Is Sydney really that expensive? Just how expensive is expensive?

I get asked this question a lot from people all over the world. The high cost of living in Sydney is usually a deal breaker for expats wanting to make the move to Australia. (For more info about daily living expenses in Sydney click here.)

It’s ok to admit it. It was one of the reasons we almost didn’t make the move ourselves back in 2008. Just doing some basic research on rents in Sydney is enough to change anyone’s mind. Then when you start to add in other daily expenses like groceries, utilities and things like your mobile phone plan, it gets even more scary.

I’m guessing you have probably already read one of the many articles online that lists the most expensive cities in the world. Sydney is usually at around #10 on those lists. I know because I’ve read them too. It is often rated as more expensive than New York and London when one compares more than rents or mortgages.

Don’t worry you won’t be out on the street because you can’t afford it. Why? Because you’re reading this article and, by the end, you’re going to have an idea about how much your rent in Sydney is going to cost you, daily groceries, and even going out to eat. Not only that but I’m also going to share some cost saving tips to help you out along the way.

Rents in Sydney

The bulk of your monthly cost of living is going to be rent. For a one bedroom apartment in Sydney plan on spending $450 to $550 a week minimum. Anything less and you’re looking at a very small place which might work for you or a place that is bug infested. Two bedroom apartments start at about $650 a week minimum. This is based on our experiences from moving three times in the first four years we lived in Sydney. But don’t just take it from me.

The next pages of this post has a number of tables that list the median prices of WEEKLY rents in Sydney from the NSW Family and Community Services Housing research that I’ve put together to help you out.

Yes, weekly rents, not monthly so don’t get too excited when you start looking at these tables. Also be sure to read the tips afterwards about apartments in Sydney.

Rent in Sydney by City Council Areas

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Rents for Inner Ring Areas: Flats/Units vs Houses

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Rents for Middle Ring Areas: Flats/Units vs Houses

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Rents by Individual Suburbs in Sydney

The tables below are for both flats/units and rental houses.

Sydney’s CBD

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Sydney’s Inner West Suburbs

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Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs

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Sydney’s Lower North Shore

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Sydney’s Northern Beaches

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For the tables above of individual suburbs rents in Sydney, I did not include every suburbs nor did I include the suburbs in the Middle Ring from the image above. If you want that info or the median rental price of another other neighbourhood in Sydney leave a comment below and I’ll add it in. Deal?

I did start the process of adding in more suburbs but, well, there’s a lot and I want to get this article posted asap. So seriously, if there is a specific suburb you are interested in just let me know in the comments below. Cheers.

How do Sydney rents compare with other cities?

Cost of Living Comparison

Don’t Make This Mistake

Now be sure you don’t make the mistake of estimating your rent at $550 x 4 weeks because it is going to be more than that since there are 52 weeks in a year.

Then there is your bond, aka rental deposit, for your apartment that is usually equal to one month’s rent or more for full furnished apartments. That’s a lot of money up front just to move in. If you’re working on the budget for your move then take a look at our page about saving up for your move to Sydney as there were a couple of shockers we experienced with our move.

How much can you afford?

When we started looking we had our maximum price in mind but then when we were actually there seeing what was available in our price range, we quickly raise it about $150 a week more. Just letting you know that this will probably happen to you. I have yet to meet an expat that didn’t raise that initial max price. And yes, it is painful financially in the beginning but once you start getting those first couple of paychecks it all works out. Be sure to read about all the extra cost that will come up when you first move to Sydney.

As with every city, area is linked to price. Beach or centrally located areas in Sydney are going to be more expensive than some places more out-of-the-way. This is one of the reasons I liked Neutral Bay and the Lower North Shore because it was less expensive (except for Kirribilli and Mosman) and really not that much farther away from the city. Besides, commuting to work everyday by ferry was like taking a Sydney Harbour Cruise on my way to work. Highly recommended.

Before you arrive in Sydney get familiar with the different suburbs and price ranges to see where you and your budget fit in. Doing this before you arrive will cut down on time and heartbreak when you finally start viewing apartments. I’ve currently enlisted some help with developing a Sydney Suburbs Guide and currently have a few entries to check out.

If you are single and don’t mind living with a roommate then check out Flatmates.com.au. There is also Gumtree, an Australian version of Craiglist.org but not nearly as good.

Just to warn you, I haven’t heard any good things about using Gumtree for finding flatmates. In fact just the opposite. I’ve had several girlfriends looking for flatmates with Gumtree and they have all gotten creepy emails from complete strangers. Please be careful Ladies!

Extra Costs You Need To Know About When Renting in Sydney

Most likely you will also need to purchase a refrigerator, a washing machine and dryer for your new apartment.

Apartments in Sydney that are not full furnished do not include a fridge or washer/dryer. So add that to your budgeting for your new apartment. You can find second-hand items on Gumtree but the sellers most likely will not deliver. In that case you will need to hire someone to pick up from the seller’s location and delivery it to you.

Airtasker is my new favourite love for deliveries of almost anything not just Gumtree purchases. They are by far the least expensive of all the options out there. In fact, Airtasker as gotten so popular for pickups and deliveries that they now have a dedicated section of their site just for deliveries. Highly recommend checking it out.

Another option is Betta Home Living where you can find everything you would ever need for your new apartment plus they deliver for free for orders $75 and more, easy to do when you’re ordering more than one appliance. Not bad just make sure you’re home when they deliver. You can also ask about delivery times with their live chat on their website.

Furnishing Your Apartment On A Budget

The best way to furnish your apartment on a budget is Gumtree, the site mentioned above. To make running around the city picking up things you’re buying on Gumtree easier sign up for one of the car share sites. Many of the car shares now have vans and trucks available through the city, or you can reserve one to pick up it up in your neighbourhood. Again going long distances with a car share is not the best budget idea because the cost of petrol but it’s great for getting around the city especially if you just want to pick up a few things on Gumtree.

For online shopping for furniture and home decor try Zanui and LivingStyles. LivingStyles is more bargain shopping similar to Wayfair back in the States, whereas Zanui is more expensive.

If you’re after Kitchenwares, try Kitchen Style. There are usually good sales at KitchenStyle and they offer free shipping on orders $150+, easy to do when setting up a kitchen from scratch.

There are also two Ikeas in the city and they deliver for a charge. Or make a trip to the SupaCenta just past Moore Park. There you will find a Freedom (yes, that’s the name of a furniture store), Fantastic Furniture (a very cheap furniture store) and Harvey Norman plus many other furniture shops.

Resource for Tables of Sydney Rents above: www.housing.nsw.gov.au