Australia’s capital cities: Where’s it cheaper to live?

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australia cities living costs

Understanding how much it costs to live in a country is an integral part of the decision making process for people who want to immigrate.
To help you understand Australia’s living costs, we’ve calculated the average daily expenses for all of Australia’s capital cities. We’ve included costs such as rent, groceries and school fees.
You’ll see where it’s most affordable to live so that you can give your family the life you’ve always wanted to.
Please note: All costs are averages and in Australian dollars.

1. Rent

Many of us spend a considerable chunk of our salary on rent each month, so let’s start there, shall we?

1-bedroom Apartment in the city centre

Let’s assume you’re a single person or a couple. You want to start small and you want to live in the city. We can see that Darwin is the most affordable place to live.

 MelbourneSydneyBrisbaneDarwinPerthAdelaideHobart

1-bedroom Apartment in the city

1,745.45

2,597.00

1,634.78

1,351.39

1,474.26

1,429.41

1,470.80

Electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage collection

203.66

193.44

203.36

197.98

220.79

237.19

302.38

Internet (60 mbps or more, unlimited data, cable/ADSL)

70.98

71.96

79.38

85.57

73.35

68.44

82.83

Total

2020.09

2,862.40

1,917.52

1,634.94

1,768.40

$1,735.04

$1,856.01

3-bedroom Apartment in the suburbs

You’re immigrating as a family, and you want a 3-bedroom apartment. Perth is the most affordable city when you settle the suburbs.

 MelbourneSydneyBrisbaneDarwinPerthAdelaideHobart

3-bedroom Apartment in the suburbs

2,306.22

3,041.03

1,920.00

1,977.22

1,595.17

1,678.64

1,921.79

Basic utilities and Internet

274.64

265.40

282.74

283.55

294.14

305.63

385.21

Total

2,580.86

3,306.43

2,202.74

2,260.77

1,889.31

1,984.27

2,307.00

2. Groceries

To give you a good idea of what you’ll spend at the shops, we selected 11 items that all of us buy regularly. Your basket will cost the least in Hobart.

You might want to live on mainland Australia instead. If so, your weekly shopping is going to cost the least in Perth.

 MelbourneSydneyBrisbane DarwinPerthAdelaideHobart

1L Milk

1.56

1.68

1.79

1.53

1.67

1.44

1.41

Loaf of white bread


3.06

2.72

2.72

2.54

2.79

2.85

2.57

12 Eggs

4.77

4.79

4.96

5.75

4.88

4.65

5.47

1kg Local cheese

11.95

11.20

9.80

10.33

10.43

10.34

10.86

1kg Chicken fillets

11.28

11.18

10.63

11.47

10.48

10.61

10.50

1kg Beef round

17.20

18.87

19.33

19.50

16.24

17.30

14.50

1kg Rice

2.72

2.47

2.75

3.42

2.96

2.62

2.73

1kg Apples

4.39

4.83

4.65

4.88

4.26

4.50

4.54

1kg Bananas

3.12

3.29

3.49

3.85

3.30

3.45

3.33

1kg Tomatoes

4.67

5.46

5.10

5.63

4.49

4.66

4.75

1kg Potatoes

3.08

3.30

3.32

4.33

3.05

3.03

3.57

Total cost

67.80

69.79

68.54

73.23

64.55

65.45

64.23

3. School fees

Going to public school in Australia is free, although schools can charge ‘voluntary contributions’ for some items and events.

Let’s say, however, that you choose to send your child to a private institution. In this case, Adelaide has the lowest monthly preschool fees while primary schools are least expensive in Hobart. Darwin comes in as the city with the second-most affordable primary school fees.

 MelbourneSydneyBrisbane DarwinPerthAdelaideHobart

Private preschool (or Kindergarten) - Full day for one child

2,506.15

2,316.68

1,875.33

2,450.00

1,619.76

1,163.22

2,394.44

International primary school annual fee for one child

18,793.33

21,472.00

12,580.00

11,166.67

15,520.00

22,460.29

9,166.67

4. Getting around

To go about your daily business in Australia, you can either take public transport or buy a car.

Taking public transport

Let’s say you choose public transport. The two cities that give you the most bang for you buck are Darwin and Hobart. One-way tickets are AU$3 in Darwin and Hobart has the cheapest monthly passes.

 MelbourneSydneyBrisbane DarwinPerthAdelaideHobart

1-way Ticket on local transport

4.50

4.00

4.00

3.00

4.50

4.39

3.20

Monthly pass

155.50

217.39

154.24

86.96

140.00

101.00

77.50

Buying a car

You’ll notice that there aren’t massive variances between new car prices across the seven capitals. The same is true for the cost of a litre of petrol, but we all know those cents add up quickly when filling up a car.

 MelbourneSydneyBrisbane DarwinPerthAdelaideHobart

1L Petrol

1.36

1.35

1.38

1.48

1.22

1.42

1.57

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (or equivalent new car)

28,990.00

27,000.00

28,000.00

28,000.000

26,995.00

27,000.00

27,370.00

Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (or equivalent new car)

25,845.75

25,761.96

24,077.24

23,986.67

26,716.04

25,214.76

23,658.33

5. Going out for a meal

Enjoying a meal with friends is a favourite pastime for many of us. You get to unwind, catch up on each other’s lives, and have a good laugh or two.

Lunch at your local restaurant

Sydney is cheapest for local, laid-back restaurants and a simple meal. This is surprising as Sydney has been the most expensive city to rent in and has some of the highest grocery prices.

 MelbourneSydneyBrisbane DarwinPerthAdelaideHobart

Restaurant meal at an inexpensive restaurant

18.00

16.00

20.00

25.00

20.000

17.50

18.00

330ml Local beer

10.00

8.00

8.00

7.75

9.50

8.00

8.00

330ml Coke

3.22

3.04

3.52

3.17

2.99

3.40

3.25

Total

31.22

27.04

31.52

35.92

32.49

28.90

29.25

3-course Dinner at an up-market restaurant

Sometimes we like to treat ourselves and go to a restaurant with all the trimmings. Let’s imagine it’s your birthday. You want a three-course meal with a good bottle of wine. Now Adelaide is the cheapest by far.

 MelbourneSydneyBrisbane DarwinPerthAdelaideHobart

3-course Meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

100.00

100.00

100.00

100.00

92.00

80.00

85.00

Bottle of wine

$15

15.00

15.00

17.00

15.00

16.50

17.50

Total

115

115

115

117

107

96.50

102.50

6. Your morning coffee run

Grabbing a coffee on the way to work is such an integral part of our lives. Sydney is the most affordable city for a cappuccino and that bottle of water you grab to go with it.

 MelbourneSydneyBrisbane DarwinPerthAdelaideHobart

Cappuccino

4.38

4.13

4.55

5.29

4.64

4.29

4.64

Bottle of water

2.88

2.62

5.29

3.05

2.88

2.69

2.55

Total

7.26

6.75

9.84

8.34

7.52

6.98

7.19

In conclusion

Perth offers the most affordable rent for 3-bedroom apartments in the suburbs. Perth’s weekly shopping basket is also the second cheapest and schools in Perth are some of the most affordable. This makes Perth a good choice for families.

But if you’re a young a professional, consider Darwin instead. One-bedroom apartments are the most affordable in Darwin, as is a monthly public transport pass. Getting to and from work will thus not cost you an arm and a leg.

The rest of the costs, like eating out, won’t necessarily determine where you live but it’s good to keep the overall picture in mind.

Note: All of the costs were taken from Numbeo, February 2021.

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