Cost of Living in Melbourne
Like the rest of Australia, Melbourne offers a quality of life that is seen as attractive to many expats. Ranked 33rd in Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey, Melbourne is rated highly when it comes to education, entertainment, healthcare and tourism as well as sports. The city’s economy is highly diverse, with strengths in finance, education, IT and research sectors. Expatriates who are planning to relocate to Melbourne will find an exceptional quality of life and excellent weather that is sure to satisfy them.
Buying Real Estate
Expatriates looking to purchase real estate in Melbourne will find plenty of options in the form of urban apartments, old-fashioned Victorian homes and residential houses in the suburbs. Those looking to live closer to the city and business district will find that the prices of condominiums and apartments tend to be more expensive. The prices of property vary depending on the location, so expats are advised to shop around and compare prices in different areas to see what they can afford.
When buying real estate, houses and apartments in Melbourne are often brought with the help of an agent, so expats are advised to seek out real estate agent services when buying property. However, it is possible to buy property directly from home owners as well. When finding property for sale to purchase or rent, expats may be asked by real estate agents to provide proof of identification and a key deposit. Additionally, expats who wish to buy a house or apartment will have to pay taxes to the government which amounts to 10% of the property value.
Whether expatriates are looking for an apartment, condominium or house in the suburbs to move into, there are various forms of housing options that expatriates in Melbourne can choose from when it comes to looking for a place to rent out. In order to obtain approval to rent out a property in Melbourne, it is necessary for expatriates to present a number of documents which include references from previous rentals, a bank statement, a valid passport or drivers licence and a cover letter containing the details of your current income and status.
Rent is usually paid at the end of every month, and most leases in Melbourne tend to last for a period of one year and necessitate a month’s rent as deposit. It is likely that an expat’s biggest expense while living in Melbourne will be the cost of rent as accommodationdoes not come cheap, with rent for a furnished two-bedroom house costing as much as 1,200 Australian dollars. To make living in Melbourne more affordable, it is advisable that expats consider sharing a flat with a roommate to lessen the cost of rent.
Expats living in Melbourne have a wide range of gas, electricity and water providers to choose from when it comes to obtaining utilities. Some utility companies also offer additional services such as telephone and internet lines as well. Expats need to be aware that utility bills for electricity, water and other services are considered to be the responsibility of the tenant and not the landlord.
Since Melbourne is prone to harsh heat waves and chilly winters, expats will need to prepare themselves for the possibility of receiving high electricity bills for running the air-conditioner during the warm summer months and the costs that come with using the heater during winter. On average, households in Melbourne tend to spend 1800 Australian Dollars on gas and electricity bills.
Dining out in Melbourne can cost 15.00 A$in an inexpensive restaurant and can cost up to 80.00 A$ or more in middle to high-range restaurant. One liter of water costs an average of 2.53 A$ and a liter of milk costs 1.20 A$and a liter of Pepsi or Coke soda costs 2.98 A$. Imported beer costs 5.03 A$ per liter bottle, while a bottle of white wine costs 15.00 A$. One loaf of fresh white bread costs 2.79 A$ and a dozen eggs costs 4.26A$.
Expats will find getting around Melbourne easy to do, thanks to its wide public transportation network which is composed of trains, trams and buses. Those living near the city tend to forgo owning a car, as parking fees in Melbourne can be quite expensive, costing over 10 Australian Dollars a day. The public transport ticketing system in Melbourne for all trains, trams and buses is called Myki, which can be bought in 7-Eleven stores and at Myki machines located close to major train and tram stations.
The most common form of transport in Melbourne is the tram, and Melbourne is known to have the world's largest tram network, which consists of 500 trams on 28 routes and 1,813 tram stops. Train and tram services in Melbourne run between the hours of 5am until midnight from Monday to Thursday, with extended hours until 1 am on Friday and Saturday nights. Aside from the tram, Melbourne has over 300 bus routes which operate across the city. Bus services run from 6am to 9pm on Mondays to Fridays and on 8am to 9pm on Saturdays.
Expatriates who have moved to Melbourne will find that they are required to pay their taxes to the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Taxes in Melbourne and the rest of Australia are paid in the form of direct and indirect tax at local, state and federal levels. The amount of taxes paid depends on the amount of money earned. It is worth noting that aside from paying for income taxes, expats may need to pay for rates in order to gain access to Medicare services. Expats who have not gained permanent residency in Melbourne do not need to pay tax on foreign investments, but once they obtain permanent residency status, they will be expected to be subject to tax on their worldwide income and foreign assets.
It is important for expatriates who have obtained Australian residency to obtain a tax file number (TFN) which can give expats access to Medicare and other government services. To apply for a tax file number, expatriates can find an application form in the Australian Tax Office website to print out and submit with other identifying papers. Identifying documents to present include a valid foreign passport, a bank account statement from an Australian bank, Australian drivers’ license and an Australian citizenship certificate or Extract from Register of Citizenship by Descent. Selected post offices accept tax file number applications, so after submitting the application, expats will be called for an interview. Expats will receive their tax file number via post within 28 days after their interview.
While it is not compulsory to get a tax file number, expats who choose to not obtain one will find that they will be unable to receive taxpayer benefits. Additionally, expats without a tax file number will be deducted a higher rate of tax from their pay. Not having a tax file number can get costly in the long run, so expatriates are advised to apply for one.
Photo: Alejandro Muñiz Delgado