Australia is a lucky country. Not only due to abundant resources (Uranium & Mineral in particular), true multi cultural living, its blessed isolation but also for many other things. This has been a good attraction for people all around the world wanting to call Australia home. Sydney as the biggest city in Australia, is one of the first who fell the direct impact of that attraction. The effect of course mostly good, but some negative effect unfortunately need to be faced head on.

One of the negative effect if the living cost is relatively very high compare to other city in Australia. Although Sydney is still in top cities in the world to live in (rank 10 according to 2009 Mercer Quality of Living Survey), there are significant price that you need to pay to call yourself “Sydneysider”.

[Beautiful Sydney Harbour]

Beautiful Sydney Harbour

There are usually 3 commons way to start living in Sydney: you come to Sydney as student, then decide to live on – you come on business visa to work and live during your contract -or- you just got your permanent residency granted from overseas and wants to migrate (Lately, many come illegally with boat from the sea – don’t do this !! you will suffer) . But let’s differentiate your living in Sydney as bachelor, couple without child, and family with child within this article.

Note: all cost will be calculated to yearly figure (1 year = 52 weeks) then all converted to monthly figure.

The Biggest Continuing Living Cost: Accommodation

As bachelor (student included), you cheapest alternative is to “share accommodation” with other bachelor/family. This usually a bedroom for yourself and share everything else (share kitchen, share lounge room, share bedroom – if your bedroom is not equipped with bedroom) – all electricity gas and internet broadband usually included in the weekly rent.

A share accommodation near university or city will cost you on average about $300 per week (highly depended on all the “perks” included).

As couple with or without family, the cheapest accommodation arrangement is to rent 1 bedroom unit (“unit” means “apartment”) or 2 bedrooms unit. In Sydney, the common rental market will be “unfurnished” property – meaning the unit will be rented without furniture. The one usually included in the rental are: kitchen cupboard and stove, dryer, dishwasher(not always) and washing machine (sometimes) only. The rest, you need to buy for yourself and move it along with you as you move to new address. The contract is minimum 6 months (you cannot break the contract unless you pay the whole period or find replacement) – but usually 12 month is the norm.

A decent 2 bedroom units around 30 minutes drive from city cost you on average about $400 per week.

Fully furnished apartment is not common and if there is, usually you will pay premium – beside the hassle that you will be liable if you damaged the furniture.

One bedroom apartment is relatively cheaper than 2 bedroom, but they are harder to find, hence the difference with 2 bedroom usually only $20 – $30 per week which make you consider the 2 bedrooms unit more spacious and has more value for your money.

Renting a free standing house is generally will be around $150 per week more expensive compare to unit. But you have your own backyard/frontyard, can have pet (dog, cat), better lifestyle (you can have BBQ every week with friends), etc

To rent a property you will need to go to a real estate agent (exist almost in every corner of business center), fil some forms and provide 4 – 6 weeks rental as deposit/security or “bond money“. Some reference check and official ID. The payment is weekly or fortnightly in advance.

Buying an apartment/unit for migrant will be a more difficult unless you have the money to buy it outright or just borrow small portion of the money. Currently, thanks to the Global Financial Crisis, you will need roughly 25% of the price to cover for deposit and cost. Meaning, a $400,000 2-bedroom units, you need to have $100,000 cash in a bank and borrow the rest. Then you need to show proof of income (Australia’s employer), proof of saving, credit history, etc. And you need to be permanent resident or citizan. Otherwise your purchase need to be approved by FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board) – means: more cost and paperwork.

For more detail estimate of your particular area/suburb, you can start with http://www.domain.com.au/ or http://www.realestate.com.au/

Utility Bill: Water, Gas, Electricity

If you rent a property, the water bill is paid by landlord (so you don’t pay water bill) – but you still need to pay electricity and gas. Some older unit don’t have gas service which will be a disadvantage as gas is cheaper than electricity. Mainly during winter where you need to have heater. Gas heater will have significantly lower running cost compare to electric heater. The same applies to stove for cooking. Choose unit with gas if possible.

Gas and Electricity are billed per quarter (every 3 months). For gas it would be about $100 per quarter (depends really on usage) and For electricity is around $300 per quarter.

For more detail about Electricity and Gas you can start with AGL., Energy Australia or Integral Energy.

So here is the comparison so far:

Bachelor Couple With No Child Family with 2 kids

Accommodation Share Accommodation 1 Bedroom Apartment 2 Bedrooms Unit
Weekly Rent $300.00 $380.00 $400.00
Yearly Cost $15,600.00 $19,760.00 $20,800.00

Utility Bill
Water included not paying not paying
Electricity quarterly included $250.00 $300.00
Gas quarterly included $80.00 $100.00
Yearly Cost $0.00 $1,320.00 $1,600.00

Accommodation & Utility p.a $15,600.00 $21,080.00 $22,400.00
Monthly Cost $1,300.00 $1,756.67 $1,866.67

First Capital Expenditure

Now that you have a place to live, then you need to look at one off capital expenditure that you need to buy.

First of all will be furniture: bed, dining table, some chairs, study table, cupboard and sofa. That’s basic item that you need to have. For 2 bedroom apartments, you can fill out your empty units with as low as around $2000 (check out Fantastic Furniture home starter package) but the quality will not the very best. You can buy more decent basic furniture for about $5000 for 2 bedrooms.
(At UK you can check and get a lot of home furniture at connecthome.co.uk: Shop online for a wide selection of home and office furniture, kitchen appliances and gadgets at low internet prices and fast home delivery service – connecthome.co.uk)

Next to furniture is some electronic basic item that you will definitely need them: TV, Fridge, Vacuum Cleaner and some kitchen goodies.

The other item that really important considering Sydney is a very big place and the public transport – although much cheaper than last year now – thanks to new myzone ticketing system – is still not up to scratch. Having a family car is not a luxury in Sydney – perhaps more a necessity. To see more detail about having a car in Sydney, read: Sydney Living Cost 2010: Car Ownership Expenses

Bachelor Couple With No Child Family with 2 kids

Accommodation Share Accomodation 1 Bedroom Apartment 2 Bedrooms Unit
Capital Expenditure
Furniture no need $4,000 $5,000
Microwave shared $100 $100
TV shared $500 $500
Toaster/Kettle/etc shared $100 $100
Refrigenerator shared $700 $700
Vacuum Cleaner shared $150 $150
Car no car $7,000 $7,000

Total $0 $12,550 $13,550

Food & Groceries

If you cook most of your meal by yourself (or your spouse), then family of four (with 2 school kids) will need at least around $500 monthly. Dine out will cost you around $10 – $15 per person. More fancy restaurant can cost you around $25-35 per person. So, with 2 dine out a month you need to spare at least $100 extra.

In Australia, although duo-poly from the 2 major supermarkets: Woolworth and Coles Supermarket still a dominant factor, many smaller player especially Aldi (soon: Costco) have already giving consumer much cheaper grocery prices.

Transportation Cost

If you have a car , the cost of transport is roughly around $6000 per year – see Sydney Living Cost 2010: Car Ownership Expenses – The public transport has been quite overhauled for the last 3 month or so – now with around $48 per week (or around $2000 per year) per person, you can basically do unlimited travel around Sydney metropolitan area. See MyZone ticketing system. Of course it could be cheaper depending on the method of transport and area that you want to travel.

For this article, I assume within a family a parent will drive a car and the other one use public transport.

Transportation Cost p.a Bachelor Couple With No Child Family with 2 kids
Public transport $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Car $6,000 $6,000
Monthly Cost $167 $667 $667

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