What’s the cost of living in Australia?

With its stunning landscapes, culturally diverse population and robust economy, Australia has long been a top destination for migrants. But before making the decision to move here (or anywhere) it’s important to understand what the cost of living in this beautiful country is.

It’s no secret that Australia is considered an expensive place to live. Knowing what kind of expenses to expect and how to manage them is essential for a smooth transition to your new home. 

Salaries and wages

One of the most desirable things about Australia is its high standard of living, which often comes with competitive wages and salaries. The minimum wage in Australia is set by the Fair Work Commission and updated annually to reflect the cost of living. As of 2023, the minimum wage is $21.38 per hour. This means a standard 38 hour work week will add up to $855.20 per week.

For adults working full time, the average weekly earnings are $1,838. Industries offering the highest weekly earnings include mining, science and technical services, healthcare and information media and telecommunications.

Salaries and wages will change depending on location and tend to reflect the cost of living in the city you reside in. For instance, salaries in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne are usually higher than those in regional areas.


The price of housing will vary depending on where in Australia you choose to live. Like most places, the bigger cities are more expensive than regional areas. Some cities are pricier than others, with Sydney and Melbourne at the top of the list. 

Across Australia, the average rental price for a dwelling (houses and apartments) is $470 per week. Within each state, the average weekly amount varies as per the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures below:

  • New South Wales – $530
  • Northern Territory $500
  • Queensland – $450
  • Western Australia – $450
  • Victoria – $420
  • South Australia – $380

When you rent a house, you’ll typically sign up for a 6-12 month lease. Renting is more affordable in smaller cities with the price decreasing as you travel further outside of metropolitan areas.

To buy a house in Australia, the average price is $896k. In Sydney, it currently sits just below $1.5m and in Melbourne it’s around $950k. Like renting, purchasing a house is more affordable the further you move away from major cities. For example, in Adelaide the average dwelling is $700k but outside of Adelaide city it’s $350k.

Food – groceries and eating out

It’s true that the price of groceries in Australia has been steadily increasing year on year. At most grocery stores, you’ll find a loaf of white bread for $2.70, a carton of milk for $3.10 and a dozen eggs for $5.20. An average weekly shop could cost anywhere between $85-300 depending on how many people you’re feeding.

Due to inflation, many people may choose to buy and cook their own food as opposed to eating out at restaurants. If you choose to spoil yourself with a meal out, you can expect to pay around $45-60 for two people at an inexpensive restaurant. At a mid-range restaurant this will be between $80-120.

Australians love their coffee so it won’t be hard to come by a great cafe wherever you are. A regular coffee will set you back around $4-5. 


Australia’s vast landscape and sprawling cities make transportation a significant consideration in the cost of living. Owning a car is a convenient option for most Australians, but the cost of operating one can be expensive. Factoring in car loans, petrol, insurance, registration and maintenance, households in major cities spend upwards of $400 per week on getting around. Buying a car second-hand or purchasing one outright are ways to reduce the ongoing costs.

Alternatively, public transport is a cost-effective option in many Australian cities. Places like Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth have extensive public transport networks with buses, trains, trams and ferries. Migrants can benefit from concession cards which offer discounted rates for students and seniors. In New South Wales, you’ll never pay more than $50 a week on public transport when using an Adult Opal Card.


Australia is known for its world-class healthcare system. Thanks to the government-funded Medicare program, Australian citizens and permanent residents are allowed free or subsidised access to healthcare, including a wide range of health and hospital benefits.

Some residents may choose to pay for private health care in addition. This can cover certain treatments like visiting the dentist or seeing a specialist that aren’t included under Medicare. Depending on your age, health status and level of coverage chosen, private health insurance could cost anywhere between $50-1500 per month.

Want to know more about Australia? You might like to read up on our 5 top cities to migrate to, for an even better idea of what’s on offer in the most popular Australian destinations for newcomers. 

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