BRISBANE: VALUE FOR MONEY
Wondering about the living costs in Australia is natural when you are an international student and trying to save money on your stay. For many students, this status represents constrained budgets and a limited income due to employment restrictions, the change of currency and the multiple expenses involved. However, Australia’s affordability places it on the top ten destinations for education purposes because it offers lower living costs than US and some countries in Europe, without compromising the quality of education and lifestyle.
To give you an idea of how much you need in a year for living expenses, the Australian Department of Immigration requires proof of financial solvency worth of around AU$ 18,000.00/year. This estimation includes accommodation expenses, transport, food, entertainment and incidentals, and it excludes tuition fees and other education costs. However, these expenses vary depending on your lifestyle and you will find that some cities in Australia will give you better value for money than others.
A basic guide for a single student with essential living costs would state, for instance, that accommodation expenses are higher in big cities like Sydney and Melbourne whilst Brisbane can give you the same facilities for half price. In addition, goods and services like food, clothing and even medical assistance can be much cheaper if you go to smaller cities with lower demand and less population, and they can even be more affordable in outer suburbs.
As a reference, a small shopping list could cost you around AU$9.74 bought from a supermarket brand in Brisbane, including 2lts milk for AU$2.47, a dozen eggs for AU$2.45, 520 gm cereal for AU$2.13 and 700 gm for AU$2.69. The same brand will show an increase in prices of 0.5 to 0.10 cents per item in Sydney. However, any supermarket in Australia can be beaten on price by local producers, which can reduce your costs significantly and even more if you plan your shopping and share expenses with your housemates at the local markets.
If buying cheaper groceries and finding affordable housing is not enough to reduce your expenses, Australia offers several concessions to international students, which makes life easier by giving discounts on events, some stores and different services. But it is public transport the most valued concession service for many students since it is, in many cases, their only way to move around and on a daily basis.
Despite the responsiveness, NSW and Victoria do not offer concession fares to international students on the city trains, buses or trams, which might discourage them from accessing the city’s facilities, travelling around, and may increase their need of part time jobs to afford public transport or even their own vehicle due to the high cost of travelling. A student, for example, could spend around AU$2500 per year without concessions and would spend even more if he/she lives away from campus or school.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that although Australia is well known for its affordability and quality of living, costs can be reduced even more by making some changes and readjusting your life for the length of your stay. Sharing accommodation and groceries expenses, shopping carefully at the markets and taking advantage of discounts and concessions are the smartest way to save hundreds of dollars and improve your aussie experience stretching your budget.