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Cost of living in Australia

cost-livingAustralia is one of the most expensive countries in the world to live. The capital cities in Australia are consistently ranked among the top 20 most expensive cities in the world. An interesting way to look at the cost of living in Australia is The Economist magazine’s Big Mac Index which compares the price of the McDonald’s burger in America to other countries. According to the index, the Australian dollar is 18 per cent overvalued.

Australia’s high standard of living

Australia has one of the highest standards of living in the world. A 2012 report by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM)  showed that disposable incomes in Australia had risen 20 per cent more than inflation since 1984.

Australia escaped the worst of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), thanks largely to an increase in mineral commodity prices and the Chinese demand for those resources, and has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world. As at July 2012, Australia’s unemployment stood at 5.2 per cent compared to 8.2 per cent in the US and 11.1 per cent in the European Union. Inflation is also low, in fact the lowest it has been in a decade, and the forecasts for future economic growth are also positive.

Food prices in Australia

Some food items will be cheaper in Australia than your country of origin, while others will be more expensive. Prices, especially for fruit and vegetables, also very according to season.

Here are the approximate prices of some common food items in Australia:

  • Milk (1 litre) – $2.50-$3.00
  • Cup of coffee – $2.50-$4.00
  • Loaf of bread – $2.50-$4.50
  • 285ml glass of beer – $3.50-$4.50
  • 375ml can of soft drink – $1.50-$2.20
  • 250gm block of butter – $2.00-$3.00
  • Eggs (1 dozen) – $4.50-$6.50
  • Sugar (1kg) – $1.50-$2.50
  • White rice (1kg) – $2.50-$3.50
  • Minced beef (1kg) – $7.00-$10.00


petrol-costPetrol in Australia is cheaper than in Europe but more expensive than in North America and Asia.

The major brands are Shell/Coles Express, BP, Caltex, and Mobil. There are also quite a few independent operators who sell fuel at discount prices, however, not all of them offer high-octane petrol.

The WA government has created the FuelWatch website, which allows motorists to search for the cheapest petrol in their area.


Internet speeds are much slower in Australia than in many other developed countries. Contracts are also generally more expensive. However, the Federal Government is currently rolling out a high-speed network, called the NBN (National Broadband Network), at a projected cost of $50 billion.


Electricity prices in Australian have risen considerably in the past few years and are expected to continue to increase for some time yet. The price rises have been attributed to power companies’ outdated infrastructure (e.g. cables, transformers), which has to be replaced or upgraded.

Electricity prices rose 8.4 per cent over the 2011/2012 financial year. A number of online comparison tools are available to help you find the cheapest contract.


One of the best ways to managing money is having a budget, this way you know where your money is coming from and where it is going. Our partner ANZ has tools and information to help you develop a budget. There is even a tool that automatically tracks your spending across various categories, find our more.

Real Estate

Although some areas, such as beachside suburbs in Sydney, are still very overpriced, the general level of housing affordability in Australia is very slowly improving.

According to Australian Property Monitors the median houses prices in Australian capital cities in the March 2012 quarter were:

This information is coming soon…