Cost of living for expats in Canberra

Relocating to Australia is a popular choice for British expats, and no wonder. With great weather, a good work/life balance and friendly locals, it’s a perfect option for many families.
In general, the country has a fairly high cost of living for expats, with accommodation, education and medical insurance among the biggest considerations. But with a strong economy and good wage growth, higher earnings can offset some of this expense and make Australia a very viable option.
Of all the main cities that expatriates relocate to, Canberra is one of the most economical. On the Mercer Cost of Living Rankings, it comes fifth out of the six Australia cities on the list, and 98th overall out of over 200 worldwide cities (a significant drop on its previous ranking). In comparison, the cost of living in London ranks as 17th in the world. This is despite Canberra being the capital city of Australia and among one of the largest areas of population.

Biggest costs

Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index uses real data from expats living in cities around the world to compare prices of various everyday expenses and assign a value to each city featured to rank them in order of cost of living. Canberra currently ranks as 32nd, and mirrors the Mercer data above by being one of the most economical places to live in Australia although it remains fairly high on the world map.
Accommodation is the biggest cost to account for. This can be around 30% of salary, depending on area and type of property. As the city was built to be a capital, there are a lot of accommodation options to suit all and the suburbs offer better value than the city centre. According to Expatistan’s Cost of Living Index, a typical monthly rent for a 900 square foot accommodation (which is a small/medium flat for two people) could be between £1,250 to £1,765 per month. Family homes will, of course, come in much higher.
Education is also expensive. There are plenty of international schools that follow European programs of education, and these can cost a large portion of salary. There are government-run schools, which may help to cut costs for qualifying children, but this is only an option for those becoming permanent residents.

Financial advantages

What really plays in Canberra’s favour is its strong economy. The unemployment rate is lower and the average income higher than national averages, giving most residents and expats a higher disposable income than those living in the Sydney or Melbourne.
It’s also a modern, relatively new city, and as such it has a built-for-purpose transportation system. This means that many expats will make the most of public services, use a bike or walk to get around the city, which saves on costly car journeys and parking expenses.
Overall, Canberra offers an attractive Australian option for expats. Its quality of living has remained high, but due to a drop in the value of the Australian dollar, the cost of living has fallen over the last couple of years and it now offers that perfect balance between affordability and a high standard of living.
Information correct at the time of publication.