Renters’ expenses

by Chris Lang on January 26, 2009

Movers truck people loading boxesWhen you have just arrived in Australia and started to look for a rental accommodation, to understand what your monthly living expenses will be, you need to know what is included in the rent price. In different countries it works in different ways, so this is a legitimate question to ask – for example, in some countries the council rates are not included in the rent while in other countries they are, etc.

Here is how it works in Australia: the rent price advertised by the estate agents only includes the council rates, and in some cases the water bill. If you’re renting an apartment in a building and there is no separate water meter per apartment, then the landlord will pay the water bill, otherwise the tenant pays for the water.

However, there are parts of the water bill that only the landlord has to pay, not the tenant – I am talking about the amounts that are listed on the water bill under “service charges” and “other charges”. Service charges are the fees for accessing the water and the sewage systems and apply even if no one was using the water/sewage, a kind of flat fee. Other charges include drainage charge and Parks charge and are only paid by the property owner.

On top of the water bill, in addition to the rent, a tenant should expect to pay for the electricity, gas, phone, internet access, paid TV, renters insurance (if you choose to have it). There is also a one-off payment of the bond that roughly equals to monthly rent and payable before a tenant moves in (read more about it here).

If this is your first home in Australia and you don’t have any accounts opened with energy suppliers or phone companies, then you should also expect a set-up fee with every company where you first establish an account. Some phone companies will also charge you for connecting your land line and the same applies to the paid TV. If you do have accounts with energy, phone and internet companies, then another set of fees applies – relocation fees. There is no way you can avoid these fees, but it helps if you know in advance about them and can adjust your budget accordingly.

And finally some figures: (keep in mind that these are rough estimates that I’ve found in the Energy and Water Ombudsmen website)

  • The average energy usage for 12 months is 6500 kilowatt hours and it costs around $1000 for the year.
  • The average gas usage for 12 months is 60 gigajoules and it costs around $800 – $850 for the year
  • The average water usage for 12 months should cost anything in the $500 – $1000 range.
  • The cheapest phone line rental is $30 a months and that doesn’t include whatever the calls cost.

What else would you like to know about renting in Australia? Leave a comment and I will find out for you.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Flat House Share January 30, 2009 at 2:43 am

My costs are far more expensive than this 🙁 boo hoo!


emma bowers February 11, 2010 at 10:28 pm

hi we are wanting to emmigrate to australia and want to know all about renting a house that is in our budget. do you know a average cost of renting a property including all the extra bills eg. gas,electric,fone,water how will we know if say water was included in the rent would they give us all that info? also would it be better emmigrating staying in hotels before chooseing a house to rent as we wont be able to view the property until we arrive from uk. or could we go to estate agents in uk. thanks.


Chris February 11, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Hi Emma, the thing is that rents are different depending on where you’re going to live, which city, and which suburb. The best thing for you to find out about the rents would be this: go to and pick the suburb you’d like to live in, see what’s available there for rent and for how much. Normally if you rent a house (not an apartment / a flat) the water is not included, nothing is included apart from council rates. As far as I know, by law you can’t apply to rent a house that you didn’t inspect. If you look at the post you’ve commented on, there are some estimates for utility payments you can expect to be paying.

If you’ve decided already where you’re going to go in Australia, let me know, if it’s Melbourne I can tell you a lot about how things work here.


Palmdale homes for sale August 1, 2010 at 7:39 am

It’s interesting how the water bill is paid in a flat fee, so there is kind of a split responsibility between the landlord and tenant.


Palmdale Houses August 14, 2010 at 9:18 am

In California it works very much the same way

For Apartments: Rent/electric/gas/TV & Internet and a deposit that usually equals one months rent.

For a house it’s the same except you have to pay for trash and water.



property for sale September 16, 2010 at 1:29 pm

It is less hassle if water and electric bill of an apartment has separate meter so there will be no problem in dividing the fee at least you know how much you really consumed.


Stephen October 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Thanks friend for this super site. Seems like there\\\’s always something new I learn even after being in the field for 10 years.


{ 4 trackbacks }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: