What is the average rent in Australia?

The past year has seen a shift to a new normal in a post-pandemic world, with interest rates increasing, the cost of living soaring, and average rent prices sent off the charts.
Ava Crawford
Written by
Ava Crawford
Imogen Baxter
Reviewed by
Imogen Baxter
Last updated
December 4, 2023
0 minute read
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Row of Sydney terrace houses on which the rent is rising

What is the average rent in Australia?

It’s hard to ignore news about the rental crisis in Australia. Recent years have seen rental prices skyrocket nationwide, with headlines about dwindling vacancy rates and competition over real estate.

With home loans feeling out of reach for many Australians, the rental market is an incredibly important element of the larger property market. The past year has seen a shift to a new normal in a post-pandemic world, with interest rates increasing, the cost of living soaring, and average rent prices sent off the charts.

To find the average rent in Australia, we need to consider the cost of renting in all of Sydney’s major capital cities, as these can be considerably different to the rental costs of a regional property. We’ve looked at the cost to rent of both houses and units, with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and rental reports from CoreLogic and Domain.

Thankfully, we are gradually starting to see news of a softening rental market, although this relative to the extreme conditions we’ve seen in major Australian cities. April and May have seen slight lifts in the rental vacancy rate, rising to 1.1% nationally.

Average rent around the country

The median weekly rent in Australia looks dramatically different depending on whereabouts in the country you live. A 2023 CoreLogic rental report lists the median weekly rent as $570 across all dwellings, or $594 in capital cities. Continuing on a national scale but looking at dwelling types, we can see that median weekly rent is currently:

  • Nationally: $582 for a house
  • Nationally: $540 for a unit
  • Combined capital cities - houses: $615
  • Combined capital cities - units: $550

This is further broken down in each state.

Currently, across all Australian cities, Sydney and Canberra take out the title of Australia’s most expensive for renters. Sydney is also the most expensive city in terms of house prices, while Darwin is the cheapest city to buy a home. CoreLogic’s Quarterly Rental Review shows that the national rental index has risen by 10.1% nationwide in the past 12 months.

Jump to your state to find the median rental price for a house and an apartment in the greater metropolitan area of each capital city.

  • New South Wales (NSW)
    Sydney rental vacancy rate: 1.2%
    NSW average weekly salary: $1,810.20
    Median weekly rent — House: $747
    Median weekly rent — Unit: $648

  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
    Canberra rental vacancy rate: 2.0%
    ACT average weekly salary: $2,019.10
    Median weekly rent — House: $712
    Median weekly rent — Unit: $585

  • Victoria (Vic)
    Melbourne rental vacancy rate: 0.7%
    Victoria average weekly salary: $1,793.90
    Median weekly rent — House: $545
    Median weekly rent — Unit: $504

  • Queensland (QLD)
    Brisbane rental vacancy rate: 1.1%
    QLD average weekly salary: $1,760.70
    Median weekly rent — House: $628
    Median weekly rent — Unit: $523

  • South Australia (SA)
    Adelaide rental vacancy rate: 0.3%
    SA average weekly salary: $1,658
    Median weekly rent — House: $552
    Median weekly rent — Unit: $443

  • Western Australia (WA)
    Perth rental vacancy rate: 0.6%
    WA average weekly salary: $1,988.55
    Median weekly rent — House: $582
    Median weekly rent — Unit: $505

  • Northern Territory (NT)
    Darwin rental vacancy rate: 1.8%
    NT average weekly salary: $1,744.10
    Median weekly rent — House: $646
    Median weekly rent — Unit: $505

  • Tasmania (Tas)
    Hobart rental vacancy rate: 1.7%
    Tasmania average weekly salary: $1,586.40
    Median weekly rent — House: $571
    Median weekly rent — Unit: $505

Remember that these rental prices the inflated rent of inner city areas and that the price of renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city centre may be vastly different to the same property in a regional area of the state.

The choice of suburb can also make a dramatic difference in rental prices. The median house rental price for Vaucluse, one of the most expensive suburbs in Sydney, Australia’s most expensive city for rentals, hovers around $2,859. Looking at the cheapest suburb to rent a house in Sydney, you would find Treagar, where the median house rent is $466 per week.

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What type of properties are Australians renting?

While you might think of the average renter as a young professional, the rental market in Australia comprises all sorts of demographics renting all types of homes. Census data shows us that homeownership rates are trending downwards in Australia, dropping from 70% in 2006 to 67% in 2021. Aussies are also now renting in all areas of the country, not just densely populated capital cities.

With growing demand has come a surge in unit rent pricing, outpacing the growth rate of house rent. Nationally, we’ve seen apartments grow 3.9% in the past quarter, compared to the housing rent growth of 2%.

Rental growth in the combined capital cities has grown at more than double the rate of the rest of Australia combined in 2023, rising by 3% to regional rent growth of 1.2%.

We can also see the high level of rental stress that comes with tenancy. Rental stress is generally defined as the financial instability that comes with more than 30% of your income being put towards your rental payments.

Looking at the average wages in each state alongside the median rental prices, we can calculate that the average unit renter in Sydney and in Hobart is already experiencing rental stress (paying 35% and 31.8% of the average income for rent respectively).

A report by CoreLogic on Australian rental affordability places the proportion of median household income needed to service rents has lifted to 30.8% nationally, indicating a much larger level of rental stress. Since the start of the rental upswing, weekly rents have grown by an average of $115.

Current influences on the Australian rental market

A few factors have contributed to the rising prices of rental properties at the moment, all of which we can see culminating in today’s record prices and low availability. Some of these include the following:

  • Less tolerance for communal living: A major impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a decrease in willingness to live in larger shared housing. With more and more people looking for smaller homes for themselves and their direct families, along with recently opened floodgates for immigration, there has been a large increase in demand for rental properties.
  • Movement back to city centres: While the pandemic saw a heightened rate of urban-to-regional migration (with unprecedented growth in areas like coastal NSW and the Gold Coast), decreasing support for remote work means we can expect this population to return to inner city hubs.
  • Rising interest rates: Though not directly proportional to rental cost increases, the past year of interest rate hikes has left many investors with increased mortgage repayments. This means that to keep up, some rent adjustments need to be passed on. That said, we have seen rental increases uniformly across all rental properties, not just ones with standing mortgages.
  • Wage stagnancy and inflation: Relative to inflation, wages in Australia have remained stagnant — unable to keep up with the climbing rental prices. ABS data for 2022 had annual wage growth at 3.3%, which was a 4.5% fall when adjusted for inflation. Meanwhile, Proptrack data shows a minimum 3% growth in median weekly house rent across all of Australia’s capital cities (with an average of 11.1% growth overall for houses, and 12.5% growth for units).
  • Extremely low vacancy rates: With such a competitive market, it’s unsurprising to see such low vacancy rates across the country. In most cities, they have continued to drop: the average vacancy rate across capital cities has an annual decline of a further 0.66%, with the only improvements in Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart, and Canberra. Thankfully this is beginning to turn around, vacancy rates remain low, allowing rental costs to remain high.
  • Limited sense of agency: While a too-high rate on a home loan can be renegotiated or refinanced with a different provider, renters often experience disenfranchisement that comes with a lack of choice. With such limited availability, they are unable to necessarily move in the face of rent increases or poor conditions. Options for tackling unreasonable rental increases may be daunting or costly (involving legal action).

Is there a way out of the rental market maze?

With the current crisis, many renters may feel locked into the rental market without much sign of things changing. Unlike the property market, which has ebbed since the pandemic peaks, the rental crisis shows no sign of slowing down, with increases continuing to hit tenants.

This could serve to benefit investors operating as landlords but could also keep many people locked out of the housing market for longer, unable to save up home deposits.

Suggestions for helping with the current situation across Australia involve funding the construction of new homes and rental-purpose housing. The pandemic also saw the beginnings of some regulations around rental increases concerning frequency and amounts, and the federal and state governments continuing these conversations could help to ease the burden on both landlords and tenants.

Tighter rental regulations may also dissuade investors from purchasing rental properties, adding to the issue of limited rental supply. This is a dire issue, as the supply of Australian capital city rental listings in April 2023 is 20.9% below the level recorded at the same time last year.

Meanwhile, if you have been served with unreasonable hikes to your rental prices, it may be worth contacting your landlord or real estate agent, as you may be able to find some balance. This is a short-term solution but can be helpful in immediate situations.

In the long run, it looks as though rent will only continue upwards, and until wages begin to rise in turn — or entering the housing market becomes more accessible — there seems to be more struggle on the horizon for the nation’s renters.


Is it better to rent or buy a home in Australia?

The choice between renting and buying comes down to your financial circumstances.

Obviously, in the long run, you will spend a lot more money on weekly rent than you will on the average home loan, as there is no “paying off” rent in the same way you can own your home outright.

Taking out a home loan tends to require a significant deposit on top of regular repayments (though low deposit home loan options do exist), which is something many renters do not have access to or the borrowing power to gain. There are far fewer upfront costs for renting, which can make it a better option for those who move around frequently, but for any long-term comparison, paying off a mortgage may land you in a better financial position.

In terms of straightforward costs of weekly rent as opposed to mortgage repayments, there are some places where it is cheaper to rent than buy. In fact, average monthly costs work out cheaper for renters vs. homeowners in 90.9% of Australian suburbs. Corelogic reports that this is the case in:

  • 100% of the ACT
  • 100% of suburbs in Sydney (95.5% of suburbs in the rest of NSW)
  • 100% of suburbs in Melbourne (98.2% of suburbs in the rest of Victoria)
  • 98.1% of suburbs in Adelaide (65.7% of suburbs in the rest of SA)
  • 97.8% of suburbs in Brisbane (64.2% of suburbs in the rest of QLD)
  • 97.6% of suburbs in Hobart (94.9% of suburbs in the rest of Tasmania)
  • 87.9% of suburbs in Perth (40.6% of suburbs in the rest of WA)
  • 51.6% of suburbs in Darwin

Are there any rental assistance schemes available in Australia?

Rental assistance is available to some parties in Australia, but access is restricted. Criteria limit it to mostly those unable to work full time, including:

  • Age Pension recipients
  • Disability Support Pension recipients
  • Carer Payment recipients
  • ABSTUDY Living Allowance, Austudy, or Youth Allowance recipients
  • Special Benefit recipients
  • Parenting Payment recipients
  • Recipients of Family Tax Benefit - Part A at more than the base rate
  • JobSeeker Payment recipients
  • Farm Household Allowance recipients

These may also apply to retirement village fees, mooring and lodging fees (in the case of caravans or houseboats as primary dwellings), or boarding fees.

You may also be able to seek rent assistance if you live in community housing or defence housing. States may also provide rental subsidies to those escaping dangerous situations, so it is worth seeking out your local schemes

What is the most expensive city for rent in Australia?

Looking at the median weekly rent for both houses and units, Sydney is currently the most expensive city to rent property in. Over the pandemic, this bounced between Canberra and Sydney, but it appears to have levelled out. As of May 2023, Sydney’s median weekly rent for a unit is $648, and median house rent is $747.

What is the cheapest city to rent in Australia?

For a cheaper rent alternative, the cheapest capital city to rent a unit in Australia is Adelaide, with a median weekly rent of $443. As of May 2023, the cheapest capital city to rent a house in is Melbourne, where the median weekly house rent is $545.

This article is intended to be general in nature and is not personal financial product advice. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation, or needs. In particular, you should seek independent financial advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement (PDS), or other offer documents before making an investment decision in relation to a financial product (including a decision about whether to acquire or continue to hold).
Prepared by OwnHome Services Pty Ltd ACN 664 492 059. This information does not take your personal objectives, circumstances or needs into account. Always read the disclosure documents for products and services before deciding on a product or service, and consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice for your unique circumstances.

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