Although Australia is a popular expat destination, it does have a rather high cost of living. That said, most expats find that the high quality of life makes up for it. Nevertheless, we recommend that prospective expats do their research and find out exactly what their potential expenses will be.
In the 2020 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Sydney ranked as the 66th most expensive city out of 209 cities surveyed worldwide. It is Australia’s most expensive city to live in, followed by Melbourne (99th) and Perth (104th).
Expats should therefore ensure that their salary is high enough to cover all of their expenses, as Australians frequently complain about stretched household incomes. The famed social welfare and benefit systems in Australia, such as Medicare and superannuation, seem to do little to ease the financial discomfort of many Australian families.
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 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 is extremely 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 initially be granted their visa.
Private healthcare costs in Australia can be expensive and, unfortunately, there is no way for temporary residents to escape these fees aside from forking out for private insurance, which can be a costly venture in itself.
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 living in Australia chart
Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices for Sydney in February 2021.