Who hasn’t dreamt of packing their bags and moving to Australia? To the land where the sun shines all year round, kangaroos are more common than dogs, and every meal comes off the barbeque? It would be blissful! But as wonderful as Australia is, it’s not the cheapest of places to live.
All that sunshine and good living can come at a high cost, especially if you want to live in the big cities or on one of those world-famous beaches. But not to worry, it is possible to move to the land down under without breaking the bank. Ok, so you might have to avoid Melbourne and Sydney, but we’ve found some great – and unexpected – spots spread right across the country for you to consider.
We’ve got coastal cities, outback towns, and island ports. So if you’re dreaming of moving to Oz, but are worried about your budget, take a look at our 7 cheapest places to live in Australia.
Adelaide – South Australia
On the southern coast of Australia, sits Adelaide, a small city filled with historic buildings, towering church spires, and large leafy green parks. It has a unique vibe and definitely lags behind other Australian cities when it comes to gentrification and sophistication. It is slowly making a name for itself in the worlds of art, culture, dining, and nightlife, but it’s been a gradual process, and the city still holds onto its small-town, old-fashioned charm.
It has also retained its low real estate prices and cost of living, making it the cheapest of Australia’s main cities. It is also one of the only state capital cities where rent prices remain low, around 45% lower than Sydney, making this a popular choice for those looking to live short term in Australia.
For this reason, it’s a favorite spot for international students, who are also drawn to the progressive, multicultural, friendly vibe of this community-driven city. Adelaide’s vibrant and varied festival calendar doesn’t hurt its appeal either!
Gold Coast – Queensland
Another spot that’s popular with students is the Gold Coast, Queensland. This stretch of breathtakingly beautiful coastline sits south of Brisbane and stretches to the Queensland/New South Wales border. It’s known for its glorious beaches, rainforests, inland waterways, and wildlife reserves.
But it’s not all about natural charm. The Gold Coast is home to Australia’s largest city that’s not a state capital, and it offers a cosmopolitan lifestyle with excellent employment and higher education opportunities and thriving recreational, retail, and nightlife sectors. Plus, with 300 days of sunshine per year, winter temperatures that rarely fall below 9°C, and summer highs of 30°C, it’s got the Australian climate of people’s dreams.
And, it’s affordable! The Gold Coast regularly appears on the lists of the cheapest places to live in Australia since its cost of living, house prices, and rental prices remain lower than the state capital cities. To find your affordable Australian dream, steer clear of the urban districts and the big-name suburbs like Surfers Paradise, and shop around the outlying suburbs where you’ll find property for well under the country’s average. Then sit back and enjoy the sun-soaked, laid-back Gold Coast lifestyle.
Morawa – Western Australia
If you’re looking for a real bargain, how about the Western Australia town where you can buy a 3 bedroom house for as little as $45,000 AUD?
The rural town of Morawa was suffering from a massive population decline when the community decided to take drastic steps to combat it. One of these steps was to drop house prices from an average of $107,000 AUD in 2014 to $45,000 AUD by 2020.
Morawa sought to entice people to give up their city lives and move to the country where they could enjoy larger properties, with more land and gardens, even swimming pools, for a fraction of what they were paying for smaller units in the cities. This offer has appealed to many, from families looking to raise kids in a rural setting, to couples wanting to ditch their office jobs in favor of the farming life, and remote workers for whom location doesn’t matter and the price is key!
And don’t worry that you’ll be completely isolated. Morawa is situated only an hour inland from WA’s famously beautiful Jurien Bay and a 4-hour drive from Perth. It has a town center, hospital, high school, agricultural college, and a community that cares enough to try and revamp their town.
Canberra – Australia Capital Territory
Canberra is the city that often gets forgotten about in Australia. It gets overshadowed by bigger, louder Sydney, which everyone mistakes for the country’s capital. But it’s Canberra, in the ACT that’s quietly been getting on with that job.
Canberra is a sophisticated city whose founders put thought and effort into its planning. The result is a spacious, uncrowded city with a small-town feel. The pretty tree-lined streets are interspersed with plenty of green spaces, bush reserves, and a beautiful lakefront that goes some way to make up for it being an inland city.
As the seat of the Australian Parliament, the city is filled with government buildings and political monuments. However, it also has an exciting arts scene with some of the best galleries and museums in the country. And, being close to all that culture and political action doesn’t even come at a huge price. This under-the-radar city has a cost of living roughly 25% cheaper than in Sydney, and its house prices and utilities can be as much as 50% lower. The average house in Canberra costs $480,000 AUD that’s around $100,000 AUD below the national average. Plus it has one of the lowest crime rates of any Australian city and lower unemployment rates too!
Hobart – Tasmania
Sitting off the southeast coast of the mainland is Australia’s littlest state and cheapest place to live, Tasmania. Its capital city Hobart boasts house prices around 25% lower than the country’s average, and purchasers can bag property for 60% less than they would in cities such as Sydney or Melbourne. And they get all the joy of living in this extraordinary place.
Tasmania is a beautiful, remote spot filled with natural wonders. And Hobart is a vibrant port city steeped in history with a thriving arts and culture scene. The island’s growing popularity has brought elegant restaurants, modern cafes, and craft breweries to reinvigorate a once bland dining scene. And the climate offers cooler summers than elsewhere in the country and mild-to-chilly winters. So it appeals to those who want their Australian experience to come with a more European climate.
However, you should be aware that while house prices and living costs are low, so is earning potential. Hobart has the lowest average income of any city in Australia and a reasonably limited job market. Rental prices are high thanks to the growing tourism industry pushing up the price of short-term rentals. So if you’re planning to make this move, think it through from an employment perspective and plan on buying, not renting, as soon as possible.
Broken Hill – New South Wales
New South Wales is not generally the state to head to if you’re looking for the cheapest places to live in Australia. It’s not only home to Sydney, the most expensive city in the country, but also celebrity-favorite Byron Bay where house prices have shot up until the average cost is in the millions.
But that’s not to say that you can’t find a budget-friendly place to live in NSW. You just need to look a little harder and, get away from that expensive coastline. All the way away in fact. 11 hours drive inland from Sydney, on the far border of NSW sits the ‘City of the Desert’ Broken Hill. One of the cheapest places to live in Australia, where the average house price is $155,000 AUD, but they sometimes sell for an incredibly low $40,000 AUD.
But this is no boring outback town. Broken Hill is the oldest mining town in Australia. It’s filled with fascinating history, mining museums, and heritage buildings and is listed on Australia’s National Heritage List for its outstanding significance to the nation.
Visitors here will be pleasantly surprised by the sizable artistic community, the hip cafes and pubs, and the LGBTQ+ festivals inspired by the movie Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. This cult classic was filmed in part at the Palace Hotel in Broken Hill.
And, if you want to get back to the coast, skip the long drive and just take a direct flight from Broken Hill Airport to any major Australian city!
Cairns – Queensland
Cairns in northern Queensland is a city best known for being the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and as a hotspot for tourists, divers, and snorkelers. But it is also one of the cheapest places to live in Australia if you’re looking for a tropical climate, coastal lifestyle, and city atmosphere. In fact, the year-round warm weather and low cost of living make Cairns a favored Australian retirement destination.
However, the climate is not for everyone. While the winters are warm and pleasant with average temperatures of 17°C, the summers can be too hot and humid for some. Average highs reach 31°C and there can be torrential rains thanks to the monsoon season, which falls in summer from November to May.
But if you can handle a little humidity and summer rain, then you’ll find Cairns well worth considering when planning your move to Australia. Its cost of living is far lower than other coastal cities with average house prices of $550,000 AUD and rent costing up to 60% less than Sydney. This city is a laid-back place where it’s all about an outdoor, vacation-style lifestyle. So leave the big city hustle behind and head north for some tropical time out.
What is the cheapest place to live in Australia?
Hobart, Tasmania is the cheapest place to live in Australia. The historic capital of Australia’s smallest state offers low house prices and living costs amidst beautiful scenery.
Is Australia expensive?
Yes, unfortunately, Australia is an expensive place both to visit and live. It sits just outside the top 10 most expensive countries in the world and has comparable average living costs to the UK and US, around $2600 AUD per month.
Where’s the most expensive city in Australia?
Sydney is the most expensive city in Australia, with Melbourne following closely behind. House prices have been skyrocketing in Sydney in recent years, and median house prices reached a whopping $1,601,467 AUD this year.
What is the cheapest time to visit Australia?
The cheapest time to visit Australia is during the winter, which falls from June to September. During this low season, you’ll find temperatures dropping and tourist crowds dwindling, leading to cheaper flights and accommodation.
However, it’s still a wonderful time to visit the country and a great time to enjoy the warm but dry winter climate of Cairns, experience snowfall in Tasmania, or even ski at one of the country’s ski resorts!