With its multicultural community, popular destinations and laid back culture, it is no wonder the expat population in Down Under has grown across all states and age groups, from young travellers to mature retirees. But let’s be honest. Australia is no doubt an expensive country to live in. According to Numbeo 2021, Australia was, in fact, ranked amongst the top 14 most expensive nations in the world.
Despite the high cost of living in Australia, there are cities offering affordable lifestyles. For instance, Adelaide has been ranked the cheapest city to live in Australia, with the most affordable rent and property estate prices, low cost of living as well as decent job opportunities – provided you are not picky.
Whether you’re a student on a budget, an expat looking for job opportunities or a retiree seeking for a different and affordable lifestyle, check out which places might just suit you the best below!
Cheapest city to live in Australia: Adelaide
If you’re looking for just the cheapest city to live in Australia, regardless of whether you’re moving alone as a student, future employee, retiree, or with your partner or family, Adelaide is probably the most suitable one. With a small population of over 1.3 million people, Adelaide is the 5th largest city in Australia, and is home to many expatriates and their families. Though it is not one of the popular destinations visitors will likely go to, Adelaide is growing in popularity and does certainly have its spot for new arrivals in Australia, especially in the suburbs of Belair and Banksia Park.
Unlike Australia’s other major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide is relatively quiet, with a rather spacious, clean and green environment – so you get to live in a big city without having to worry about the crowds during peak hours. Adelaide also does not experience extreme weather conditions or climate changes. It generally hits about 8 degrees Celsius during winter from June to August and peaks close to 30 degrees Celsius during summer from December to February.
With a variety of cultural scenes, arts festivals, live music, cheap food and beverages options and great company to enjoy, Adelaide still has plenty going for it. And, no matter where you stay, you won’t be too far away from a beach to chill out in the evenings.
International schools and universities
If you’re a student looking to further your education in South Australia, Adelaide has three top popular universities – University of Adelaide which has consistently been ranked in the top 1 percent of the world’s universities; University of South Australia; and Flinders University. For a list of other international school choices in Adelaide, click here.
With an average of 5,000 skilled migrants recruited every year to support the growing economy, Adelaide does offer plenty of job opportunities, especially in the industries of defence, education and training, healthcare and manufacturing. Although there is a relatively high unemployment rate and lower wages as compared to those in the other major Australian cities, you can expect the pace of life to be slower, more laid-back and less stressful in Adelaide. So if you are looking for work-life balance in an affordable city, Adelaide is definitely the place for you.
While renting or owning a car will surely make travelling within the city more convenient, the public transportation system isn’t all too bad either. The metropolitan train, tram and bus services cover most of the city, making it easy for people to move around. Free city connector buses and trams to the North Adelaide and the city area are also provided for convenience purposes. For more information on the transportation in Adelaide, click here.
When it comes to rental or property estates, Adelaide offers more affordable prices than most of the cities in Australia. With an average monthly rental of $1,086.73 for a one bedroom apartment in the outside of city centre Adelaide, it is about 42.98 percent lower than in Sydney ($1,905.96).
Cost of living
As of October 2021, the average monthly cost of living in Adelaide for a single person is $2,923 and $5,655 for a family of four. This is 13 percent cheaper than the cost of living in Melbourne and 28 percent cheaper than in Sydney. This average cost includes housing rent, utility costs, food, transportation, mobile bills, and many others. Cost factors are often affected by the number of members in a family, living preferences and forms of accommodation chosen.
For more information on the breakdown of the cost of living and expenses in Adelaide, click here.
Cheapest city to live in Australia for students: Hobart
As students, you generally have lower budgets but higher spending habits – which can sometimes be a major headache if you don’t want to miss out on the fun things even as you study abroad. But what if there is a city that allows you to pursue further education and also provides a relatively low cost of living that includes cheap, decent social activities? Hobart is top of the list for this.
Hobart is the capital of Tasmania, the second oldest city in Australia and is said to be the cheapest city for university students to live in. With a slower pace of life here as compared to the hustle and bustle of another city like Melbourne, this city offers a relaxed lifestyle with breathtaking scenery all around it. As the southernmost capital city of Australia, Hobart enjoys pleasurable weather conditions, from as low as 4 degrees Celsius during winter to as high as 22 degrees Celsius during summer.
International schools and universities: University of Tasmania
Ranked as the top 2 percent of the universities worldwide, the University of Tasmania caters to more than 29,000 students globally. It offers over 100 undergraduate and postgraduate courses which are led by top, experienced academics and remains constantly updated by the latest research. Though travelling may not be as convenient in Hobart than in other cities, there are still various public transport services catering to students’ convenience.
The free UniHopper bus service runs daily from Mondays to Fridays at various times throughout the day, getting you to your destination. Do remember to check the bus timetable before you plan your schedule as the bus timing may change during peak hours. Public transport services such as the Metro buses run frequently between various campuses and their city centres, and even offer suburban services directly from some campuses. Ensure that you apply for a Greencard and as long as you meet the eligibility criteria, you will be given student concession rates.
Depending on your budget and preferences, the university offers affordable rental prices for students like you to stay on campus, if your rental apartment is not exactly near the school. This includes rooms in dormitories, shared apartments and single studio apartments. For more information on the types of courses and accommodation offered, the prices, application process, and available transport services to and from the campus, click here.
Cost of living
As of October 2021, the average monthly cost of living in Adelaide for a single person is $2,878 and $5,606 for a family of four. This is 11 percent cheaper than the cost of living in Melbourne and 27 percent cheaper than in Sydney. This average cost includes housing rent, utility costs, food, transportation, mobile bills, and many others. Cost factors are often affected by the number of members in a family, living preferences and forms of accommodation chosen, and these amounts are only an estimated figure.
Cheapest city to live in Australia for job seekers: Brisbane
Yes, we understand that with the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries have suffered an economic fallout, especially in the tourism industry. This has affected the job security of millions of people, with the majority losing their jobs or having to go abroad to work.
And so, if you’re looking for job opportunities in an affordable city in Australia, Brisbane might just make it onto your list. It isn’t exactly the cheapest city per say, especially given that Brisbane is one of the most expensive places in Australia to park your car. But given that the city is experiencing rapid economic growth, job prospects for migrants are quite good with a wealth of job opportunities available. Furthermore, considering that the average cost of living is still lower compared to other major urban hubs, Brisbane could be a good choice.
As the third largest city in Australia, Brisbane provides many job opportunities in the manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality sectors. Just like Melbourne and Sydney, Brisbane is a thriving city that offers a whole lot of thrilling experiences – but at more affordable prices. So while working here in Brisbane, you don’t exactly have to pay a high cost for everything you buy or enjoy.
Away from the urban center of Brisbane lies an easygoing atmosphere with relaxed suburbs and beautiful landscapes. Whether you are there for a jog alongside the river, sailing or simply to enjoy the beautiful scenery, it is the perfect place for you to unwind and relax after a long day at work. Temperatures are warmer in Brisbane than in Melbourne and Sydney all year round, with an average range of 13 to 25 degree Celsius.
The rapid boom of economic growth in Queensland made cities like Brisbane a popular destination for skilled migrants all over the world to come and work in recent years. Due to the increasing population growth and strong demand for a unit in the city centre of South Brisbane, the current median rental price is estimated to be about $465 per week (as of Sept 2021). The price can vary depending on the location, size and type of the accommodation chosen.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly neighbourhood with a vibrant scene and greenery, check out Dutton Park at a median price of $390 per week for rental units, Spring Hill at $350 per week for a one-bedroom rental unit or Kangaroo Point at $380 per week for a one-bedroom rental unit. They’re all not too far from the city centre.
No matter where your workplace is or where you are headed to, it is easy to travel around in Brisbane thanks to its efficient public transport system. The metropolitan area offers a wide range of transport options including buses, trains, trams, cars, ferries, taxis, ride-sharing and bikes. Remember to check the bus, train, tram or ferry timetables before planning your day’s schedule as timing may change due to track closure, peak hours or other unforeseen circumstances.
It is also important to note that because of the current Covid-19 pandemic, services in South East Queensland accept only pre-paid tickets to minimise human interaction and reduce cash handling. This means that you will need to purchase a TransLink go card or pay for a paper ticket at a station fare machine instead of purchasing a ticket or topping up your go card on-board.
Visit the TransLink website for more information on the various transport service timetables as well as how and where to purchase a TransLink go card for travel convenience.
Cost of living
As of October 2021, the average monthly cost of living in Brisbane for a single person is $3,101 and $6,018 for a family of four. This is 6 percent cheaper than the cost of living in Melbourne and 22 percent cheaper than in Sydney. This average cost includes housing rent, utility costs, food, transportation, mobile bills, and many others. Cost factors are often affected by the number of members in a family, living preferences and forms of accommodation chosen, and these amounts are only an estimated figure.
For more information on the breakdown of the cost of living and expenses in Brisbane, click here.
Cheapest city to live in Australia for Retirees: Perth
Perth is a great and affordable city to retire for those looking to have the best of both worlds: A beach lifestyle and the inner-city buzz. With a population of over 2 million people, Perth is a thriving metropolis of cosy bars, unique restaurants and street art on one hand and powder white sand, striking turquoise waters and amazing views of the coastline that seems to stretch forever on the other hand.
Located in Western Australia, Perth is known for its enviable weather conditions as it enjoys the most hours of sunshine as compared to any other capital city in Australia. Also famous for its laid-back lifestyle and relaxed atmosphere, it is no wonder that many chose Perth as a destination for retirement.
Real estate prices in most parts of Perth have been increasing in recent years although there is still space for negotiations. The current average property price of a two-bedroom is $800,000 for a house and $459,800 for a unit (as of 30th Sept 2021). Apartments are a more affordable option if you’re looking for houses downtown.
If affordability is your top priority or if you’re not into the CBD area and want your peace near the beach or scenic parks, suburbs like Armadale, Medina, Camillo, Orelia, Parmelia, Lockridge, Greenfields, Leda and Brookdale are some of the cheapest options you can go for. The median house sale prices for these places are all less than $300,000 and have more than enough amenities to keep you entertained.
Thanks to the efficient public transport system, it is easy to get around Perth. The Transperth system provides a range of services including buses, trains and ferries. The city’s great weather also means walking and biking are good options to consider all year round. And if you have a valid driving licence, buying or renting a car is also an option for you so you don’t miss out on some of the most beautiful road trips in the world that Perth has to offer!
It is highly encouraged to have a SmartRider Card for convenience purposes so you can board any Transperth service easily. Otherwise, you can also buy cash tickets from ticket machines at train stations and ferry jetties, and from bus drivers when onboard. Transport services in Perth are also disabled-friendly as there are special services catering to the needs of these people.
For more information on the daily schedule for various services, how to apply for a SmartRider card and the types of tickets and fares available, click here.
Cost of living
As of October 2021, the average monthly cost of living in Perth for a single person is $3,104 and $6,004 for a family of four. This is 4 percent cheaper than the cost of living in Melbourne and 21 percent cheaper than in Sydney. This average cost includes housing rent, utility costs, food, transportation, mobile bills, and many others. Cost factors are often affected by the number of members in a family, living preferences and forms of accommodation chosen, and these amounts are only an estimated figure.