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standard of living for Aussie devs?

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I am currently a developer in Minnesota, USA.  I have always had an interest in living in Australia, and my company has locations there, so transferring locations within the company could be an easy way to get there.  In what little research I've done, it seems like Australia has a much higher cost of living than where I live now.  


So, I'm wondering if some Aussie devs could tell me about how much they make (if you don't mind), and what it buys them  (and in what city).  For example, do you have room mates?  Do you live in the suburbs, or the city?  What sort of amenities does your apartment have (central A/C?  dishwasher?  off-street parking?  indoor parking?)  Do you own a car, or use public transit?  How often can you afford to go out to bars/sit-down restaurants/brothels?  How much can you afford to travel internationally?  Do you use the universal health care system, or do you have private supplemental insurance?


Also, knowing your job title / years of experience would help in my comparison.




Developer II / 5 years experience (excluding college summer/part time jobs)

USD$83,990 / year

Live alone, in the city, apartment has dishwasher, lots of kitchen counters, window/wall A/C, outdoor off-street parking

own a new car (4-cylinder compact)

Could go out to a sit down restaurant and/or bar once a week

Have private medical insurance through my job


Currently I am trying to meet my first savings goal of 3 months' expenses.  But once I've done that (in about 3 months), I could probably have an apartment with central A/C and indoor parking, plus travel internationally once a year, and still have some money left over to put more into retirement or save for a down payment on a house/condo.


Your help would be much-appreciated!  Thanks!

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I can't tell you how much developers get paid here, as I don't work as a developer.  But I can comment on living costs.


My girlfriend and I have a combined income of around $95,000 a year ($92,000 in USD).  We have a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in the CBD of melbourne in a building that's around 15 years old.  It has a decent sized kitchen and complete central A/C (You don't want to live in Australia without A/C).  Our apartment comes with an indoor parking space.


We eat out 2-3 times a week, and in the two years we've been living in Australia, I've taken two international holidays, and she's been overseas four times.  We don;t have a car as we have no need of one, but have spent around $5,000 on PC parts in the last year.  My girlfriend also studies so we're paying her course costs. We both have private medical insurance, which we pay for ourselves,


With all those expenses (including electricity, internet, cell phones, etc), we're still saving money.

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In junior roles, I was getting $40-45k. In intermediate roles, I'd expect $55-80k.

$80k for someone with 5 years experience is possible, depending on how big the studio is and how you negotiate. I've seen situations where people of equal skill/experience/value have $30k difference in their salaries, because one gave a small number in their interview and didn't negotiate, while the other demanded a high number and rejected counter-offers :/


I can't tell you how much senior staff can get paid, because I quit after about 6 years experience to start my own company happy.png


$80k before tax is about $62k after tax, plus an extra $7,200 paid into your compulsory superannuation account (accessible at retirement, or when you leave the country if not a citizen).


The Aussie dollar is generally worth pretty much the same as the US dollar lately, so if you're buying stuff from US stores yourself, the cost is still about the same, except with shipping added on top. Many imported products (not grey market / ebay self imports)  have artificially inflated prices though. Anything Apple, they double or triple the price here. A game that's $60 on the shelf in the US will be $120 on the shelf here. Expensive software, like Autodesk products will also mysteriously double in price... dry.png

I live the Melbourne outer suburbs at the moment, a 25 minute drive from the city, or 40 mins on the train. Three bedrooms, a back yard, car-port, dishwasher, central heating and AC is around $15k a year in rent
Before that I lived in the inner suburbs, a 10 minute train or 15 minute tram ride from the city, and had no need for a car. Two bedrooms, no heating or dishwasher, outdoor off-street secure parking was around $20k a year in rent. There was no AC either, so I bought a portable one for a few hundred, which I'd only use for about one month a year (when you get those 40ºC+ / 100ºF+ days).
I did have a room-mate in that house, but when he moved out, I decided to live alone instead of seeking another one, and I was still ok financially -- I just couldn't go out 4 times a week any more wink.png
I also rent a tiny office in the Melbourne CBD for about $7,500 per year, which is incredibly cheap.
Even when I was earning $55k (before tax) and paying $20k rent, I was still managing to put away a few thousand a year into a savings account somehow...
As for international travel, the Americas and Europe are very expensive to travel to, but New Zealand is very cheap, and south-east asia can also be pretty cheap to get to sometimes - Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, Fiji, etc... The stereotypical holiday destination is Bali, an island in Indonesia, which costs about $250 to fly to.
Not sure what the custom is in the USA -- I had some European friends who were surprised that their new apartments didn't come with a refrigerator -- they assumed that would be supplied by the landlord. Fridges and washing machines are the tenant's responsibility -- except in apartment blocks that specify a "shared laundry". Occasionally I've had apartments that have had a wall-mounted clothes drier, above the spot where your own washing machine goes, but that's it.
Utilities are also generally the tenant's responsibility -- no inclusion of electricity/etc in your rent.
Side note: When I was renting in NSW, I'd never heard of a "water bill" -- this utility in particular was always paid by the landlord through property taxes/rates, but since moving to Vic I've been paying water/sewerage bills as well (not much, about $20 a month).
Some utilities are quite expensive here. Electricity has been going up and up due to stupid government investment / beuracracy


gold plating is the excessive expenditure by electricity networks on poles and wires to increase their revenue (under the National Electricity Market regulatory framework, the more the power companies spend, the more they get paid – and this spending constitutes the single biggest component of the rise in our power bills)
I've gotten bills of $260 a month before during winter, when using power-hungry heaters all day long, and I wouldn't be surprised at a $100/month electricity bill.
Public transport depends on which city you want to move to and which suburbs. In Sydney, I got so fed up with transport that I decided to rent an apartment within walking distance of my job tongue.png
When moving to inner Melbourne though, I fell in love with the tram network.
I rely on the public health system, and don't worry at all about not having insurance. It's not like the US where you need insurance. e.g. I can go to the doctor around the corner from me and just give them my Medicare number instead of paying, and they bill the government instead of me. If I have to go to a private doctor, I can take the bill to a Medicare office and have some percentage of it reimbursed to me.
I'm not sure though if an American on a Visa has access to our public health system -- you'll probably have to pay your own way unless/until you gain permanent residency, and then you'd be able to get a Medicare card.
Even then though, the cost of private health insurance here is much cheaper than in the states. When I did have it, I was paying about $60 per month for me and my girlfriend.
From what I gather, the biggest shocks to you will be the price of food (both ingredients and restaurants) and alcohol (both at liquor stores and bars).
Edited by Hodgman

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Thanks for the detailed replies!  Rent is also giving me sticker shock, especially since here we generally have a fridge and shared laundry included, plus water and heat paid.

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