The cost of living in Australia


With its great weather, cosmopolitan cities, diverse natural landscapes and relaxed lifestyle, it’s no wonder that Australia remains a top pick for expats.

But how expensive is it? Australia currently has the 12th highest cost of living in the world, with the USA and UK well behind at 21 and 23rd place respectively. The overall cost of living in Australia is 9% higher than the USA, but 10% cheaper than London.

While life in Australia comes with a price tag, Mercer’s most recent Cost of Living Survey shows that Australian cities have dropped in the rankings, which is good news for companies relocating employees to the Asia Pacific area. Australia’s most expensive city, Sydney sits at 42 on the Cost of living index.

With expatriate hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo all sitting in the top ten, Australia is more appealing than ever.

Where to live in Australia


Sydney and Melbourne are popular choices for expats moving to Australia (but where you end up is completely up to you!).

The Economist Intelligence Unit gave Sydney perfect scores for healthcare, education and infrastructure - and ranks it seventh in a list of the world’s most livable cities. Sydney has excellent weather, beautiful beaches and an outdoor lifestyle. Melbourne is cosmopolitan with a thriving restaurant and arts scene.

Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth are appealing options for many people, as are regional and coastal towns, where the cost of living is much lower.

How much does housing cost in Australia?

australia suburbs

House prices across Australia vary greatly.

Sydney tops the list with a median price of a dwelling at $909,914 (the median house price is $1,079,399), while the average price in Melbourne is $695,500 for a dwelling and 810,966 for a house. If you don't necessarily want or need to live in one of these big cities, you could consider living in one of the smaller cities, where the prices are more affordable. In Adelaide, for instance, a dwelling will set you back on average $430,109 (with a median house price of $455,094), in Perth this would be a median of $462,927 for a dwelling or 484,252 for a house. Hobart is the most affordable of the capital cities, where a dwelling will cost you $383,438 on average, and the average price for a house is $403,174.

For those who are renting, once again location is everything. While in the inner ring of Sydney a one bedroom dwelling might set you back, on average, $550 per week ($720 for a place with 2 bedrooms), in the outer ring a one bedroom dwelling would cost you on average $353 a week ($420 for a 2 bedroom).

Shopping around will get a decent deal on utilities, but basics, including power, gas and internet for a standard two bedroom apartment will come to about $350 a month.

Travel and commuting in Australia

sydney ferry

Public transport in the cities is pretty good.

Sydneysiders have rail, bus and ferry options, all of which are covered on a swipe on-swipe off Opal card that the commuter tops up.

And compared to cities like London and New York, Australian public transport is reasonably priced with the capital cities making up 6 of the 10 most affordable places for public transport. While New York might have significantly cheaper single trip tickets than Sydney or London, Australia’s public transport system will give you more miles for less.

Health and fitness

fitness and sport

Australia has an excellent healthcare system. Permanent residents have access to Medicare, which you pay for through the tax system, but even then many Australians take out private health insurance to cover extras, like dental and specialist care.

The amount you have to pay for private health insurance depends on where you live and what cover you want. It could be as little as $43 per month, or as much as $1,150 per month, on average people pay for additional private health insurance about $2,000 per year. Expats from New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom are entitled to treatment through Medicare thanks to reciprocal health agreements between countries.

Gym memberships are on average $65 a month. Australians take advantage of the outdoor weather with outdoor personal fitness trainers and group sessions. Walking, running and cycling are the three most popular fitness techniques Down Under, even more so than swimming.

Eating in... and out


Groceries are more expensive in Australia than many other major cities around the world.

A dozen eggs will be about $5.00. A loaf of bread around $3.50 and a 2-litre bottle of milk is $2.00. A weekly shop can range from $80 to $300.

A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant in Sydney will cost upwards of $70, compared to about $80 in New York or London. On average you’ll pay $10 for a Big Mac Meal, $7 for a beer and $3.50 for a coffee. But you can be guaranteed a good one because Australians take their coffee seriously.

Is moving to Australia worth it?


Two tickets to the movies in Sydney will cost you $39, which is $8 more expensive than if you saw the same film in New York. Yes, you might pay more for many things in Australia, but you earn can more too.

Salaries in Australia are much higher. Some figures have Australians earning over 25% more than their British counterparts. Australia’s minimum wage is AU$17.70 per hour compared to AU$14.66 for the United Kingdom and AU$10.08 for the USA.

Add to that the quality of life, sunshine and months of beach weather, and it’s easy to see why Australia remains a favoured destination for expats from around the world.

And if you are planning on moving, read our in-depth guides on moving to Australia and money in Australia.

Don't get ripped off sending money to and from Australia

Whether you're moving money to pay for your new digs Down Under, or paying off your mortgage at home - don't get overcharged.

Banks charge up to 5% and hide their fees in poor exchange rates. Wise always uses the mid-market rate meaning it's up to 8x cheaper.

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