Recent research undertaken by the Economist Intelligence Unit told Australians something that most of us already know, that is that Sydney and Melbourne are bloody expensive places to live! Sydney is now ranked the third most expensive city in terms of living costs, behind the traditionally exorbitant Tokyo and Osaka, and slightly ahead of Oslo and Melbourne.

So who can afford to live in places like Sydney and Melbourne with the cost of living so high compared to our international peers? What kind of profession would you have to choose in order to afford to live in the third and fifth most expensive cities in the world??

Well according to recently released Australian Bureau of Statistics figures being an Anaesthetist would likely provide you with the means to afford the Sydney or Melbourne lifestyle with change to spare, given that the average salary for Anaesthetists in Australia is $306,199.

The next highest paid professionals are Psychiatrists, which while quite some way behind Anaesthetists, still earn a whopping $208,359 per annum on average. The next highest paid profession has an element of danger money incorporated into their pay, with Crane, Hoist and Lift Operators earning $158,881 per annum on average. Rounding out the top five are Engineering Managers ($157,893), and Surgeons ($152,022).

Interestingly, Australia’s masters of the financial universe are largely left out of the highest paid professions in Australia, which is due to the fact that the ABS is only looking at average cash earnings, and does not include extras such as bonuses.

Profession (top ten)

Average Annual Salary





Crane, hoist and lift operators


Engineering managers




Internal medicine specialists


Chemical, gas, petroleum and power generation plant operators


Mining engineers


Geologists and geophysicists


Other medical practitioners


However, at the bottom end of the market maintaining living standards in some of the most expensive cities in the world is much more of a stretch. Fast Food Cooks ($10,702) and Fitness Instructors ($13,754) are the two lowest paid professions. The fact that fast food cooks are so low paid is somewhat ironic given that their products have certainly driven demand for the services of many of the top paid medical professions in Australia, and driven up their salaries!

Profession (bottom ten)

Average Annual Salary

Fast food cooks


Fitness instructors


Personal care consultants


Other hospitality workers


Outdoor adventure guides


Cafe workers


Automobile drivers


Checkout operators and office cashiers




Sales assistants (general)


All in all, the ABS data reveals that living in the some of the world’s most expensive cities shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for some, but quite an issue for others.


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