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Cost of living comparison

A month’s rent is $1,280 cheaper in Hobart than Sydney. Find out how else the cost of living differs between states.

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 48.51% higher than the cost of Adelaide, which is the least priciest capital city.

Monthly rent in a 2 bedroom apartment* is likely to cost you around $671 more a month in Sydney than in Melbourne. That increases to $1,015 if you want to live in an expensive area. You can save a small amount when it comes to utilities, however. Gas, electricity and water are $23 cheaper a month in Sydney and broadband costs are around the same.

The cheapest major city for housing in Australia is Adelaide. Overall, it's 61.19% less expensive than in Sydney with rent being on average $1,338 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.

Note: The figures in this guide are based on the combined average of pricing found on 2 cost-of-living websites: Expatistan and Numbeo.

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 36% more expensive than in Melbourne
  • It's 45% more expensive than in Perth
  • It's 52% more expensive than in Hobart
  • It's 25% more expensive than in Brisbane
  • It's 48% more expensive than in Adelaide
*85 m2 apartment
Monthly rent for 85m2 furnished accommodation in an expensive area$3,526$2,511$2,239$2,680$2,118$2,210$2,355$2,985
Monthly rent for 85m2 furnished accommodation in a normal area$2,508$1,837$1,719$2,068$1,621$1,699$1,353$2,288
Utilities (1 month) for 2 people in 85m2 flat$226$249$342$319$339$262$300$323
Monthly rent for a 45m2 furnished studio in an expensive area$2,752$1,931$1,843$1,998$1,536$2,376$2,021$1,917
Monthly rent for a 45m2 furnished studio in a normal area$1,864$1,482$1,258$1,589$1,103$1,420$1,397$1,640
Utilities (1 month) for 1 person in a 45m2 studio$182$170$147$250$140$243$337$179
Internet 8 mbps (1 month)$74$75$73$80$76$81$81$79
40" flat screen TV$728$892$563$493$506$739$628$470
Microwave 800/900 watt$222$286$222$333$233$413$206$267
Laundry detergent (100 oz.)$13$12$11$14$9$10$11$11
Hourly rate for cleaning help$42$36$31$34$31$43$30$35

Food cost of living comparison

Canberra is the most expensive city for food in Australia. On average, it's 8% more expensive than Melbourne which comes in second place and 26% more expensive than Darwin, the least expensive capital for food costs.

Finder survey: Have life insurance premiums for Australians of different ages gone up in the last 12 months?

Response75+ yrs65-74 yrs55-64 yrs45-54 yrs35-44 yrs25-34 yrs18-24 yrs
I don't have life insurance82.76%69.14%54.65%48.7%39.59%33.49%47.42%
I don't know1.72%8.57%8.72%12.95%20.3%22.94%14.43%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1110 Australians, December 2023

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 Adelaide by almost double (48%) although you'll pay about the same for a taxi. There's just a 4c difference between fuel in Sydney and Melbourne but the same car, simply bought in different cities, is likely to cost you almost $2,000 more.

Darwin and Hobart are much cheaper, particularly when it comes to public transport. They're 68% and 58% cheaper than in Sydney. You can get around both cities via public transport for less than $100 a month, which puts Sydney's staggering $200 bill into perspective.

Cheapest cities for transport

  1. Darwin. The Northern Territory's capital is on average the cheapest major city in Australia when it comes to transport. It's 68% cheaper than in Sydney
  2. Hobart. Transportation in Hobart is 57% cheaper than in Sydney
  3. Adelaide. Coming in at just over the $100 mark, Adelaide is 48% cheaper than in Sydney.
  4. Canberra. Transport costs 25% less than in Sydney
  5. Perth. Transport costs 20% less than in Sydney
  6. Melbourne. Transport in Victoria's capital is about 18% less than in Sydney
  7. Brisbane. Transport is approximately 1% cheaper than Sydney.
  8. Sydney. Last by some distance, Sydney is the most expensive city for all types of transport.
New Volkswagen golf 1.4 tsi (or equivalent)$33,743$31,870$30,968$33,465$32,258$30,529$30,632$27,699
1 litre (1/4 gallon) of fuel$2.03$2.07$1.88$2.05$2.01$1.90$1.79$1.79
Monthly ticket public transport$200.20$164.00$160.00$197.35$103.25$86.2363.48$99.94
Taxi trip on a business day, 8 km$21$21$23$25$21$24$21$24

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 Darwin or Melbourne, and even more if you stayed in Adelaide or Hobart.

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

The cost of living in Sydney is22% more expensive than in Melbourne25% more expensive than in Perth1% more expensive than in Brisbane49% more expensive than in Adelaide21% more expensive than in Hobart41% more expensive than in Darwin13% more expensive than in Canberra
The cost of living in Melbourne is18% cheaper than in Sydney3% more expensive than in Perth8% cheaper than in Brisbane9% more expensive than in Adelaide12% more expensive than in Hobart16% more expensive than in Darwin8% cheaper than in Canberra
The cost of living in Perth is20% cheaper than in Sydney2% cheaper than in Melbourne14% cheaper than in Brisbane2% more expensive than in Adelaide4% more expensive than in Hobart15% cheaper than in Darwin9% cheaper than in Canberra
The cost of living in Brisbane is1% cheaper than in Sydney9% more expensive than in Melbourne16% more expensive than in Perth19% more expensive than in Adelaide21% more expensive than in Hobart15% more expensive than in Darwin8% cheaper than in Canberra
The cost of living in Adelaide is33% cheaper than in Sydney8% cheaper than in Melbourne2% cheaper than in Perth16% cheaper than in Brisbane2% more expensive than in Hobart13% cheaper than in Darwin24% cheaper than in Canberra
The cost of living in Hobart is34% cheaper than in Sydney10% cheaper than in Melbourne4% cheaper than in Perth18% cheaper than in Brisbane2% cheaper than in Adelaide12% more expensive than in Darwin25% cheaper than in Canberra
The cost of living in Darwin is29% cheaper than in Sydney14% cheaper than in Melbourne13% cheaper than in Perth13% cheaper than in Brisbane11% cheaper than in Adelaide11% cheaper than in Hobart21% cheaper than in Canberra
The cost of living in Canberra is12% cheaper than in Sydney8% more expensive than in Melbourne10% more expensive than in Perth9% more expensive than in Brisbane31% more expensive than in Adelaide34% more expensive than in Hobart26% more expensive Darwin
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Did you know?
Finder research has found 11 million Australians are taking action to deal with rising costs, including 48% who have dropped their living standards.

How to fight the increasing cost of living

Income protection

Protect your income

With inflation on the rise and uncertainty in the economy, it's important to protect you recurring income. Income protection insurance can provide you with a monthly benefit as high as $30k if an injury or sickness were to prevent you from working at a point in time.

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Understand where exactly your money is going first, and then adjust your budget slightly

Figure out how much your everyday essentials such as groceries and bills are costing you, and how much you spend on extra things like eating out, entertainment purchases, and holidays/travel spending. Budgeting apps like the Finder app can help you do this, by letting you see all your money in one place. Once you have a rough idea of your spending habits, you can then figure out where there's room to cut back.

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Be smart with your groceries

Making a few changes to how you do your usual grocery shopping can help you save a decent amount each week. Here's some of them:

  • Buy frozen veggies as a cheaper alternative to fresh ones, plus they won't go to waste!
  • Embrace canned foods like beans, tuna and tomatoes. These ingredients are a great base for soups, stews, and pastas, as are rice and grains.
  • Buy dried foods in bulk, as it can be cheaper. Supermarkets usually have discounted tinned goods, so it's worth stocking up your pantry with these when the special offers are on, compared to buying bit by bit over time at full price.
  • Check out grocery comparison apps like Frugl to compare the cost of products between different supermarkets.

Invest some of your spare cash

If you have some extra cash laying around that isn't going towards bills, you can make your money grow even more.

  • If you haven't already, consider switching your existing savings account to a bonus interest savings account. It pays extra interest than other savings accounts, if you meet certain criteria.
  • Invest in other assets like shares or cryptocurrency. You can earn a higher return on your capital, but this can come with additional risk.

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