Migrating to Australia from Singapore: Salaries, taxes, cost of living

Elle Kasser

Australia’s famous laid back lifestyle, alongside stunning natural resources and buzzing cities make it an attractive destination for everything from a short break to a full time relocation. If you’re thinking of migrating to Australia from Singapore, you’ll also be interested to know that costs in many Australian cities can be lower than at home, without having to sacrifice solid infrastructure, healthcare options and education provisions.

Moving to a new country is a big decision. This guide helps you consider the options for migrating to Australia, including the costs in some key locations, the visas available, and how salaries and education can compare.

We’ll also touch on how you can cut the costs of your move with Wise and the Wise multi-currency account. Get low cost currency exchange with no markups and no hidden fees, and manage your money across currencies for less. More on that later.

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Table of contents

Why do Singaporeans want to move to Australia?

Australia’s 2016 census showed just under 55,000 people living in Australia were born in Singapore. That’s nearly 24,000 families - a figure which may well have risen by the time of the 2021 census, thanks to Australia’s enduring popularity as an expat destination.¹

So just what is it that makes Australia so special to Singaporeans? Of course there’s the lucky chance of geography. Australia is the closest developed English speaking country, which makes it an easier place to visit than alternatives like the UK or US. But then there’s the opportunity to make a complete lifestyle change from the Singaporean rush to a more relaxed pace - without losing access to many of the facilities we rely on - and love - here in Singapore.

In many ways, Australia presents as the best of both worlds. You could choose Melbourne’s coffee culture, or life by the beach in Sydney, and you’d get bustling city life with a laid back vibe, and an established community of Singaporean migrants to help you feel at home. Or, of course, you could look for a bigger adventure in any of Australia’s other attractive cities and countryside. As a fairly safe and cosmopolitan country, you’ll find fun wherever you head.

Moving from Singapore to Melbourne

Melbourne is home to one of Australia’s biggest Singaporean communities, with a relatively affordable cost of living and the perks of city life in a place which loves foodie culture almost as much as we do here.

Melbourne has a reputation as a fun place to visit and live - it’s been voted one of the most livable cities in the world, in fact. You can enjoy a vibrant cultural and arts scene, get involved in sports, and drink some of the best coffee available in the country. Teleport ranks cities on a range of factors which matter to migrants, and Melbourne comes out especially well on healthcare, environment and tolerance. Perfect if you’re looking for a new home.

Naturally, cost of living will be a big factor in where you choose to live in Australia. Here are the headlines:²

  • Excluding rent, life in Melbourne is around 1.84% cheaper than in Singapore
  • Rent in Melbourne is a massive 29.66% lower than in Singapore, on average

And here’s a bit more detail on the sort of average prices you may expect:³

Item Cost in Melbourne
Meal for 2, mid-range restaurant, 3 courses SGD90.72
Domestic beer (0.5litre draught) SGD10.37
Litre of milk SGD1.64
Loaf of bread SGD3.20
Rent 1 bed apartment - city centre SGD1,809.61
Rent 1 bed apartment - out of city centre SGD1,468.81
Buy a new Volkswagen Golf (or equivalent) SGD27,992.58

*Price information correct at time of research 10 March 2021. Cost of living estimates based on Numbeo’s cost of living index - learn more at Numbeo.com

Moving to Sidney from Singapore

As well as some of the best beach culture on the planet, Sydney also has the iconic cityscape the world associates with Australia. It’s one of the biggest economic hubs in Australia, which means a buoyant jobs market with salaries which may beat other cities. It also means the costs of living can be higher here than elsewhere in Australia, though.

Teleport data shows Sydney is great for business freedom and startups, making it a good choice if you’re hoping to set up your own business. It’s also a strong contender in healthcare, environment and safety measures - after all, moving to a new country means thinking about the practicalities of day to day life, too.

Here’s what you need to know about the top line costs of living in Sydney:⁴

  • Excluding rent, Sydney is 4.68% more expensive than Singapore
  • Rent in Sydney is 3.01% cheaper than in Singapore on average

And here’s some more detail to give a bit of context:⁵

Item Cost in Sydney
Meal for 2, mid-range restaurant, 3 courses SGD103.68
Domestic beer (0.5litre draught) SGD8.29
Litre of milk SGD1.76
Loaf of bread SGD2.82
Rent 1 bed apartment - city centre SGD2,652.77
Rent 1 bed apartment - out of city centre SGD1,921.66
Buy a new Volkswagen Golf (or equivalent) SGD30,055.73

*Price information correct at time of research 10 March 2021. Cost of living estimates based on Numbeo’s cost of living index - learn more at Numbeo.com

Moving to Australia from Singapore: The basics

The costs of living in Australia will vary widely from one location to the next. While Sydney and Melbourne are popular destinations as larger cities with big immigrant populations already, you may decide there’s another location calling your name. Wherever in Australia you decide to move, there are some other basics you’ll need to get in order. Here are a few to think about.

Banking in Australia

Australia has a developed banking system which means you’ll have a good range of banks and financial products to choose from. Some of the biggest banks include:

  • ANZ Bank⁶
  • Commonwealth Bank (Commbank)⁷
  • Westpac⁸

Because Australia welcomes many visitors and new arrivals every year, these banks tend to have specialist services to help newcomers get set up with accounts. You may even find services offered in multiple languages including Mandarin Chinese.

Before you open a new account, be sure to check out the options available, and get a sense for common features and fees. Banking systems all over the world do vary, so things you take for granted with your Singaporean account may be impossible - or costly - in Australia.

Cut the costs of moving to Australia with Wise 💡

Moving to a new country may also mean you need to make regular payments in foreign currencies. Using your normal bank - either here in Singapore or in Australia - can be an expensive option. Instead, save money on the costs of moving abroad with Wise and the Wise multi-currency account.

With a Wise account you can hold dozens of currencies, and switch between them using the mid-market rate as and when you need to. That means no markups and no hidden fees - just a low, transparent charge per transaction. You’ll get a linked debit card to make spending easy no matter where in the world you are - and it’s always free to spend currencies you hold with your card. See how much you can save with Wise, today.

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Australia has a progressive tax system with different rates depending on whether you’re a resident or not. On top of the normal income taxes, you’ll pay a 2% medicare levy.

If you’re a resident, here are the tax brackets for 2020-21:⁹

Taxable income Tax rate
Up to AUD18,200 Nil (tax free allowance)
AUD18,210 - AUD45,000 19%
AUD45,001 - AUD120,000 32.5%
AUD120,001 - AUD180,000 37%
AUD180,001 and over 45%

If you’re not classed as a tax resident, you’ll pay a different rate - here’s the detail for 2020-21:

Taxable income Tax rate
Up to AUD120,000 32.5%
AUD120,001 - AUD180,000 37%
AUD180,001 and over 45%

You’ll notice that the headline tax rates in Australia look somewhat higher than the percentage amounts you’re probably paying in Singapore. However, don’t forget that the levels of tax you pay are only important in comparison to the earning potential you may have.

If your role can command a higher salary in Australia - and you’re living somewhere with lower overall costs of living -then the tax rate may not seem so much of a big deal.

Average Income in Australia

On to another key question. How do salaries in Australia compare to Singapore?

You can find some really helpful salary data by location online, over on Teleport’s website. Use the city level detail to see what roles you’re interested in could earn in different cities. You’ll notice there is some variation in average salary by city, which is often linked to levels of demand and costs of living in a specific location.

Here are a few roles examples with their average salaries in Sydney and Melbourne as an example: ¹⁰ ¹¹

Occupation Salary in Sydney Salary in Melbourne
Mobile Developer SGD116,962 SGD90,763
Financial Analyst SGD94,993 SGD85,680
HR Manager SGD90,190 SGD73,641
Pharmacist SGD69,534 SGD68,184
Teacher SGD66,283 SGD67,522

*Data correct at time of research 10 March 2021

Skilled migration jobs in Australia

Many of the jobs which are in high demand in Australia are similar to those you may find in other developed economies. However, because Australia offers some work based visas based on filling skill shortage occupations, you can also find out which specific areas are in need - and how that may help you get the visa you need to live and work in the country. ¹²

Skills shortage lists are regularly reviewed and updated and cover short, medium and long term shortages, as well as information on local and regional shortage areas.

At the time of writing the listing included over 600 role types which are in some form of shortage, from a short term regional need, to longer term national demands¹¹. Roles cover everything from accountants and advertising managers, to chefs and chemists, and even zoologists. Well worth a look if you’re thinking of basing your visa application on employment opportunities.

Visas, work permits, citizenship

The right sort of visa for your needs will depend on what you’re planning on doing in Australia, and whether you have existing connections there. Common options include:¹⁴

  • Family-stream permanent residence visa - if you have close relatives who are already Australian PR or citizens
  • Work-stream permanent residence visas - if you work in a skill shortage area or have an employment offer already
  • Business or investment visas - if you plan on starting a company
  • Retirement visas - if you have existing connections to Australia and intend to settle there for retirement

If you’re thinking of making your move to Australia permanent and are interested in becoming an Australian citizen, this is also possible if you’re already a permanent resident or if your parent was an Australian citizen¹⁵ ¹⁶.

If you’ve already got Australian PR status, you’ll need to apply separately to become a citizen. There’s a fee to pay, and you’ll have to remain in Australia while your application is decided. Australian citizenship is intended for people who have already spent significant time in Australia and learned about the country, and who intend to remain in Australia or keep strong links there in future.

Student walking in Melbourne University

Education system in Australia

The education system in Australia includes public and private schools, as well as international school options if you want your children to follow a different curriculum.

It’s worth knowing that in some states, public schools charge a levy for international students which makes the fees higher for expats. This varies by location and in some cases there are waivers in place - for example if the parents are in Australia to study or research in higher education at the same time¹⁷. Check out the details from the local school board wherever you’re thinking of moving.

For higher level study, Australia also has high ranking universities on offer. In the 2021 world rankings, 5 Australian universities came into the top 50:¹⁸

  • The Australian National University in Canberra (31)
  • The University of Sydney (40)
  • The University of Melbourne (41)
  • The University of New South Wales in Sydney (44)
  • The University of Queensland in Brisbane (46)

Australian weather and climate

As one of the largest countries by land mass on the planet, it’s no surprise that you can find a range of different climates in Australia.

Summer average temperatures in Sydney can hit around 26 degrees, with winter a chilly 17 degrees. Melbourne is even cooler with summers just grazing 26 degrees and winter lows around 13 degrees - significantly different to the year round heat in Singapore.

If you’re looking for something closer to home temperatures, Darwin has average temperatures year round between 30 and 33 degrees, while Perth summers can hit over 30 degrees, with winters falling below 20 if you’re looking for a little variety. ¹⁹ Typically Australia doesn’t have the humidity which is so common here in Singapore, so no matter what the thermometer says, it’ll probably feel less sauna-like.

Australia is a dream expat destination for good reason. From the climate and culture to the opportunity to get out and explore areas of natural beauty which are only a stone’s throw from major cities. No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find an enjoyable lifestyle location in Australia.

Invest time in researching your move to make sure you hit the ground running - and don’t forget to get a Wise multi-currency account before you go, to cut the costs of living overseas.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics - 2016 Census quickstats, country of birth
  2. Numbeo - Cost of living, Melbourne
  3. Teleport - Quality of life in Melbourne, Australia
  4. Numbeo - Cost of living, Sidney
  5. Teleport - Quality of life in Sydney, Australia
  6. ANZ
  7. CommBank
  8. Westpac
  9. Australian Taxation Office - Individual income tax rates
  10. Teleport - Sydney salaries
  11. Teleport - Melbourne salaries
  12. https://www.dese.gov.au/skilled-migration-occupation-lists
  13. Australian Government - Department of Home Affairs - Skilled occupation list
  14. Australian Government - Department of Home Affairs - Visa options for permanent residents
  15. Australian Government - Department of Home Affairs - Become a citizen
  16. Australian Government - Department of Home Affairs - Become an Australian citizen (by conferral) Permanent residents or New Zealand citizens
  17. Australian Government - Study in Australia - Bringing your children
  18. Top Global Universities - QS World University Rankings 2021
  19. Australia.com - Facts and planning Weather in Australia

Sources were checked on 10 March 2021

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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