How expensive is living in Australia?

Beyond the price of buying property, we look at how expensive life in Australia is compared to other countries.

You’re probably aware of the issues surrounding housing affordability in Australia, with several major Australian cities ranked as ‘severely unaffordable’ when it comes to buying a property.

But how do we fare compared to other countries when it comes to the cost of other goods and services?


The most expensive place on the globe to rent an average two-bedroom apartment is San Francisco, with Hong Kong, New York, London and Zurich completing the top five. Sydney is the 9th most expensive, with Melbourne ranking 14th.1

Public transport

London is the most expensive city in the world to travel by public transport, with a monthly public transport ticket costing an average of US$174. Sydney came in 7th at US$108.40, and with a monthly ticket in Melbourne averaging US$105.50, it ranked 9th.2

New mid-sized car

Cars are relatively cheap in Australia, with the cost of a new mid-sized car in Sydney (US$22,452) ranking 35th in the world and Melbourne (US$21,481) 38th. The most expensive place to buy a car is Singapore, with a mid-sized car costing a whopping US$90,486.3

Dinner at the pub

A pub meal for two costs an eye-watering US$73.70 on average in table-topper Zurich, making the US$38.70 you’ll spend in Melbourne seem cheap, with Melbourne ranked 19th and Sydney even cheaper, though only slightly, in 21st place.4

Alcohol and cigarettes

It’s relatively expensive to have bad habits in Australia, with Melbourne ranking 2nd and Sydney the 4th most expensive place to buy five beers and two packets of cigarettes. Norwegian capital Oslo ranked most expensive, with Auckland splitting the two Australian cities.5

iPhone 7

As the home of Apple, perhaps it’s no surprise that the US is the cheapest country to buy an iPhone 7, with an average price of US$815. In Australia, an iPhone 7 will set you back an average of US$926, making it the 22nd most expensive place to buy one.6

Movie ticket 

It’s pretty expensive to go and see a movie in Australia – you’ll only be charged more for a movie ticket in Zurich, Tokyo, and New York than in Sydney. Melbourne’s not far behind, ranking the 6th most expensive place to catch a flick.7

What about our incomes?

Whether things seem cheap or expensive is all relative to how much we earn. On this measure, Australians fare pretty well, with average incomes (after tax) in Sydney ranking 6th highest globally, closely followed by Melbourne in 7th place. Residents of Zurich earn the most, followed by the US cities of San Francisco, Boston, New York and Chicago.8

Some ways to get ahead

If you find living in Australia expensive, there are some things you can do to ease the pressure.

Set a budget, and stick to it – if you’re an AMP customer you can track your spending using the Money Manager function in My AMP. If you’d like to claw back some extra cash, our money leaks article can help you, too.

And to manage your money better, try the AMP Bett3r Account: a smart, 3-in-1 bank account which can help you allocate money to cover your expenses, as well as set aside money to save towards your goals.

If you need professional help with your finances, you may want to speak with your adviser. If you don’t have an adviser, call us on 131 267 or use our find an adviser tool to locate one near you.

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Any advice in this page is general in nature and is provided by AMP Life Limited ABN 84 079 300 379 (AMP Life). The advice does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of this advice having regard to those matters. AMP Bett3r Account is issued by AMP Bank Limited ABN 15 081 596 009, AFSL 234517. Consider the terms and conditions available on request by calling 13 30 30 or at and whether this product is appropriate for you. Fees and charges apply.

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