The thought of moving to Australia sounds like a dream, but it also takes some planning.
After I realized I could live, work, and travel Australia for a year, I created a detailed budget of the estimated cost to move there.
Here’s How Much to Budget for Your Move to Australia.
Moving Costs Before Leaving the US
The Australian Working Holiday Visa application comes with a small cost. But it's totallly worth it!
Visa Application Cost AUD $440 / USD $330
For anyone who has traveled before you know many factors play into getting a good flight deal. The season, the day of the week, time of day, non-stop vs. multiple stops, the airport, and most importantly airlines. Any combination of these factors can get you an economy ticket as cheap at USD 500 to USD 1500.
Since this was my first super long-haul journey, I decided to splurge on my ticket. I didn’t want to deal with layovers or having my luggage run through multiple airports.
Cost: Qantas one-way ticket - USD 1,250
No matter where you go abroad, you should always get travel insurance for those unexpected moments.
I got reliable insurance for the rest of the year with STA Travel. In 2012, Travel Insurance was expensive, but now prices have decreased. (As if you didn’t need another reason to apply for your visa).
Below are today’s prices based on a year of coverage, note prices and inclusions may change at any time. For example:
ed on a year of coverage, note prices and inclusions may change at any time. For example:
Cost - USD $600
Costs When You Arrive
GETTING TO THE CITY FROM THE AIRPORT
Most Australian airports have a service to get you to the city. Costs are more expensive in the bigger cities but affordable. I landed in Melbourne, and our accommodation was in St. Kilda East. We decided to take public transport over a taxi, probably not the best idea, but we were tired, jet-lagged and not thinking straight. If we took a taxi or an UberX (had it be around) it would be between AUD 55- AUD 80
Cost - AUD $48
You’re going to want a place to stay when you first arrive. OBV! But let’s see how much your budget is going to get you.
Couchsurfing is a popular and FREE option for those looking for budget accommodation. It’s easy as signing up and finding/connecting with a host that will let you stay on their couch. The community is self-regulated determined by your rating and the network of people that vouch for you.
Hostels / Hotels - Cheap hostels and hotels are a dime a dozen, but like the flight, rates vary. Most hostels tend to be in popular areas of the city, for example, St. Kilda or CBD in Melbourne, or Kings Cross in Sydney. For more privacy, you can also rent a private room. . AUD $35-$100 / night.
Airbnb - I love love love Airbnb. Whether you want to stay in a private room or book at an entire house, Airbnb is an amazing way to trial a neighborhood. Although it didn’t exist when we first arrived in Australia, we used it later when we traveled to Western Australia and Tasmania with great success. There are more amenities than a hotel room, like a kitchen, which can help cut costs. AUD $35-$300 / night.
Room Shares/Rent/Bond - When you look for apartment shares or renting be careful. In Australia, they showcase the weekly cost of the rental. When you’re on gumtree.com.au, realestate.com.au, or flatmates.com.au you might see $200, multiply that value by roughly four and a half for the monthly cost. And if you are getting your place, be prepared to pay your bond (deposit) too, which is usually one month rent.
Luckily my boyfriend found a room share for us that was pretty reasonable. We lived with another couple in St Kilda East, Vic.
Cost per person per month: Shared 2 bedroom 1 bath - AUD $300 Rent / AUD $300 Bond (1x)
FOOD & GROCERIES
Farmer Markets. Australia has amazing markets. Melbourne alone has three unique Markets: Queen Victoria Market, Prahran Market, and South Melbourne Market. You can find some cheap produce, but make sure the markets are open before you go!
Mom & Pop Shops + Asian Markets. Look for neighborhood stores for fantastic deals and unique items! They are relatively cheap, and you can find some yummy new products.
Grocery Stores. Coles, Woolies (Woolworths), and Aldi’s are the major grocery store chains. Aldi's is the cheapest, Woolworth's has average prices, and Cole's Ranges from average to expensive.
Fast Food / Restaurants. Eating out is dangerous territory. Yes, you can get some cheap foods like dumplings, falafel, and standard fast food. But this can add up quickly. To give you an idea, coffee in a cafe is $4 and up. If you buy coffee every day, you're spending over AUD 100 a month for your caffeine fix.
To give you an example, Melbourne has incredible restaurants, and they are new places popping up every week. Now and then I would splurge on a fancy restaurant with fun cocktails and spend about $150 per person. If you were to go out every week, it could be a money pit!
Alcohol. There’s a reason why Goon (Boxed Wine) and Piss beer (Victoria Bitters) are so prevalent in Australia - it’s because they are dirt cheap. Yes, it will get you tipsy, but the hard stuff will cost more. That’s why I would stick to a bottle of good wine a week.
Total Food & Drink Cost: AUD $75 / week
The best news about moving to Australia NOW is that the exchange rate from the USD to AUD is strong! For every USD you get 1.25 dollars. An extra 25% right off the bat. When I first moved to Oz, the AUD was anywhere from one cent to 10 cents stronger than the US dollar. However, watch out for those bank fees!
When I first arrived, I researched any partnerships my former bank (Bank of America) may have with Australian banks. Sure enough, they did! Although there were no additional fees to pull cash from the ATM, the exchange rate I received was terrible.
Cost: 1% of total transfer - US $10
PHONE / SIM CARD
If you have an unlocked phone (and I highly recommend you do), you can buy a SIM card. When I was living in Australia, I was paying $19 a month, on a pre-paid SIM, for about 1GB of Data for my iPhone 6 with Virgin Mobile. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exist anymore.
Cost: AUD 45
GETTING AROUND THE CITY
The cheapest way was to walk or bike. But Melbourne has plenty of options to get around. Aside from Taxi's and Ubers, you can rent bikes for as cheap as $8 a week! Unfortunately only Brizzy (Brisbane) and Melbourne have shared bike services, but the rest of Australia should be on board by 2018!
If you need to get somewhere fast and don't want to use a Taxi or Uber, public transport is easy and affordable. In Melbourne, it cost about $8.50 a day, but if you subscribe for weekly, monthly or yearly programs, you'll get more of a discount.
If you ever need a car, try a shared car service such as GoGet, GreenShareCar, Flexicar and CarNextDoor. I'm not sure of the details, but there are reserved parking spots all over the city for you to return them.
Weekly cost - AUD 52
Although the room we rented came with a bed and a set of sheets we lacked a few things we wanted and needed. We bought towels, a coffee maker, a blender and a blow dryer and more essentials like soap, shampoo, and conditioner.
Go to Ikea, Big W, $2 Shops or my favorite the Salvos (Salvation Army)!
My Cost: Various items - AUD $200
You can't move to Australia and not have amazing adventures immediately. I had a 'Fun Fund' and saved an extra amount to splurge on some activities in my new country.
Although getting a job would have helped fund my trips, I wanted to have leeway on bigger trips like heading to the Great Ocean Road, Visiting the Gold Coast, etc.
My Cost: Fun Fund - USD $1k
What was the total cost to move to Australia?
Tallying up the costs
- Visa + Flights + Travel Insurance: USD 1,850
- Transport + Stay + Food (1 Month): AUD 2,324 / USD $1,766
- Fun: USD 1k
- Total Cost: USD $4,166
Planning for the Move to Australia made it easier to save. So before you put your dreams of moving abroad aside, cost out how much it would cost you to live down under. You may realize its cheaper than you think!
Now that you know the cost of moving to Australia, when will you be headed there?
Please note, throughout this blog post I have used affiliate links. This means I may receive a commission if you click on and purchase, but this does not affect the price you pay.