays.
When you’re drawing up your spending plan for your cost of living in Australia, some categories are very much determined by your own preferences and habits. Take food shopping. According to price comparison site Canstar Blue, the average one-person household in Australia spends $98 per week on groceries.
But it really depends on how you like to shop. Some immigrants to Australia will be happy to spend more on artisanal foods at independent stores. Many others will want to stick to supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles, which offer low prices on household staples. At the time of writing, Woolworths sells a kilo of chicken thighs for $7, and a loaf of white bread for $1.70.
When it comes to clothes, you’ll have your pick of options in Australia. You can pick up a pair of jeans for as little as $25 online, or spend far more at upscale outlets. It’s been estimated that Australians spend, on average, around £167 a month on clothes.
If you’re interested in fitness and working out, it’s worth knowing that the average price of a gym membership is around $95 per month. There are lots of gyms available in most communities, including major chains like Anytime Fitness, Fitness First, and Jetts. Exact prices can vary a great deal, with some gyms charging substantial joining fees. You can compare gym membership packages in your location using price comparison sites like Finder.
If you’ve obtained a permanent work visa, you’ll probably be able to use Medicare, which is Australia’s public healthcare system. Medicare will cover much, if not all, of the costs for doctor’s appointments, diagnostic tests, and surgical procedures. However, there are a number of things Medicare won’t contribute towards. These can include ambulance services in most parts of Australia, as well as dental treatments and physiotherapy.
That’s one reason why many people in Australia take out private health insurance. Having a policy can reduce waiting times for treatments and provide access to private hospitals. Some policies also provide money towards treatments Medicare won’t cover.
Private health insurance comes at many price points, depending on the kind of coverage you’re after. Recent research by Finder has shown the average cost of basic private health insurance is around $166 per month. Its research also found that your location can affect typical costs, with the Northern Territory being cheapest.
If you’re not eligible for Medicare, your visa conditions may require you to take out Overseas Visitors Health Cover. Or, Overseas Student Health Cover, if you’re coming to study in Australia. The breadth of coverage varies a great deal from policy to policy. Prices typically start around $65 per month but can go considerably higher.
Energy bills in Australia tend to feature two components. There’s a fixed charge, often labelled as your ‘supply charge’ on bills. There’s also a variable charge which depends on how much gas and electricity you consume. This is calculated per kilowatt-hour for electricity and per megajoule for gas.
How much you pay will come down to your household size and how frugal you are with your energy use. Research has shown that the average electricity bill for a small household (ie, with no children) is around $325 per quarter. The average gas bill is around $191 per quarter.
Home broadband packages are priced according to a number of variables, such as speed and whether streaming services like Disney+ are included. You can expect to pay around $71 per month on average, with cheaper rates available for slower speeds. Price comparison sites like Canstar Blue and Finder can help you pinpoint cost-effective deals for household utilities.
Australia is rightly renowned for its buzzy social scene, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy yourself when it comes down to the cost of living in Australia. Most areas will have mid-range restaurants where you can indulge in a three-course meal for around $50 a head. Many pizzerias, burger joints, and other more casual eateries can serve up a hearty plate for food for less than $10. Pubs are a cherished part of Aussie culture, and a schooner (425 ml) of beer commonly costs between $8 and $12.
Movie tickets can cost $16 or more for adults, with concessions often available for students, children, and seniors. Certain cinemas, like the Hoyts chain, offer rewards schemes providing perks like free popcorn and discounted tickets.
Sending money home
The price of sending money back to your home country may be another element you need to include in your budget. If you’re providing regular financial support to loved ones, the costs can really mount up. That’s why using a money transfer company like Remitly, which offers low fees and competitive rates, can make all the difference.
Employees in Australia are entitled to minimum wages as outlined by pay rates set out by the government. The stipulations vary by sector, though there’s also a National Minimum Wage for jobs that aren’t covered by these specific pay rates. This is currently set at $20.33 per hour.
According to the latest data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the median salary in the country is $62,400. In other words, around half of workers earn above this amount, and around half earn below.