Melbourne may be the second most expensive city in Australia after Sydney, but for expats who need to stick to a budget and a low cost of living, there are plenty of ways to save money in the city, particularly when it comes to life’s 'non-essentials'.

Melbourne is ranked as the world's 73rd most expensive city out of the 226 cities surveyed for Mercer's 2024 Cost of Living City Ranking. Although ranked below Sydney, it's more expensive than Brisbane, Canberra, Adelaide and Perth.

Cost of accommodation in Melbourne

The biggest outlay for expats in Melbourne will be the cost of accommodation. Rental prices near the city centre can be particularly high. As with most cities, the further outside the city one lives, the more money one can save – but there are nonetheless some hotspots with high prices even an hour or more outside of Melbourne's main centre of activity. 

Cost of transport in Melbourne

To get around, most people in Melbourne find public transport to be the cheapest and most convenient option. To avoid traffic jams, high parking fees and fluctuating fuel prices, it’s not uncommon for city-dwelling expats to avoid owning a car altogether.

Cost of groceries in Melbourne

Grocery prices in Melbourne are largely in line with Australia’s average pricing. For expats who want great fresh produce, a lively atmosphere and lower prices, visiting the city's markets will be the best option. Fresh food markets can be found in the city centre and suburbs all around Melbourne, and it's usually well worth taking the time to explore these bustling food centres.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Melbourne

While it's home to a plethora of fine-dining restaurants, Melbourne also has an assortment of great places to eat out without breaking the bank. In the city centre and the suburbs, diners will find restaurants where they can eat fantastic food for little more than the cost of a fast-food meal. Locals are proud of the city's 'cheap eats' and will probably be more than happy to provide recommendations.

As with eating out, Melbourne offers a diverse range of entertainment options to suit different budgets. For those who enjoy live entertainment, Melbourne is well known for its vibrant arts scene, which includes music, theatre and art exhibitions, some of which are free or low cost. Many of the city's famous parks, beaches and gardens are free to explore and are popular for their stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife.

The cost of movie tickets, sporting events and other forms of popular entertainment are typically in line with other major Australian cities. Melbourne's nightlife is another factor to consider, with a wide range of pubs, bars and clubs where prices can vary widely.

Cost of education in Melbourne

For expats with children, the cost of education in Melbourne is a key consideration. Public schools in Melbourne are largely free for Australian citizens and permanent residents, though temporary residents may have to pay a fee. The quality of public schools in Melbourne is generally high, making them an attractive option for many families.

There is also a range of private schools in Melbourne, including religious schools and international schools that offer various international curricula. Fees for these schools can vary significantly but are generally quite high. Nevertheless, for those who value a particular style of education or wish for their children to follow a curriculum from their home country, these costs may be worth it.

Cost of healthcare in Melbourne

Healthcare in Melbourne, as with the rest of Australia, is primarily funded through Medicare, the public healthcare system. For those who are eligible, many healthcare services are free or heavily subsidised. This includes consultations with health professionals and hospital care.

However, expats who are not eligible for Medicare will need to rely on private health insurance, the cost of which can vary widely based on the level of coverage. It's also worth noting that even with private insurance, there can be out-of-pocket costs for medical treatments. In general, though, healthcare in Melbourne is of a high standard, and while it may be expensive, many expats consider it good value for the quality of care received.

Cost of living in Melbourne chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for June 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)
Three-bedroom apartment in the city centreAUD 4,300
Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centreAUD 2,800
One-bedroom apartment in the city centreAUD 2,300
One-bedroom apartment outside the city centreAUD 1,820
Food and drink
Dozen eggsAUD 7
Milk (1 litre)AUD 1.77
Rice (1kg)AUD 3.72
Loaf of white breadAUD 3.56
Chicken breasts (1kg)AUD 16
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)AUD 42
Eating out
Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurantAUD 130
Big Mac mealAUD 14
Coca-Cola (330ml)AUD 3.89
CappuccinoAUD 5.39
Bottle of beer (local)AUD 5.48
Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)AUD 0.32
Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)AUD 69
Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)AUD 250
Taxi rate/kmAUD 3
City-centre public transport fareAUD 4.60
Gasoline (per litre)AUD 1.99

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