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10 Most Expensive Cities to Live in Australia

With the 5th highest GDP per capita according to IMF International, the 10 most expensive cities to live in Australia are costlier than many of the world’s most well-established and developed metropolitan areas, with the exception of number 1 in our previous list 10 Most Expensive Cities to Live in Africa.

Initially named “New Holland”, Australia traces its beginnings when a penal colony was founded by the British in 1788. Considered both a sovereign state and a continent, mainland Australia is the 6th largest country in the world. With a population of only 23 million, Australia has a density of 2.8 people per square kilometer – a low value given the size of the country. But do not let numbers fool you as Australia is one of the most developed nations in the world. In The Australian’s report, Australia ranked 2nd in the world to Switzerland in terms of average wealth.

Aleksandar Todorovic/

Aleksandar Todorovic/

Because inland Australia is mainly desert, most of the cities are on the coast, which are home to some of the most expensive cities to live in Australia. The country has also seen a steady influx of immigrants from many countries, mainly the United Kingdom, New Zealand and China. Most of these immigrants settle in New South Wales and Queensland, and they in turn supply the needed workforce for the Australian economy. Coincidentally, these 2 states are where 5 of the 10 most expensive cities to live in Australia are located.

As always, all lists are subjective and, depending on where authors source their information, will have different ranking systems. In this list, we obtained rankings from Numbeo and Expatistan. These websites have user-generated information from different cities collected and analyzed. It ranks cities based on the prices of consumer goods, rent, transportation, utilities and other basic necessities needed for one to live decently. To determine their order on this list, Insider Monkey listed each city’s rank on both Number and Expatistan, which was then added and averaged, coming up with their ranks on our list.

Before you pack your suitcases and put on your best beach outfits, it would be wise to know where your money takes you the farthest by taking a look at the 10 most expensive cities to live in Australia. Enjoy!

10. Hobart, Tasmania

Numbeo rank: 10

Expatistan rank: 9

Average: 9.5

The capital of the state of Tasmania, Hobart is the second oldest capital city in Australia after Sydney. It has a thriving tourism industry, and is always a must-see stop in cruise ships’ itineraries. Being the southernmost capital in Australia, Hobart is also the home port of Australia and France for their Antarctic activities. The city is also internationally famous for its yachting races, more specifically the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race every Boxing Day or December 26.


9. Gold Coast, Queensland

Numbeo rank: 9

Expatistan rank: 8

Average: 8.5

Originally known as “South Coast”, Gold Coast owes its name to the inflated real estate prices in the area, as well as consumer goods. Today, it is the most populous non-capital city in Australia, and true to its name, is the 9th most expensive city to live in the country. Tourism is the city’s biggest draw, attracting around 10 million tourists a year.


 8. Wollongong, New South Wales

Numbeo rank: 7

Expatistan rank: 10

Average: 8.5

“The Gong”, Wollongong means “Seas of the South” in the Aboriginal language. The city is unique as it sits on a narrow plain between continuous surf beaches and the cliff line of the Illawarra escarpment. Nan Tien Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in the southern hemisphere, is located in Wollongong.



7. Adelaide, South Australia

Numbeo rank: 8

Expatistan rank: 6

Average: 7

Named after King William IV’s queen consort Adelaide of Saxe-Meningen, Adelaide was planned as the capital of the newly-settled British province in Australia. It is home to a majority of Australia’s defense companies such as BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. Adelaide is also known for its many festivals, and ranks as one of the world’s most livable cities, and the most livable city in Australia from 2011 to 2013. It’s no wonder living here isn’t cheap at all!


6. Newcastle, New South Wales

Numbeo rank: 4

Expatistan rank: 7

Average: 5.5

Located at the mouth of Hunter River, Newcastle is the largest coal-exporting harbor in the world. The city was accidentally discovered by Lt. John Shortland as he was searching for escaped convicts. Within 2 years, the most violent convicts were sent to the area to dig in the coal mines as punishment for their crimes. Today, it is enjoying the effects of the commodities boom of the 2000’s as it has increased its income from coal exports.

Kathie Nichols/

Kathie Nichols/

5. Melbourne, Victoria

Numbeo rank: 5

Expatistan rank: 4

Average: 4.5

An urban agglomeration spanning 9,900 square kilometers, Melbourne is the 2nd most populous city in both Australia and Oceania. The city’s wealth can be traced back to the Victorian Gold Rush of the 1850’s, which transformed the city into one of the world’s wealthiest and largest. Recognized as Australia’s cultural capital, it has been declared by UNESCO as a City of Literature and enjoys a dynamic street art, music and theater scene. Not surprising for the world’s most livable city for the past 5 years.


4. Brisbane, Queensland

Numbeo rank: 6

Expatistan rank: 2

Average: 4

Chosen as a place for secondary offender from the Sydney colony, Brisbane has become the 3rd most populous city in Australia and the most populous in Queensland. Despite several setbacks including the Great Brisbane Fire of 1864, Great Brisbane Flood of 1893 and conflicts with the native Aborigines, the city has become one the major business hubs in the country. It has also been voted as one of the top ten most beautiful cities in the world in 2015 by the travel guidebook Rough Guides. Oh, those offenders would have been so proud!


3. Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Numbeo rank: 3

Expatistan rank: 5

Average: 4

The capital of Australia, Canberra is unusual among other cities in this list as it was a planned city. The site was chosen as a compromise after a long dispute between Sydney and Melbourne as to what city should rightfully be called the capital of Australia. Being the seat of government, Canberra’s population has a high number of public servants.


2. Perth, Western Australia

Numbeo rank: 2

Expatistan rank:3

Average: 2.5

As astronaut John Glenn passed the city overhead aboard Friendship 7 in 1962, residents of Perth lit their streetlights and house lights to commemorate this event. Now known as the “City of Light”, it shines brightly also because it is ranked as the 8th most livable city in the world in August 2015 by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The city has experienced a recent construction boom, due in part to a boom in mining.


1. Sydney, New South Wales

Numbeo rank: 1

Expatistan rank: 1

Average: 1

Being the most populous city in Australia, and one of the most distinct and well-known cities in the world, Sydney shouldn’t come as a surprise to be the most expensive city to live in Australia. Mercantilism has been the name-of-the-game in Sydney, evidenced by the number of multinational corporations that have their headquarters located here. Regional Development Australia’s Economic Profile mentioned that 48% of Australia’s top 500 corporations have their headquarters here. With a lot of multinational corporations come corporate employees with a lot of money – making Sydney the most expensive place to live in Australia.

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