How Much Do You Need to Earn to Live Comfortably in Sydney

Sydney is an expensive city. So much so that Sydney is being ranked as number 15th most expensive cities to live in 2020 on Business Insider

The question, of course, is how much do you need to earn to live comfortably in such an expensive city? Well, it really depends on your definition of “comfortably”, but hey, now that it’s illegal to do anything fun after 1:30 am, you might find it easier than you think.

Let’s break down some average costs to see what we’re working with.


Unless you’re loaded, you’ll probably be looking at either living in a shared house or an apartment to rent, let’s say, within 15km of the CBD. Again, this will depend on your own requirements and what you would deem as a liveable environment.

DISCLAIMER: With COVID-19 affecting the current rental property market, it becomes difficult to predict prices, we will take average prices pre-COVID to take a more conservative approach.

Outside of the city centre, on average, you’re looking at anywhere from $300 to $450 per week per room depending on the size of the place, how many people you’re sharing with and of course, location.

As a rule of thumb, places that are more convenient or sought after tend to be more expensive (duh!), these would be beaches relatively close to the city like Manly, Bondi, Bronte, etc… other suburbs that are known for being expensive to rent are more in the east side, like Potts Point, Surry Hills and Double Bay and more recently the ‘hip’ inner west such as Marrickville, Enmore and Newton. 

For argument’s sake, we’ll split the difference and say $370.

Food & Groceries

The average price of a meal at an inexpensive restaurant in Sydney is around $20, but we’ll hazard a guess that you like to be a bit fancy sometimes too, so let’s call it $30 per meal and you eat out twice a week on average – $60.

Basic groceries, depending on how much you need, we’ll say is another $80 per week.

And because you can’t help yourself, you grab some takeaway for lunch three times a week at $15 a meal. And just to be sure, another $20 a week on miscellaneous small expenses.

Total for food and groceries comes in at about $205 per week.


Ok, so you own a car but you also catch the train to work each day, so weekly train fares will set you back around $35, depending on how long your commute is. We’ll say you drive your car mostly on weekends and not all that far, so you go through maybe three full tanks in a month.

The cost of petrol varies but we’ll use today’s average price of 124.4 cents a litre. Your car has a 40-litre tank, so this works out at $127.08 for the month. For ease, we’ll round this up to $130.

So that’s $67.50 per week to get around town.



On average, basic utilities for a unit will run at about $175 per month, but then you need to factor in phone and internet charges.

A decent internet plan is around $70 per month and roughly the same for a modest phone, depending on how much data you want to churn through and how fancy you want your handset to be.

An average of $78.75 per week.


This depends on how hard you like to party, but the 2015-6 average is $172 per week. It goes without mention that the current climate in Sydney does not allow for a ‘normal’ entertainment budget as most live events and festivals are not open due to the coronavirus. However, in coronavirus-free circumstances, Sydney does offer many fun options for those looking for entertainment, such as concerts and events at the iconic Opera House, art exhibitions, etc. 

Let’s be a little more liberal than that and say $250 a week.


Here we’ll factor in things like private health insurance, car insurance, car registration, going to the doctors and other things that might incur unexpected expenses.

Assuming you pay around $100 a month for each of your insurance premiums and your car registration is around $400 for the year, we’ll call it $260 with “other” expenses thrown in too.


If we use the numbers above, that brings it to a whooping $971.25.

According to the ABS, the average Australian earns $1,499.30 each week before tax, which is $1,143.30 after tax and superannuation. In terms of an annual salary, this is $77,963.60 before tax.

And again, all of this comes down to your definition of comfortable living. Some of the numbers used are also quite generous, so it’s very easy to spend less than that and live in what most would call a comfortable bracket, but it is interesting to see what the numbers look like when you set them out.

If you live with other people, things like internet, utilities and rents have the capacity to be much lower, it’s when you go it alone that things get pricey. Things like insurance can also be much cheaper when you shop around and cut out extras that aren’t required.