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The Cost of Renting in Australia: Upfront and Recurring Costs

Piggy bank and home on background with Sydney Opera House

Trying to figure out a moving budget, particularly if you’re renting a home for the first time, can be overwhelming. There’s a lot to account for, beyond your weekly rent, that you need to remember when budgeting the costs of renting. From the upfront costs it takes to rent your new home, to paying the moving fees, and the recurring costs you’ll need to budget for every month, keep reading below to help you budget for the cost of moving while renting in Australia.

The upfront costs of renting a home in Australia

While not nearly as expensive as buying a new home, the upfront costs of renting in Australia can still be a surprise to anyone unprepared. From paying rent, to the security deposit, to the actual cost of moving and buying things for your new home, the upfront costs of renting add up quickly.

Rental application fee

Also known as an “option fee” in Western Australia. This is not a common fee, and most Australians won’t need to pay this. However, in Western Australia you might be asked to pay either $50 or $100 (depending on the cost of rent and the location of the property) as an “option fee”. If you are asked to pay an option fee and your rental application is successful, the fee will be deducted from your first rent payment. If your rental application is unsuccessful, then the money will be returned to you within seven days of your application being denied.

Rental bond / security deposit

A rental bond, or security deposit, is paid at the start of a tenancy agreement and used to offer some amount of financial security to the landlord or property manager in the event that their tenant skips out on paying rent or causes excessive damage to the property. The amount of rental bond you will need to pay depends on the cost of rent for the property, and what state you live in but it will usually not be more than four weeks' rent. At the end of your tenancy, as long as the property is left in good condition and you don’t owe your landlord anything, you should get your rental bond refunded.

Rental bond cost by state
State Rent bond amount
NSW Maximum 4 weeks’ rent
ACT Maximum 4 weeks’ rent
VIC Maximum 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is less than $350. If rent is more than $350 (short-term lease) or $760 (long-term lease) this can be more than four weeks and should be negotiated.
QLD Maximum 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is less than $700. If rent is more than $700, there is no maximum amount and should be negotiated.
SA Maximum 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is less than $250. Up to 6 weeks if weekly rent is more than $250.
WA Maximum 4 weeks’ rent unless weekly rent is $1,200 or higher, in which case the bond is negotiated.
TAS Maximum 4 weeks’ rent
NT Maximum 4 weeks’ rent

Pet bond If you want to move into a rental with your furry (or scaly or feathered) friend you will need written permission from your landlord. However, it is only legal to ask for a pet bond in Western Australia where landlords are able to ask for a one-off $260 payment to allow your pet to live on their rental property.

Rent in advance

This is the amount of rent you pay upfront to move into your new home. Depending on the amount of rent you need to pay, and the state you live in, the rules and laws about rent in advance differ.

Rent in advance by state
State Rent in advance
NSW Up to two weeks’ in advance
ACT Up to two weeks’ in advance
VIC Maximum one months’ rent in advance unless rent is paid weekly. In which case it’s only 14 days’ in advance. If rent is more than $900 / week, there is no limit.
QLD Up to two weeks’ in advance for periodic agreements or one month for fixed-term agreements
SA Up to two weeks’ in advance
WA Up to two weeks’ in advance
TAS Usually two weeks’ in advance
NT Often only one weeks’ rent in advance

Moving costs

If you’re moving out of the family home, or student housing, to live on your own for the first time, you might not need to worry about steep moving costs as you might not have a lot of things to worry about moving. However, if you have a lot to pack up and move, you will need to consider:

  • Removalist or truck rental costs
  • Packing materials including boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape
  • Professional cleaning, especially if you’re moving out of an old rental to ensure you get your security deposit back

The cost of home utility connections

These fees can vary widely, but there is usually a cost associated with connecting your new home to the energy grid and to the internet. Home utility connection fees to consider include:

  • Electricity: Electricity connection fees vary depending on your electricity distributor but can be anywhere from $11.58 for Queensland residents up to $86.21 in the ACT.
  • Gas: Gas connection fees are set by your natural gas distributor, and start at $7.35 for some Victorian residents up to $55.67 in New South Wales.
  • Internet: Internet relocation and connection costs vary depending on the internet provider, but many offer special deals for new customers who sign up for a 6 or 12 month contract where connection and set up fees are waived.

Household basics

If you’re moving into your first home, you might be missing some household basics. Furniture, dishes, cooking utensils, and cleaning supplies can all add up so it’s best to budget ahead of time. For bigger home items, check your local online secondhand marketplace for gently used furniture and appliances, and make sure you have all the basic cleaning and cooking necessities.

Average rent in Australia

The average weekly cost of rent in Australia varies wildly. Everything from the state you live in, to whether you live in regional Australia or an urban center, to whether you’re renting a house or a unit all affect how much you can expect to pay. Below you can find data from the March 2021 Domain Rental Report, outlining the median weekly cost of renting in Australia. It’s important to remember that these are just the median numbers for each state or territory, and many factors can influence your weekly rent.

Median weekly rent in Australia
City, State Median weekly house rent price Median weekly unit rent price Average median regional weekly house rent price
Sydney, NSW $550 / week $470 / week $450 / week
Melbourne, VIC $430 / week $375 / week $355 / week
Brisbane, QLD $440 / week $400 / week $405 / week
Adelaide, SA $425 / week $350 / week $300 / week
Canberra, ACT $600 / week $500 / week N / A
Perth, WA $430 / week $365 / week $345 / week
obart, TAS $480 / week $420 / week $370 / week
Darwin, NT $550 / week $430 / week N / A
National average $471 / week $429 / week $370 / week

Source: Domain Rental Report March 2021

Recurring costs while renting in Australia

Also known as bills, recurring costs are things you need to pay for regularly. When renting an apartment, this can include your weekly rent, utilities, transportation, and anything else you need. To find out what you’ll need to budget for every month when renting a new apartment, keep reading below.

How much rent should I pay in Australia?

As stated above, rent can vary widely depending on where you live but no matter what state or city you live in, it will probably be one of your biggest recurring expenses. As a good rule of thumb, your monthly rent should never exceed 30% of your monthly income, but of course, this isn’t always the case. If you’re struggling to pay your rent, or experiencing financial difficulties, Rent Assistance is available through Centrelink for eligible Australian residents.

How much should I pay for rent? In general, rent should be no more than 30% of your monthly income. If you live in Sydney, NSW and earn $80,000 per year, 30% of your salary would mean a weekly rent of no more than $462.

Renters insurance

As a renter, your belongings inside the rented property are your responsibility, particularly in the case of things like natural disasters or break-ins. Therefore, in order to protect your belongings, you should consider renters insurance.

Renters insurance is a type of contents insurance specifically for renters, in order to protect and cover the cost of everything from furniture and electronics, to clothes and jewelry and other valuables. Renters insurance can cost anywhere between $300 to $500 annually, for upwards of $50,000 in coverage.

Home utilities: Broadband and home energy plans

You’ll need to set up and connect most of your home utilities, unless your landlord specifies that they are responsible for them. If you’re able to sign up for your own home broadband plan and energy tariff, however, it wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of comparison first to ensure you’re getting the best and cheapest deal.

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