How much should you spend on rent?

Learn how much of the average wage you need to spend on rent in each Australian capital city.

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How much money do Australians spend on rent? We've looked at average rents in major Australian cities, combined with average weekly salaries to work out what people spend on rent. Turns out, the average Australian living in a capital city spends between 20% and 32.5% of their weekly income on rent.

Check out each city in the table below, broken down by rents for units and houses. Or skip ahead for advice on minimising your rent expenses.

How much do Australians spend on rent?

StateMedian rentProperty typeAverage weekly salaryRent as percentage of salary
Sydney$550House$1,764.3031.12%
Sydney$470Unit$1,764.3026.63%
Melbourne$430House$1,750.7024.56%
Melbourne$365Unit$1,750.7020.84%
Brisbane$450House$1,646.7027.32%
Brisbane$400Unit$1,646.7024.29%
Canberra$630House$1,908.6033.00%
Canberra$500Unit$1,908.6026.19%
Adelaide$430House$1,569.9027.39%
Adelaide$350Unit$1,569.9022.29%
Perth$450House$1,879.7023.93%
Perth$380Unit$1,879.7020.21%
Hobart$495House$1,520.7032.55%
Hobart$400Unit$1,520.7026.30%
Darwin$593House$1,695.2034.98%
Darwin$450Unit$1,695.2026.54%

Sources: Domain Rental Report, ABS Average Weekly Earnings Report

Methodology and data

To create this analysis we looked at the average weekly rents for houses and units in each Australian capital city and then broke them down as a percentage of the average weekly salary.

Data for rental prices comes from Domain's June 2021 rental report. The average weekly salary figures come from the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics' Average Weekly Earnings (May 2021) report.

How much rent can I afford?

You need to do your own budget based on your income, lifestyle and expenses. Even with the average figures listed above, there is a lot of variation in cities depending on housing type and location.

As a general rule, minimising your rental costs is probably one of the biggest ways you can save money. If you're spending more than 30% of your income then you're definitely above the Australian average.

Based on the data above, if you wanted to save on rent you could:

  • Rent a unit. Units typically rent for less than houses on average, although you obviously live in a much smaller space.
  • Go regional. While there's a lot of variation between regional areas of Australia, if you can get out of the big cities you will undoubtedly find cheaper places to rent.
  • Share accomodation. Renting with someone else is a privacy trade-off, but will save you money on rent and utilities, too.

If you're looking to rent a place and you feel that the landlord is asking too much you could try negotiating a lower price. This can work if the property has been untenanted for a long time, or if you're willing to sign a longer lease.

Or, you may be in a position to buy a property instead of renting? With mortgage interest rates so low, mortgage repayments are likely to be cheaper than what you're paying in rent (use a loan repayment calculator and see for yourself). The biggest hurdle for many is saving a deposit, but there are grants, incentives and first home buyer discounts that can help.

Another option is rentvesting. This involves buying an investment property in a more affordable suburb and renting it out. Meanwhile, you continue renting in an area you enjoy living in. While not perfect, this strategy lets you build property wealth by buying in a cheaper area while living where you want to live.

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