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.
Even 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:
Hope it’s ok for me to ask a question. My husband has been offered a job in Adelaide salary of $115,000 + superannuation. We are a family of 5 and I’m hoping to secure a job once we’ve settled. Just wondered was this a good wage to start on. Thank you!
Yes, it’s OK to ask the question, and $115k a year is a good salary, it’s above average which, I think, is around $90k a year for full-time workers at the moment. So yes, it’s a good start, you’ll be fine and once you have secured a job for yourself, you will be in an even better position.
My wife and I are moving to Sydney from the UK, Sutherland Shire to be precise as it’s far more affordable to rent that most places closer to central Sydney.
We are a family of 3 (little one in day care) and I am wondering if a combined salary of $200k a year is reasonable for the 3 of us without having to count the pennies too much.
I will be working from home so no commute and my wife is a high school teacher but will be part time.
I have done a fair amount of research and put together a budget sheet but it’s always good to get opinions on this.
$200k is a very good combined salary, you won’t be counting the pennies with that income. What I would warn you about though is that throughout Australia at the moment, we appear to have a real shortage of available rental properties. I believe the vacancy rate at the moment is down to 1.1%, so it’s not easy securing a rental property in this market.
Often apartments or houses have 10, 20 or even 30 people interested in renting, so the landlord gets to pick the strongest applicant. I’d be inclined to do some research into that, if you haven’t already, before you get here.
Good luck, Bob
Thanks Bob that’s really helpful. I have heard similar feedback re: rental from friends in Sydney and saw firsthand when I was out there in March just how many people often go to inspections. I wouldn’t say I saw a shortage of properties available in our price range though and the number of people inspecting the properties was less away from Cronulla and the coast which is fine for us! We currently have temporary accommodation for 6-8 weeks whilst we search for a rental.
Glad to hear you are already aware of the rental situation here, you’ve clearly been quite thorough in your research. Good luck with your move Patrick, I do hope it all goes well for you and your family.
what about $130k incl super for a family of 5 in Brisbane
I think Bob would be more qualified to answer your question as Brisbane is his backyard. I think it is doable, however you’d have to watch how you spend your dollars. Brisbane is definitely cheaper than Sydney, but prices of food and services are comparable. When you subtract the amount of your Super, you’ll be left with around $118 000 before tax. You can, more or less, find our the cost of accommodation (Bob should send you the link). It varies from suburb to suburb but the closer to the city, the more expensive it gets. We some exceptions, of course, like nice suburbs close to the water (river, sea).
If you cook your own meals and take your own lunch to work, buy what you only need and find lokal markets, you’ll be OK.
Chris has given you a very accurate answer, thanks Chris. 130k is a good salary, quite some way above the average, so that’s a positive. But it’s a little bit counted by you just having the one income. As Chris has said, the amount you pay for accommodation is key to how well off you will be, so check out my page Cost of Buying or Renting a House in Australia to research that.
It’s definitely doable, maybe better than doable, perhaps something like reasonably comfortable, whatever any of these words mean 🙂
It’s really hard to answer these kinds of questions, because everybody’s interpretation of words like well off and comfortable and doable are open to interpretation.
Hi Bob 🙂
I hate to ask yet another variation of this question but I really try to be as frugal as possible and I’m slightly stressed over our upcoming move. Would you say $160,000 (+ superannuation) is enough for a family of 3 to live comfortably in the Adelaide area?
If you don’t commute to work by a helicopter and don’t eat your dinners in 5 star restaurants with caviar and lobster, you will live like a young Goddess.
Hi Nicole, Chris (hi Chris) is correct, (ish, commuting by helicopter might put a bit of a drain on your finances). It’s a very good salary and you will live very comfortably on it, without you even needing to be frugal. I hope you enjoy Australia, Bob
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