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Cost of Living in Sydney vs Brisbane: Which is Cheaper?

Sydney and Brisbane are often at the centre of attention when considering a move or just wanting to know how the cost of living compares between Australia’s two largest cities. As the most populous city in Australia, Sydney is known for its iconic landmarks, bustling lifestyle and vibrant economy. However, these advantages often come at a higher financial cost. Conversely, Brisbane, known for its subtropical climate, relaxed atmosphere and growing infrastructure, offers a different pace of life and often more affordable living conditions. Various factors such as housing, transport, daily necessities and leisure activities must be examined to understand the cost of living in these two cities.

Cost of Living in Sydney vs Brisbane: Indices Difference

Cost of Living in Sydney is 7.8% higher than in Brisbane (without rent)
The cost of Living, Including Rent, in Sydney is 19.3% higher than in Brisbane
Rent Prices in Sydney are 42.4% higher than in Brisbane
Restaurant Prices in Sydney are 2.9% higher than in Brisbane
Groceries Prices in Sydney are 7.7% higher than in Brisbane
Local Purchasing Power in Sydney is 12.1% lower than in Brisbane

Cost of Living in Sydney vs Brisbane: General Overview

For students planning to study in Australia, understanding the cost of living in your target city is an important step in creating a budget. Today, we will compare the monthly cost of living in Sydney and Brisbane, two popular cities for studying in Australia, including accommodation, transport, food, tuition fees, etc. This will give you a quick and direct understanding of the cost of living in Sydney and Brisbane.

Particulars Living Costs in Brisbane/Month (AU$) Living Costs in Sydney/Month (AU$)
Off-Campus Accommodation AU$ 700-1000 AU$ 900-1400
On-Campus Accommodation AU$ 1000-1500 AU$ 1200-1800
Transportation AU$ 80-150 AU$ 100-200
Food Cost AU$ 800 AU$ 800
Utility Cost AU$ 150 AU$ 200
Entertainment AU$ 50-200 AU$ 100-300
Clothes AU$ 100-300 AU$ 100-300

Cost of Accommodation in Sydney vs Brisbane

Accommodation costs in Sydney are generally higher. For on-campus halls of residence, the monthly cost may range from AUD$1,400 to AUD$2,400, depending on the type and location of the hall. Off-campus rentals can cost as much as AUD$3,000 to AUD$5,000 per month or even more, depending on the quality of the accommodation, location and facilities.

Rent Per Month Brisbane Sydney
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre 2,458.67 A$ 3,286.10 A$
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre 2,090.16 A$ 2,285.21 A$
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre 3,890.78 A$ 6,511.19 A$
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre 2,647.47 A$ 3,706.93 A$

In comparison, accommodation costs in Brisbane are a little more affordable. On-campus residence halls usually cost between A$1,000 and A$1,800 per month, while off-campus rentals can cost between A$2,000 and A$3,600 monthly.

Student Accommodation in Sydney

Here are the rental prices for some of the more popular student accommodation in Sydney.

Property Name           Location Weekly Rent (AU$)
Scape Redfern Eveleigh Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2016 549
Scape Glebe 25 Arundel Street, Glebe, Sydney, New South Wales 2037 489
Mascot Student Accommodation 8 John Street, Mascot, Sydney, New South Wales 2020 639
Scape Quay Quay Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2000 739
Scape Sydney Central Wattle Street, Sydney, New South Wales 2007 529


Student Accommodation in Brisbane

Here are the rental prices for some of the more popular student accommodation in Brisbane.

Property Name Location Weekly Rent (AU$)
UniLodge South Bank 125 Colchester St South Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland 4101 299
UniLodge Park Central UniLodge Park Central – Student Accommodation Brisbane 329
Scape Toowong 611 Coronation Dr, Toowong, Brisbane, Queensland 4066 499
Scape South Bank 149 Merivale St South Brisbane, Brisbane, Queensland 4101 509
Student One Wharf Street Wharf Street, Brisbane, Queensland 4000 399


Cost of Transportation in Sydney vs Brisbane

Transportation Brisbane Sydney
One-way Ticket (Local Transport) 4.34 A$ 5.00 A$
Monthly Pass (Regular Price) 210.00 A$ 217.39 A$
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff) 3.50 A$ 7.00 A$
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) 2.29 A$ 4.50 A$
Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff) 51.60 A$ 85.00 A$
Gasoline (1 liter) 1.99 A$ 2.04 A$
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) 40,750.00 A$ 43,711.50 A$
Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car) 31,841.79 A$ 33,924.26 A$


Sydney public transport: Use the OPAL Adult Card. The cost depends on the distance and frequency of travel. Bus and light rail fares range from AUD$2.24 to AUD$3.53 for a single journey, and metro and train fares range from AUD$2.65 to AUD$6.51 for a single journey. Taxi and internet taxi fares depend on the journey and are usually more expensive.

Brisbane public transport: use a TransLink bus pass, with fares based on the number of zones travelled. Transport with a GO Card adult ticket costs A$3.55 within a zone, while a concessionary fare is A$1.78. Concessionary one-way prices range between A$1.78 and A$10.74.

Cost of Markets in Sydney vs Brisbane

Markets Brisbane Sydney
Milk (regular) (1 litre) 2.16 A$ 2.28 A$
Loaf of Fresh White Bread (500g) 3.49 A$ 4.17 A$
Rice (white) (1kg) 3.38 A$ 3.46 A$
Eggs (regular) (12) 5.89 A$ 6.11 A$
Local Cheese (1kg) 13.87 A$ 16.85 A$
Chicken Fillets (1kg) 12.64 A$ 12.73 A$
Beef Round (1kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat) 22.02 A$ 21.27 A$
Apples (1kg) 4.68 A$ 4.83 A$
Banana (1kg) 4.16 A$ 4.17 A$
Oranges (1kg) 5.14 A$ 4.62 A$
Tomato (1kg) 5.61 A$ 6.44 A$
Potato (1kg) 3.70 A$ 3.62 A$
Onion (1kg) 3.23 A$ 3.37 A$
Lettuce (1 head) 3.05 A$ 3.39 A$
Water (1.5 liter bottle) 2.49 A$ 2.14 A$
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range) 20.00 A$ 20.00 A$
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter bottle) 8.12 A$ 6.94 A$
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 8.33 A$ 7.99 A$
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) 40.00 A$ 50.00 A$

Sydney’s supermarkets have a higher overall cost of goods than Brisbane’s. This is mainly reflected in the prices of daily food and household items. For an average family, supermarket spending in Sydney may reach around AUD$800 per month, while in Brisbane, it may be between AUD$600 and AUD$720. For students or singles, supermarkets in Sydney may cost between A$300-500 per month, while Brisbane may cost between A$200-400 per month.

Cost of Restaurants in Sydney vs Brisbane

Restaurants Brisbane Sydney
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant 20.00 A$ 23.00 A$
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course 120.00 A$ 120.00 A$
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) 15.00 A$ 15.00 A$
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) 12.00 A$ 10.32 A$
Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) 12.00 A$ 12.00 A$
Cappuccino (regular) 5.31 A$ 4.99 A$
Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) 4.17 A$ 3.81 A$
Water (0.33 liter bottle) 3.40 A$ 3.13 A$

Sydney and Brisbane are two of Australia’s major cities, with many restaurants and food options. However, there are some differences between these two cities regarding restaurant costs.

Restaurant costs are generally higher in Sydney. The Bennelong Restaurant at Sydney’s landmark Sydney Opera House has a per capita cost of A135. In addition, other high-end restaurants have a per capita cost of A100 or more, making Sydney one of the more expensive cities in Australia and globally regarding restaurant costs. Compared to Sydney, Brisbane’s restaurant costs are more affordable. Restaurants in Brisbane cost around A$30-40 per person. This price range applies to most general restaurants and cafes, providing visitors and residents with more dining options.

Sydney’s speciality restaurants are known for their high-quality cuisine and unique dining experience. In addition to Bennelong Restaurant, Sydney has many other high-end restaurants, such as Quay and Tetsuya, which usually cost more than A$200 per person. Brisbane also boasts several speciality restaurants, such as the award-winning Bacchus Restaurant, which serves modern Australian cuisine. However, compared to Sydney, Brisbane’s speciality restaurants are generally less expensive, with per capita spending around A$100.

Cost of Tuition in Sydney vs Brisbane

Sydney universities generally charge higher tuition fees. For business undergraduates, Sydney University’s tuition fee is about A$45,000 to A$50,000 per year, which translates to a monthly cost of about A$3,750 to A$4,167.

In Brisbane, on the other hand, the University of Queensland‘s tuition fees are around A$35,000 to A$40,000 per year, which translates to a monthly cost of roughly between A$2,917 and A$3,333.

Cost of Entertainment in Sydney vs Brisbane

Sports And Leisure Brisbane Sydney
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult 79.34 A$ 86.65 A$
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend) 26.60 A$ 29.59 A$
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat 20.00 A$ 24.00 A$

Sydney is slightly higher due to its rich cultural and entertainment activities. Monthly entertainment costs can range between AUD$100 and AUD$300, depending on the student’s interests and frequency of participation in activities.

In Brisbane, entertainment costs are relatively low, with monthly expenses roughly ranging from AUD$50 to AUD$200.

Cost of Clothes in Sydney vs Brisbane

Clothing And Shoes Brisbane Sydney
1 Pair of Jeans (Levis 501 Or Similar) 128.13 A$ 109.76 A$
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …) 63.75 A$ 90.01 A$
1 Pair of Nike Running Shoes (Mid-Range) 184.49 A$ 162.92 A$
1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes 157.32 A$ 189.50 A$

The difference between Sydney and Brisbane in terms of the cost of clothes depends mainly on individual shopping habits and preferences. Both cities have a variety of shopping centres and shops offering a wide range of clothing, from affordable to high-end. However, Sydney has a much more fashionable atmosphere, which may attract more students to shop here. Depending on individual shopping needs and budgets, clothes can cost between A$100 and A$300 per month.

Cost of Utilities in Sydney vs Brisbane

Utilities (Monthly) Brisbane Sydney
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment 282.11 A$ 289.11 A$
Mobile Phone Monthly Plan with Calls and 10GB+ Data 35.31 A$ 38.67 A$
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL) 76.41 A$ 77.63 A$

Utilities costs mainly include daily expenses such as water, electricity and gas. In Sydney, due to the high price of goods, the cost of Utilities may also be relatively high, and the monthly cost may be between AUD$100 and AUD$200. Due to the relatively lower prices in Brisbane, Utility fees are also relatively low and can range roughly between AUD$80 and AUD$150 per month.


There are differences in the monthly cost of living between Sydney and Brisbane. Accommodation, transport, and tuition fees are generally higher in Sydney, while Brisbane offers a more affordable option to study. However, regardless of which city they choose, students need to plan wisely according to their actual situation and ensure that their study abroad life goes smoothly.


The average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre in Sydney is significantly higher than in Brisbane. Rent in Sydney can range from AUD 2,400 to AUD 3,500 per month, whereas in Brisbane, it typically ranges from AUD 1,700 to AUD 2,500.

Generally, grocery prices are somewhat higher in Sydney when compared to Brisbane. Basic items such as milk, eggs, and bread may cost 5-10% more in Sydney.

Public transport is more expensive in Sydney. A monthly pass can cost around AUD 160-200, while in Brisbane, it is approximately AUD 150-180.

Yes, salaries are generally higher in Sydney to compensate for the higher cost of living. However, the salary increase usually aligns with the increased expenses, so the financial benefit might not be as significant.

While Sydney offers more job opportunities and lifestyle options due to its size, the higher cost of living can impact savings and disposable income. With its lower costs, Brisbane might offer a more relaxed and affordable lifestyle.

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