Jul 9, 2012

Our Cost of Living In Australia

When people hear about our year long travels with our 2 kids, almost immediately they jump to the conclusion that the trip was very expensive.  More and more, people are slowly coming to the conclusion that the cost of living in Australia is very high.  Without a doubt there was a price tag attached to our trip, yet relative to just staying at home, living day to day life in Australia, just how did it compare??

True to our form while traveling, we’ve endeavoured to track our expenses during the past 158 days since we’ve arrived back home.

Just a few points about our lifestyle:

-we have 2 cars now, although Jim generally just takes his to the train station where he parks it then commutes to work; we’ve only paid the insurance and registration on 1 of the cars so far.

-we’ve rarely eaten out since we’ve been home

-as indicated by our ‘entertainment’ expenses, we don’t go out much, except to the local park and beach

-we have 2 mobile phones, both on a monthly plan with a new phone each

-Maddy attends a public school, although there still are extra costs involved; we do not pay for pre-school for Yasmine

-‘personal’ expenses generally relate to clothing (usually 2nd hand), hair cuts, etc)

-we think we live and shop very frugally, tending to buy things on special/sale , or second hand if possible. 

Sub totals
Daily Average
Food:  Groceries
          Eating Out

Car:  Maintenance

Utilities:  Mobiles (2)
                Home phone



House:  Interest (mtg)



Household (toilet paper, stationary, soap, etc)




School Related (uniform, excursions, levies, etc)




Hobbies (swim & ballet for both kids)

Personal:  Kids:


Total Daily Cost


*Childcare costs are for 1 day of childcare a week, expressed as a daily figure.  Childcare is also subsidized by the Australian gov't based on your income.  Our unsubsidized daily rate for childcare is actually $90 per day.

**Total Daily Cost is likely understated as costs are probably 98% accurate due to errors and omissions, but is based on actual figures for our family of 4.

We believe that this TOTAL DAILY COST is conservative and will inevitably go up slightly as the kids take on more hobbies and Jim’s work-related transportation costs increase too. 

Remember what it cost us per day while we were away??  Click here for the breakdown again, but basically it was $66.57 per day for daily expenses, with a total of $124.58 including pre-trip expenses.

Of course the comparison is a bit ‘apples to oranges’, as our figures reflect just living versus being on a holiday!  Interestingly usually ‘being on holidays’ costs more.

More and more we hear people complaining about Australia’s raising cost of living.  We believe that it’s high, and our figures do reflect it.  If we weren’t as frugal, our daily amount would be much more.  But the converse is true too—we could trim the figure more, but then, our standard of living would reflect that too.

Do you have any idea what it costs you to live day to day?  What do you think of our figures?  Tell us in the comments section below!


  1. Wow, I love this breakdown. I tell people all the time travel, the way we do it anyway, is far less expensive than living day to day and this shows I was right.

    You live quite frugally I think so I agree that most people spend far more. We haven't lived in the US for over 5 years now but I think our daily average back then was somewhere around $400 a day!! And that was 5 years ago and with only 4 of us then. Ughh, that is so sad to look at.

    You guys are doing great, helped by the fact that you keep looking at the numbers that helps immensely I think!

    1. Thanks for your comment guys! The point of this break down is precisely that--to show that 'a certain way of travel' can cost far less than life at home. (Yikes--you were spending about $400/day at home?!)

      Luckily we are frugal by nature and not by necessity. I do find it helpful to be mindful of the numbers to know where it's all going and to be sure that we're not sucked into the consumerism that 'first world living' is so fond of.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

  2. Wow, that's pretty cheap. I have no kids and I travel on the cheap. Do you know how much would I spend daily to travel cheaply in Australia? I mean per day for two travelers (me and my friend). Do you usually see many backpackers travelling in the place you live in? Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi!
      Most visitors to Australia find it very expensive actually, especially when compared to North America. In particular, eating out and activities are comparatively high. For example, a 'cheap' lunch for one at a pub, without drinks, would set you back at a minimum of $15 for a main course. Groceries are costly too if you were to cook your own. Accommodation is expensive too, and you don't get much. All this is probably due to the high wages of the workers here, which are passed on to the consumer. So if you were making local wages, you might say that it evens out. But when spending foreign $, might be a bit of a stretch.

      Melbourne gets lots of tourists and backpackers now, although probably third to Queensland and to Sydney. We live in an area that has lots of tourism too (wineries, beaches), but not sure in the way of backpackers.

      Thanks for popping in!

  3. I live in Australia and it has become quite an expensive country to live in over the last 7-8 years or so. I can only imagine how expensive it would be to travel around with kids.

    1. We haven't traveled around Australia with the kids for that reason unfortunately--it's cheaper to do so in SEA, and you get more value for your money. Here, while you MIGHT spend the same amount, that would also mean caravan parks, cooking your own basic meals, and limited amount and variety of activities. Plus the price of petrol or flights within Australia would be rather expensive too.

  4. Love your blog. We are a family of 4, travelling for 10 weeks in SE Asia. I find your tips, comments and suggestions to be so helpful. Thanks!!!

    1. Thanks--We're glad you think so :) Hope you have a terrific trip!

  5. Very interesting figure, I think the living cost in Australia is getting higher, but it really depends a lot on your life style, here are some very interesting and comprehensive information about the cost of living in Australia.

  6. Thank you so much for your lovely blog. It's so informative and encouraging.
    We are just in the middle of our planning for a 6 month trip, taking the children out of school
    ( horrified gasp!) and we are off to Nepal, India, Cambodia, Kenya, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.
    The way we manage the budget for our family of five is by organising house swaps! We have several swaps to NZ and OZ - as these are really expensive for accom. We have one for India - this will help us feel safe, one in Kenya and in Nepal we are paying for accom as this is cheap. In th epastv we have done 15 house swaps - all totally free, beautiful places to stay and all successful. ( we travel all over the UK, we have been to Paris, Spain, Costa Rica) but also the main cost is a volunteer project we are signing up to with the children, to teach street kids. That is almost £800 each for 3 weeks. Our children are now starting to raise money themselves by car washing in the neighbourhood, busking, selling stuff on ebay, etc. They each have to try and raise £500 in the next 7 months before we go.

    We use homeexchange.com
    and homebaseholidays

    any hints and tips would be very much appreciated.


    1. Hi--your plans sound exciting. We know of other families who have done the home exchange successfully, although i have heard from others that many potential exchangers aren't that welcoming to the idea of a family living in their home. We've yet to try it but sounds interesting.