Cost of Living in Australia for a Family

Australia attracts expats from all over the world due to its diverse culture, availability of job opportunities, and natural landscapes. If you’re considering a move to Australia, one of the steps is learning about the cost of living.

For a family of four to live comfortably in Australia, they’ll need approximately AU$6,840 a month. A couple with one child will need AU$5,200 while a family of two can live comfortably with AU$4,200 per month. 

The cost of living per family will depend on your spending habits and which part of Australia you live in. This article covers everything you need to know about the cost of living in Australia. Read on to find out the cheapest places you can settle in. Also, read our guide on cost of living in Sydney.

Average monthly expenses for a family in Australia

Australia ranks among the world’s most expensive countries to live in. The average monthly expenses in the country are higher than that of the US. Below we look at the average monthly expenses to guide you in estimating your family’s budget.

Housing

Rental costs in Australia are on the rise due to increased demand. The average amount you’ll spend on rent in Australia depends on location, size, and the property’s condition.

The average monthly rent for a family house in the different Australian cities is as follows:

CityAverage monthly rent (AU$)
Canberra 3,120
Sydney 2,817
Darwin 2,687
Brisbane & Hobart2,383
Perth 2,167
Adelaide 2,080
Melbourne 2,037

Canberra has the highest housing costs in the country, followed by Sydney. If you want to pay less, consider settling in cities like Adelaide a d Melbourne.

Utilities

This includes the cost of water, electricity, and gas. Some landlords include this bill in the monthly rent, which means your rent will be higher.

The average price of water in Australia is AU$91 monthly. A family of two will spend an average of AU$274 on utilities each month. If you have a big family of four, you’ll spend an average of AU$378 monthly. 

Food and groceries

The average monthly cost you’ll spend on food and groceries depend on your family’s size and eating habits. This cost will also vary based on the part of Australia you live in, with the urban and city center areas being more expensive than the less populated regions out of the city centers.

The average cost of food and groceries for a family of two is AU$584 per month. If you’re a couple with two children, you’ll spend a monthly average of AU$724.

Transport

Public transport is the most common form of transportation in Australia. The cost depends on the distance traveled and the means of public transport which includes trains, buses, or metro. 

You’ll spend an average of AU$300 for a monthly pass as a couple on public transport. If you live in Canberra, you’ll pay an average of AU$250 because the city provides affordable public transportation.

It’s important to note that public transport in Australia provides free travel and discounts for children and seniors, which means you’ll spend less or none on them. 

Health insurance 

The government of Australia offers free public health through Medicare. However, it doesn’t cover all costs including dental treatments, physiotherapy, and ambulance services. For this reason, most people prefer private health insurance.

The cost of private health insurance varies with the coverage you choose and your location. On average, you’ll pay AU$166 per month. You’ll pay less if you live in the Northern Territory.

For expats in Australia, we recommend health insurance from Cigna Global.

Home internet

Most Australians use the National Broadband Network (NBN) which the federal government rolled out. Although different providers have varying home internet prices according to speed, the average monthly cost is almost similar across households.

For a family, an NBN 50/20 is a good option because it supports multiple devices at a time. The average cost ranges between AU$70 and AU$95 based on your provider of choice.

Let’s look at the total monthly expenses you’re likely to pay as a family per month. If you’re a family of two, your average monthly expenses will look as follows:

ExpenseAverage monthly cost (AU$)
Rent 2,300 for a two-bedroomed house
Utilities 274
Food and groceries 584
Public Transport 300
Health insurance 166
Home internet 70

For a family of four, below are the average monthly expenses:

ExpenseAverage monthly cost (AU$)
Rent 3,200 for a three-bedroom house
Utilities 378
Food & groceries 724
Public transport 300
Health insurance 166
Home internet 95

Cost of living in Australia for a family of 4

The cost of living in Australia for a family of four varies depending on location and lifestyle. It’s higher if you live in city centers than out of the city centers. 

On average, the cost of living for a family of four in Australia is AU$3,480 exclusive of housing. If you’re renting, the price will depend on which area you settle in. Housing costs contribute more to the cost of living in Australia because of the 12% rise this year. 

If you’re a couple with two children of one gender, you’ll need a two-bedroomed house. A family with a bit and a girl will need a three-bedroom house. The cost, however, will depend on the location. Below is a breakdown of the monthly rental prices for two and three-bedroom houses in different Australian cities.

CityTwo bedroom monthly rent (AU$)Three bedroom monthly rent (AU$)
Canberra 2,9664,500
Perth 2,0003,050
Brisbane 2,2503,300
Adelaide 1,2501,604
Sydney 2,7803,800
Brisbane 2,6003,560

Note that the rental prices per city will still vary depending on the suburb. The leafy, modern neighborhoods are more costly.

To buy an apartment, you’ll spend AU$8,033.60 and AU$5,494.45 per square meter in the city centers and outskirts, respectively.

Other than housing, you’ll need to cater for utilities. This includes the cost of water, gas, electricity, garbage collection, and internet. The cost of utilities for a big household in the different Australian cities is as follows:

  • Adelaide – AU$252.52
  • Perth – AU$201.63
  • Canberra – AU$201.34
  • Hobart – AU$175
  • Brisbane – AU$178.63
  • Melbourne – AU$197.11
  • Darwin – AU$304.66

Food and groceries will cost you about AU$800 monthly. This covers purchases like meat, milk, eggs, bread, fish, fruits, and cereal that you can get from supermarkets and produce markets. Eating out as a family of four will cost you between AU$80 and AU$160 per meal.

As a family of four, public transport is an affordable means. It relies on trains, ferries, and buses. You can pay for a monthly pass at AU$150 per person. Alternatively, you can buy a bike and enjoy the ease of maneuvering through the cities’ streets.

If you own a car, you’ll spend more on transport as fuel prices are on the rise. Currently, it costs AU$1.736 per liter and there are additional costs of repair, maintenance, and insurance.

Cheapest cities to live as a family in Australia

The cost of living in the popular Australian cities like Melbourne and Sydney is high. Below we look at the cheapest places you can live in Australia as a family.

1. Adelaide

Adelaide is ranked among Australia’s affordable cities. Its transport and housing costs are 14% cheaper when compared to major cities. The average cost of living in Adelaide is AU$3,035 for a family of 3 and AU$3,885 for a four-member household.

Adelaide provides affordable housing, but the costs are more expensive in the city center than in the outer suburbs. The average price of renting a house in Adelaide is  s follows:

House typeMonthly rent in Inner city (AU$)Monthly rent in the city outskirts (AU$)
1-bedroom apartment1,6041,211
3-bedroom apartment2,5721,797

Buying a house in the city center costs AU$3,940 and AU$1,858 per square meter. If you take a mortgage, you’ll pay an interest rate of 2.98% for 20 years. 

Other than housing, there are other expenses you’ll incur. The average costs of these expenses are as follows:

ExpenseAverage monthly cost (AU$)
Utility bill (water, electricity, and garbage collection)287.52 per square meter
Internet (unlimited 60Mbps)73.77
Phone data0.44
Health insurance166
Transportation:
One way ticket for a family    
28-day ticket

16
420

2. Cairns

Located in Queensland, Cairns provides an affordable cost of living. The cost of living in the city is AU$2,125 per month, much lower than that of bigger cities. Since the city’s average monthly net salary is AU$2,739, you can comfortably meet the cost of living.

Below is the average cost of expenses in Cairns for a family:

ExpenseAverage monthly costs (AU$)
Rent:
One bedroom in city center 
One bedroom outside the city center
Three bedroom in city center
Three bedroom in the city outskirts

861
671
1,465
1,138
Utilities – Electricity, water, and garbage158
Prepaid mobile tariff0.42
Unlimited 60 Mbps internet62
Food and groceries450
Transportation – Monthly pass159

The cost of buying an apartment in Cairns is AU$3,352.17 and AU$1,755.27 in the city center and outside of the city center, respectively. For childcare, you’ll pay AU$1,425.33 monthly for preschool and kindergarten.

3. Geelong

If you want to live in an affordable city with a small population in Australia, Geelong is the place for you. Its cost of living is AU$1,993 per month. With an average monthly salary of AU$2,588, you can meet the city’s cost of living.

The average monthly rent in Geelong is AU$1,287. Below is the monthly rent for different family houses in the city: 

House typeCity center (AU$)Outside the city center (AU$)
One-bedroom apartment990725
Three-bedroom apartment1,705919

To buy a house, you’ll spend an average of AU$6,336.57 and AU$4,864.49 per square meter in the city center and outskirts, respectively. Preschool and kindergarten costs AU$897.48 per month.

The monthly average costs of other expenses in Geelong are as follows:

  • Utilities (water, electricity, and garbage collection) – AU$153
  • Prepaid monthly tariff per minute – AU$0.15
  • 60 Mbps prepaid internet – AU$53
  • Public transport (monthly pass) – AU$156

How much money does a family need to live comfortably in Australia?

Australia ranks among the most expensive countries to live in the world. The cost of living in Australia depends on the type of household, your spending habits, and which part of the country you live in. On average:

  • A couple with two children will need about AU$6,840 to live comfortably in Australia.
  • A couple with one child needs an average of AU$5,200 per month to live a decent life in Australia.

To meet the cost of living in Brussels, you need to earn above the average which is AU$4,118 a month. This means that to live comfortably, you need to earn between AU$62,400 and AU$84,000 annually after tax. 

Read more about salaries in Australia.

Example of a good salary in Australia

  • Annual salary after tax – AU$78,000
  • Monthly net salary – AU$6,500

With this amount, you can live comfortably in Australia as a family. Below is a breakdown of how your life will be like with this amount in the country.

  • Rent: AU$3,000 for a three-bedroom house
  • Food and groceries: AU$800
  • Utilities: AU$300
  • Health insurance: AU$200
  • Transportation: AU$400

The total fixed costs amount to AU$4,700 which leaves you with AU$1,800 to share between disposable income and savings. This amount can comfortably sustain a big household of four members. 

If you’re a family of three, you can live in a two-bedroom house which costs an average of AU$2,300 per month. This will leave you with AU$2,500 after paying all monthly expenses. This means you can save more for a car or a home.

Anna

Anna is an experienced expat and writer. She has been living abroad for over 6 years.

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