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Expat's cost-of-living bombshell after fleeing expensive Aussie city

Kimberley Lucas recently moved to Australia with her young family and said things aren’t as easy Down Under as foreigners think.

Kim Lucas and family
Kimberley Lucas and her family moved to Australia from Scotland in April last year. (Source: Supplied)

A Scottish woman is warning other foreigners about the “hard” reality of living in Australia. The mum-of-two recently relocated and said she’s been shocked at how brutal the cost of living is Down Under.

Kimberley Lucas moved to Australia in April last year after her husband, Euan, was given the opportunity to work as a civil engineer on a project in Sydney.

Lucas told Yahoo Finance the couple had always fancied Australia and decided to jump at the opportunity, selling their house in central Scotland and packing up with their two young kids, aged four and two.

But the 32-year-old said the move to Australia hadn’t been as easy as she initially thought, finding it “really hard” to find work. Plus, the high-cost of renting and childcare compared to the UK.



“I definitely think there's this view that if you move to Australia everything's easy and everything just gets better, and that is absolutely not true," Lucas said.

"I think until you live it yourself, you don’t really appreciate that.

“I was one of those [people] who watched TikToks and Instagrams and thought ‘Wow, this is going to be amazing’. But actually it is really hard and it’s super expensive.”

Here’s what her biggest learnings have been so far.

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Lucas, who has a background in finance, said she applied for dozens of part-time jobs when she arrived in Sydney but didn’t hear back from the vast majority of them.

“It’s been super hard to try and find employment in Sydney,” Lucas told Yahoo Finance. “I think a lot of people come out with the view that they’ll pick up a job quickly but that’s not the case here at all.”

Kim Lucas and kids
Lucas said it has been difficult to find a job and expensive childcare costs make things more complicated. (Source: Supplied)

On top of that, Lucas said parents have to weigh up the cost of putting their kids into childcare which she found is much more expensive in Australia.

Lucas said her daughter currently goes to childcare two days a week, while her son goes one day.

In Sydney, this costs them between $160 to $170 per day, per child. They are not currently eligible for a childcare subsidy.

In comparison, the Scottish government currently offers parents up to 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare each year, around 30 hours a week during term time for children aged 3 or 4 years.

Rent is also much more expensive, she said, with Lucas sharing it was her family’s biggest expense.

They originally paid around $1,200 a week to rent in Sydney, something she said was “unaffordable”.

“Rent here is just crazy compared to what you are used to. We’ve [also] never rented and have always owned the house, so renting in itself is hard,” Lucas said.

By way of comparison, the Office for National Statistics put the average monthly rent in Glasgow at £1,190 in April 2024, which is about $2,285 a month or $527 a week.

In Sydney, the average rent for a house is $750 per week, while a unit is $700 per week.

Kim Lucas and husband
The family recently moved to the Central Coast, where things are a bit more affordable. (Source: Instagram)

Finding Sydney too hard to manage, Lucas and her family moved to the Central Coast when her husband found a new project in the area.

They now spend $780 per week on rent.

“We’ve moved out of Sydney because we couldn’t afford to live there for years and put our daughter in school,” she said.

“So we’ve moved to the Central Coast. It is ticking the boxes for sure but the house on the Central Coast is expensive and it’s on the rise.”

Lucas isn't the only one leaving the pricey city. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data found Sydney lost a whopping 36,000 people, either to regional NSW or other parts of the country last year.

Around a quarter of those who left greater Sydney, relocated to Brisbane or regional Queensland, the data found.

When it comes to wages, Lucas said there was a belief that “your salary is almost double” in Australia. But she said this is all relative to the more expensive cost of living.

“Whilst that may be true, everything else has doubled too,” she said.

“We came over with the impression that we would have so much money leftover at the end of each month but the reality is we don’t because there is so much that goes out to the general cost of living. It’s just expensive.”

The latest data from the ABS found the full-time adult average weekly earnings in Australia were $1,888.80, or about $98,200 annually. The median salary is around $65,000, according to SEEK.

In comparison, Scotland has a median gross annual salary of £27,710, which works out to be about $53,218 in Aussie dollars.

Despite all this, Lucas said she has no regrets about moving to Australia. She believes that Australia can offer a better “quality of life”, especially for kids who have more opportunities to do things outdoors.

“Them growing up here is definitely worth it. But you have to weigh up what the trade-off is,” she said.

While she is not sure how long her family will remain in Australia, she said they are trying to make the most of things while they are here and take each day as it comes.

Lucas has been sharing her moving journey online and hopes she’ll be able to help other people coming over to Australia. She said content creation is her main source of income while she continues to look for work.

“A lot of people assume because I’m not feeling at home here yet, I can never go home,” Lucas said.

“I can always go home, I could go home tomorrow but I’m trying my hardest to make it work here.”

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