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 post called Real Australians Reveal Their Incomes And Monthly Expenses

My entire category on the Cost of Living in Australia.

My posts about jobs and salaries:

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{ 742 comments… add one }
  • Basel December 13, 2018, 2:46 pm |

    Hi Bob, I have been offered one year job in Melbourne earning 150k per annum. I will be heading back to the UK after that. My wife will probably not work and I have two kids (6 year old and 9 month old). I am expecting the worst and trying to put in my calculations paying for my sons public schools fees (around $1000 per month?). Searching on, I can see a lot of renting options between $650-800/week for two bedroom flat which we will be happy with as its temporary. I am not planning on buying a car and wanting to use public transportation. Say my rent is around $3k/month and taking school fees into consideration that’s around $4k/month, assuming the take home salary is $8000/month or thereabouts that should leave me with $4000 to live with, I feel that’s enough to support my family.. is that correct or am I missing something?

    • BobinOz December 13, 2018, 8:24 pm |

      No, I don’t think you are missing anything, in fact you may have over estimated the ‘public’ school fees with only one of your kids being of school age. Public school here means state school, and I do know that some temporary visa holders have to pay for state schools whilst they’re here, but I thought it was about $6000-$7000 a year in Victoria?

      If you’re talking about a private school though, and prices do vary massively for those, but I’m sure you can get one for around $1000 a month if that’s what you mean.

      Either way, I think you will have enough to support your family, you won’t be rich, but you won’t be hungry either. May I suggest you check out my recent post about a series of articles called Cash Confessions which, in some ways, will help answer your question but also show you why it is so difficult for anyone to give a meaningful answer. Here’s a link to the article…

      Hope that helps and good luck, Bob

  • Sara December 3, 2018, 9:03 pm |

    Hi bob
    My husband and i are thinking about moving to Australia. We live in the middle east and we are both pharmacists.
    We have 2 kids. we want to know if we both worked will it be good? Financially
    Thank you

    • BobinOz December 4, 2018, 5:21 pm |

      It depends how much each of you are going to be earning. I tried to google the average income for a pharmacist in Australia, one website said $68,000 a year and another $117,000. That’s a pretty big difference between the two, so it depends where you each end up on the pay scale.

      Do remember that Sydney and Melbourne are our two most expensive cities, so if you can avoid living in either of those, your dollar will go much further in any one of our other cities or towns.

  • Peter Byrne November 28, 2018, 11:01 pm |

    Hi Bob,

    I’ve received a job offer in Perth with a starting base salary of 90k per year.

    I currently live in Malaysia and I’m on RM60k (AUD20k) per year.

    Cost of living in Malaysia is quite cheap so it’s hard to compare the salary figures. The only real problem in Malaysia is that property prices here are excessive because I’m not a Malaysian citizen. I need to spend a minimum of RM1m (AUD328k) to enter the property market, which is unaffordable for me. (My partner is Malaysian though so that’s the main reason I’m here!)

    90k seems like an amazing offer when compared to my current salary as I could actually afford mortgage repayments on a property in Australia.

    However, through some research on forums, quite a lot of people think 90k isn’t really all that great a salary in Australia these days.

    What do you think? Is it worth picking everything up and starting over for what seems like a good income?

    Thanks in advance!

    • BobinOz November 29, 2018, 8:44 pm |

      90k isn’t a bad salary, it’s above the national average, last time I looked, but some people do earn a lot more and plenty of people quite a bit less. Whether or not it’s worth you swapping your Malaysian lifestyle to come here, I really have no idea, I couldn’t even guess.

      I’d be surprised if it wasn’t worthwhile though, Australia is very much a fun country to live in. On that salary, if it’s just you, you do have a chance of getting on the property ladder if you budget carefully. If your girlfriend could come over and add a second income, all the better.

      As for your question about the salary though, you may want to read an article I wrote recently about a series of Cash Confessions, which shows just how differently people cope on their incomes, you can read it here…

      Good luck, Bob

      • Peter Byrne December 2, 2018, 2:18 pm |

        Thanks for the insight Bob and for pointing me to your article, seems like it’s a good and fair starting salary, which can only increase over time hopefully.

        The change of country, culture and lifestyle is still something to think about!

  • Christie November 18, 2018, 4:52 pm |

    Thoughts from a German couple: Me and my partner have now been living in Adelaide for 14 months. Before we moved here we calculated salaries, tax, cost of living, exchange rates back and forths and concluded that we can probably sustain our life style (financially) but we might have to cut back a bit and enjoy more the Australian life-style by means of quality of living. 14 months later I can say that we have never been better financially! We have never managed to save so much money in one year! My savings at the end of the months are 3-4 times higher than they were in Germany. Our gross income is a bit lower than it was in Germany ( keep in mind the ever changing exchange rate) but we pay here a lot less tax and health insurance! Health insurance in Germany is mandatory and takes about 12% of your gross income (+12% payed by your employer). Here we have a luxus-insurance for 600 AUD for both of us per months. That sounds a lot for Aussie but is a bargain for us.
    That said, moving to Australia has improved our quality of life and our savings account!

    PS: yes, we are earning pretty well here, with a household income of 210 k but all of the above is still true!

    • BobinOz November 19, 2018, 6:01 pm |

      It’s great to hear your comments Christie, because so many people have the impression that Australia is super expensive, when I really don’t think it is. Sometimes it’s good to hear what life is like in other countries, and I was quite shocked to hear about your 12% contribution to health insurance in Germany, and even more shocked to hear that employers have to match that with another 12%.

      As you probably know, in the US health insurance and/or contributions are through the roof as well, and somebody somewhere from the US made a list of all the taxes and contributions they pay there, and it went on forever, including contributions to the local fire service. Add to that the state taxes on most goods and then the tipping culture on virtually everything, and ‘cheap’ USA starts to get expensive.

      I don’t think we do so bad here, and I think the health service is fantastic and I’m pretty sure I only pay about 1.5% of my income to the Medicare levy for that. As you say, you are earning well, but incomes in Australia do generally seem to be higher than in, for example, the UK and the USA. So, Australia isn’t so bad.

      Glad to hear you have settled here, thanks for your comment.

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