How Much Money Do You Need to Live in Australia?

case full of moneyA story broke out last week across most of the media about how the average Australian household now spends in excess of $100,000 a year. You can see the full article for yourself in the Herald Sun, and if you search for further information, you’ll find many other sources running with the same story.

The problem with each of these articles is they only give you half the story, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

The figures were calculated by CommSec and based on “…an average calculated for spending divided by number of households across Australia…”

Not sure exactly what that means, but it sounds like total spending by Australian consumers divided by total number of houses.

Chief economist Craig James did point out that although this figure seemed high, many households do now have multiple wage earners.

Each of the articles quote the following figures:

Firstly, they say that the average weekly spend per household is $1974.95. Then they go on to give the weekly spend in the following categories:

  • Rent/Mortgage $379.89 a week
  • Food, including eating out $307.46 a week
  • Insurances and other financial blahs $168.64 a week
  • Utilities $72.55 a week

Let me see now, that’s … $928.54

Well, we still have over a $1000 a week left to go. So where is it all going? See, only half the story.

Being a nerdy kind of guy for figures, all of our spending almost since time began gets fed into a great big computer like thingumybob and spews out so much stunningly accurate and detailed accounting information that even our cats get scared.

And they don’t scare easily.

So if I can’t tell you, nobody can.

On the other hand, telling you and anyone else who reads this blog precisely how this family spends its money with stunning accuracy would be a crazy thing to do, wouldn’t it?

If I wanted others to know that kind of personal information, surely I’d get a Reward Card?

So instead, here’s a fictitious account of how the rest of the money might be spent, maybe.

Possible spending, maybe, year end 30th of June 2012 for the BobinOz family.

In this experiment, we are going to take the above forementioned figures as read. If they are the national averages across all of Australia, no point in me change them based on the maybe spending of our one little family. But maybe we can throw some light on where the rest might go by squeezing and merging my possible figures into the national average.

Starting with the most expensive first, and slowly moving downwards, here’s where the rest of our budget went, maybe…

  • Entertainment $354.07 a week
  • Shopping for stuff $253.23 a week
  • Running two cars $215.38 a week
  • Other bills $67.69 a week
  • Total additional $890.22 a week
  • Add figures from above $928.54 a week
  • Absolute total, maybe $1818.76

Yes, for us, maybe we didn’t quite get to that national average amount; our annual spending is possibly around $94,580.

Let’s take a closer look at my categories.


This has loads of stuff in it for us, for example, holidays. Our holidays accounted for almost $200 a week out of that figure; we went to Adelaide for a week, Thailand for nearly 2 weeks and who knows where else. We like a bit of travel.

Then there are the sports. Zumba and yoga for Mrs BobinOz, five aside and six aside football for me and swimming and gymnastics for Elizabeth.

Shopping for stuff

Shopping is clothes, furniture, personal care, (you know, toothbrushes and stuff) birthday presents and gifts, electrical goods and way too much on shoes.

Running two cars

Our cars have been hugely expensive, we have spent an average of $115 a week on petrol and around $100 a week on repairs, maintenance and car tax. Cars don’t normally costs this much to run, we’ve been unlucky and we have driven too many miles.

Other bills

With utilities, insurances and other financial blahs already taken care of by the national average, I wondered why we were paying an additional $67.69 a week. It’s difficult for me though to work out exactly what that extra is for, I don’t really know what the other financial blahs are that the original article referred to.

But I do have Foxtel, for example, and that cost about $30 a week. Then we also had some rather large vet’s fees, something like $40 a week there. Our Australian citizenship fees workout at $10 a week on their own. So just those three comfortably take care of the additional amounts we have paid, maybe.

Incidentally, what I think is covered in the national average fees quoted at the top of the page are doctors and dentists fees, Internet fees, Medibank fees, water rates, electricity and gas, telephony and council rates.

We did, somewhere within all this, maybe spend some money on alcohol, but for the life of me I really can’t work out exactly how much. That really would frighten the cats!


Our family spends too much, maybe. We spend too much on holidays, we spend too much on cars and we spend too much on other forms of entertainment. But we do have a good time!

Much of our car spend though is tax-deductible, because we need them for one of the businesses we run. That would maybe take our annual spending down to below $90,000 a year. We could also cut back on other “luxuries” and no doubt get closer to $80,000 a year spending.

That said, maybe our mortgage/rent payments are lower than the national average above, because maybe I’m older than the average Australian resident and have therefore maybe paid off more of my mortgage. So that would put our annual spend up again.

Either way, it is easy to see how families can spend $100,000 a year here, and how important one very good salary is, say $125,000 a year, or two average incomes ($69K a year is the current Australian average) for you and your family to live reasonably comfortably here in Australia.

Or maybe you could buy less shoes.


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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Steve March 31, 2014, 12:25 pm |

    A big expense category that was ignored was “education expenses” for those with school age children/teenagers. It is easy to spend at least $3,000 to $10,000 per annum per child on school fees, books, computers, uniforms and tuition even where children attend a public or selective school/college. If your kids are at an elite private school you could probably easily spend $30,000 a year per child on education alone. 3 kids would total $90,000!

    • BobinOz March 31, 2014, 3:06 pm |

      It’s a fair point Steve, but I do have a lot of information about this from the additional information links at the bottom of my page called Which school?.

      One of those links also goes to a page about some of the problems facing 457 visa holders in certain states.

      My view though is that paying for private education is not a necessity, it’s a choice, with the 457 exception already mentioned. It’s the same kind of choice I had in the UK. For those who do not want to pay for their children’s education there are state schools here that are free (apart from the odd contribution and paying for a few books, something like $200-$300 a year) and that’s what we have used for six years for our daughter.

      So it’s just as easy not to spend $3000-$10,000 per annum per child, just choose state education which is actually pretty good.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Karen September 22, 2012, 6:45 pm |

    Hello, my daughter and boyfriend are moving to Brisbane soon on a 12 month visa.They both have a degree in civil engineering. They plan to find temporary jobs first, to get some money coming in and then to look for permanent. They will stay with a relative at first but will need to rent after a few months. Does anyone have any info on renting in Brisbane, especially re costs as it looks expensive to rent even the basic apartment. Also any comments on jobs would be gratefully received.

  • Rupert September 20, 2012, 2:53 pm |

    I got a parking ticket yesterday – $232! I was in a loading bay outside the Post Office – and was ticketed while I was in the Post Office collecting two large parcels that I was going to ‘load’ into my car. I’ve lodged an appeal obviously, but $232 is excessive. So you can add parking fines into your calculations.

    Oh and the internet. In the UK I was paying £25 a month for super-fast broadband with unlimited data. Here it’s $100 a month with a 200GB limit – and it’s slower!

    What makes me laugh though is that everything is going to get even more expensive – and wages will drop! There is a food crisis coming that will make our weekly groceries budget soar, and oil crisis that will make petrol prices soar and an energy crisis that will make our current gas and electricity bills seem good value. At don’t even get me started on the water crisis.

    It’s time to batten down the hatches folks and become as self-sufficient as we can. We must stop buying from chain stores and global corporations (as much as we are able) and support our local family-run businesses instead. Not only will our costs of living go down (eventually), but we’ll probably become a whole lot happier too.

    • BobinOz September 20, 2012, 11:54 pm |

      That is one high end parking ticket fine you have landed yourself with there, they must be saving up for their Christmas party. I’ve only ever had one parking ticket since I’ve been here, touch wood, and that was nowhere near so serious. I was parked illegally in the city, Fortitude Valley, but was hugely relieved when the fine was only $60. I was expecting more.

      As for the Internet, you need to sign up with TPG, $59 a month I think, is for unlimited broadband. I hope you haven’t signed up with Bigpond?

      As for the rest of your comment, where are you getting all that from? Oil has dropped from $100 a barrel to just over $90 in just the last few days for one thing. Sounds like you’re ready to join a commune of doomsday preppers!

      • Rupert September 21, 2012, 9:10 am |

        Barry O’Farell quadrupled parking fines in Sydney in a drive to make money. We pay tolls to go over the bridge 24/7 and to use the Eastern Distributor and the Lane Cove Tunnel, and now he wants to introduce a ‘congestion charge’ to drive in the CBD, that would make $20 in tolls per day just to get to work and back!

        Mmm, TPG, thanks for the tip-off. I am with Bigpond as it happens, and I’ve found them to be excellent so far, just bloody expensive. It is cable though, with a 35mps download speed, but TPG looks great. I’ll investigate further.

        As for the rest of my comment, what’s just around the corner will make the 1930s depression look like a walk in the park. Where am I getting it from? Well, everything is being propped up by a teetering global baking system that is being propped up by unpopular and weak-willed governments looking at more ways to tax us to pay for it. It’s a house of cards and when it topples and there’s no more money, there will be a surge in prices of food and energy. By contrast, there will be a massive drop in property prices. So in a way the doomsday preppers are on to something, save money now in order to buy land and then be self-sufficient.

        Look, the mainstream media don’t want to frighten us, and they want us to keep spending – so they don’t report the truth. The financial institutions in Wall Street have orchestrated the biggest ponzi scheme in history thanks to deregulation by successive administrations. It is greed that goes beyond criminal. So, I’m going to protect my assets and investments as best I can and hope that when the storm comes, it is quick and relatively painless for all of us.

        • BobinOz September 21, 2012, 4:22 pm |

          35 mbps! I get 2, but I do live out in the countryside. I think our local telephone exchange still has operators pulling cables in and out to connect people.

          Anyway, I’m off to buy bottled water and lots of tins of fish.

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