The cost of living in Australia: Your ultimate guide (2020 Update)

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cost of living in australiaIf you’re like most of our clients, the cost of living in Australia is high on your list of concerns.

Why? Because you want to know that you can offer your family a better life. And that starts with knowing that your salary will be able to comfortably cover your expenses.

Of course the only way to know is to sit down and do the research. But it could take hours!

Unless…You simply read this article all the way to the end.

We’ve done all the research for you and compiled the average living costs right here. First up is salaries in Australia and then it’s time to look at:

  • Housing
  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Transport


To give you an example of salary ranges, we’ll look at four occupations that appear on the skill shortage lists:

  • Registered Nurse: AU$61,896
  • Early Childhood Educator: AU$50,275
  • Mechanical Engineer: AU$72,107
  • Speech Pathologist: AU$62,616

To get an idea of what you could earn in your job, have a look at the salary index on PayScale.


You can choose to rent or buy a home in Australia. You might have to rent a home when you first arrive so let’s start there:


Rental costs are influenced by a number of factors:

  • The size and quality of the property.
  • The region, city or neighbourhood the property is in.
  • The distance from a large city or town, public transport and other facilities.

Generally speaking rent is lower in more rural areas as well as areas further away from major areas, public transport and other facilities.

This was the weekly median rent in Australia at the end of December 2019:


For specific pricing and to research other areas, go to

Rental fees and deposits

You can expect to pay an agency a fee of one weeks’ rent for a six-month lease and two weeks’ rent of a one-year lease.

On top of this you’ll be expected to pay a month’s rent upfront as well as a deposit (or ‘bond’ as it’s called in Australia). This deposit is usually equal to between four and six weeks’ rent.

Beware of hidden costs such a fee for connecting the electricity, gas or telephone when signing a rental agreement!


House prices in most Australian cities finished 2019 on a high, according to ABC, with national average dwelling prices lifting by 2.3% over the year. Sydney and Melbourne recorded the highest annual capital gain, with both cities posting a 5.3% rise in dwelling values over the year. Darwin was the only region to record a fall in values for December and also saw 9.7% drop in house prices for 2019.

Here’s what average house prices looked like at the end of 2019:


To do a tailored search, you can once again go to


The main utilities for any home would be water and electricity. Of course an internet connection is also considered essential in this day and age.


Australia’s water tariffs are generally made up of two charges:

  • A fixed-fee service use charge. This charge covers the supply of water to the home and connection ot sewerage systems.
  • A variable water use charge. This charge is calculated on the actual amount of water used.

Your water usage will be priced per kilolitre (1000 litres). Some states used tiered pricing, i.e. the more water you use, the higher the rates your water will be charged at. You’ll also see some states add additional charges to water bills, such as the Northern Territory’s fixed daily charge based on the size of the meter or connection.

Many states vary water prices depending on the location of the property (city or a rural area). Other states apply the same water usage rates to all residents.

These are the tariffs per capital city:

 Price/KilolitreState Water Authority
AdelaideAU$2.392 – AU$3.699SA Water
BrisbaneAU$3.12Queensland Department of Energy and Water Supply
CanberraAU$2.46 – AU$4.94Icon Water
DarwinAU$1.96Power Water
MelbourneAU$2.63 – AU$3.35South East Water
SydneyAU$2.11Sydney Water
PerthAU$1.82 – AU$4.55Sydney Water


There are various electricity suppliers to choose from in Australia. It is also common to find houses with gas instead or electricity and gas combos.Electricity:

You can quickly and easily compare suppliers and prices for all options on iSelect.


Australia’s large number of internet providers offers a wide selection of unique plans and connection options. You can have a look at all that’s on offer on iSelect and Compare Broadband.


While public transport is available in Australia, many Australians choose to own a car and drive where they need to be.

You might very well choose to buy a used car, but let’s look at prices for some new cars:

Model 2020 Price
Honda JazzFrom AU$16,990
Kia RioFrom AU$18,490
Ford EcoSportFrom AU$$26,461
Toyota Rav4From AU$34,907
Audi A3From AU$42,745

What about insurance and petrol?

Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance is mandatory in Australia. It provides compensation for bodily injuries caused by vehicles but does not provide cover for any damage to the vehicle. It is thus advisable to also purchase another form of insurance.

To see how much you can expect to fork out for insurance, start with a search on

As for fuel prices, it differs from one state or territory to another. The latest prices are available on FuelPrice Australia.


Numbeo is a great site to check average grocery prices in Australia. You can also look at specific cities or compare the prices between cities.

Let’s take a look at the prices of a couple of basic groceries:

Milk (1L)AU$1.54
Fresh white breadAU$2.69
Eggs (12)AU$4.29
Cheese (1kg)AU$9.70
Chicken breasts (1kg)AU$10.59
Rice (1kg)AU$2.62
Apples (1kg)AU$4.31
Bananas (1kg) AU$3.48

How does Australia’s cost of living compare to that of other countries?

Numbeo’s 2020 Cost of Living Index compares the cost of living of 440 cities around the world. Sydney is Australia’s most expensive city while Adelaide is Australia’s cheapest city of those that ranked.

Other Australian cities that are ranked are Darwin, Canberra, Newcastle, Perth, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Melbourne and Hobart, in that order.

World cities that outrank Sydney, and is thus more expensive than any city in Australia, are San Francisco, Paris, London and Dublin. The most expensive city in the world, in case you wanted to know, is Zurich.

Here’s a bonus tip on the cost of living in Australia

Use Shopbot to compare the prices of computers, appliances, phones, furniture and much more.

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