Comparing the cost of living in Australia and the UK

Category: Australia & News & United Kingdom

If starting a new life on the other side of the world is uppermost in your thoughts, you won’t be alone.

It’s a journey made by many, to the extent that, according to the UK government 1.1 million Brits are currently living in Australia, and SBS News confirms that there are 87,000 Aussies living in the UK.

Your decision to emigrate some 10,000 miles will clearly involve a lengthy and detailed decision-making process. Our two retirement guides, for Brits moving to Australia and Australians moving to the UK, will both give you some useful pointers of some the key issues you need to consider.

One important factor you shouldn’t overlook is the comparative costs of living in the two countries.

There are cost of living variations in both the UK and Australia

It’s important to state at outset, that the exact costs of living are difficult to exactly quantify, as there are vast differences depending on which areas of the UK and Australia you compare.

For example, central London is often cited as one of the most expensive places in the world to live, so it would be wrong to assume that the same costs for things like property purchase and eating out are the same across the whole of the UK.

Likewise, there’s a wide differential between the cost of living in the centre of Melbourne and Sydney, compared to an equivalent lifestyle in Perth or Brisbane.

As a result, this is really only a guide quoting average figures, and we would strongly recommend that you do you own research when it comes to comparative prices for things like property, business premises, and cars, and how the relative affordability of each will affect your budgeting.

At the time of writing, in May 2024, according to  a UK pound will buy you AUD $1.90, with the same source confirming AUD $1 equals 53p.

Australia has a higher average income than the UK

Although you clearly need to take into account the variations across employment sectors and regions, there is a noticeable difference in average earnings between Australia and the UK.

Office for National Statistics figures confirm that the average weekly wage in the UK in March 2024 was £672.

Equivalent data produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirm the figure in Australia is $1,888 a week (£993)

Property prices are higher in Australia

Major cities in Australia are notorious for high rents and property prices.

While in both the UK and Australia acquiring a home in a city comes with higher expenses, and home prices vary based on the specific locations you are considering, average property prices are substantially more in Australia than in the UK.

According to 1st Move International the average property cost in Australia is 25.7% higher than the housing costs in the UK, and you can expect to pay 20-30% more for housing compared to equivalent UK cities.

However, the availability of more space means that living outside the city and commuting to work offers substantial benefits in Australia – owning a large home on a spacious plot with amenities like a swimming pool, for example.

It’s cheaper to eat out in Australia

Eating out in Australia is more popular and, as a result, cheaper than it is in the UK.

According to Budget Direct, restaurant prices in Melbourne are more than 12.8% cheaper than in London. The difference is especially marked in lower and mid-priced restaurants. A meal for two in a mid-range restaurant in Melbourne would cost the equivalent of £56.60, while in London the cost would be £60.

The price differential is even greater in Sydney, with Budget Direct estimating that eating out there is 15.65% cheaper than in London.

Supermarket shopping is cheaper in the UK

While eating out is cheaper in Australia, the cost of food shopping is noticeably more expensive there than in the UK.

Sources: White and Company Numbeo

The UK’s proximity to Europe cuts down a chunk of shipping costs that are reflected in Australia’s relatively higher food prices.

Transportation costs are similar

The cost of getting around the major towns and cities is cheaper in the UK than in Australia.

However, it should be noted that, as with all the figures quoted here, these are average amounts and there are some discrepancies between cities in both countries.

Source: Numbeo

You should also be aware that, with many cities having a flat fare rate on buses, this can be more beneficial if you are taking longer bus journeys.

For example a Sydney Morning Herald report reveals that in London the average bus journey is less than 2km. In contrast the average Sydney bus trip was 6.7 km.

Petrol costs in Australia are cheaper. A litre of petrol will cost you the equivalent of £1.05 in Australia compared to £1.55 in the UK.

Get in touch

If you’re planning to move to Australia from the UK, or vice versa, we can provide specialist financial planning advice to help your journey and beyond.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Please note

The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

This article is for information only. Please do not solely rely on anything you have read in this article and ensure that you conduct your own research to ensure any actions you may take are suitable for your circumstances. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC and ATO legislation, which is subject to change.