Migrating to Australia – Cost of Living, Annual Salaries and Taxes

migrate to australia sydney

If you are reading this from your cramped office cubicle, or on your mobile while enduring a sardine packed MRT ride home, chances are the fleeting thought of migrating the hell out of Singapore has passed through your mind at least once.

Increasingly, the option of migrating to perceived greener pastures is entertained by many stuck in the middle of their working lives. With costs of living rising faster than your pay raise, the average Singaporean is finding it harder to keep up with the Joneses (or Lees).

Among those looking to migrate out of Singapore, Australia is a popular destination.


Why do people migrate to Australia?

Why Australia? It boasts a good work-life balance and a less stressful education system. On top of that, it is the closest English-speaking developed country from Singapore, with lower costs of living vis-a-vis salaries.

The move is also relatively easy, given that there are tons of Singaporeans already living in Australia, especially in Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. As of 2016, there are 54,934 Singapore-born people in Australia. So even as you migrate and enjoy a slower pace of life, you can still find comforting Singaporean and Malaysian food.

Melbourne and Sydney are both a little less crowded than Singapore, but still feel like big time cities. Perth used to be quieter but has increasingly gained popularity as a tourist destination for many Singaporeans today. Foodie and coffee culture in Melbourne is serious business, with a myriad of cafes and food trucks plying the city.

But does migrating from Singapore to Australia really improve your life, and would you really be able to afford all the material trappings of the good life you so desperately crave?

Image Credits: Yasser Alghofily
Image Credit: Yasser Alghofily

Australian education system

If you are moving your children to Australia, the transition will not cause them to be held back a year. In Australia, the school year begins in January from primary to tertiary levels. 

Secondary school students who move to Australia from Singapore often find that they are way ahead of their peers in math and science. Something to note is that there tends to be better support for children with special needs in mainstream schools in Australia.

And for tertiary education, Australian students tend to complete Year 12 (equivalent of JC2) the year they turn 17, so your child can go on to university, which starts in January, without any lag time (not including NS). In Australia, bachelor’s degrees are typically completed in 3 or 4 years, or 3 years with an optional honours year.


Weather and climate in Australia

Australian weather is reverse from countries in the Northern hemisphere, so get ready for sweltering Christmases and cold winters in June. 

Winters in Melbourne tend to be a harsher than in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, where it’s usually pretty mild. Summer just about everywhere in Australia is very hot, with the temperature often going over 40 degrees. Singaporeans will be happy to know that the air is a lot dryer, so you no longer have to worry about perspiring the second you step out of the shower.


Cost of living in Australia (Melbourne)

The cost of living can vary tremendously depending on where you live in Australia. Obviously, living in a smaller city like Newcastle will cost you a fraction of what it does to live in, say, Sydney.

The following average costs (as collected by numbeo.com) are for inner-city Melbourne, which has a huge Singaporean community. Note that many of the Singaporeans who have relocated permanently actually live in suburban areas, where costs are significantly lower.

Image Credit: Jane Ellen
Image Credit: Jane Ellen

As of 27 September 2018, the currency exchange rate is SGD $1 to AUD $1.01, which means that you can basically think of Aussie dollars as SGD.

Item Prices in Melbourne
Meal at inexpensive restaurant 16.24 AUD
Pint of domestic beer at a bar 8 AUD
Loaf of fresh white bread (500g) 2.61 AUD
Eggs (pack of 12) 3.95 AUD
Beef (1kg) 13.69 AUD
Toyota Corolla 1.6l 97kW Comfort 23,037 AUD
Cost of renting an apartment (1 bedroom) in city centre 1,803 AUD
Cost of renting an apartment (1 bedroom) outside of city centre 1,392 AUD
Cost of buying apartment in city centre (per sq m) 8,668 AUD
Cost of buying apartment outside of city centre (per sq m) 7,053 AUD


Skilled migration in Australia: List of occupations in demand

It’s a lot easier to get your application approved, not to mention find a job, if you’re working in one of the following occupations that Australia needs:

  • Accountants
  • Automotive electrician, motor mechanic
  • Architect, architectural draftsperson, building associate, construction project manager, surveyor, urban and regional planner
  • Child care manager, child care worker
  • Air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic, electrician, electronic instrument trades worker, telecommunications trades worker
  • Engineering professions
  • Baker, butcher, chef, pastry cook
  • Health and social assistance occupations – dentist, pharmacist, radiographer, medical laboratory scientist, medical radiation therapist, occupational therapist, optometrist, physiotherapist, sonographer, midwife, nurse, etc.
  • Teachers


Average salaries for jobs in Australia (Melbourne)

Occupation Average salary (annual)
High school teacher 63,883 AUD
Marketing executive 59,665 AUD
Financial accountant 69,980 AUD
Mechanical engineer 69,442 AUD
Doctor (GP) 125,124 AUD


Personal income tax in Australia vs Singapore

In 2017, if you are a secondary school teacher in Australia earning AUD $63,000 a year, your personal income tax is AUD $3,572 + $8,450 = $12,022. (See calculation rules for Australia’s personal income tax). In Singapore, a secondary school teacher earning SGD $40,000 per year will be taxed $550.

Secondary School Teacher Singapore (SGD) Australia (NZD)
Annual income 40,000 63,000
Personal income tax 550 12,022
Take-home pay 39,450 50,978


What’s the immigration procedure like to migrate from Singapore to Australia?

Singaporeans who are no longer students usually move to Australia on the following Australia visas.

Temporary Work (Skilled) visa: You need to first find a job in Australia and get your employer to sponsor you.

Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent) visa: This is for business people who have already lived in Australia under a temporary visa.

Skilled Independent visa: If you don’t have a job, you might still be able to migrate if you have enough points under their Skilled Points Test. The number of points you get will depend on various factors such as your age, your English language ability, your educational and professional qualifications and whether you’ve previously studied in Australia.

Would you move to Australia? Which city would you choose? Share your thoughts here!