Salaries for expats in Australia

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Australia is one of the world's most desirable expat destinations, and many who decide to relocate there to live and work do so for reasons outside of financial gain. The country's high quality of life, gorgeous natural scenery, multicultural cities and ideal climate mean that many expats are content to subsist in Australia without necessarily saving too much money at the end of every month.

The following guide has been written to help expats draw up a rough monthly expenses budget for Australia – so they can determine their minimum salary requirements before entering into contract negotiations with their prospective Australian employer. 

457 Visa minimum salary requirements

For starters, expats are advised that there are minimum salary requirements based on Australian market salary rates for those applying for a Subclass 457 Temporary Residence (Long-stay Business) Visa. Although the figure varies a bit from area to area and job to job (with IT and Communications professionals needing to earn more), the general minimum requirement is around AUD 47,480 per annum (about AUD 4,000 a month).

Cost of living and minimum monthly expenses budget for Australia

In terms of individual monthly expenses, please note that while a great deal of research has been undertaken to ensure that the following figures are accurate, they are – of course – highly variable, and can be influenced by a wide range of considerations. Your monthly expenses in Australian will chiefly be determined by the city/state you choose to move to (Sydney and Melbourne are the most expensive), how big or luxurious the accommodation you choose to rent is, whether you choose to own a car or to rely on public transport – and perhaps most tellingly, what category of Australian visa you are in possession of (as this will make a large difference to your tax payments and schooling and healthcare costs).

As a preemptory note, perhaps to prepare wanna-be Australian expats for the news which is to follow, it is worth bearing in mind that Australian cities feature quite highly on Xpatulator's list of the world's most expensive cities for expats to live in. The survey, which factors in average expat salaries, tax rates and general cost of living data from 300 of the world's most popular expat destination cities, found that Sydney is the 10th most expensive city in the world for expats to live in, Melbourne the 18th, and Perth the 19th most expensive. However, it's not all bad news – as nearly two-thirds of expats in Australia indicate that they have more disposable income at the end of every month than they did back home.

Elements to consider when drawing up a monthly expenses budget for Australia:


  • Tax: As expats will soon find out, Australia's tax rates are high, and its tax system is confusing. In a recent worldwide survey, HSBC discovered that more than 40 percent of expats in Australia complain that they pay more taxes Down Under than they did back home. By way of illustration, if you were to earn A90,000 a year – which is a lot more than the national average – you would have to pay AUD 21,250 of that back in tax (for Australian Tax Residents, and AUD $27,330 for Foreign Tax Residents).

  • Rent: Rent is pretty steep in Australia, with five Australian cities featuring in the Top 40 most expensive places for expats to live in terms of household accommodation costs. Although this figure is extremely variable, expect to pay about AUD 500 for a room in a shared house; AUD 1,200 for a furnished two-bedroom house; and AUD 1,300 for an upmarket, furnished two-bedroom apartment. 

  • Utilities: If you're renting accommodation in Australia, your landlord will be responsible for council rates. However, you will have to pay your own gas, electric and water bills, which arrive every quarter (three months). Obviously these fees vary according to your personal energy consumption, the size of your house, and the area in which you live – but a reasonable budget would be between AUD 300 and AUD 600 for the three-month period. Internet and phone bills are separate – in the region of AUD100 and AUD 20 per month, respectively.

  • Transport: If you choose to have a car in Australia, it'll cost you about AUD 80 a month in compulsory car insurance and petrol. If you use public transport, budget for (a minimum) of about AUD 35 a week.

  • Healthcare and medical insurance: All Australian taxpayers contribute about 1.5 percent of their salary to Medicare, Australia's national healthcare plan. However, expats on the 457 visa are also required to purchase private health insurance to cover themselves while in Australia. The monthly cost will depend on the provider and the plan that you purchase, but expect to pay between AUS 250 and AUD 500 per month.

  • Groceries: Obviously this will depend on your dietary proclivities and how many people you're shopping for, but expect to spend about AUD 90 a week on yourself, or AUD 300 for a family of four. Some basic costs are provided in our Australian cost of living guide

  • Entertainment: Drinking alcohol and eating out are pretty expensive pursuits in Australia. You'll pay at least AUD 30 for a meal in a restaurant, and your drinks bill will probably be equal to that (at least). It costs about AUD 15 to go to the cinema in Australia.

  • Schooling: Schooling costs will depend on the type of visa you're on and the area of Australia in which you intend to live. For those on the 457 visa, expect to pay about AUD 4,500 a year on state school fees – and as much as AUD 25,000 a year if you wish for your child to attend a private school.Expats should also tally up any costs they have 'back home' (insurance fees, bond payments, etc.) and factor them into their monthly Australian expenses budget. Unfortunately, these financial responsibilities do not disappear when you leave your home country!


The bottom line

Using these figures – which, remember, are to serve as a rough guide at best – an expat moving to Australia on a 457 visa with a family of four, who chooses to rent a modest property in one of the main cities, who uses public transport and is disciplined about curbing their entertainment costs, a monthly budget of about AUD 4,000 should suffice (rising to AUD 5,000 if you must send your kids to school).

This budget would require a gross annual salary of about AUD 75,000 if there is only one bread-winner in the family.

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