Thinking of moving to Sydney? Here’s HOOD’s breakdown to help with your monthly utilities, housing and expenses budgeting.

Breakdown

Single-household Two-person household Four-person household
Electricity and gas $154 $181 $219
Water $74 $89 $108
Internet $70 $70 $70
Groceries $408 $584 $724
Total $706 $924 $1121
+ housing + travel costs

Sydney is Australia’s bustling business epicenter, contributing a quarter of the country’s total GDP from the one city alone. Home to the world-famous Harbour Bridge and Opera House, Sydney is also the most popular destination in Australia for international tourists. If you’re planning on moving to Sydney, and want to get your bearings in terms of costs of living, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog we’ll be breaking down the average monthly cost of utilities, travel and household expenses for households of one person, two people and four people.

Is Sydney expensive to live in?

We’re not going to lie to you, Sydney is the most expensive place to live in Australia. In fact, it actually ranks as the 14th most expensive city in the world. That’s not to say it’s impossible to live well in Sydney, but prepare to take a hit to your discretionary income if you’re moving from somewhere cheaper.

While groceries, eating out and parking can often feel like the most expensive parts of living in a big city like Sydney, the main drag on your budget is most likely to come from housing. Sydney’s real estate market is extremely active, and still reeling from the impacts of state-wide COVID19 lockdowns in 2020. Not only are house prices in Sydney the highest in the country, they’re also growing faster than in other states.

The first step is figuring out the kind of quarters you need to accommodate your household and a rough idea of the area you’d like to move to. Start researching prices and keep an eye on market trends to develop a good sense of what your budget will be able to afford you.

Housing

As mentioned previously, housing is probably going to be the heftiest part of your monthly expenses. House prices average at around $872,000 in Sydney, and the average weekly rent sits at $540 ($2340 per month).

For that rent, you could find a relatively cosy apartment in the CBD or in the inner suburbs, most likely a one-bedroom or studio setup. Alternatively $540 per week could also get you a two-to-three bedroom house, perhaps with a decent backyard, around half an hour’s drive from the city centre.

Utilities

There are three main factors to consider here: the provider you choose, the number of people in your household, and the kinds of facilities your house includes – do you have an electric hot water system? A heated outdoor pool? Ducted heating?

Your utility bill total will increase incrementally with the number of people your household contains. But more people living under the same roof means that utilities will actually be cheaper per person when split. This is something to keep in mind if you’re deciding between living on your own or in shared accommodation.

You should also consider, when crafting your budget, that certain utilities like water and gas are billed quarterly, as opposed to monthly. For the purposes of this post, things have been broken down into monthly expenses.

Electricity & Gas

The average Sydneysider household spends about $118 per month on electricity. The average single-person household spends $82 per month, two-person households spend $109 per month and four-person households $147 per month.

For gas, costs will vary much less than electricity depending on household size. NSW actually gets the benefit of slightly cheaper gas rates, in comparison to states like Victoria, with the average household spending around $72 per month.

Water

The overall average Sydney households spend on water is around $82 per month, which is actually the lowest in the country. In Sydney, a single person household is likely to spend about $74 per month on water, two-person households spend around $89 per month and four-person households around $108 per month.

Home Internet

This one is the easiest to figure out because most of Australia has now switched over to the federal government’s National Broadband Network (NBN). While internet service providers offer different prices to access scaling NBN speed tiers, most households end up spending a relatively similar amount.

Most one-to-four-person households will be looking at connecting to an NBN50/20 speedpack (average evening download speeds of 50 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps) with an unlimited data cap. For such a service, you could pay within the range of $70 – $95.

You will of course have the option to pay more for faster speeds; however an NBN50/20 should be more than enough bandwidth to support multiple devices connecting to the internet simultaneously in a four-person household. Unlimited data caps are also becoming more the norm, though some smaller providers still offer 200GB or 500GB NBN plans at a lower price tag.

If you don’t plan to use the NBN to connect your household internet, opting for a wireless or satellite connection instead – which you may need if you’re moving to a rural area – you should expect to pay slightly more. 4G or 5G home internet from Optus or Telstra, for example, can cost you in the range of $70 to $100 per month, for an average high-speed connection comparable to the NBN.

Groceries

The variance between grocery bills from state to state in Australia is actually quite small. The far more influential factor on the total tally will be your household size and lifestyle. The average single-person household in Australia spends around $408 per month on groceries, two-person households spend $584 per month and four-person households spend around $724. This should account not only for weekly food shopping, but also household cleaning supplies and personal hygiene products.

Travel

Reducing travel expenses can be the easiest part of minimising your budget, if your choices aren’t limited to only driving. According to Budget Direct, the average cost of transport for an Australian household can take up 13.8% of their total annual earnings. Owning a car in Sydney can really drive up expenses if you’re not careful – your budget should include a buffer to account for things like insurance, road tolls, registration, roadside assistance, servicing and maintenance etc.

In terms of fuel prices, the average Australian driver paid around $305 per month in 2020, a stark increase from the $144 per month drivers spent in 2017. This price hike, again, can be attributed to the impacts of COVID19 on our travelling habits in 2020 and the price of crude oil. If you live or are planning to move to a rural part of New South Wales, then you’ll probably see a slight decrease from the average in your monthly fuel spend.

If you’re living in or moving closer to the city, you’ll have access to public transport options like trains, trams and busses. Opting for public transport instead of driving can significantly decrease your commuting costs, if it’s a practical option. The average Australian public transport commuter spends around $105 per month on travel passes.

All Up

Here’s an itemised breakdown of average utilities and groceries expenses in Sydney, based on household size…

Single-household Two-person household Four-person household
Electricity and gas $154 $181 $219
Water $74 $89 $108
Internet $70 $70 $70
Groceries $408 $584 $724
Total $706 $924 $1121
+ housing + travel costs

Image credit: Jamie Davies on Unsplash

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