Although Australia is a popular expat destination, it does have a rather high cost of living. Most expats find that the high quality of life makes up for it, but we recommend that prospective expats do their research and find out exactly what their potential expenses will be. Expats should ensure that their salary is high enough to cover all of these expenses.

In the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Sydney ranked as the 56th most expensive city out of 227 cities surveyed worldwide. It is Australia's most expensive city, followed by Melbourne (71st) and Brisbane (82nd).


Cost of accommodation in Australia

Accommodation in Australia is notoriously expensive, though this can be mitigated somewhat depending on where one chooses to live. Location and convenience are largely responsible for high prices, with the more coveted destinations such as Sydney being pricier than smaller towns or cities such as Adelaide. Likewise, living further away from the city centre and commuting, while perhaps not convenient, can also reduce rental costs.


Cost of transport in Australia

The cost of transport in Australia can vary, depending on whether one opts for public transport, uses a private vehicle or alternates between the two. Australia's urban centres boast efficient public transport systems, including buses, trams, ferries and trains.

Sydney and Melbourne, in particular, have extensive networks that service the city centre and outlying suburbs. In most cities, public transport costs considerably less than maintaining and running a private vehicle.

For expats who prefer the convenience and independence of a private vehicle, they should be aware that petrol prices in Australia can be relatively high, and urban areas are notorious for their parking fees. Moreover, the cost of buying a car can be substantial.


Cost of groceries in Australia

While the cost of groceries in Australia can be high compared to other countries, it is essential to remember that the prices often reflect the quality of the goods. Australia is known for its fresh, locally produced fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats. That said, one can undoubtedly cut grocery bills by shopping at discount supermarkets like Aldi or buying items in bulk at stores like Costco.

Another way to save money on groceries is to shop at local farmers' markets. Not only do these markets often have competitively priced produce, but they also allow consumers to directly support local farmers. The price of groceries can vary from city to city, with more remote areas tending to have higher prices due to transport costs.


Cost of entertainment and eating out in Australia

The cost of entertainment and dining out in Australia is as varied as its cultural offerings.

Eating out in Australia can also be pricey, especially in larger cities and popular tourist spots. That said, Australia's diverse culinary scene also means there are options to suit a range of budgets. From upscale dining to food trucks and street food, there is something for everyone.

Similarly, plenty of free or low-cost entertainment options, such as beaches, parks and hiking trails, take full advantage of Australia's beautiful natural environment.


Cost of education in Australia

Expats moving to Australia with kids can rest easy in the knowledge that the public school system is reputable and, in many cases, cheap. However, in many 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 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 highly 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 be granted their visa initially.

Private healthcare costs in Australia can be expensive. Unfortunately, there is no way for temporary residents to escape these fees aside from forking out for private insurance, which can be costly.


Cost of living in Australia chart 

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

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

AUD 6,600

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

AUD 4,000

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

AUD 3,200

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

AUD 2,300

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

AUD 5.38

Milk (1 litre)

AUD 1.76

Rice (1kg)

AUD 3.50

Loaf of white bread

AUD 4

Chicken breasts (1kg)

AUD 14

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

AUD 37

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

AUD 140

Big Mac meal

AUD 14

Coca-Cola (330ml)

AUD 3.64

Cappuccino

AUD 4.93

Bottle of beer (local)

AUD 4.87

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

AUD 0.21

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

AUD 63

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

AUD 199

Transportation

Taxi rate/km

AUD 2.80

City-centre public transport fare

AUD 5

Gasoline (per litre)

AUD 2.08

Expat Health Insurance

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