The cost of living in Australia

Zorica Lončar
28.11.22
6 minute read

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

If you’ve decided to move to the country, one of the first steps is figuring out the cost of living in Australia, so you’re ready to settle.

Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating, or moving to Australia for good, using a service like Wise could help you reduce your overall costs. Now you can send, receive, and organise your money internationally, without hefty fees.

How expensive is Australia compared to other countries?

Australia currently has the 12th highest cost of living in the world, with the USA and UK well behind at 15th and 31st place respectively.¹

While life in Australia comes with a price tag, Mercer’s most recent survey shows that Australian cities are not in the top 50 when it comes to cost of living, which is good news for companies relocating employees to the Asia-Pacific area.

Australia’s most expensive city, Sydney sits at 58 on the Mercer’s cost of living index. Melbourne is at the 67th place, Brisbane at 84th, Perth at 97th, Adelaide on 102nd, and Canberra at 104th.²

With expatriate hubs like Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo all sitting in the top ten², Australia is more appealing than ever.

The Currency

The official currency of Australia is Australian dollar, which is written as A$ or AUD.

The list below shows the approximate value of Australian dollar at the time of writing, compared to a few major currencies³:

$1000 = A$1498

£1000 = A$1781

€1000 = A$1547

C$1000 = A$1119

Before moving to Australia, one of the first things you’ll have to consider is the exchange rate. How much the money of your home country will amount to in Australian dollars. But also, what type of fees you might pay to convert your money.

If you’ll be earning income in your home currency, you’ll be faced with hefty currency exchanges along the way.

That’s because most banks and money exchange services tend to markup the exchange rate to increase their profits. By making money on the rate, they’re able to keep their conversion fees low.

For this reason, you may believe that you’re getting a good deal when in reality that’s not the case. When you’re converting your money, make sure to always check a currency converter for the current mid-market exchange rate.

Wise can help

If you need to send money to and from Australia, you can use the Wise multi-currency account to save money on fees. With it, you can also send and manage dozens of different currencies, all from the same account and with no monthly fees.

Give it a try. Try Wise today and cut back on fees.

Cost of living in Australia compared to the UK

The following chart compares some basic costs (in Australian dollars), across Australia and a couple of cities in the UK.

Comparing basic cost of living1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)Meal for 2 (mid-range restaurant, three courses)Transportation (monthly pass)
Sydney, Australia ⁴A$2,478A$115A$217
Melbourne, Australia ⁵A$1,860A$120A$159
Perth, Australia ⁶A$1,743A$100A$135
London, UK ⁷A$3,447A$118A$267
Manchester, UK ⁸A$1,635A$107A$130
Edinburgh, UK ⁹A$1,650A$107A$107

Where to live in Australia

melbourne

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 Melbourne perfect scores for education and infrastructure - and ranks it tenth in a list of the world’s most livable cities.¹⁰ Melbourne has excellent weather, beautiful architecture and an outdoor lifestyle. It’s a cosmopolitan city 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.

What are general living expenses like in Australia?

Total Living Expenses in Sydney ⁴Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)A$1,495
4 person family, per month (without rent)A$5,459
Utilities - basic, for 85m² apartmentA$184
Total Living Expenses in Melbourne ⁵Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)A$1,458
4 person family, per month (without rent)A$5,261
Utilities - basic, for 85m² apartmentA$218
Total Living Expenses in Perth ⁶Average cost
1 person, per month (without rent)A$1,369
4 person family, per month (without rent)A$4,924
Utilities - basic, for 85m² apartmentA$202

How much does housing cost in Australia?¹¹

House prices across Australia vary greatly. However, they’re significantly lower than last year, especially in big urban areas.

Sydney tops the list with the median house price at A$1,464,371, while Melbourne and Brisbane follow with A$1,028,452 and A$811,312. Adelaide has a more affordable median house price at A$795,093.

If you don’t necessarily want to live in one of the big cities, you could consider living in some of the smaller ones, where the prices are more affordable. Hobbart has a median house price at A$741,275 and Darwin at A$623,819.

For those who are renting, once again location is everything. While a Sydney rental averages out at about A$2,478 per month for a 1-bedroom apartment, renting the same sized apartment in scenic Hobart will surely be significantly cheaper. ⁴

Shopping around will get a decent deal on utilities, but power, gas and internet for a 85m² apartment will come to about A$184 a month in Sydney.⁴ On the other hand, these basics are around A$350 a month in Hobart. ¹²

Travel and commuting in Australia¹³

Public transport in the cities is pretty good. There are four options to choose from in most cities: train, bus, ferry and tram.

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. Its equivalent in Brisbane is the myki Pass, while Perth residents use the SmartRider. Each big city has its own public transport network.

Taxis are also an option and, if you have a licence, driving on your own. Keep in mind that Australians also drive on the left-hand side of the road. Driving regulations depend on the state and territory, so getting to know them is necessary. For travelling across the country, there are three domestic Australian airlines: Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar.¹⁴

Health and fitness¹⁵

Australia has an excellent healthcare system that could even be considered one of the best in the world. It allows Australian residents both preventative care and specialist procedures. Permanent residents have **access to the tax-funded Medicare **for free or at a low cost. The public system includes public hospitals and health organizations mainly owned by the state and territory governments. Still, many Australians take out private health insurance to cover extras, like dental and specialist care. Private system services are funded both by the government and private entities.

You can still get hospital care through Medicare, but the difference is waiting time and not being able to choose your doctor. Public insurance also brings other benefits, such as private rooms. Also, Medicare does not cover physiotherapy, glasses and contact lenses and speech therapy. You’ll need private insurance for emergency ambulance services as well. ¹⁶

Expats from Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom are entitled to treatment through Medicare thanks to reciprocal health agreements between countries.¹⁷

Gym memberships are on average A$81 a month or $972 per year. 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. ¹⁸

Eating in... and out

Groceries are more expensive in Australia than many other major cities around the world. It’s considered to be in the top 10 countries when it comes to grocery price index.¹

A dozen eggs will be about A$5.00. A loaf of bread is around A$3 and a bottle of milk is close to A$2. Fruits and vegetables average from A$2 to A$7 per kilo, while meat ranges from A$11 to A$20.¹⁹

A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant in Sydney will cost A$115 on average,⁴ compared to about A$118 in London⁷. On average you’ll pay A$11 for a Big Mac Meal²⁰, A$8 for a beer and close to A$5 for a coffee.¹⁹ But you can be guaranteed a good one because Australians take their coffee seriously.

Is moving to Australia worth it?

On average, salaries in Australia are around 30% higher than in the UK, but the consumer prices are steeper as well²¹. Australia’s minimum wage is A$21.38 per hour²², compared to A$16.96 for the UK²³ and A$10.88 for the US²⁴.

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’re 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

Cost of living in Australia could be higher than what you were typically used to in your home country. That’s why it’s important to come well prepared.

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

Make sure you’re getting the most of your money by using the Wise multi-currency account to send money to and from Australia. There’s no exchange markup rate and no hidden fees.²⁵

Good luck with your move!

Sources used for this article:

  1. Numbeo - cost of living, ranking by countries
  2. Mercer - 2022 cost of living survey
  3. Wise - currency converter
  4. Numbeo - cost of living in Sydney
  5. Numbeo - cost of living in Melbourne
  6. Numbeo - cost of living in Perth
  7. Numbeo - cost of living in London
  8. Numbeo - cost of living in Manchester
  9. Numbeo - cost of living in Edinburgh
  10. EIU - the Global Liveability Index 2022
  11. Domain.com.au - Domain House Price Report 2022
  12. Numbeo - cost of living in Hobart
  13. Allianz Care - guide to public transport in Australia
  14. Studies in Australia - transport in Australia
  15. Bupa - Australia’s healthcare system
  16. Department of Health and Aged Care - extras and ambulance cover
  17. HCF - reciprocal healthcare agreements
  18. Canstar Blue - gym membership costs in Australia
  19. Numbeo - cost of living in Australia
  20. Aussie prices - McDonalds prices
  21. Clear Currency - cost of living comparison UK vs. Australia
  22. Fairwork.gov.au - Australia minimum wage
  23. Gov.uk - UK minimum wage
  24. Dol.gov - US minimum wage
  25. Wise - terms and conditions & pricing

Sources checked on 20-Nov-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 TransferWise 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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