Architecture Australia Bridge 783682 1

The cost of living in this country can cause a little bit of stress, particularly when it comes to property

Cost of living is something that is pretty commonly talked about by Australians.

From housing prices to the cost of groceries, living in this country can really stretch a person’s budget. 
But how does the cost of living shape up across the cities of Australia and with cities all around the world?

What is a cost of living index?

According to Numbeo, the Cost of Living Index is a relative indicator of consumer goods prices, including groceries, restaurants, transportation and utilities.

On this particular scale, all these indices are relative to New York City. That is, all values of New York City are 100.

If another city has, for example,  cost of living index of 120, on average that city’s cost of living is 20% more expensive than in New York City. If a city has cost of living index of 70, that means on average in that city the cost of living is 30% less expensive than that of New York City.

Cost Of Living Mid 2019 Graph V2
Basel, Switzerland was ranked as having the highest cost of living in the world for mid-2019. Data sourced from Numbeo.


Ranking at 33, Sydney is indexed at 79.74 and is 25 places above the next highest Australian city on this scale (Perth). 

Sitting just below the Dutch capital of Amsterdam, it has dropped 10 places since this time in 2014. 

Commonly acknowledged as Australia’s most expensive city, the median dwelling value in Sydney was $777,693. The month of July saw a slight increase in values and was the first monthly increase in Sydney housing values since the market peak in July 2017. 

According to data from CoreLogic though, annual dwelling values are down 9%. Rental prices are also down year on year.

Median house rents have been measured at $530 and units at $525 per week for the June quarter. 

Due to the price falls that the Sydney market has seen in the last year, rental yields have seen a slight increase for investors. However, Sydney’s rental yields were the lowest of the Australian capitals at 3.4%. 


Coming in at 72, Melbourne is indexed at 73.38. It sits only two places above the next Australian city, Canberra (indexed at 73.15). 

In mid-2014 though, it ranked at 28 on the cost of living index. This potentially reflects increasing prices of the categories that it is measured against rather than the cost of living decreasing in Melbourne. 

The median dwelling prices sit at $619,443, also seeing a slight increase in values for the month of July. Annually though, dwelling values still sit 8.2% lower than the previous year. 

According to Domain, median rents for houses have seen a decrease of 2.3% to $430 per week for the June quarter. Rents for units though remained unchanged at $420. 

Rental yields have also seen an increase in Melbourne due to recent falls in in prices over the past year. 


Brisbane is ranked at 81 on the Cost of Living Index at 72.49 and is the sixth highest ranked Australian city. It is similarly ranked to international cities such as Wellington in New Zealand and San Diego in the United States.

It was ranked 30 in mid-2014. 

The median values of dwellings in Brisbane, according to CoreLogic, currently sits at $484,998. Despite values rising by 0.2% for the month of July, annually, Brisbane dwellings have seen a decrease of 2.4%. 

Median rents for houses saw a decrease of 2.4% to $400 whereas median rents for units remain unchanged for the June quarter at $380.

Rental yields for Brisbane units have increased a little due to property prices falling annually, whereas yields for houses have been steady.