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Cost of Living in Australia

Though Australia is one of the expensive, not necessarily most, places to live in, anyone could live off cheaply without much of a struggle. It all depends on how you manage and sketch a budget for your expenditure. (Why Australian Cities are Among World's Best Places to Live in)

Overall, Australia enjoys cheaper living costs than either the United States or Britain. Prices are relatively low for essentials such as food, drink and clothes. Manufactured goods, on the other hand, are generally expensive because many are imported.

Based on actual reported expenditures by international students, an average student in Australia can live on 6,807 AUD (6,043 USD) a year, compared to 9,608 AUD (8,529 USD) in the United States and 9,894 AUD (8,783 USD) in the UK. These costs include accommodation, food, transport, clothing, fuel, power, telephone and other small miscellaneous costs.

Australia has the third lowest cost of living in the major developed world, behind only USA and New Zealand.

Migrants from Britain and Ireland are always surprised at how much cheaper beer and wine is in Australia compared to the UK and Ireland. (In fact, a survey by Foreign Currency Direct reveals that the cheapest places for British expatriates are Australia and New Zealand, where the cost of living is one third lower than in the UK).

Australian’s love to eat out, a typical restaurant meal will be around $60 per head, with an entree or starter at around $9-$15 and a main course $30-$40.

Going to the pub is another favourite past time, buying a schooner of beer will cost around $5-6 (the name and size of a glass of beer varies between states), buying a glass of wine will be $5-7 per glass. (Salary, Working Hours and Tax File Number in Australia)


if you're coming from Europe or the USA, Australia is going to look pretty cheap. Food, in particular, is great value.

The price of food is similar to the US and around 25 per cent less than most European countries. Approximately $400 should be sufficient to feed two adults for a month in most areas (excluding alcohol, caviar and fillet steak). The prices of staple foods in Australia’s capital cities are listed in the monthly British newspaper Australian Outlook and a free Property Value Guide is published annually by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.


Budget: US$3-5
Mid-range: US$6-14
Top-end: US$15 and upwards


Budget: US$6-17
Mid-range: US$18-55
Top-end: US$60 and upwards
Hint: If you're staying in hostels or on-site caravans or camping, and mostly making your own meals you could conceivably get by on about US$20 to US$25 a day!


If you will be living in a shared apartment in Australia, you can expect to pay around $400. If you will be in a one bedroom apartment, prices tend to start at $600. And if you will be living in a stand-alone home with 2 - 4 bedrooms you are looking at paying around $800 minimum.

Imported Goods

Manufactured goods tend to be expensive in Australia, particularly imported goods, including automobiles, clothes and other manufactured items, which are generally more expensive than in Europe or North America.


Travel will be your biggest expense - distances are long - so if you're moving around a bit, eating out once or twice a day and staying in budget hotels, plan for around US$50 a day. If you're only coming for a couple of weeks and plan to take a few internal flights, you'll be looking at more like US$100 a day. You'll have no problems changing foreign currencies or cash at almost any bank or exchange bureau. Traveller’s cheques generally get a better rate than cash, though banks take out a commission. Credit cards (particularly Visa and MasterCard) are widely accepted (and pretty much compulsory if you're going to rent a car), and ATMs all over the country accept credit and Cirrus cards.


Petrol is usually cheaper in Australia than in Europe.


Tipping is getting a foothold in Australia, particularly in cafes and restaurants in the bigger cities - 5-15% is the usual. However, you won't be looked down upon if you don't tip. Taxi drivers are always grateful if you leave the change.


The Australian dollar is the national currency. They have $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 notes, and $2, $1, .50 cent, .20 cent, .10 cent and .5 cent coins. There are no 1 cent coins. Many places charge something like AU$5.99 for a product, just for marketing effect, but in the end you will pay AU$6.00.

You can’t do a direct currency conversion to determine what it costs to live in Australia. It’s all relative to how much money you make, your accommodation, what city/town you will live in etc.

Be aware - when you first arrive in Australia, everything will seem unbelievably cheap when you starting converting back in to your old currency.
Australia does seem to get more expensive the longer you live here, usually after you’ve begun to work and earn Australian Dollars! Very soon $100 becomes $100 and not forty pounds! There is also a lot of variation in the cost of living in the different regions of Australia.

Financially you will hopefully find yourself in a better position while living in Australia. You may find that your job is probably the same job you did in your country, but you’ll be earning a lot less than you did. Some companies exploit this when recruiting people overseas.

Australia Income Tax

All residents have to annually submit an Australian income tax return. Australia has a fairly high rate of income tax. This can either be done yourself using the ATO’s e-tax software (it’s a good way to start to learn) or using a Tax Accountant (they don’t cost much e.g. $150, which can be claimed against the following years income tax).

Taxable income / Tax on this income
$0 – $6,000 Nil
$6,001 – $25,000 15c for each $1 over $6,000
$25,001 – $75,000 $2,850 plus 30c for each $1 over $25,000
$75,001 – $150,000 $17,850 plus 40c for each $1 over $75,000
Over $150,000 $47,850 plus 45c for each $1 over $150,000
The above rates do not include the Medicare levy of 1.5%.

Now that all the feasible and mandatory expenses are laid out in the open, you could effortlessly pull out a memo and estimate, how you would spend and what you could save. Above all, you could definitely control the feasible expenses by doing research and negotiating for good deals.

Australia Jobs

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Salary, Working Hours and Tax File Number in Australia