Cost of living in Australia?

I found that the most common question asked by people I know who are thinking of migrating to Australia is how much does it cost to live in Australia. Well, I don’t have official statistics or anything so the only way I can answer this is to draw from my personal experience living in Melbourne.

Back when we didn’t pack home-cooked lunch to the work, we spend around $250 per week on groceries with the cost of eating out for lunch included. A lunch meal will generally cost about $10. It’ll probably cheaper at McDonald’s or Hungry Jack’s (aka Burger King) with their $6 burger meals that include chips (French fries) and drink. At selected Hungry Jack’s branches, you even get to refill your drink again and again. In the end, it will always be a lot cheaper to cook your own food than to eat out.

To save even more, instead of shopping at Safeway (called Woolworths outside Victoria, I don’t know why) or Coles, shop at Aldi instead. Sure, the selection of products is a bit limited at Aldi but those you can get there, you’ll get there a lot cheaper than the major supermarket chains. We would first buy our groceries at Aldi then go to the nearby Safeway to buy the rest of the things on our grocery list that we didn’t get at Aldi.

This $250 does not include transportation costs, clothing and utilities. We take the train so that’s $158 for a monthly full-fare Zone 1+2 ticket each. That ticket allows us to take any public transportation within Greater Melbourne. If you live closer to the city (within the Zone 1 boundary), you get to pay less. We only use the car on weekends and it costs us about $30 per week to have it filled with petrol (gasoline).

As for our utilities, our latest water quarterly bill was about $90. During winter time, our gas bill can reach up to $100 per month. Gas (gaas) is usually necessary not only for cooking but for heating homes, you see. Electricity bills tend to rise during winter too due to our need to turn on electric heaters and less daylight. Our winter electricity bill can reach up to $200 in a quarter. However, we are still aiming to lower our electricity, water and gas usage so hopefully, we’ll need to pay less in the future. We are doing this not only to save money but of course to help out the environment. Yeah, I just had to throw that in there.

If you are renting an apartment, you probably won’t need to worry about the water bill as the owner of the property usually pays for the water. So that’s one advantage of renting. Speaking of renting, a two bedroom apartment we rented in St Kilda East (an inner Melbourne suburb, about 15 minutes away from the city by train) cost about $1,200 per month (they will quote the rent in dollars per week though). Apartments will cost more if furnished.

If you are just starting out and you need furniture, go see Fantastic Furniture. They have the cheapest furniture packages that I know of. It’s not exactly the classiest furniture around but they definitely aren’t shoddy either. For $2000, you get a double-sized bed and matress, a dining table plus chairs, living room tables, bedsides (drawers), and a 51cm TV! You’ll probably need to assemble some of the furniture yourself though but I’m sure you’ll be able to handle it. That’s partly how they can sell it for cheaper. I bought my first furniture suite from them and I found the furniture to be sturdy and durable. And they don’t look too shabby either.

For the clothes and other spendings, you will get a better idea of how much things cost here by looking at the various department store chains’ catalogues online. Here are a few of the more popular chains of shops:
Big W

Now, you have to do the math (or as they say here, maths) and figure out how much money you need to bring with you when you fly to Australia. Be sure to bring enough money with you to last you six months here without a job just to be sure. Note that the cost I quoted above was for two persons living together. Utility bills might be cheaper if you are by yourself living in a one bedroom apartment, for example. It could be more expensive if you are a family of four, of course.

I hope this helps anybody wanting to know how much things cost here.

Published in: on November 21, 2007 at 12:01 am  Comments (5)  

5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ets: Ikea! Of course! Totally forgot about that. Thanks for bringing that up. 😀

    Ju! How are you! Planning on moving to Oz? That’s great! 😀 Glad you found this post informative. 🙂

  2. Great info Gabe! I will be applying for a PR in a couple of months and was just wondring about the living cost thing today. Then I come across this in your blog!


  3. Hi! I’ve been reading your blog since we moved here in Sydney 1.5 years ago. And may I first say, what a great help you guys were with the whole section “Migrating to Oz’.

    Anyway, for those who are in Sydney, they can also get really great stuff from Ikea. Gawd, I love that place. Not just furniture but they also have a large range of home organization and decorating items.

    See it at

    Ets 🙂

  4. The Salvos! I forgot about them. I never really bought anything from them and maybe that’s why I forgot to bring them up. But yeah, they’ll definitely sell stuff cheaper.

    Forgot about the water heaters, too! Another reason why we spend more on gas during the winter season. 🙂

    Thanks for that, justin! 😀

  5. G’day Matey, just to add that Gas is not only for house heaters or for your gas stoves but…. (how dare you forgot this one)… also for our hot showers in the morning! and as for the furnitures, they can get decent cheap in Salvation Army or The Op shop – or garage sales!. they can even look at The Warehouse, Reject Shop or something. then ofcourse, you can upgrade things if you’re settled. have those fancy recliners with heaters and massagers. (geez, i love to have one of those.).

    on the other hand, Yesterday was hot as hell (36c) and today, its a bit cold, say 18c + its raining cats and dogs. melbourne’s drains are flooded. bloody john, oh well,

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