Cost of living comparison

A month’s rent is $2,195 cheaper in Hobart than Sydney. Find out how else the cost of living differs between states.

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Ever wondered how much money you could save by living in a different city to the one you're currently in? We've broken down the main costs of living in the major cities across Australia, from housing and food to transport, and provided estimates of how much you're likely to pay.

Housing cost of living comparison

The most expensive place for housing in Australia is Sydney. Including utilities, it's almost double (47%) the cost of Melbourne, which is the second priciest city. Monthly rent in a 2 bedroom apartment* is likely to cost you around $650 more a month in Sydney than in Melbourne. That increases to $1,613 if you want to live in an expensive area. Utilities, including your gas, electricity and water, are $138 more expensive a month and even Internet is on average $26 cheaper in Melbourne.

The cheapest major city for housing in Australia is Adelaide. Overall, it's 60% less expensive than in Sydney with rent being on average $1,149 cheaper a month. Almost all of the money you save is down to cheap rent though because utilities, Internet and other household goods in Adelaide are among the most expensive in Australia.

Most expensive cities for housing

The most expensive major city for housing and utilities is Sydney. To give you a comparison of how much more it is, check out how it compares to the other big cities in Australia:

  • It's 47% more expensive than in Melbourne
  • It's 50% more expensive than in Perth
  • It's 53% more expensive than in Hobart
  • It's 58% more expensive than in Brisbane
  • It's 60% more expensive than in Adelaide
*85 m2 apartment

SydneyMelbournePerthBrisbaneAdelaideHobart
Monthly rent for 85m2 furnished accommodation in an expensive area$4,430$2,817$3,018$2,235$2,498$2,235
Monthly rent for 85m2 furnished accommodation in a normal area$2,794$2,147$1,658$1,759$1,645$1,684
Utilities (1 month) for 2 people in 85m2 flat$350$242$213$191$247$176
Monthly rent for a 45m2 furnished studio in an expensive area$2,647$1,809$1,670$1,733$1,426$1,932
Monthly rent for a 45m2 furnished studio in a normal area$1,873$1,422$1,279$1,568$1,060$1,253
Utilities (1 month) for 1 person in a 45m2 studio$297$159$108$129$171$215
Internet 8 mbps (1 month)$70$44$61$57$64$65
40” flat screen TV$554$347$510$635$666$639
Microwave 800/900 watt$195$239$188$224$228$214
Laundry detergent (100 oz.)$20$8$10$13$9$13
Hourly rate for cleaning help$36$28$27$28$26$26

Food cost of living comparison

Brisbane is the most expensive city for food in Australia. On average, it's 10% more expensive than Sydney and Melbourne, and 4% more expensive than Perth, which comes in second place. With that being said, the price of food across the country doesn't vary anywhere near as much as housing and rental prices. In most cities, there's very little difference overall. For example, there's a 22c difference between the most expensive city for milk (Sydney) and the cheapest (Hobart).

Most expensive cities for food

Here's a ranked list of the most expensive major cities for food.

  • Brisbane. Food is around 10% more expensive in Brisbane than in other major cities
  • Perth. Food in Perth is 4% cheaper than in Brisbane.
  • Hobart. Food in Hobart is 7% cheaper than in Brisbane.
  • Sydney/Melbourne. Food in Sydney and Melbourne costs around the same and is 10% cheaper than in Brisbane.
  • Adelaide. Food in Adelaide is 11% cheaper than in Brisbane.
MelbournePerthBrisbaneAdelaideHobart
Basic lunch (including drink) in the business district$18$19$21$18$21
500 g of boneless chicken breast$5.27$7$6$4.76$5.31
1 litre of milk$1.47$1.37$1.35$1.47$1.29
12 large eggs$5.03$5.85$7$4.84$4.98
1 kg of tomatoes$4.84$5.21$5.56$4.63$5.92
0.5 litre domestic beer in the supermarket$5.85$5.63$5.80$5.46$5.51
Bread for 2 people for 1 day$2.67$2.44$2.27$2.67$2.34

Transport cost of living comparison

Sydney is also the most expensive city for transport. Public transport in the country's most populated city is more expensive than in Melbourne by nearly a third (31%) and you'll pay about 17% more for a taxi. There's only a 2c difference between fuel in Sydney and Melbourne but the same car, simply bought in different cities, is likely to cost you over $1,000 more.

Brisbane and Hobart are much cheaper, particularly when it comes to public transport. They're 125% and 162% cheaper than in Sydney. You can get around both cities via public transport for less than $100 a month, which puts Sydney's staggering $211 bill into perspective.

Cheapest cities for transport

  1. Hobart. Tasmania's capital is on average the cheapest major city in Australia when it comes to transport. It's on average half the price of Sydney.
  2. Brisbane. Transport is approximately 42% cheaper than Sydney.
  3. Adelaide. Transport costs 37% less than in Sydney.
  4. Perth. Transportation costs are on average 27% cheaper than in Sydney and 9% less than in Melbourne.
  5. Melbourne. Transport in Victoria's capital is about 20% less than in Sydney.
  6. Sydney. Last by quite a long way, Sydney is the most expensive city for all types of transport
SydneyMelbournePerthBrisbaneAdelaideHobart
New Volkswagen golf 1.4 tsi (or equivalent)$28,543$27,230$31,651$30,863$28,162$25,789
1 litre (1/4 gallon) of fuel$1.43$1.41$1.33$1.43$1.41$1.46
Monthly ticket public transport$211$161$139$94$113$81
Taxi trip on a business day, 8 km$25$21$19$28$22$21

Overall cost of living comparison

The table below gives you an idea of the differences between the overall costs of living in Australia's state capital cities. Sydney is still the most expensive city in Australia — you'll pay around a quarter more for living expenses in Sydney than if you lived in Melbourne or Perth, and even more if you stayed in Brisbane, Adelaide or Hobart.

The overall costs of living in Melbourne and Perth are very similar. According to the stats, Hobart is marginally the cheapest capital city to live in, followed closely by Adelaide.

The cost of living in Sydney is26% more expensive than in Melbourne25% more expensive than in Perth32% more expensive than in Brisbane37% more expensive than in Adelaide39% more expensive than in Hobart
The cost of living in Melbourne is21% cheaper than in SydneyAbout the same as in Perth5% more expensive than in Brisbane9% more expensive than in Adelaide10% more expensive than in Hobart
The cost of living in Perth is20% cheaper than in SydneyAbout the same as in Melbourne6% more expensive than in Brisbane10% more expensive than in Adelaide11% more expensive than in Hobart
The cost of living in Brisbane is24% cheaper than in Sydney5% cheaper than in Melbourne5% cheaper than in PerthAbout the same as in Adelaide5% more expensive than in Hobart
The cost of living in Adelaide is27% cheaper than in Sydney8% cheaper than in MelbourneAbout the same as in Brisbane9% cheaper than in PerthAbout the same as in Hobart
The cost of living in Hobart is28% cheaper than in Sydney9% cheaper than in Melbourne5% cheaper than in BrisbaneAbout the same as in Adelaide10% cheaper than in Perth

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