Are you and your family looking at moving to Australia, or wondering what it costs as a family to live? Here’s a helpful guide on the estimates of what it would cost currently for a family of four to live in Australia.

A common question many looking at starting a family or migrating to Australia ask is – how much will it realistically cost for an average family of two parents and two children (4 family members in total). As always every family is different and it will change depending on a large amount of factors including the age of your children, whether they go to public vs private education, where you live in Australia etc. For the purposes of our budgets we will exclude child education/childcare costs and provide estimate breakdowns at the bottom so you can try to come up with a more comprehensive figure.

Monthly Living Expenses Estimate for a Family of 4 in Australia

Rent: $1900 (average rent in Australia as of 2020)

Utilities (Gas, Water, Electricity): $350

Internet: $70

Mobile Phones: $90

Transport (buses/trains/trams): $120 (assuming one partner requires public transport 5 days a week)

Motor vehicle expenses (registration, maintenance): $220

Petrol: $80

Insurances (personal, home contents): $250

Groceries (supermarket, pharmacy items): $950

Total: $4,030


Costs not included (due to the variable costs based on preference):

  • Hairdresser/barber
  • Clothing
  • Dining Out
  • Entertainment

Education Costs

Public Schooling

Primary: $0-150/month (voluntary contributions, excursions, uniforms)

Secondary: $0-150/month (voluntary contributions, excursions, uniforms)

Private Schooling

Primary: $200-3000/month*

Private Secondary: $250-4000/month*

*private school costs vary significantly in Australia dependent on the type of private school, location, exclusivity etc. In general most of Australia has affordable catholic and Christian private schooling options which performs well in government testing vs public schooling options.

Other Considerations

Overall there is going to be a lot of variance in budgets between every family. If your family uses two vehicles the vehicle and public transport expenses will vary significantly. Rent will be dependent highly on which city you’re going to live or even within the city as rental prices can vary from $800/month to $4000/month easily dependent on the city and suburb which you reside.

Medical expenses will be dependent on your preferences and income, over certain thresholds it may make more sense to consider looking at private health compared to paying the medicare levy – it’s best to talk to a professional about this.

We’ve put in the assumption of rental payments in this living expenses estimate as mortgage payments can be too variable to provide a meaningful estimate. If you have a mortgage you can put in the actual payments – you might even want to consider what the figures look like if interest rates increase.

What’s the best way I can work out my own living expenses as a family with children?

There’s many reasons to try to work our your living expenses, whether this is for budget purposes or if you’re applying for a loan you can often be asked for this figure. If you are paid directly into a bank account and make your payments via a debit/credit card, the most accurate method of working out your living expenses is by downloading your bank transaction history and categorising your transactions. Some banks will even automatically put your payments into categories to give you a rough understanding of where your money is spent each month. To get an accurate understanding you should use a minimum of three months history (ideally six months) so you can find out the averaged expenses. This will be far more accurate as its more likely to capture less frequent payments like utility bills and subscriptions on longer renewal periods.

As a family of 4, how can we reduce our living expenses?

First thing is to establish why you’re reducing your expenses. Is it to increase your ability to save for something important (to buy your own home?), or are your costs currently exceeding your income and needing to balance your budget? This is important as it necessary to understand to what you’re willing to cut to increase your savings.

The biggest savings will come from the largest cost lines – whether you’re paying too much in rent and can find a cheaper property, only buying the essentials at the supermarket, cutting back on unnecessary electricity use etc. If you only realistically need one vehicle as a family, look at whether you should be paying for two sets of car registration and insurance when you can use public transport and grab a taxi for those trips you need a car.

Most importantly though unless you’re spending more than you earn, don’t cut so deep that your lifestyle is significantly impacted else you may end up harm your ability to stick to the budget. Remember its better to be on a more moderate budget long term, than an unsustainable extreme short term budget. Also the old saying is true that savings are finite (you can only save so much as you earn a fixed amount), but earnings are infinite. (you can try work more hours, find a higher paying job etc)