How do you calculate cost of living in Melbourne for two?

The Nomadlist search ( gives $1207 (or AUD 1639) to live like a local, but estimates from elsewhere, and from asking people, wildly vary.

Assuming a fairly frugal life, say an extension of student life, with the occasional indulgence, what’s a reasonable estimate for cost of living for two in Melbourne? To add details we’re intending to:

  • definitely cook at home
  • eat out a few times a month (2-3 times?)
  • rent an apartment/flat
  • basically cut corners a lot - go running in the park instead of a gym subscription, use public transport, etc.
  • have a backup/emergency savings fund

How do you actually come up with a fairly accurate estimate? Does anyone have any formulas or tips?

As with all estimates, figures supplied by Nomadlist, Numbeo and every other site under the sun are purely subjective. To be honest, if you look at a city in a rich country like Australia, you’re going to get a huge variance in what people would consider cheap.

When it comes to my travel budget planning, I look at a bunch of sites, figure out an average, double it and budget accordingly. After a month living in the city, if it decreases, great! I have extra money for the next city I move to. If it increases, well, I’ve gotta tighten my belt.

Right now I’m based in Melbourne. I know that personally I could cut all corners and live for AU$1500 a month. That being said, I don’t live that cheap and I know people who exist on twice that much who still complain that they aren’t meeting budget.

The $1207 ‘living like a local’ figure would probably only apply if you’re willing to hang about for 12+ months. Accomodation is expensive, short-term accommodation moreso. If you’re willing to live on rice and noodles (the typical student lifestyle) you could do so for $5 a day. Meals outside can range from $10-$20 per person if you want to be tight. If you live in the CBD, the public transport is free and there are plenty of parks that you can excercise in. You won’t like to do that in winter though - right now with the wind chill it can drop to 5°C in the middle of the day. You don’t want to jog in that with the icy rain. For the emergency fund, I always take the cost of a non-sale air ticket to my home country and double it.

In the end, when it comes to being a digital nomad, you’re gonna have to figure out your own cost of living formula. Some people think cheap is living in a dorm full of stinky backpackers. Other people think cheap is living in a 1 bedroom apartment - in Australia, the difference between those two scenarios is $1000 a month.

I’m from Melbourne and it’s not a cheap city. A few years ago, I was saving for a big goal and decided to live frugally. The dole (unemployment) in Australia is $AUD500 a week so I took that as my benchmark then added $50 for work costs. It was manageable but difficult and definitely no frills.

I rented a house in the outer suburbs with 2 housemates, didn’t have a car, didn’t go out at all.

For food, the supermarkets in Australia are crazy overpriced - there are 2 chains who have a monopoly - but there are some great markets around and if you turn up on Saturday afternoon, everything needs to be sold off so they are super cheap (boxes of vegies for $1) and much better quality.

Going out can be expensive because minimum wage is quite high in Australia. Depends what you want to do really. You can go out and have an Asian meal for under $10 if you don’t want an elegant decor :smile: Brunch at a cafe would be $20 or so.

Apartment rental can be competitive. University holidays are Nov - Feb so you might get luckily around Nov-Dec because people are moving out of apartments to do things over summer etc. In Jan-Feb, the students are hunting for all the cheap apartments. If you want a cheaper apartment, check out the inner West like Footscray. Some parts can be quite rough but there are nice areas and it’s 10 min by train out of the CBD.

There are some great running tracks around the city. I used to run all year around but it can get cold and miserable. Often when the big event fun runs are planned, you can join a running group leading up to it with corporate sponsorship so get to run with a group, have someone look after your gear and often get coffee and snack afterwards. Places like Lululemon in the city have some good free stuff too - running groups, free yoga etc.

Thanks @grum and @kathrynoh!
@kathrynoh, interesting to hear that it’s manageable, though difficult, with AUD 1000 per month.
We’re doing the calculation to figure out how much minimum income we’ll need. I think I can take AUD 2500 as a ballpark figure for now (there are 2 of us, mid-twenties).
Anyone with any thoughts or advice, please chime in :smiley:

if you have a bit of time you could check out the melbourne subreddit on reddit, and do a search for something like ‘cost of living’. (

I’m in NZ currently but i find lots of threads like these pop up from both locals and expats. If you have the time to have a bit of a browse it gives you a good idea of the variations in costs/lifestyle. People tend to give a bit of detail on their demographics which helps you get more specific.

You can take from it and apply to your own situation, or even pop up your own post and get posters to give you a rough approximate. I find it pretty accurate when I read the NZ ones that are comparable to my lifestyle.