Cost of living in Sydney. What you need to know before the move

Roberto Efflandrin

If you’re looking at moving to Australia, one of the first destinations that often comes to mind is Sydney. Famous for the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, the city is home to millions of people including many international migrants.

In this article we’ll take a look at the cost of living in Sydney and how it compares to other locations in Australia. We’ll also let you know how Wise can help make moving to Australia a little bit cheaper and easier.

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Why Sydney and the benefits of living here

Sydney is located on the east coast of Australia where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River. It is the state capital of New South Wales and is one of the most populous cities in the country along with Melbourne.

As well as the famous landmarks we mentioned earlier, Sydney is also home to stunning beaches, historic buildings, Indigenous cultural sites and a thriving restaurant and bar scene. There are many good schools and universities, and a number of Australian businesses are headquartered there.

In 2022 Sydney was ranked 58th on the Mercer Cost of Living Index. This puts it ahead of other Australian cities, all of which use the Australian Dollar (AUD) to pay for goods and services.

The average Salary in Sydney

An important factor in planning your move to a new city is what you will do for work. How much you’re likely to get paid and how that compares to your current earnings can play a major part in the decision making process.

To help you out, we’ve selected a small but diverse range of occupations and found the estimated average salary for people working in those fields in Sydney.

Job * Salary²
Accountant $63,900 AUD
Project Manager $117,000 AUD
Engineer $92,300 AUD
Chef $62,800 AUD
Nurse $80,700 AUD
Pharmacist $137,000 AUD
Primary School Teacher $70,300 AUD

* As seen on September 8, 2022

Keep in mind that the salary you’d actually be offered would vary depending on your experience, qualifications, visa and the job market at the time. To see what positions are currently available and the pay being offered, you could take a look at an online job site such as Seek.

So what’s the cost of living in Sydney

Another important factor in planning your move is understanding the cost of living in Sydney and any other cities you're considering. By comparing that to the cost of living where you’re currently based and your expected income, you can make a more informed decision about your future.


Cost of renting in Sydney

When you first move to Sydney it’s likely that you’ll rent somewhere to live rather than buy.

The cost of rent varies immensely across the city depending on the neighbourhood and size of the dwelling. To demonstrate this, here’s the median rental price per week for a number of different suburbs spread around Sydney.

Suburb * Median Weekly Rental Price³
Dover Heights $2,295 AUD
Double Bay $2,000 AUD
Fairlight $1,400 AUD
Manly $1,350 AUD
Beaconsfield $795 AUD
Darlington $780 AUD
Normanhurst $750 AUD
Allawah $540 AUD

* As seen on September 8, 2022

Cost of groceries in Sydney

Your weekly grocery shopping can quickly add up and for many people it’s one of their larger expenses. Groceries in Sydney can fluctuate at times depending on world and weather events, but here’s the approximate average cost of a few different household staples.

Grocery Item * Approximate Cost¹
Regular milk - 1L $1.89 AUD
Loaf of white bread $3.33 AUD
White rice - 1kg $2.67 AUD
Chicken fillets - 1kg $11.71 AUD
Bottle of mid-range wine $15.50 AUD
Australian beer (500mL) $6.11 AUD

* As seen on September 8, 2022

Cost of Restaurant and eating out Sydney

If you enjoy eating out then you might be a little curious about how much this costs in Sydney. Here’s a look at some average prices, keeping in mind that there are a huge range of restaurants at different price points across the city.

Menu Item * Approximate Cost¹
Combo meal at a fast food restaurant $14.00 AUD
Meal at an inexpensive restaurant $22.00 AUD
3 course meal for 2 at a mid-range restaurant $120.00 AUD
Australian beer (Pint) $9.00 AUD
Cappuccino (Regular) $4.57 AUD
Soft drink (330mL) $3.31 AUD

* As seen on September 8, 2022

Healthcare and Fitness

When you come to Australia you may be required to have health insurance to be granted a visa, or may want to have it for your own peace of mind. You might also be interested in taking out a fitness club or gym membership to help yourself stay physically fit and healthy.

While the costs for these services vary depending on your personal circumstances and the options or extras you choose, this table will give you a general idea of what to expect.

Service * Approximate Cost
Hospital and extras insurance (Single <36 years)⁴ $2,218 AUD annually
Hospital and extras insurance (Single 36-59 years)⁴ $2,522 AUD annually
Hospital and extras insurance (Single 60+ years)⁴ $2,758 AUD annually
Membership to a fitness club or gym¹ $84.14 AUD monthly
Tennis court rent¹ $22.58 AUD hourly

* As seen on September 8, 2022

Comparing Sydney to other Australian cities

When looking at the cost of living in Sydney it’s a good idea to see how it compares to other cities in Australia and even globally to provide a bit of context. One tool that helps you do this is the Mercer Cost of Living Index. Based on survey data, the annual index ranks cities around the world based on the cost of living - the lower the number on the index, the more expensive the cost of living is.⁵

To make it easy for you, we’ve sourced the Mercer Index and some other cost of living data for Sydney, and four other Australian cities you could potentially live in.

City * Mercer’s Index⁵ Meal at an inexpensive restaurant Monthly rent for 1 bedroom apartment in city centre Monthly transport pass Monthly unlimited internet
Sydney¹ 58 $22.00 $2,425.98 $217.39 $72.73
Melbourne⁶ 67 $20.00 $1,825.13 $159.00 $76.57
Brisbane⁶ 84 $20.00 $1,981.58 $198.00 $73.94
Perth⁷ 97 $24.00 $1,777.06 $130.43 $77.62
Adelaide⁷ 102 $17.50 $1,665.00 $105.00 $71.47

* As seen on September 8, 2022

Additional resources — Further reading on cost of life in Sydney

If you’d like some more information about the cost of living in Sydney, you could try some of these forums and pages where other people, particularly expats, discuss Sydney related topics.


Since AUD is only used within Australia it’s likely you’ll need to do some currency conversion and maybe even open a local account when you move over. To make this process slightly cheaper and simpler, you could look at using Wise.

With a Wise Multi Currency account you can send, store and receive over 50 different currencies. For 10 of those currencies, including AUD, you can also get account details that enable you to send and receive money like a local.

When you convert money between two different currencies, your funds are exchanged at the real exchange rate just like you see on Google. There are no hidden fees to worry about and you’ll know the rates up front, before you commit to the transfer.

With the Multicurrency account you can also order a Wise Debit card. The card works almost anywhere Visa is accepted and makes daily spending if foreign currencies simple.

If you’re intrigued, why not try Wise for yourself? There are no account maintenance fees to think about and registration can be done in minutes.

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  1. Numbeo - Cost of Living in Sydney
  2. Salary Explorer - Average Salary in Sydney 2022
  3. Sydney Morning Herald - Definitely a landlords’ market
  4. Canstar - How much does private health insurance cost?
  5. Mercer - Cost of Living
  6. Numbeo - Cost of Living Comparison Between Brisbane and Melbourne
  7. Numbeo - Cost of Living Comparison Between Perth and Adelaide

Sources checked on: 8 September 2022

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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