Cost of Living in Australia

In recent years, Australia has become known as an expat destination with a high cost of living. While this is generally true, most expats find that a higher quality of life makes up for it. However, those considering moving to Australia should be aware of what their potential expenses will be.

In the 2019 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Sydney ranked as the 50th most expensive city out of 209 cities surveyed worldwide. It is Australia's most expensive city to live in, followed by Melbourne (79th), Perth (87th), Canberra (96th) and Brisbane (103rd).

As a result, expats should ensure that the salary they receive is enough to cover all of their expenses as Australians frequently complain about stretched household incomes. The famed social welfare and benefit systems in Australia, like Medicare and superannuation, seem to do very little to mitigate the financial discomfort.

Cost of housing in Australia

Shortages of rental properties and continuous landlord rate rises have established surging rental costs in Australia. While economists predict that the rising prices will come to a halt, and perhaps even recede slightly in the next few years, expats will have to be wary that over 30 percent of their monthly income might need to go to financing the roof over their head. 

Cost of healthcare in Australia

Many expats living in Australia won’t be permanent residents and therefore won’t qualify for Medicare, the national universal health insurance coverage. Those who have waded through the red tape to obtain this documentation will, however, find that healthcare in Australia is of a high standard and is extremely affordable.

Medicare is financed by individual tax deductions and allows permanent residents to take advantage of free comprehensive hospital care, as well as free or highly subsidised doctor’s consultations. Some expats may be formally required to prove to the Australian authorities that they are adequately covered by a minimum level of private health insurance to initially be granted their visa. 

Private health care costs in Australia can be expensive and, unfortunately, there is no way for temporary residents to escape these fees aside from forking out for private insurance, which can be a costly venture in itself. 

Cost of education in Australia

Expats moving to Australia with kids can rejoice in the knowledge that the public school system is reputable, and in many cases, cheap. However, in some states, temporary residence holders are required to pay tuition to enrol their children in the state system. 

For those who prefer to have their children enrolled in a private school or international school, tuition will naturally be required and will tend to be expensive.

Alternatively, somewhere between the state system and the private system lie faith-based schools. Tuition for these institutions is typically higher than public school tuition but lower than private school tuition – and in some cases, faith-based schools can be even cheaper than public schools.

Cost of living in Australia chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Sydney in February 2020.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

AUD 2,600

One-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

AUD 1,900

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

AUD 4,500

Three-bedroom apartment outside of city centre

AUD 3,000


Eggs (dozen)

AUD 4.50

Milk (1 litre)

AUD 1.50

Rice (1kg)

AUD 2.75

Loaf of white bread

AUD 2.90

Chicken breasts (1kg)

AUD 11.50

Pack of cigarettes

AUD 35

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

AUD 11.90

Coca-Cola (330ml)

AUD 3.20



Bottle of local beer


Three-course meal for two at mid-range restaurant

AUD 88


Mobile to mobile call rate (per minute)

AUD 0.65

Internet (uncapped – average per month)

AUD 70

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

AUD 185


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

AUD 2.20

Bus/train in the city centre

AUD 4.40

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

AUD 1.50

Expat Health Insurance


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