How Much Does It Cost to Live in Australia?

It is no secret that the cost of living in Australia is high and yet, between 2009 and 2015, the country welcomed 207,000 Brits. Numbeo’s cost of living survey saw Australia ranked the 13th most expensive country to live in globally. The cost of living in Australia is reported as 11.93% higher than the UK.

The Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, release their global Prosperity Index annually. The survey ranks the most prosperous countries in the world. Many assume prosperity is used in reference to the financial standing of a country and, while this is included, the Legatum Institute considers more factors in its ranking.

Despite Australia’s notorious reputation for being expensive, the country has a fantastic education system. The country ranked in 1st place for schooling in the prosperity index. Overall, Australia was ranked the 7th most prosperous country in the world. It ranked highly in categories such as social capital, personal freedom and governance.

With the majority of Australian regions getting only 40 or so days of rain a year and the country boasting 16,006 miles of coastline, it is not surprising that many seek the sunny climes of Down Under. But, how much does it really cost to live in Australia?


Australia’s last recession was in 1991. The country has gone 25 years without having two consecutive quarters of negative growth; the definition of a recession. The Australian Bureau of Statistics announced that its economy grew at a rate of 3% in Q4 of 2015. This was above estimates penned by economists. They had predicted that the Aussie economy would be negatively affected by the economic slowdown in China.

Australia has been able to avoid recession by being closely linked to the Chinese economy. It’s wealth of natural resources and proximity to the Asian powerhouse made it the go-to supplier of China’s manufacturing boom.

Regardless of China, Australia has a strongly developed and established modern economy. Australia’s economy is reliant on the service industry which contributes 60% of the total GDP.

Australia main imports are computers, telecommunications parts, petroleum products and crude oil. The country exports gold, meat, wood, wheat, iron ore and coal.

Currency Overview

The currency used in Australia is the Australian Dollar (AUD). The Australian Dollar replaced the Australian Pound in 1996. The symbol for the currency is $ and it is used throughout the Commonwealth of Australia. This includes Cocos Islands, Norfolk Island, Pacific Island states and Christmas Island.

The “Aussie” as it is colloquially known is rated by the World Foreign Exchange market as the fifth most-traded currency in the world.

Housing in Australia for Expats

Compared to the UK, rent is Australia is 30.32% more expensive. This is no surprise as there is a shortage of rental properties in the country. Team with the continuous increase in landlord rates and rental costs just keep sky-rocketing. Sydney has the most expensive rentals in the country, but Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide are not far behind. This is due to limited property supply and growing demand.

For expats looking to buy, property prices vary depending on location. Roughly, per square meter, city centre homes are $7,461.20 (£4,244.89). Properties outside of the city centre are approximately $5,461.96 per square meter (£3,144.07).

Expat Healthcare in Australia

The majority of expats in Australia won’t be permanent residents. Individuals must have lived in Australia for four years to apply for citizenship. Therefore, expats on visas are not eligible for Medicare, the national universal health insurance coverage in Australia.

All expats are required to prove to Australian authorities that they are covered by a minimum level of expat insurance. If not, no visa shall be granted.

Private healthcare costs in Australia can be expensive. With some providers, comprehensive care can cost more than $500 (£286.92) per month and it is a free that cannot be escaped. However, we offer three private medical insurance plans to suit the needs of different expats. For example, a 30-year-old moving to Australia can get cover with us from as little as £33 per month, to £216 per month depending on plan and excess.

Cost of Education in Australia

Expats moving to Australia with children can relax in the knowledge that education standards are excellent and cheap. As previously mentioned, Australia was ranked best in the world in terms of their schooling. At the most, expat parents will need to fork out for school uniforms, stationary, and the occasional school trip.

Obviously public schools are not the only option, and some expats may wish to enrol their children in a private or international school. As with any country, tuition fees will need to be paid and these can often be expensive.

Alternatively, in Australia, existing between state schools and the private system are faith-based schools. Tuition costs at these schools are often less for temporary residents and much less than public schools. Therefore, they have become a popular option for expat families. Fees for these institutions is often around $2000.

Employment Rates

Those who are travelling the country often take on jobs in the hospitality or retail sectors. Many backpackers also take on seasonal jobs on farms, such as fruit picking. But, this is not sustainable for those wanting to make a life for themselves Down Under.

On the whole, unemployment has remained low in Australia. March 2016 saw the unemployment rate drop to 5.7%, the lowest it has been since September 2013.

What must be remembered is that Australia welcomes migrants who can be of value to the country. Those with valuable skills and qualifications are welcomed to the country.  Nurses, doctors and engineers are desperately needed, particularly in areas outside of major cities.

Being a native English speaker is a real asset when job hunting in Australia. Furthermore, a report by AHRI (Australian Human Resource Institute) on skill shortage found that seven out of ten Aussie employers are suffering from a skills shortage in their workforce. 85% of employers believe skilled migrants are integral to the success of their businesses and organisations.


Although the cost of living in most cases is more expensive in Australia, salaries are also higher. Many expats often find that their salary is significantly increased in Australia. Therefore, they benefit from increased cash flow and more spending power.

A rule that many follow when considering employment in Australia is to multiply their UK salary by 2.5. For example, somebody earning £30,000 in the UK should expect a salary in Australia of around $72,0000. For those wishing to live in Sydney, or families with children, a salary of $100,000 is said to be the figure to live comfortably.

Comparison to UK

The world’s largest database, Numbeo, has a vast selection of user contributed data in regards to Australia. Compared to the UK, not only is rent significantly more expensive, but grocery prices are 30.33% higher. Consumer prices are 11.68% higher and the only positive difference is restaurant prices, with Australia 4.81% cheaper.

The tables below provide an over view of the differences in costs between Australia and the UK. Please note that all Australian prices have been converted into British pounds.

Groceries UK Price (£) Aus Price (in £) Cheaper Country
Milk (1l) £0.89 £0.85 Australia
White bread (500g) £0.95 £1.56 UK
Eggs (12) £1.98 £2.71 UK
Cheese (1kg) £5.78 £5.41 Australia
Banana (1kg) £1.01 £1.80 UK
Water (1.5l) £0.92 £1.48 UK
Wine (mid-range) £7.00 £8.65 UK
Transport UK Price (£) Aus Price (in £) Cheaper Country
Petrol (1l) £1.08 £0.74 Australia
One-way ticket £2.30 £2.28 Australia
Monthly pass £60.00 £74.93 UK
Taxi (1km) £1.50 £1.25 Australia
Utilities (Monthly) UK Price (£) Aus Price (in £) Cheaper Country
Electricity/Heating/Water for 85m2 apartment £143.46 £107.39 Australia
1 minute of PAYG talk time £0.13 £0.20 UK
Internet (10 Mbps, unlimited data, cable/ADSL) £21.05 £40.54 UK
Clothing UK Price (£) Aus Price (in £) Cheaper Country
Jeans (Levi or similar) £57.15 £55.72 UK
Dress (chain store) £29.91 £37.33 UK
Nike running shoe £59.40 £76.63 UK
Leather business shoes £61.18 £77.53 UK
Leisure UK Price (£) Aus Price (in £) Cheaper Country
Fitness club £33.28 £37.20 UK
Tennis court (1 hour) £9.99 £11.40 UK
Cinema (1 ticket) £9.00 £10.37 UK
Eating Out UK Price (£) Aus Price (in £) Cheaper Country
Fast food meal £5.00 £5.76 UK
Inexpensive restaurant £12.00 £10.37 Australia
3 course, mid-range £50.00 £46.11 Australia
Cappuccino £2.53 £2.37 Australia
Coke/Pepsi £1.14 £1.82 UK
Imported beer £3.50 £4.61 UK

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