Home Australia How much does it actually cost to live in Australia?

How much does it actually cost to live in Australia?

by Kat

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I’m currently in that in-between stage of travel.  While I’m enjoying living life as a local in Melbourne I’m also working and trying to save money for the next stage of my trip in a couple of months time.  With that in mind I recently devised a balance sheet to work out how long I would need to work to sufficiently fund myself until my return to the UK in late August.  I thought it’d probably be helpful to share this as part of my The World of Working Holidays series because if you’re thinking of coming to Australia for a substantial period of time you’re going to want to know how much it’s going to cost you.  Here’s the lowdown on basic living expenses…


If you’re from the UK – or more specifically London – the price of public transport in Australia might make you shed a tear of joy.  Most cities/areas of the country have their own form of travelcard.  In Sydney it’s the Opal card and in Melbourne it’s the Myki.  Both work in the same way in that you make a one off purchase of the card (for a relatively small amount, I think around $5) and then you can top it up with a specified amount of money and use it as a pay as you go card or you can purchase a travel pass that gives you unlimited travel for a specified amount of time.  However there is a daily capped rate so even if you use pay as you go you won’t end up spending over $7-8 a day no matter how many journeys you make.

It is of course cheaper to buy a weekly, monthly or even yearly pass if you’re using the transport system regularly.  I commute 5 days a week and so I get a 7 day pass on my MyKi for $39.00.  If I used pay as you go it would cost me slightly over this for 5 days travel so the weekly pass means I can travel at the weekends effectively for free.

As far as I can remember transport on the Opal card in Sydney is similarly priced.  You can also use your Opal card to pay for some ferries from Circular Quay.  There is also a great incentive to travel on a Sunday when all travel is capped at $2.50!!

Monthly cost: $135.00 (based on a 28 day pass)



If you don’t live smack bang in the centre of the city you’ll find rent surprisingly affordable.  To give you an idea my rent living in a northern suburb of Melbourne (15 mins by train to the city centre and I am a 5 min walk from the station) is just under $750.00 a month.  That’s for my own double room in a house-share with 2 others and includes internet and bills.

When I stayed in the YHA in Melbourne Central it was around $40 a night for a room in a 4 bed dorm, which works out at $1200.00 a month.  Internet was an additional $15.00 a week.  As you can see if you’re going to be somewhere a long time it’s definitely worth looking for a more long-term place to stay!

Sydney prices tend to be more on the expensive side but you’d be looking to pay no more than $250.00 a week for a private room.

If you take a shared room in a house-share the cost will be cheaper still.

Monthly cost: $750.00



The cost of food can vary greatly depending on how much you eat out compared to how much you cook at home.

Eating out is not super expensive in Australia on the whole.  You can usually find a decent meal for $10-$15 in the city.  Fast food can be picked up for between $5-10.

Groceries are reasonably priced.  You should be able to get a week’s shop for one person for $30.  Factor in a couple of meals out and treats (the occasional coffee!) in the week I budget around $50 a week for food but you could definitely reduce this cost if you were really strictly budgeting

Monthly cost: $200.00



Again this is largely dependent on your lifestyle.  Melbourne is full of free museums, markets and activities so you can get by filling your time and spending very little.  If you’ve already paid for a weekly travel pass you can even take day trips out from the city with no extra expense, like the time I went to the Dandenong Ranges or walked the Foreshore Trail.

However occasionally there are things I want to do that do cost money, such as going to the Australian Open or the Andy Warhol/Ai Wei Wei exhibit at the National Gallery of Victoria.  You should budget for events like this but also be aware that they won’t happen every week so even spending $55.00 on a ticket for the tennis one weekend won’t mean you’ll be spending $250.00 a month on extra activities.  Most exhibitions and other activities will cost you a max $25.00.  I would budget for maybe 4 things a month, one activity for each weekend.  Some weekends you might spend more and some you might spend less.  You should also look out for deals.  I enjoy going to the cinema but to avoid the $20.00 ticket every time I try to make use of the $7.00 tickets offered by one specific cinema in Melbourne on a Monday.  If you intend to spend a lot of nights out during the week, which I personally don’t due to saving for travelling and having to get up early for work you need to budget for this.

Monthly cost: $200.00



Here’s the good news.  Wages in Australia are very much in-line with the cost of living.  If you’re working you’ll probably find yourself better off here than you would be if you were in the UK where the average person earns enough to just about live off!

It depends on the type of work that you do as to how much you will earn.  Hospitality tends to pay less than office work for example, but that’s not always the case.  I work for a hospitality company (albeit in the office) and their kitchen staff are paid at a rate above $20.00 an hour.  A lot of hospitality jobs will pay $18.00+ an hour.  Office work will generally pay $25.00+ an hour.

Also in Australia employers usually pay you fornightly, which is something I could definitely get used to!

Monthly earnings: Av. $3000.00 after tax ($3500.00 gross based on $25ph x 140hrs a month)

Note: The backpacker tax-free threshold is being removed as of July 2016 which means anyone on a working holiday visa will have to pay 32.6% tax on every $1 they earn and will not be able to claim it back!

This website will help you work out how much you will take home after tax.


Monthly earnings: $3000.00
Monthly expenses: $1715.00

… which means you could potentially save $1871.00 a month.

Which shows you that living and working in Australia can not only be extremely affordable but also allow you to save a decent amount of money for travelling – which is why we’re here after all!


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Eloise - MyFavouriteEscapes.com 06/02/2016 - 20:18

I lived on a budget for a little while in Australia so I could afford to travel (while paying back my study loan…) and it wasn’t that easy at all. I wouldn’t say it can be “extremely affordable”, it involved a lot of efforts! Possible, but sometimes frustrating. I’d never tell someone not to try the Ozzie experience, it’s amazing (and that’s why I stayed). But I always highlight that it’s not easy for everyone, and it’s safer to arrive with savings as money goes away quickly here, and it sometimes takes a bit of time to find a job! From my experience, nights out were definitely the key thing to drop to save money 😛

Kat 06/02/2016 - 21:36

Oh yes I agree with you about arriving with savings. You definitely need to have some money to live on in the event that it takes a while to get a job – It took me a month of serious searching but I’ve had multiple friends who were lucky enough to find things almost straight away, I think it depends what you’re looking for and your previous job experience.

If you’re not working then it’s not an ideal place to be because it’s certainly not cheap, but if you are working I do think it’s affordable because the wages are in line with the cost of living here. Maybe it depends where you’re from and what you’re used to. For me in comparison to London, it’s hard to even get by on what you earn because rent and food is so expensive, let alone make any kind of savings. In comparison I also earn more here working a 25 hour week than I did at home working a 35 hour week, and my daily expenses are cheaper.

Nights out are a big one for burning a hole in your pocket – alcohol is one of the most expensive things in Aus. I’d say it’s the only thing the same as London prices.

Thanks for your comment 🙂

trekkingwithbecky 22/02/2016 - 22:04

I’ve only heard about how expensive Australia is, and it’s great to see how affordable Melbourne is, and saving money seems to be easy enough. Awesome! Thanks for linking this post up for #ExpatTuesday! 😀

Kat 22/02/2016 - 22:15

Thanks Becky! I think a lot of people come here directly from travelling in South East Asia and in comparison it is expensive but compared to the UK it’s so much easier to save. Everything is generally a little bit cheaper and the wages are higher (especially if you get an office job like I did!) Sydney is more expensive than Melbourne though.

trekkingwithbecky 22/02/2016 - 22:21

I couldn’t get over how expensive public transit was in London…I don’t think I’ve ever seen such expensive subway fares!

How easy/difficult was it to find an office job? Did you have it lined up before you went?

Maria 24/02/2016 - 20:47

gorgeous landscapes


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