The real cost of living: state vs state

Table of Contents

If you have seen the news recently, you probably know that inflation is reaching record highs and the cost of living is rapidly rising. This page will look at what that looks like in your state and find out if where you live is affecting your daily expenses.


  • Electricity and Gas
  • Internet
  • Food
  • Water
  • Transport
  • The verdict

Electricity and Gas

To compare electricity and gas costs in each state, we’ll take a look at the ‘big three’ providers: EnergyAustralia, Origin and AGL.

This comparison table shows the average cost of electricity and gas in each state, based on the cheaper plan from each provider (correct at August 2022). 

Provider Electricity (c/kWh) Gas (c/MJ^)
Victoria 20.271 2.847
New South Wales 27.872 4.035
Queensland 25.031 5.303*
South Australia 35.727 4.526*

^Gas prices are reflective of the cost for the initial usage, which is the highest cost per MJ on the cheap plan.

*EnergyAustralia does not offer a natural gas plan in this area.

The results: Based on these rates, Victorian residents enjoy the cheap energy prices in the country, with Queensland and South Australia paying the most for gas and electricity respectively. 

Electricity and Gas

But as you know, energy rates are only one part of your final bill. Customers in every state can save money by comparing energy plans to find the best option to match their unique needs. This might include cheap off-peak rates and controlled load plans for items such as heating, cooling and swimming pools, high solar feed-in tariffs (FiT) and rewards and incentives that can save you money in other areas of your cost of living, such as Everyday Rewards points.

Give an expert at CheapBills a call to find cheap electricity and gas for your household and start saving today.


When it comes to comparing internet costs, most providers offer the same plan nationally, so you can access a great deal no matter where you live.

The true cost will depend on the type of internet available in your area and the speed and data limits you are looking for in your plan. 


If you regularly use a streaming service or play online games, we recommend a plan with fast download speeds and unlimited data. If you work from home and need to send large files, then a fast upload speed is also important. However, if your activity is limited to checking emails, browsing social media and internet searches, then you could save money by choosing a plan with slower speeds and a data cap.

Remote areas, with no access to the NBN, generally have to pay slightly more because of the type of connections available being limited to 4G or 5G satellite connections.

Some of our favourite plans are below.

Compare NBN Plans

Optus Internet Everyday

  • $79 per month
  • Unlimited data
  • Typical evening speed: 50 Mbps

Optus Internet Family Entertainer

  • $89 per month
  • Unlimited data
  • Typical evening speed: 50 Mbps
  • WiFi booster

Belong Starter Plan

  • $60 per month
  • Unlimited data
  • Typical evening speed: 25 Mbps

Belong Standard Plus Plan

  • $70 per month
  • Unlimited data
  • Typical evening speed: 48 Mbps

Compare 5G Plans

Optus 5G Internet Everyday

  • $79 per month
  • Unlimited data
  • 83 Mbps

Optus 5G Internet Entertainer Superfast

  • $99 per month
  • Unlimited data
  • 225 Mbps

The results: The amount you pay for internet is not affected by the state you live in, but rather by the connection type available in your area. To find the cheap internet plan, you need to consider connection type, the size of your household or business and the speed and data limits you need.

To find the compare NBN plan for you, talk to an expert at CheapBills. We will recommend the best plan for your needs and arrange your new internet connection.


The amount you spend on food is largely dependent on your household size and eating habits, however, there is a slight difference in the cost of food between states. The table below shows the average weekly spending of people in each region.


State Weekly Food Spend ($)*
Victoria 155
New South Wales 161
Queensland 152
South Australia 150

*Source: Finder Consumer Sentiment Tracker

The results: The cost of groceries and food have skyrocketed recently due to the impact on the supply chains of the COVID-19 pandemic and flooding. Although there is very little difference in the cost of food between states, residents of New South Wales are paying slightly more than their neighbours.

If your cost of food is putting a strain on your budget, you can shop around for better deals – often buying directly from the farm through markets or online and buying in bulk can be much more cost effective than doing a weekly grocery shop at a supermarket chain.


The cost of water depends on several factors. Part of your water bill is made up of the supply charge to deliver water to your home. Customers in regional areas pay more for their water supply than customers in cities.

The average water bill is also affected by the season, size of the household and the use of high consumption items such as a pool or lawn sprinklers.


The average water bill for each state in the first quarter of 2022 is shown below.

State Average Water Bill ($)*
Victoria 259
New South Wales 246
Queensland 300
South Australia 324

*Source: Watermark Plumbing

The results: Residents in South Australia are paying the most for water, in part due to the remote location of the state. New South Wales and Victoria have access to the cheap water, with only a $13 difference between their average bills.

Public Transport

The cost of public transport can be a good indicator of the overall cost of living. If you commute to work in one of the major cities, then your public transport costs could be a significant portion of your weekly budget.

The table below shows the average spend on weekly transport in the capital cities.

State Weekly Public Transport Spend ($)*
Melbourne 46
Sydney 50
Brisbane 56.52
Adelaide 39.50

*Source: Statista

The results: It might come as a surprise to some, but the relatively small city of Brisbane actually has the most expensive public transport. This is in part due to infrastructure upgrades that are forcing up the cost of travel in the short to mid-term. Residents in Adelaide enjoy the cheap commutes in the country.

Public Transport

The verdict

The cost of living does vary slightly between states, particularly when it comes to utilities. When each factor is considered, NSW and VIC have a slightly higher cost of living, which is skewed because of the high expense involved in living in Australia’s two biggest cities.

However, no matter where you live, a big element of the cost of living is your own lifestyle and consumption habits. 

Although some living expenses are unavoidable, there are many costs you can take control of, including your utilities. CheapBills will compare electricity plans from our panel of preferred suppliers to find you the best option and save you money. Call us on 1300 786 045 or enter your details online to start paying less for your bills today!

In the same easy phone call, we can find you a great deal on your gas bills, cheap internet plans and even connect you to Pay TV!

Related article: Are Electricity Prices Going Up in 2023

Important Note: All the rates, plans and offers stated in this article are subject to change at the provider’s discretion and might not be updated after the publish date unless stated otherwise. We try our best to update all the rates mentioned in our blogs as soon as possible. All articles updated will have the update dates mentioned. Thank you for your patience!