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Average Rent in Australia 2021

2020 completely upended the real estate and rental market in Australia, and even as we come out the other side in 2021, it’s hard to tell where the cost of rent in Australia will go. People overseas are returning to Australia, people from other countries are leaving Australia, and people within Australia are moving in patterns never seen before, and all this has changed the state of the housing market. As we slowly begin to return to our new normal, will the cost of renting do the same? To find out more about average rent in Australia in 2021, and what it means for tenants across the country, continue to read below.

Average rent in Australia 2021

The average weekly rent in Australia has seen some unusual trends over the course of 2020, as the population of Australia has shifted so dramatically during the pandemic. Below, you will find the results of the March 2021 Domain Rental Report, outlining the average rent in Australia by major city.

Median weekly rent prices by major city, March 2021
  Average weekly rent
Average weekly rent
Sydney, NSW $550 $470
Canberra, ACT $600 $500
Melbourne, Victoria $430 $375
Brisbane, QLD $440 $400
Adelaide, SA $425 $350
Perth, WA $430 $365
Hobart, Tasmania $480 $420
Darwin, NT $550 $430
National $471 $429

Source: Domain Rental Report March 2021

What are the most expensive cities for renters in Australia?

The cost of rent in Australia varies wildly, depending on where you live. Not just by state, but by whether you live in regional Australia or a city, and even what part of the city you live in. Below you will find a breakdown of the four most expensive Australian major cities to rent in, for both houses and units.

Canberra, ACT

As the capital city, the Canberra rental housing market remained relatively stable over the course of 2020 thanks to the steady government jobs generally unaffected by the economy or pandemic, with little change to the median rent cost for both houses and units in the city. According to Domain Research Rental Report for March 2021, between March 2020 and March 2021, both house and unit weekly rent costs rose by $20, or 3.4% and 4.2% respectively. As of March 2021, Canberra was the most expensive major city for both house and unit rentals - $600 per week for a house, and $500 per week for a unit.

Sydney, New South Wales

Behind Canberra, Sydney comes in as the second most expensive city for renters in Australia, with an average weekly rent of $550 for houses and $470 for units. Over the course of 2020, the median weekly rent for houses jumped from $530 in March 2020, to $550 in March 2021, while the weekly rent for units actually went down - from $520 in March 2020, to $470 in March 2021. This marks one of the steepest declines in unit prices for the city since 2004, according to Domain, due in part to the pandemic as well as increased development which gives tenants more opportunity for affordable housing in a historically expensive city.

Darwin, Northern Territory

Over the course of 2020, rental prices for both houses and units rose dramatically - up 14.6% for houses, and 13.2% for units. For the average renter in Darwin, this means a weekly rent of $550 for houses and $430 for units. According to Domain, not only are rent prices increasing, but increase in gross rental yields also shows the possibility that rents are rising at a greater pace than sale prices which puts into doubt the sustainability of these rent increases.

Hobart, Tasmania

While once considered one of the most affordable cities in Australia, Hobart is now one of the most expensive. This is due, in part, to the record-low vacancy rates of 0.4%, a number not seen since 2019 according to Domain. However this is largely geographical. While rental house costs rose 2.1%, from $470 to $480, and unit prices remained stable at $420 per week on average, rent prices in inner Hobart actually decreased.

What are the most affordable cities for renters in Australia?

One of the biggest shifts over 2020 was working from home. More and more people realised they could not only work from home, but work from anywhere. While it’s too soon yet to see how this could affect rent in the long term, it does mean that many people are choosing to move to cheaper cities even if their job is in a more expensive one. If you’re looking for a cheaper city to move to, regardless of your reason, keep reading below to find the cities with the cheapest rent in Australia.

Adelaide, South Australia

While Adelaide managed to hang onto it’s claim as “most affordable city for tenants in Australia” throughout 2020 and into 2021, that does not mean it was immune to rental increases over the course of the year. Thanks to a shrinking vacancy rate, higher competition for rentals available, and a slowing down of investment and construction for new buildings, both house and unit rental costs have jumped, from $395 to $425 for houses, and from $320 to $350 per week for units. According to Domain, if this increase continues, Adelaide could soon overtake Melbourne in rent prices in a few short months.

Perth, Western Australia

Perth was once the cheapest city for tenants in Australia but now, thanks to a 14.7% increase in rent for houses and 14.1% increase in rent for units, it has lost that title to Adelaide. Now, Perth and Melbourne are nearly neck-and-neck for the cost of rent, with rental houses jumping from $375 weekly to $430, and units going from $320 to $365 per week.

Melbourne, Victoria

While not the cheapest city for tenants in Australia, Melbourne was one of the few to see a consistent decrease in rental cost over the course of 2020 and into the first quarter of 2021. House rental costs went from $440 last March, to $430 this year while the average weekly rent for a unit in the city dropped from $430 last year to $375 in March 2021. Like other cities, however, this isn’t consistent across the city and some areas within Melbourne saw record-high rental costs. However, as rental conditions get more difficult in Perth and Adelaide, Melbourne might very well become the most affordable Australian city in the next few months.

Brisbane, Queensland

Rental prices across Queensland, not just in Brisbane, have reached record highs thanks to move and more Australians moving to the sunshine state. In Brisbane, house rent has increased 7.3% over the last year, up to $440 a week, while units went from $385 per week last year to $400 per week in March 2021. However, this is nothing compared to the Sunshine Coast (from $500 to $580 per week for houses, and from $420 to $460 per week for units) or the Gold Coast ($510 to $560 per week for houses, and $445 to $465 per week for units).

Average rent in regional Australia 2021

The cities are expensive, which is why regional Australia can be an attractive choice for a tenant looking to save money. While each region varies in terms of the cost of rent, below you can find the average lowest and highest regional rents by state.

Average highest and lowest weekly rent for regional Australia, 2021
  Lowest average rent Highest average rent
New South Wales Murray: $345 Richmond - Tweed: $600
Victoria North West: $330 Mornington Peninsula: $450
Queensland Darling Downs - Maranoa: $285 Sunshine Coast: $580
South Australia Barossa - Yorke - Mid North: $270 South Australia - South East: $320
Western Australia Western Australia - Wheat Belt: $340 Western Australia - Outback (North): $600
Tasmania West and North West: $320 Launceston and North East, South East: $390

Source: Domain Rental Report March 2021

How much of their income do Australians spend on rent per week?

They say you should never spend more than 30% of your income on rent, but how much of their average weekly earnings does the average Australian living in a major city put towards renting their home? Below, we’ve taken the average weekly earnings for each major Australian city and the average weekly rent​​​​​​​ for the same to see just how much income is spent on rent every week.

Percentage of weekly earnings spent on rent in Australia
  Average weekly earnings Percentage of rent - house Percentage of rent - unit
Sydney, NSW $1,751.90 31.4% 26.82%
Canberra, ACT $1,890.20 31.74% 26.45%
Melbourne, Victoria $1,718.50 25.02% 21.82%
Brisbane, QLD $1,615.40 27.24% 24.76%
Adelaide, SA $1,542.60 27.55% 22.69%
Perth, WA $1,840.50 23.36% 19.83%
Hobart, Tasmania $1,488.10 32.26% 28.22%
Darwin, NT $1,703.70 32.28% 25.24%
National $1,711.60 27.52% 25.06%

Source: Average weekly income in Australia - Australian Bureau of Statistics. Average weekly rent in Australia - Domain Weekly Rental Report March 2021

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