Cost of Living in Australia
The Australian government has financial requirements you must meet in order to receive a student visa for Australia. Find out more below.
In 2018, the 12 month living cost was:
Main Visa Holder – $20,290
Partner or spouse – $7,100
Child – $3,040
The cost of living in Australia does not vary much if compared between families and is quite uniform .If you are coming from Europe or other continents, you will find life here quite cheap and manageable compared with life back home. Expenditure, however, realistically falls on the lifestyle of an individual and this will determine on how much his/her lifestyle can be rated according to costs. With European and American standards, the most expensive costs you will encounter in Australia are accommodation and transport although much cheaper if compared to Southeast Asia.
Being an international student you can expect to spend approx. $320
per week on accommodation, food, clothing, entertainment, transport,
international and domestic travel, telephone and other costs. Ensure you
have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of your
student visa in Australia.
For many international students arriving in Australia makers the first time they have ever been away from home and leaving their parents, now comes the responsibility on your shoulders. It can sometimes be stressful, but if your on a budget it can be quite easy to survive. Remember you have some income from your 20 hours job a week, again do not rely on that money to survive, but it does help. Part time work can be difficult to find, and the money earned may not be sufficient enough to live week by week. Do not depend on your wages from a part time pr casual job to get you by. You need a large reserve of cash you can spend, or have a steady income from another source to live from (e.g. parents, friends, royalties etc.).
Compared to the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America
(USA), Australia has a significantly lower cost of living, including
tuition expenses. If you are resident in central Europe you will find
living costs in Australia reasonably comparable, but in many cases,
house rental and petrol may be much cheaper. Of course, the standard of
living is also considerably higher in Australia.
Most adventurous people and travellers alike who are up for sightseeing, car hire and making hotel or motel bookings and up for a good meal should expect to spend about $110 per person per day but mostly not more than $160 per person for an individual per day. However in larger towns, prices tend to go up on most amenities and you could end up spending not less than 50$ extra but $30 less in less visited places. Raised fuel prices means you could save yourself a lot of financial headaches by not using Four Wheel Drive(4WD) motor vehicles when making road trips and instead prefer smaller Two Wheel Drive cars that do not use as much fuel and could hence prove rewarding economically.
With a wide range of activities to choose from, tourists who come
along with younger folk or people who are quite demanding can be assured
of keeping them completely satisfied without spending a lot of money
and over running their budget by visiting parks, setting up camps or
booking motels with pool facilities and game rooms, kids menus and
interesting youth and family activities.
If you are the type who is up for a great adventure, a $100 for a
day, per person, would not be such a bad amount to spend although you
could save massively if you travel by public transport and cook your own
meals. You could also camp or stay in hostels instead of booking a
hotel or motel and would probably end up saving over $80 per day.
Living in Australia and life in this content is not high, but make
sure to have a budget and stick to it to ensure that you will be
Make sure to research before you arrive
Besides your tuition fees, accommodation cost will be your biggest financial burden. There are also other living expenses. How much are you willing to pay for what you want?
Prices on locations can very from where you want to reside. If you choose to live on campus, how much will that cost? If you want to go off campus, live off campus? If you want a dorm room with a partner or a solo apartment and where do you want it located? All these questions should be considered when you’re trying figure out your budget before hand.
Remember that cost varies from state to state so you might want to look into prices such as public transportation, mobile phone plans, electricity, gas, water, telephone, food, text books and anything you believe you might want to invest in.
Below is a guide to estimate how much you might generally pay for items in Australia from the student guide of the Australian goverment.
Prices listed in Australian dollars.
- Loaf of bread $3.50
- Milk (1L) $1.60
- Can of Coke $2.20
- Rice (1kg) $1.60
- Big Mac $3.95
- Large take-away coffee $3.50
- Sandwich from café $6.50
- Bag of basic groceries $30
- Cinema ticket $10+ (student discount)
- CD purchase versus music downloads $25 v $1.99 (iTunes)
- Gym membership’s $10–40 a week
- DVD rentals $7.00 overnight (new release)
- Professional sporting events $30+
- Clubs, pubs, nightclubs $15+ cover charge
For bigger items, such as televisions, computers just shop around; you can always find sales and good deals.
If you feel that you have been unfairly charged for an item or service, then you can get in contact with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). The cost of goods and services are monitored by the ACCC. Prices of items and services vary from store to store, and it is a good idea that you shop around before you buy.
The best way to avoid falling into financial stress is coming up with a budget and following it. Here’s a list from the Australian government study guide to help:
- Make a list of the items you need to pay on a weekly base, on a monthly base and see if you can set up an automatic payment from your bank account on the due date.
- If you don not set up direct debits, make sure to pay your rent and utilities on time, late payments include extra charges next time.
- Try and give yourself a budget to live on, on a weekly basic, and try and stick to it.
- Be aware of how much money you have in your account at all time.
- Don’t use a credit card if you can avoid it.
- If you purchase items online, use a debit card (like a credit card) or Bpay (paying through your savings account)
- Minimize the fees your bank charges by only using one ATM and minimize the amount of withdraws you make and use.
- Live economically. Be aware of the choices and items you are purchasing.
- Look in free street press magazines; you can pick them up in places like music stores, cinemas for free upcoming activities, concerts, art exhibitions, sporting activities and festivals.
- Shop second hand; sometimes it’s the best way to find really great deals on vehicles and on clothes. Shop around.
- Don’t leave the light and water running while is not in use, this is an easy way to spend unnecessary money.
- Remember to hand the house phone up if not in use that way the batteries are recharged.
- Do not leave your phone charger plugged into the wall when is not recharging your phone.
- Do not leave the TV on when not watching.
- Remember you can unplug all appliances that are not in use and later on plug it back in when you are ready to use them again. This is a great way to save on some extra change every week, and appliances generally do not get messed up.
- Do not have your computer or radio on while not in use.
You will need to open a bank account when you arrive in Australia, it is recommended to open it immediately that way any money you do have can be deposit and when you begin working you can talk about the option of direct depositing.
There are a dozens of banks you can choose from, all slightly with different fee and interest rate structures but all offering the same services. You can visit www.infochoice.com.au for more information.
Normal working hours are from 9:30am to 4:00pm Monday thru Thursdays and 9:30am to 5:00pm on Fridays. Some banks open on Saturday mornings and on Sunday and public holidays remain closed. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) work 24 hours a day. Most stores and supermarkets also have Electronic Funds Transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS) terminals where you can pay for goods directly from your bank account and make cash withdrawals.
At the bank you are required to show your documentation, ID, passport, birth certificate and something that has your current address (such as a copy of your tenancy agreement).
As an international student you will need to show your student visa. If you are under 18 years of age you also might need to show not only a school photo ID but a letter from your school principal too.
When opening your account, advise your bank of your Tax File Number, It will help you avoid higher tax rates on the interest you earn.
The most common cards are Master Card, Visa, Bankcard, American Express and their affiliates. It is not necessary to carry large amounts of cash with you.
You can transfer money by bank drafts or checks and telegraphic transfer. Bank located overseas takes a couple of days to arrive and can be up to 10 business days to clear in an Australian Bank. Telegraphic transfers clears in a shorter amount of time but are more expensive, while checks take about five business day to clear.
There are many styles of accommodation in Australia but Homestay accommodation can sometimes be the most affordable and safest alternative for international students. Meals are often included in the cost of boarding, and you can truly immerse yourself in the culture by living with a registered Australian family. Prices can range from $110 to $270 per week and single and shared rooms are available.
There are many major town centres and cities in Australia with world-class shopping facilities. It can be cheaper to shop at major supermarket chains by checking out the discount food sections, but quite often than not, there are large farmers markets that produce fresh, local produce on a weekly basis and can have cheap fruit and vegetables readily available. Keep in mind it is cheaper to eat at home, but some major cities in Australia have a huge range of affordable restaurants that cater to the student clientele.
There are cheaper concession rates for students when traveling on public transport in Australia. Once you have received your student card it is important to discuss with your campus or transport authority the best option for you when traveling by bus, tram or train. Many large cities have weekly and monthly concession rates, which can largely reduce your spending.
It is not necessary to spend a lot of money in Australia on entertainment. There are a variety of public festivals and concerts that are held for free in major cities, as Australia has a large and thriving Arts community across the board. There are many concession rates or cheap nights for movies, amusement parks and even bars that hold student nights with food and drink deals. There are plenty of public parks or National parks to walk and enjoy for free, or require a very small entrance fee.
Living in Australia – FAQ
There are strict laws in Australia, a few have already been mentioned. You must be over 18 to purchase alcohol and cigarettes, photo identification will be required such as drivers license, passport, proof of identification. Weapons and drugs are illegal big penalties to apply. Violence and harassment is not tolerated in Australia, neither is acts of sexism and sexual assault. Huge penalties apply. If planning to drive in Australia be sure to know the road rules, speed limit and do not drive if you have consumed alcohol or drugs.
Tipping is not customary in Australia and service charges are not added to accounts by hotels and restaurants. Tipping will be up to you and your choice if you prefer to or not. You can tip food and drink waiters up to 10% of the bill for good service. And taxi drivers do not and are not required to be tipped.
Shopping centres in Australia are open most days of the week, it will depend on how close to the city you are living. The major supermarket chains are open 6 days a week Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 6:00pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Thursdays are late night shopping, shops are open until 9:00pm. Saturdays shops are open usually from either 9:00am to 12:00pm or for the bigger shops from 9:00am to 12:00pm.
There are bank branches located in all suburban areas, they are open Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 4:30pm, with some open until 5:00pm on Fridays. Bigger branches open to the public on Saturdays from 9:30am to 12:00pm.
ATMs or Automatic Teller Machines are available at all branches and shopping centres. They are available 7 days a week and 24 hours a day.
Australia Post runs the postal service in Australia, mail is picked up and delivered Monday to Friday. Australia Post outlets are available at most shopping centres and are open from Monday to Saturday. Monday to Friday they are open from 9:00am to 5:00pm, on Saturdays they are only open until 12:00pm.
Here customers can buy stationary, office supplies, stamps and post parcels, letters. They can also pay certain bills here.
There are many telecommunications providers in Australia, most people are now purchasing mobile phones on a plan rather the using a land line all the time. For international uses though, it will be best to shop around to find the right deal for you. This will most likely be a joint mobile, phone and internet plan. Dial up, ADSL and wireless internet are all available in Australia.
There are many phone shops in shopping centres, where mobile phones can be purchased. However most of the shopping around for plans and phones can now be done over the phone or online.
There are libraries available at all educational institutes and within close location to shires and council houses. Contact the local council in your area to find one closest to you.
Here customers can borrow books, CDs and DVDs. There is only the first membership fee to pay. This is a very cost effective way to read books, it will also help with study.
Currently Australian television is digital TV, to use this watchers need to use a digital ready TV and box to watch additional channels free of charge. At the moment there are quite a few free to air channels available. For cable television, consumers will need to sign up with either Foxtel or Austar this is usually quite costly.
Foreign, local and community papers are all available in Australia these can either be delivered to your house at an extra charge or can be brought at the local supermarket or newsagency. To find all your local papers and where they can be brought from visit www.newpapers.com.au.
Moving to a foreign country is a very daunting experience, to make this transitions easier many international students will attend a Multicultural Community Group. These groups have people in similar situations all attend. This may help students feel a little more at home.
Australia is a very accepting country with even more friendly people, students will find that they will easily meet new friends at there educational institute. Here there will be frequent social events listed, and people will be more then happy to help you settle in. Most Australian Universities are now filled with international students, so don’t fear being the odd one out there will be many students in the same situation.
As with any country, be positive and polite. If you need directions or assistance be polite and ask for it there will always be someone there to provide help. Australia prides itself on its equality. No one is judged on race, gender, sexuality or religion, be accepting of others and others will accept you.
Dress appropriately for the situation, most Australians dress fairly casually. If attending a job interview, formal function or restaurant it would be more appropriate to wear something formal.
Littering is illegal in Australia, as is smoking in public places. Spitting in public is also seen as dirty and is an offence.
You may have a feeling of frustration when first moving to Australia this is known as culture shock. Feelings such as this should pass once the student has settled in, if it stays with you seek counselling, services are available for international students at all educational institutes.