Is Australia Cheap or Expensive?

December 7, 2023
Is Australia Cheap or Expensive?

Key takeaways:

  • Australia ranks as the 12th most expensive country globally, with cities like Sydney and Melbourne being significantly costlier than other parts of the country.
  • International students in Australia face considerable expenses, with tuition fees and accommodation being major financial considerations, alongside daily living costs.
  • The median house prices in major cities like Sydney exceed 1 million AUD, and utility costs, including electricity, water, and gas, add significantly to monthly expenses.
  •  Public transport in Australian cities averages around 150 AUD per month, while owning and maintaining a car can be much more expensive, offering alternatives like cycling and car-sharing for cost savings

Is Australia cheap or expensive to live in? As of 2023, the answer leans towards expensive. The economic landscape of Australia has been marked by a significant increase in the cost of living.

The average Australian now faces higher expenses in housing, utilities, and general living costs. This article delves into the various factors contributing to these rising costs.

We will explore the trends in the housing market, including property values and rent, analyse the current inflation and consumer prices, and examine the impact of economic policies on personal finance. With data from reliable sources like CoreLogic and SQM Research, our insights will help you assess the costs of living and budget your lifestyle.

Is Living in Australia Becoming a Luxury?

Living in Australia in 2023 is increasingly becoming a costly affair.

There has been a series of cash rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), leading to a current rate of 4.35%.

These hikes are a response to the soaring prices of everyday necessities, including groceries, fuel, and rent. The cost of almost everything has escalated, with the overall inflation rate has risen to 5.4% as of September 2023.

This situation has caused a significant shift in the affordability of living in major Australian cities, making it an expensive proposition for many.

Unpacking the Housing Market Surge in Australia

Is Australia Cheap or Expensive?

The housing market in Australia has seen a substantial increase in value. By the end of September 2023, the combined value of residential real estate reached $10.1 trillion, a notable rise from the previous month’s $10 trillion.

National home values rose by 2.2% in the three months leading up to September, according to CoreLogic. This surge in property prices has had a direct impact on the cost of living, making it more challenging for Australians to afford housing.

The rental market is not far behind, with average weekly rents for houses in capital cities hitting $802 per week, and units at $594, reflecting the upward trend in housing costs according to SQM Research.

How Prices Are Pinching Pockets

The rising cost of living in Australia is vividly illustrated by the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures.

The inflation rate in Australia was recorded at 5.4% over the 12 months leading to September 2023, significantly exceeding the Reserve Bank of Australia’s ideal target of 2-3%.

This higher inflation rate implies that the purchasing power of money has decreased; for instance, what $100 could buy a year ago now requires more due to increased prices across various sectors

Such an increase has squeezed the average Australian’s budget, particularly affecting those in major cities like Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. These figures underscore the growing financial pressure faced by Australians, making it imperative to understand the full scope of living expenses in the country.

Education Costs for International Students in Australia in 2023

Is Australia cheap or expensive?

If you are planning to study in Australia this year? Here’s the financial lowdown.

Undergraduate programs will set you back between AUD 20,000 and 45,000, while master’s programs range from AUD 22,000 to 50,000. But there’s more to budget for – living expenses, including accommodation, food, and transport, average around AUD 1,400 to 2,500 monthly according to Times Higher Education.

And the average annual tuition? That’s around AUD 31,596, somewhat more affordable than in the U.S. or U.K., but still a significant investment!

Healthcare Costs in Australia

In 2023, managing healthcare costs in Australia is a significant aspect of financial planning. On average, Australians spent about AUD 9,365 per person on healthcare in 2021–22​​. Individuals directly contribute a substantial part to healthcare spending, with private health insurance premiums ranging from AUD 100 to over AUD 300 per month​​.

Prescription medications under the PBS require co-payments of AUD 30.00 for general patients and AUD 7.30 for concessional patients​​.

Additionally, out-of-pocket fees for healthcare, particularly in private facilities and specialist services, form a significant part of individual healthcare expenses​​.

Transportation Costs in Australia

Is Australia cheap or expensive?

In 2023, navigating transportation costs in Australia requires some savvy planning. Public transport in cities like Melbourne is among the most expensive globally, with monthly passes costing around AUD 283.85, which is 5.1% of the average net wage in the city​.

Single ticket prices vary across cities, with Hobart being the most expensive at AUD 5.76 per ticket​​.

Fuel prices have also seen a significant rise. As of November 2023, the gasoline price in Australia is around 1.15 USD per litre, and the average retail petrol price in the second quarter of 2023 was 182.9 cents per litre​​ according to

Owning a car in Australia comes with its own set of expenses. The average annual cost, including purchase, fuel, maintenance, registration, insurance, and depreciation, is around AUD 23,213 in capital cities and AUD 19,510 in regional areas​​.

For economical commuting, consider using public transport where available, carpooling, and exploring fuel-efficient vehicles or electric cars as alternatives to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.

Cost of Living: Australia in the Global Context

When comparing the cost of living in Australia with other countries, especially for expatriates and students, Australia stands out for its relatively high expenses. As of 2023, Australia’s cost of living index is 75.4​​.

This index indicates that while Australia offers a high standard of living, it also comes with corresponding costs, including housing, utilities, transportation, and daily expenses.

In comparison, Australia’s cost of living index is higher than many other popular expatriate and student destinations.

This means that while Australia offers numerous opportunities and a high quality of life, it requires careful financial planning and budgeting, especially for those moving from countries with a lower cost of living.

Economic Policies and Personal Finance in Australia

Is Australia Cheap or Expensive?

The economic measures taken by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) have a profound impact on everyday Australians. The RBA’s cash rate hikes have resulted in increased home loan rates, directly affecting homeowners.

Now, borrowing has become more expensive, adding an additional layer of financial burden. On the flip side, these hikes have also led to an increase in savings account interest rates. Several accounts now offer more than 5% p.a. interest, a significant improvement from the 1.5% p.a. offered just over a year ago.

This dual impact of economic policies is a critical factor in understanding the cost dynamics of living in Australia.

FAQs on ‘Is Australia Cheap or Expensive?’

Is the UK or Australia more expensive?

Australia generally has higher living costs compared to the UK. However, it also offers higher living standards and salaries, along with an education system comparable to the UK’s.

Is London or Melbourne more expensive?

Melbourne is reported to be approximately 25% cheaper than London, making it a more affordable option.

Is Canada more expensive than Australia?

Living costs in Canada are generally lower than in Australia, making Canada a cheaper option for residents.

What are the cheapest places to live in Australia?

  • Adelaide: Known as Australia’s food and wine capital, Adelaide offers a mix of culture, events, entertainment, and cuisine.
  • Cairns: Located in northern Queensland, Cairns is about 2500 km north of Adelaide and offers a tropical lifestyle.
  • Sunshine Coast: Known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back atmosphere.
  • Geelong: A city with affordable living options and a growing economy.

What are some of the cheapest countries in the world to live in?

  • Philippines: Offers affordable living with a rich cultural experience.
  • Portugal: Known for its low cost of living in Europe, combined with a rich history and culture.
  • Vietnam: Renowned for its low living costs, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant culture.
  • South Africa: Offers affordable living with diverse cultural experiences and natural beauty.

(Note: These answers are based on general trends and comparisons, and actual costs can vary based on personal lifestyle and specific locations within each country.)

Soho is your expert team in Australian real estate, offering an innovative platform for effortless property searches. With deep insights into buying, renting, and market trends, we guide you to make informed decisions, whether it's your first home or exploring new suburbs.
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