Expats Tell Us What Their Cost of Living In Sydney Looks Like In 2024
Wondering what the cost of living in Sydney actually looks like? While there’s no denying Sydney is the most expensive Australian city, let us help you understand what the Sydney average cost of living looks like for expats, as told by our readers and in my experience too.
If you’re trying to calculate Australian bills and Sydney living expenses for when you move here, or if you’re wondering how to pay bills in general while being on a tight budget, we’ve broken it all down in this Sydney cost guide.
Is it expensive to live in Sydney?
It’s true when people say Sydney is so expensive, but how expensive is it when you actually live here? It’s probably no wonder Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia, and is currently the third most expensive city to live in the world behind Vancouver and Hong Kong.
When we moved back from Sydney to UK for six months, I was shocked to see that it actually seemed like it was more expensive to live in UK than it is in Australia. So I wrote all about the cost of living between Australia and UK if you fancy a read.
So we asked our Instagram followers how much their four estimated monthly costs and weekly costs are each month for living in Sydney and I tell you what, it was so fascinating to see what everyone said which we’ll share with you in this post.
Now, take this cost of living in Sydney guide with a pinch of salt because we’re going off what we pay and what our readers told us. Some people reading this might feel like they pay less or more, but we’re just sharing what we have learnt.
Average net salary in Sydney
I think it’s worth pointing out the average salary in Sydney to give you a starting point if you’re moving over from another country. While salaries can vary depending on industry, the average salary in Sydney is $80,000 according to Forbes.
As I said, this can vary a lot but if you’re looking for ways to save money, I highly recommend checking out our podcast episode with The Broke Generation. We chat all about how to save money, how to make extra money and how much it actually costs to live comfortably be an expat not only in Australia but anywhere in the world.
Monthly Rent in Sydney
As one of the most expensive cities in the world, housing actually isn’t the best in Sydney, unless you’re happy to pay a lot for it. All I can say is, say goodbye to double glazing or insulation, as it doesn’t exist when investing in costs for monthly rent in Sydney.
Monthly rent in Sydney can vary so much depending on what suburb you’re based in and more annoyingly rent is always calculated in a weekly amount. Check out our Where To Rent In Sydney guide which has tips for how to secure a rental as it can be difficult!
The Eastern Suburbs, beach suburbs in general and city centre (central business district) will be the most expensive suburbs to rent in, while the further out West you go, the cheaper it is. We found the Lower North Shore had better value for what you get considering the location and the cost of living crisis currently going on.
Sydney rent is more expensive than other cities, so you’ll get better value if you live in Melbourne or Brisbane for example.
What our readers said about their monthly rent costs in Sydney
We asked our Instagram followers how much they spend on a 1 bed flat and it turns out 34% pay between $500-$650 per week, while 31% pay between $700-$850 per week for their average rent.
Our followers said they pay between $800-$950 for a 2 bed apartment in Sydney currently.
For a three bed, 52% of our followers told us they spend under $1500 per week, although 34% told they spend between $1500-$1800 per week on rent.
How Much Do House Bills Cost In Sydney?
There’s not as many utility Australian bills to pay as there is in UK (many rent costs include water, and we don’t pay for a TV licence), but here’s the cost of living in Sydney for house bills.
Gas Bills In Sydney
While not every place in Sydney has gas because it’s a rarity to actually see any central heating over here, your monthly bills might be less than you think. Most of our followers told us they pay between $50 and $100 a month for gas.
Electricity Bills In Sydney
Electricity bills in Sydney can vary massively, especially if you have reversible aircon. Most of our readers pay around $150 a month for their electricity bill although it can go up to a monthly average cost of good $250 during the hot summer months.
One of our readers said they have been saving money to save an extra $200-$250 a month for the hot summer months and cold months because it can be freezing indoors during Winter due to the lack of quality built housing.
Water Bills In Sydney
As most rental properties in Australia don’t charge for water, but if do have to pay for it, our readers mentioned it’s around $100 a month.
Weekly Food Shop Costs in Sydney
One thing that will surprise many people is how expensive supermarkets are in Australia. We find Aldi is the cheapest Australian supermarket, followed by Coles and then Woolies. IGA is the most expensive that we’ve personally found.
The quality of Aldi fresh food and products are a million miles better than what they sell in the UK.
Steve and I shop mostly at the local farmers markets and we still spend around $150 a week on food each. We do spend around $30 a week on boxed spring water because we both suffer from terrible gut issues so our combined weekly shop is around $350 because we eat mostly all organic food and we don’t eat out. Pre-Covid, we used to spend about $200 a week on an Aldi shop.
What our readers said about food shop costs in Sydney
It turns out most of our readers spend around $150 each week on their food shops too. Make sure you let us know your food shopping hacks in the comments at the end of this post.
Many of our readers said they spend on average $100 per week as well on eating out. That would get you a decent meal at a restaurant and one or two glasses of wine.
Also, most of our followers don’t drink and if they did, they spend under $100 on alcohol each week. A 6 pack of craft beer costs around $25, and a decent bottle of wine is around $20.
Internet costs in Sydney
Let’s be honest, internet in Sydney isn’t the best. I swear when I drive over the border from Queensland into NSW, the internet just gets worse and worse by the time I reach Sydney. We pay about $100 for internet and it’s really good so we don’t have any problems.
What our readers said Most of our readers pay around $80 a month for internet in Sydney.
Mobile Phone Costs In Sydney
When looking at the cost of living in Sydney, make sure you check mobile phone plans, because they can vary loads. I must admit, I’ve never gone onto a mobile phone contract in the years I’ve been in Australia. For some reason, I’ve always stuck with a pre-paid plan instead and I pay $40 a month with Telstra.
What our readers said Most of our readers told us the average person their monthly costs for a phone is between $40-$80 a month. If you’re lucky, a phone plan might be included in your work contract.
Gym Membership Costs
Joining a gym is a standard thing that most people do when they move to Australia as the country seems to make you actually want to get fit in a good way. You can get away with skipping gym plan as you can do cardio outside and use the many outdoor gyms scattered around Sydney or any other city.
When I first moved to Sydney, I managed to get six months FREE! Do you know how I did it? I literally scoped out all of the gyms in Sydney CBD that offer free weekly passes and I managed to get six months worth for free just by going along to a different gym each week. Most gyms will offer either a three day free monthly pass, or a week free!
What our readers said Our readers said their estimated monthly costs are under $120 on gym classes and membership in Sydney.
We all know Australian TV isn’t the best and it’s what most expats complain about the most when living in paradise. The great news is you don’t need to pay for a TV licence in Australia like you do in UK! Netflix is obviously a given for every household these days so you’ll be looking at paying around $13 a month for it.
What our readers said It turns out many of our readers also pay around $80 a month for Foxtel – Australia’s version to Sky TV which has access to more British TV (not a lot though).
A lot of expats also pay for a VPN so you can watch British TV even though we do get a fair few British TV Shows on free to view Australian TV. VPNS can be anywhere from free up to $150 a year. This is definitely something I’ve been meaning to look into for ages now!
Public transport costs
When living in Sydney, your expenses can easily add up when you have to consider public transport costs. Most of our readers said they pay under $50 on public transport each week, but maybe that cost is down because of people working from home. It can be so easy to jump in a cab instead – with a cab costing around $60 from Sydney CBD to Bondi for example.
Car Insurance, Rego And Tolls
If you’re reading this post before you move to Sydney and you’re wondering whether you need a car, personally I have no idea what we would do otherwise.
Although I can’t speak for other major cities, in Sydney you would want to get public transport to work because car parks in the middle of Sydney CBD are beyond crazy expensive during the week, think $25 for 30 minutes, but actually cheap on the weekend ($20 for the whole day).
On the weekends, almost everyone drives everywhere because it tends to be much quicker to get around.
Also, to me, the best part about Sydney isn’t in the city itself, it’s the surrounding areas (although the city is beautiful).
What our readers said So there’s quite a few things to consider when it comes to getting around Sydney in particular.
Car rego tends to be around $800 a year, while insurance is around $70 a month (we pay that too with AAMI who have been excellent so far).
Then you have to factor in your drivers licence which costs $50 a year or you can buy it for three years or longer to make it cheaper. Our readers also mentioned they can pay up to $100 a month on tolls. Be careful with this because Sydney charges a fortune to drive around the CBD.
We recently got a new car and didn’t have an E Tag (which you’ll need when driving Sydney roads) and when we got the bill through for what was meant to be a $3.75 toll, they added on a $10 admin fee. We crossed like seven tolls during that weekend and as you can imagine, those small fees with a admin fee on top for every toll added up very fast.
You can get yourself an Opal Card when you arrive which is the equivalent to an Oyster Card to use on Sydney buses and trains. It is capped at $50 a week meaning you’ll never spend more than that when using Sydney transport during the week. But you can also use your bank card as well to swipe on the trains, buses or light rail in the city centre.
It’s also worth a mention on Sundays travel won’t cost more than $2.80 to anywhere in the Sydney area which also includes Blue Mountains and Newcastle which is amazing! So yeah public transport is really cheap in Australia. I still can’t believe I paid $1000 a month to travel to work when I lived back in UK.
Costs for children in Sydney
It’s kinda mad to think how much fees cost when you have kids in Australia. It’s been an eye opener to read what our readers had to say about how expensive it is just to afford to send a child to school here, especially when considering the cost of living in Sydney!
What our readers said Something that might not be mentioned very much on the internet is Australian school fees. It’s not the same as England where you have the choice to send you child to a state school or a private school.
In Australia you have to pay to send your kid to a state school. Expect to pay around $5,600 a year per child just to send them to school. One reader told us they spend $17,000 a year just to send their three kids to school.
Childcare fees are also expensive in Australia as one reader told us how they spend $180 a day on it, resulting in $3000 per month. This is something that catches a lot of expat out, because you won’t get government support on this until you get your PR. Another reader told us they have to save $1000 just for their kids activities for the year.
Health Insurance In Australia
You should be able to get yourself a Medicare card in Australia, but a lot of people take out health insurance unless your work includes it in your salary for tax purposes.
You’ll need to find a Bulk Bill Doctor which basically means a free doctor with your Medicare card. If you want to see a private doctor, they usually charge around $80 but you’ll get like nearly half of it back on your credit card when you present your Medicare card. It’s kinda weird and I’ve never understood why they charge the full amount and then reimburse the rest.
What our readers said Most people pay between $100-$200 a month for health insurance. One reader said they pay $180 a month for the most basic health care package purely because Medicare won’t pay for an ambulance if you need to call for one.
Having a dog can lead to expensive cost of living in Sydney. Most of our readers said they spend $250+ a month on their pet bills, food and insurance. To be honest, we spend $130 every quarter on getting our two dogs groomed, about $200 per month on dog food, $130 per month on dog insurance and about $40 per month on flee and tick prevention.
Beauty and make up costs
For those of us who spend money on make up, hair, beauty etc, the majority of our readers told us they spend under $100 a month. I shamefully spend $350 every seven weeks getting my hair cut and bleached. It’s the only thing I have kept up for my sanity.
Average monthly cost for living in Sydney
After giving you a loosely based picture on how much your bills will cost, here’s a summary so you can get a clearer idea.
1 bed rental
$500-650 per week
$630 per week (3 bed house, 1 office, 1 dining room, 2 bathrooms in Sunshine Coast)