- Download our Moving to Sydney Guide (PDF)
Sydney is one of the world's most iconic cities, host to beautiful landmarks, breathtaking natural beauty and a cosmopolitan and diverse population. Australia's most populous city is also its most expensive. As the 56th most expensive city for expats to live in out of the 227 on Mercer's 2023 Cost of Living Survey, the Emerald City's accommodation prices are about one-third higher than in Melbourne, while the overall cost of living is estimated to be 7 percent higher.
Sydney may be the most expensive city in Australia, but for price-conscious expats, there are plenty of ways to stretch their Aussie dollars.
Cost of accommodation in Sydney
Accommodation in Sydney is typically an expat's greatest expense, particularly in the more attractive areas and suburbs and around the city centre. Expats who want to save on housing expenses should search for a home further out in the suburbs.
Cost of public transport in Sydney
Public transport in Sydney is well developed, making it cheap and convenient to get around the city without a car, though a private vehicle might afford expats more freedom to explore the country. With an Opal card, expats can use the city's integrated infrastructure and make savings on their commute.
Cost of groceries in Sydney
The cost of groceries in Sydney is in line with the national average, and Australian produce is high quality. Seafood lovers should head to the Sydney Fish Market, the largest fish market in the Southern Hemisphere, for inexpensive and fresh fish.
Cost of entertainment and eating out in Sydney
Many expats cite the lifestyle as a key draw for Sydney. Expats on a budget should consult a local about the best places to get an affordable bite to eat. Alternatively, they can take advantage of Sydney's wide spread of world-renowned fine-dining establishments. Thanks to the variety of options available in Sydney, expats will not struggle to find something to match their palates and wallets.
Expats looking to soak in some culture will visit the Sydney Opera House, while those looking to party will head to the myriad nightclubs at Kings Cross. Price-conscious expats can take advantage of the country's excellent climate, picnicking in the park, having a barbecue or visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Cost of education in Sydney
Public education in Sydney is free or cheap for permanent residents, though temporary residence holders will have to pay to enrol their kids.
Faith-based schools, especially the Catholic education system, are popular in Sydney. Expats on temporary residences tend to find the fees lower than those they would have to pay for public schools.
Cost of healthcare in Sydney
While healthcare in Sydney is world-class, it comes at a price for expats. Non-residents often grapple with considerable medical costs which can eclipse those found in many other countries. Expats must be vigilant in securing comprehensive private health insurance to avoid substantial out-of-pocket expenses for medical treatments.
Australian citizens and permanent residents in Sydney enjoy the privileges of Medicare, the country's comprehensive public health system. This service significantly reduces healthcare expenses, offering considerable savings on medical appointments, hospital treatments and prescription medications. The funding for these services is largely drawn from the national tax system, which ensures that healthcare is both accessible and affordable for residents.
Cost of living in Sydney chart
Prices may vary depending on the product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for November 2023.
|Accommodation (monthly rent)|
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre||AUD 6,900|
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre||AUD 4,100|
|One-bedroom apartment in the city centre||AUD 3,300|
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre||AUD 2,400|
|Food and drink|
|Dozen eggs||AUD 7|
|Milk (1 litre)||AUD 1.91|
|Rice (1kg)||AUD 3.94|
|Loaf of white bread||AUD 4.17|
|Chicken breasts (1kg)||AUD 7|
|Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)||AUD 40|
|Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant||AUD 135|
|Big Mac Meal||AUD 15|
|Coca-Cola (330ml)||AUD 3.94|
|Bottle of beer (local)||AUD 5.66|
|Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)||AUD 0.21|
|Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)||AUD 48|
|Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)||AUD 209|
|Taxi rate/km||AUD 4|
|City-centre public transport fare||AUD 5|
|Gasoline (per litre)||AUD 2.15|
What do expats say about the cost of living in Sydney?
"I would say the high cost of living would be the biggest shock, although this is somewhat mitigated by the fact that jobs are well-paying here." American expat Katie shares her experiences living in Sydney.
"Eating and drinking can cost you a small fortune in the CBD, but many places have particularly aggressive happy hours you can take advantage of." Read our interview with Libby, a Brit living in Sydney.
►Our Banking, Money and Taxes in Australia page has more useful information on money matters
►Check out some Frequently Asked Questions about Sydney
Are you an expat living in Sydney?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Sydney. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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