Calculating Your Comfortable Family Income in Australia

How much do you need?

I do get asked some quite strange questions at times, but they are usually one-offs. But this one pops up quite regularly and every time it does, there is never enough information given to me to answer it.

moneyEven with lots of information, it would still be an impossible question to answer, but when the question is something like

I’m moving to Australia next month with my wife and two teenage children, what would be a good salary to ensure a comfortable lifestyle for me and my family?

What chance do I have?

Calculating YOUR comfortable family income

Here’s what I think you need to take into consideration when calculating a comfortable family income for you and your family. You might be able to think of many more.

  • Cost of mortgage or rent.
  • Cost of running a car or cars.
  • Cost of food for your family.
  • Cost of utilities; electricity, gas, water and rates.
  • Cost of additional shopping items; clothes, gadgets, health and beauty, jewellery, computers and toys.
  • Cost of insurances, for the home and for private medical insurance.
  • Cost of telephones, both home and mobile.
  • Cost of entertainment items, like holidays, alcohol, digital TV, going out.
  • Cost of unexpected maintenance bills, for your home, for your car and other things that break.

So to answer these sort of questions, you’d have to offer me a lot of information or I’d have to ask you a lot of further questions.

As you can see, it really is an impossible question for me to answer, but you can answer it for yourself.

Check out my page about The Costs of Stuff.

A simple solution.

If you are coming here from the UK though, this works quite well. However much you spend per month over there in pounds, you’ll probably need twice the amount here in Australian dollars. So if you need £4,000 a month in the UK, budget $8,000 a month here.

Sounds stupid doesn’t it? But I bet it wont be far out.

How can I make sure I earn twice as much in AUD as I currently earn in GBP?

Salaries in Australia are higher than those in the UK, by my estimates over 30% higher; click on the third link below under the title “More useful links:” to my post comparing UK and Australian salaries to see how I got to that.

Once your salary is adjusted to Australian dollars and taking into account the high salaries, you will see from the salary comparison charts on that page that it is quite easy to earn double what you earn in pounds in the UK here in Australian dollars.

Check it out for yourself, and I’ve even updated that post with a 2012 version, you’ll see a link to it from the original post.

More useful links:

My report about The Cost of Living “Comfortably” in Australia

My entire category on the Cost of Living in Australia.

My posts about jobs and salaries:

Buy or Rent Property in Australia
{ 451 comments… add one }
  • Mike April 30, 2016, 12:04 pm | Link

    Hi Bob, my wife and I are beginning the process! My wife is on the SOL for being a RN and I know I could qualify as a spouse but, from your experience, would that provide me permission to work here as well? It appears you came over as a spouse too – were you able to join the work force right away? any place you can direct me? Contacting a MARA agent via telephone appears to be quite challenging (we are in Toronto and there are 14 hours time change) and so far we are just playing phone tag! Thanks in advance for any advice!

    • BobinOz May 2, 2016, 8:46 pm | Link

      If you go to my page called Visas and watch the video, you will see how to access the Australian Government’s website and see the full details of each kind of visa.

      One of the sections tells you what you are allowed to do for each specific visa type, so just look up the visa you hope to be getting and see what it says about whether the spouse is allowed to work or not.

      I’m pretty sure you will be, I could and I think most of the kinds of visas you will be looking at will allow it. If you’re not sure, it would be best to speak to a MARA migration agent. My agent deals with people from all over the world, if the time difference is too difficult, then he communicates with email.

      Good luck, Bob

    • WA May 3, 2016, 5:33 pm | Link

      Hi Mike,

      I got my 189 visa last year, my wife ” and kids ” are secondary applicants, and it is mentioned on all their visas that they have unlimited working and studying rights as well, so you should be fine, however it is always better to check with MARA agent as Bob always says :).


  • Neo Joh April 20, 2016, 11:10 pm | Link

    Hello Bob,

    I am from India and is offered a job in Sydney with a package of 100,000 AUD. I will be in 457 visa. I am into system administration and have a wife and 2.5-year-old who would be joining me. I have a mortgage amounting to about 750AUD monthly in my home location which will continue for at least 10 more years.

    I would be looking to rent a place [ 2 bedroom ]. I also would need my son to be in a (pre-)school. I like sports and adventure and also like travelling [ though not more than once or twice in a year, one being to India ]. I would have liked to have a car [ perhaps used or rental ] which helps in commuting along with family [ than office where I can use public transport ]. We do like to go out and have dinner perhaps 2-4 times a month and a little bit of shopping and movies.

    With the above, do you think the salary is a decent one where I can get enough savings after the expenses and loan.

    Secondly, my wife is into mainframes and how probable are the chances for her to get a job over there and do you think we both working would be better than only me working.


    • BobinOz April 21, 2016, 4:27 pm | Link

      To answer that question with any kind of accuracy, I would need to sit down and do some serious budget forecasting on your behalf. Your salary is pretty good, no doubt about that, but Sydney is our most expensive city and accommodation doesn’t come cheap.

      It can be done, I know somebody else has commented somewhere here saying they are surviving in Sydney on much less. I think you owe it to yourself though to sit down and work out your budget to the last detail because it will be tight, especially as you also want to send $750 back home each month.

      My page The Cost of Living in Australia of Everything will help you with your figures. Good luck, Bob

      • Neo Joh April 21, 2016, 7:43 pm | Link

        Thanks Bob. It so appears that the actual base is 86k and the 14k is going to be a one-off joining bonus.

        I am going through the links you provided as well.

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