Cost of living: a year in review

Flagged as a major concern by governments across the country, household expenses are on the incline in Queensland.

Over the past year, RACQ has commissioned a series of reports into Cost of Living from Deloitte Access Economics. The reports examined a range of topics, looking at what contributed to everyday expenses and how cost of living pressures might be eased.


Of the five major Australian cities compared, Brisbane locals enjoyed the second cheapest train and bus fares for travel within the CBD. The costs associated with train travel out of the city were the most expensive though, second only to Perth, with those in Brisbane having to pay double what Adelaide residents paid for an equivalent journey.

Brisbane had the second most expensive taxi prices of the five major capital cities, but for Uber, the River City was cheaper than Sydney and Adelaide, but more expensive than Melbourne and Perth.



Queenslanders spent an average of $160 on recreational activities per week. Just over half of this went towards eating out, and more than a third was spent on home entertainment. Australians paid on average $11.95 per month to access their movie and television content online.

Queensland saw a 14 percent increase in attendance to live theatre performances and live sport continued to be a popular outing. NRL games were the best bang for buck when it came to sport, with a single game costing on average $20.80. Overall, sporting fans saved cash if they opted for an annual sign-up rather than pay per match.


The average Australian aged between 18-64 years of age spent 35 hours per month on their smartphone, at a cost of $344 annually. This was an expense a third of Australians admitted they did not budget for.

In December 2016, 740,000 Queensland homes and businesses were connected to the NBN, and this was expected to reach 1.5 million by the end of 2018. The research found regional Queenslanders’ access to reliable internet was both limited and expensive. Low data caps, a lack of competition and high drop-outs caused by adverse weather made a steady and affordable connection difficult.


Queensland households spent just under $200 weekly on food and non-alcoholic beverages, the third lowest across Australia, after South Australia and Tasmania. Woolworths had the highest number of grocery stores within Queensland, though Aldi and Coles had started to encroach on that market share.

The average Queensland household ate out two to three times per week, at the total cost of about $100. Queensland was the most expensive place to buy coffee in Australia, second only to the Northern Territory. A latte here costs on average $4.07 per cup.



Queensland had cheaper health services than New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia with its average Medicare contribution coming in at $55.78. It cost on average $33.81 for a visit to the GP in the Sunshine State and up to $74.76 for a specialist visit.

Sunshine State residents paid $14-$23 for a weekly gym membership, though cheaper plans were available for those whose employer offered health fund discounts.


Queenslanders were forking out more than $1.7 million on average for homes in Brisbane’s most expensive suburb and $266,000 in the cheapest. Teneriffe, New Farm and Ascot were areas where people spent the most on homes, and Ellen Grove, Archerfield and Inala the least.

Riverside and inner-city suburbs were some of Brisbane’s most highly sought after, but there was also a push toward acreage-living with semi-rural Chandler, 19km from the CBD, one of the top five most expensive places to buy.

When it came to the north/south Brisbane divide, highly sought after inner-north suburbs like Spring Hill and Paddington were just slightly more expensive than their southside counterparts, but Bulimba, West End and Coorparoo gave them a solid run for the money.


The research found unsurprisingly, the older a child, the more expensive their education. Secondary schooling costs were higher than primary, and that was largely due to ‘big ticket’ items like blazers and expensive text books.

The cost of tuition at private schools could cost as much as $20,000 per year. Families would need to save $150 per week for 12 years in order to cover the total cost of a secondary education at one of these institutions. While State-run schools were free of charge, families still needed to budget for resources, with some public school uniforms carrying a price tag of more than $300.


Brisbane residents paid $1250 per year for combined water and sewerage costs annually, the cheapest in the State. Locals on the Gold Coast, Fraser Coast and at Moreton Bay shared the crown for the most expensive, with residents paying about $1600 annually.

Townsville residents were the biggest consumers of water in Queensland, using an average 300 litres per person per day.  That was more than 100 litres per person per day than most other areas.


For Queensland locals, Brisbane was the most popular holiday destination in the Sunshine State, with more than 3 million visiting the State’s capital per year. The next two most popular destinations were the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.

When comparing costs of accommodation, the cheapest was available on the Fraser Coast, in Bundaberg and in Townsville. Queensland’s priciest accommodation could be found on the Great Barrier Reef, in the Whitsundays, and in Brisbane.



Queenslanders spent an average of $779 each on Christmas, including gifts, food, entertainment and travel, with an eye-watering $9.7 billion handed over in retail stores in the six-week lead up to December 25. Thirteen percent of Christmas funds were spent during Boxing Day sales but our research revealed the majority of Queensland retailers planned to discount their products ahead of the big day, rather than wait for traditional sales time.

Each of the Club’s reports, prepared in conjunction with Deloitte Access Economics, can be found on the RACQ website.