Cost of Living in Australia

by Jose Marc Castro on August 10, 2009

costoflivingAUSTRALIAAustralia has some of the least expensive cities in the world. The economy is somewhat influenced by Western culture but the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) when it comes to the purchasing power of the country is higher compared to the United Kingdom.

In the United Nations Human Development Index in 2006, Australia made third place while also making sixth place in The Economist 2005 quality-of-life index. In the meantime, economists are foreseeing an upcoming crisis due to the poor performance of GDP. It has increased by 7% and has the fourth biggest deficit in terms of current accounts.

However, due to other areas that Australia has been excelling very much in recent years, foreign debt is still significantly low and the economic state is generally as stable as it can get. Thus the cost of living in the country is still dependent on the individual’s circumstances and lifestyle. As reported last June 7 2009 in the Australia Expat Forum:

Food prices are running at 2.5 x UK cost of goods ( logistical costs / population density cited as reason why ?? )
Wine / Beer & Spirit prices ( retail ) currently running at up to 300 %
!

Some of the notable cities that boast quality living and expenses are Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. All of Australia’s major cities made it in the top 30 best places for expatriates. In Western Australia, the cost of living is even lower. Migrants can expect nothing less when it comes to rent space, transportation, education, commodities and leisure.

Compared to any other place in the United Kingdom, all of the cities and provinces in Australia significantly offer much cheaper living conditions not to mention the added financial and educational benefits provided to every citizen. In 2004, the World Competitiveness Yearbook remarked that Australia is the third best worldwide country when it comes to low cost of living.

Food and Drinks Cost in Australia

An average family of four would expect to spend around 500 euro every month for food and drinks. Usual meats in Australia are either lamb or beef which is acquired and processed locally. Fish is generally cheap but cities located near the sea and ocean will charge more for their catch.

Fruits and vegetables are very easy to come by. Milk and beef are probably the cheapest commodities in the country since there are virtually several hundreds of cow ranches located throughout the country. Australian wine is also very affordable and water is fresh, clean and free. One of the biggest industries in Australia is their alcoholic beverage industry, owing to the penchant for wine and merriment at any time of the day.

What would cost more are imported products like cereals, biscuits, beer and imported fish. Australia is widely popular for exporting milk, beef for world-famous steaks and some exotic products like kangaroo meat and King Island cheeses.  New South Wales offers rock oysters and Illabo milk-fed lamb, Victoria offers Meredith lamb and Gippsland beef, South Australia is known for its scallops and tuna while Queensland has great fruits like Bowen mangoes and papaya that are commonly exported. Other exotic food products are crocodile, shark, ostrich and emu meat. Everything that is acquired locally is very affordable.

Clothing and Accessories Cost in Australia

Locally made Australian clothes and items are cheap while imported ones are expensive. Citizens equally wear traditional and modern fashion wear. People can find several products available, especially clothes made from local Chinese material.  A lot of the preferred cut and color of Australian clothes today stemmed from Chinese culture brought by early migrants during the 1800s. Silk, chiffon and velvet are some examples that are still used to make shawls and coats. In terms of local accessories, there are several cheap items in flea shops and bazaars like bead necklaces and bracelets as well as wooden earrings and anklets that all have aboriginal roots.

Australia also doesn’t lag behind when it comes to modern fashion. Although the locals typically prefer a more casual appearance, several designers can be found in most of the major cities. Victoria is still considered as the most fashionable place in Australia. The clothes and accessories designed by local designers are expensive since most are created for exportation purposes. The products are still made available to locals if they want to and can be purchased after fashion festivals and publicized catwalk shows. The Australian fashion industry is doing very well which is why the country is known worldwide for textile and ingenious creation of design. As posted on Australia Expat Forum last January 24, 2009, the average costs for casual clothes are as follows:

Clothes

– Mens business suit – $600
– Mens business shirt – $80
– Mens business shoes – $120

– Surfy brand TShirt = $50
– Surfy brand boardshorts = $90

– Pair of “surfy thongs” (flip/flops) = $20
– Pair of “Bonds” underwear = $14
– Pair of running/gym shoes – Asics/****/Reebok etc = $100-300

Housing Costs in Australia

Australia is in need of more immigrants, and this is the reason why there are several housing options available for everyone’s comfort and preferences. People can choose from single room apartments to small houses with yard space to huge areas or condominiums downtown. Most Australians prefer having a house and lot in suburban neighborhoods.

Land is very much in excess in comparison with the actual number of residents in any given state. Housing in major cities will generally cost more compared to living out in the province and farmlands. On average, a family of four will spend around 400 euro every month for rental or mortgage. If you are in the hunt for a house and lot, here are the latest price figures from the major cities are indicated below:

  • Sydney $528,500 (£215,400)
  • Melbourne $398,200 (£162,300)
  • Brisbane $388,200 (£158,200)
  • Adelaide $355,800 (£144,800)
  • Canberra $488,800 (£199,000)
  • Perth $503,300 (£205,200)
  • Darwin $421,000 (£171,700)
  • Hobart $258,000 (£105,200)

Utilities are very affordable and some states provide free clean water to residents. A typical family will have a bill of around 100 euro every month for electricity and water consumption. Generally, middle class citizens get to buy their own house and lot after eight years. Giving an initial deposit and applying for a bank loan is common practice. Renting apartments and condominiums are not common practice compared to the United Kingdom. Public housing is also offered for lower class citizens. Part of their income automatically goes to rent.

Services Costs in Australia

The Australian government gives national health policies to all citizens and immigrants. Health services are subsidized and all medical services, pharmaceuticals and health institutions are provided financial assistance. Almost 10% of the country’s per capita GDP goes to the health sector. Technology and professional training is generally up to date.

Australia also gives importance to education and every individual up to 17 years of age is ordered to stay in school. Public schools are free with additional allowances provided to students. The costs are partly or wholly subsidized by the government. Students can also opt to study in private institutions and universities provided that they pay back their tuition once they start working.

Employment Costs in Australia

At present, Australia is in great need of health care professionals especially nurses. Other jobs available for expatriates are positions in the fields of information technology, pharmaceuticals, accounting, education, domestic travel and transportation as well as marketing. Tourism and export are the two main things that comprise the bulk of the nation’s finances. The taxing scheme in Australia makes high-income earners pay over 45% of their income as tax.  Over ten million people in Australia are employed with the unemployment rate at 5.8% as of 2009.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Ruby December 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Ive been living in the UK for some years now,and going back to Australia just depresses me. Its so expensive for what it is. The fish and chips in the U.K is so much nicer than Australian stuff,and the cider is nothing like Australian cider (thank god). Its also fresh and lush,while Australia is dry. The cost of living is cheaper in the UK to. Why bother with Australia,its really not that great.

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Ash December 21, 2012 at 10:25 am

I am plannin to move to Australia…my husband is earnin 5k per month ..we have two kids ..I am a postgraduate in amthematics..how easy will it be for me to land a job ??

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Ruby December 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm

Dont even bother. 5k wont even buy you a second hand car in Oz.

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Sam December 30, 2012 at 8:26 am

If I earn my annual salary in the AUD$60,000~AUD$80,000, is that considered insufficient? This is before taxes, and no kids(just by myself, which is single male)

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Realist February 4, 2013 at 1:18 am

$5000, after tax – you will be lucky to get $3,500.
Don't bother to even come – you mean mathematics? No job, impossible, unless you want to be a teacher – which you need to do another course.

$3500 is probably enough for rent + utilities bills, and that's not even in a nice area.

Don't go to Australia unless you have household income above $100,000 – if you have a job, that means you have to send kids to day-care, it costs $70 to $120 a day for day care per kid – so that's $2000+ a month already.

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Phil February 24, 2013 at 8:01 am

NOTE – $100,000 does NOT mean one income of 100K. Our tax means that two people on 50K take home FAR more money than 1 person on 100K.

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Petey January 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Ive lived in Australia for 3 years news,and although i wont say ive hated it,i havent really enjoyed it as well. Poor quaulity housing,rather cold and distant people,very expensive,racial dicrimination is rife. I dont want to be here for much longer,and my Girlfriend who is an Aussie,feels welcome back home in Canada more than she does in her home country.

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Sam January 12, 2013 at 6:50 am

Petey, is your girlfriend a visible minority? If not, do you think non-Anglo caucasians also face racism in Australia?

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Petey January 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Nope,she is part Swiss,English,Welsh and Romanian,and is white. She doesnt feel welcome here at all. I was born in Australia but lived in Canada for a lot of my life,came back to give it a go,dont really like it. Too insular and certainly not as pretty as its made out to be.

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AJ McCauley January 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Both Australia and NZ are utter holes. They picture themselves as wonderful countries with nothing wrong with them at all. The fact is as a Kiwi they both are awful. the people are rude and ungrateful and horrifically arrogant. The culture is non exsistent and racism is rife. Terrible housing,overpriced food and nasty architecture. There is some natural beauty but i now live in the UK NZ is ugly and Australia is worse.

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lola February 4, 2013 at 1:22 am

moved from Australia to USA, can't express how wonderful life it is now, don't know why Americans complain so much about their life. Healthcare is expensive? Yes, I do pay $600 a month here (for a family of 4), but the service is great, excellent facilities. I paid $450 a month in Australia, and what kind of service did I get?

I saved $3000 to $5000 a year just in fuel in the US, I saved probably $30,000 in mortgage each year, because housing is so affordable and great areas, I saved at least 40% in food, probably 40% in utilities (we use much less than Americans because we don't use dryers all the time, and we don't need to turn on A/C on all the time).

I bought 2 houses in the U.S. within 2 years here…what more do I need to say?

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Don Ellis February 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm

You can't afford to live in Australia. If you get a decent paying job you are taxed to the heavens and the cost of living will take care of the rest. Sure they have a great safety net for unemployed and a good health system, but in my opinion, they pay out too much in family payments, the baby bonus, funds to even private schools and child care agencies, and various other gifts and payments that you get just for being married and having a kid. If you are single, forget it, you'll be the dumb suck they'll be scamming to pay for all their election bribes. You'll hear a lot about "working families" here because singles or couples without children might as well not exist. I'm tired of the cost of living and being scammed for close to 50% of my earnings. It's just not worth working harder when the government is snatching half your earnings to give to people who either aren't working, are being subsidised to work, or are doing better than you are because they already own a house and have more assets. The only way the unemployment level looks so low in Australia is because there are so many hidden unemployed.

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Phil February 24, 2013 at 7:56 am

I don't know what to do. I live in South East Queensland and I'm not able to afford to live here. I've just heard QLD electricity prices are going up about 25% this year. I'm already budgeting money out of every pay to cover the current bills. These double digit increases are now common on electricity, water, rates, fuel, public transport and food (i.e. meat). My tax is getting to the point that I feel robbed.

On top of that there are few jobs available for teachers and nurses and most other professions haven't seen pay increases in years.

The only positive is the current home-loan interest rates, but that's not much of a positive given that house prices are still unaffordable high.

Enough is enough.

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James March 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm

I want to be honest, please do yourself a favor and do not immigrate to Australia. If you are single, your minimum salary should be no less than $80,000 if you want to live a comfortable life and not struggle, if you are a couple with 1 earner, minimum AUD100,000 if you want to live in a safe area, respectable life, without crime or the risk of your loved one being assaulted. if you have kids then atleast AUD 150,000, if you want to give your kids a good life and not see them grow up poor and bullied at school, The only people who seem to live on the v low income are those who can adapt to live in v poor areas, or hippies who eating noodles and grass is enough and living in a matchbox is sufficient.

Also, if you are a minority, racism is RAMPANT since 2010, it wasn't this way before, but expect to be called all sort of names in downtown areas like monkey etc. YOur kids will also be exposed to alot of racism.

Good luck, personally i'm heading out to Canada, so what if its freezing at least you can have a good comfortable life.

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Sam March 23, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Has racism been rampant even in most of the major Australian cities since 2010? (Sydney, Melb, Brisbane, Perth)

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@ComputerSays April 22, 2013 at 1:38 pm

There's a lot to criticize Australia about but you've said something really dumb in this post.

Are you suggesting that in the year 2010 every Australian (no, you people usually just mean the white ones despite many of us not being white) simultaneously underwent some kind of mass psychological effect which made them more racist?

Or, did your particular environment or perception change at that time?

Which is more likely?

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Mark March 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Very interesting reading this. As a Kiwi currently living in Germany, I am considering moving to Australia. I'm tired of the long and cold winters, rude people, and I would like to go back to an English-speaking country.

However, I pay 585 Euros per MONTH for a 2-room apartment in Stuttgart, 22 Euros a month for 16Mbit/s unlimited Internet, food… I dunno about 70 Euros a week just for me. I've just been googling the rental costs, Internet, and food… and wow. 400-500 AUD per WEEK for an apartment in Melbourne, 90 AUD for unlimited Internet, food… I dunno.

I feel like I would need to earn at least 120,000 AUD to feel comfortable. Would it be worth it? English-speaking country, closer to family, and far better weather than Germany….

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Sam March 27, 2013 at 5:37 am

How much cheaper is living in Germany compared to Australia?

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Sammy June 4, 2013 at 7:12 am

Depending which city you go, $120,000 AUD in Sydney does not buy you comfort in my opinion. 585 Euros is about $850 AUD, in Sydney you can only afford 1 bedroom and expect to share bathroom with others. A studio with ensuite on the outskirt of the city? Easily pass $1400 AUD/month. If you eat out for a quick lunch, a $10 meal is usually the cheapest and most terrible one you can get. Commuting into the city is the worst part. If you don't live in the city/downtown, traveling by cab is going to cost you a fortune.

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American In OZ March 25, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Tell the Government to stop falsifying the Australian cost of living, so many immigrants have been "conned" to believe in Australian Dream..yes, it is just a dream, you got that right.

Terrible place to live, cost of living is so high, no decent jobs unless you are in mining industry, terrible housing, ridiculous housing price, food & cars are 50% more expensive than North America easily.

I am outta here, US education system is much better than Australia, and you don't need to be a multi-millionaire to send your kids to good schools in US.

Free Healthcare? What healthcare? Don't you know something called tax?

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DAVE April 11, 2013 at 5:31 pm

By Jose Marc Castro on August 10, 2009.
Today is 12/04/2013, i request to have the up to date version of those kind of rates.
BTW we still have $2 milk, it availble in the supermarket but we couldnt find anything else to eat (Food) under $4.
you may ask what was going on between 2009-2013.
Good question, IDK……
A housing price start at $500000+ after GST= $600000
How could a student borrow $ from the bank
to buy a house, and to survive?
Someone like me is still start from nothing, but i did get something a full time student title.

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aga July 19, 2013 at 10:08 am

Opportunities for a dentist
My husband and I live in Poland, I'm Polish with an Australian citizenship. He's a dentist with 9 years of experience (completed his studies back here in Poland) whereas I'm an English Language Teacher. We've started considering moving to Australia as I miss the country so much. It's true that we're enjoying a comfortable life here but we'd like to give it a go and simply try. If it works out- fantastic, if not stay in Poland and have the problem off our minds. What are our chances in Australia? I'm mostly concerned about my husband. What does he have to do tobe able to work in his profession and what are the conditions? Please help!

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Sim January 25, 2015 at 2:47 pm

Lol who ever wrote this article does not have a clue regarding Australian economy or the average joe.

If you are a foreigner and you do not have a pile of cash behind and if you don’t have have the ability to walk straight into high paying jobs then you WILL crash and burn. People in this country can earn $40,000+ a year as a family and still be heavily reliant on welfare to pay their rent and even “bonus” money for having a child. They tend to rack up debt and are only able to progress with studies with goverment funded initiatives for high education. If you aren’t a citizen you are not entitled.

Further more labour / trade jobs are abundant but the industry can be very much mate orientated. You want to work in the mines? Better hope that your cousins godfather is owed a favour from some guy thats doing a mediocre job on a mine somewhere.

The truth is many families come and crash and burn leaving Australia with less then they came with. Be warned you may find yourself working like a dog for 24 dollars an hour and barely keeping the lights on in your house. Or you know making $5,000 a week on a mine somewhere.

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Kenastan October 8, 2015 at 2:04 am

We moved to Australia 5 years ago. Worst decision we have ever made. We arrived from West Europe with 2 kids. In Europe our combined income before tax was above 100k euros. We have laways been successfull so thought everything was possible. We came there with 100k of saving and later. I got sponsored on a 457 and we first settled in Sydney. While life was ok my 100k AUD was not enough to sustain the 4 of us. Wife got a job but quickly been fired. After 500 resumes without securing a role we decided to try our luck in Perth. I found a job there at AUD130k and she got a job too. 4 years in Perth and not a day feeling secured. As non native english speakers we always felt we were at risk. My Wife and I challenged ourselves, left our comfort zone, we learned new jobs and new skills and get a mortgage. Then been made redundant again as the mining economy crashed, looked for jobs for 5 months, burned our savings. Finally relocated back to Sydney hoping there was more jobs. We’ve been here for 2 months, my wife found a job but get 30% less than in Perth. As we moved to Sydney without jobs we struggled to find a rent and now lives in the most miserable house in the street. As I had to sell my car I walked with the kids to school everyday and feels like a shit when it’s raining. Kids are asking why don’t we get a car but the truth is that we have nothing left. Big mistake was to got there as I was already 40. I realised if you want to make it here you need to be 35 max. A lot of people here are now really rich, thanks to the house bubble. We have absolutely no chance of being able to buy something here and will have to rent all our life. Our house in Perth has lost 10% of its value and we are renting it for less than we pay every month. All we have left is our new Australian citizenship. We are now seriously considering moving back to Europe.
So if you are considering Australia, you need to be able to make a lot of money, more than $ 150k for a family. You need to have a lot of cash as a safety net, minimum $ 150K. Don’t come to Sydney if you can’t get a $1.4m mortgage, that $8000 a month repaying….as a slave for 30 years. Australians overall are nice people, the country is beautiful but there are plenty of beautiful countries and better life options.

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Fatima April 24, 2016 at 7:05 pm

Hello,

Im from Pakistan, 28 yo, my parents have arranged my marriage and my fiance lives in Melbourne. His salary is AUD 36,000 after tax. Im earning good here in Pakistan at a managerial level and have a good lifestyle in Karachi. Could someone please advise if Im making the rite decision? Thanks in advance.

Best,
Fatima

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Zameo August 10, 2016 at 8:30 am

While the salary looks good, the package is questionable. Good salary sometimes ‘hide’ your real compensation needs, because that’s what a normal working person always think of first , that is “salary” only. As an expat your real needs is different, you need a “compensation” first and then benefits.The employer will always leave out something. Don’t ever think they list down all your needs. They basically use a “generic” expat package for you. Do you think they will offer an “ideal” expat package for you.

Alternatively use the cost of living calculator at http://costofliving.wix.com/calculator

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