Living costs in Australia for International Students: A complete guide(2021)!

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As an international student, planning your living costs in Australia is an important part of your preparation. If you are coming on a student visa, this will be even moreWe’re here to help you!

According to the Australian Government, an international student needs a minimum of AU$21,041 to cover living costs for 12 months. Living costs in Australia include accommodation, transportation to your school, food, utilities, leisure, and other little extra stuff you need daily. This amount does not include tuition fees or your travel costs to and from Australia.

Everyone’s spending habits are different, and the costs of studying and living in Australia will depend on where you choose to study.

So you might be wondering, “how realistic is it for me to survive on $21,041 per year while studying?” If that is the minimum, how far can that go for an average international student?

Good news is: you can work while studying in Australia! International students are allowed to work 40 hours per fortnight (2 weeks) during the semester, and full time during the semester break.

Although Australia has a relatively high costs of living, it also has higher wages compared to most countries. For instance, the average net salary in the Philippines is approximately $1,500 a month, while in Sydney it’s $6,500 a month.

That’s way more! However, the costs of consumer goods in Australia is almost double, with groceries being 92.86% more expensive, restaurants being 170% more expensive, and rent being 160% more expensive than the capital city of the Philippines.

So, how can you budget $21,041 over a year?

Regardless of what type of accommodation you choose to stay in, it will most probably be your largest and least negotiable expense as an international student.

Meanwhile, utilities like electricity, gas, phone and internet are unavoidable and you have limited options to save on these. Public transport is also unavoidable, unless you buy your own car, which will also be an additional expense. 

So your savings will have to be taken from elsewhere, such as from your food or entertainment budget. With an annual budget of $21,041, your average weekly budget might look something like this: 

  • Accommodation                            $145
  • Groceries and eating out               $140
  • Power and gas                                $20
  • Phone and internet                         $20
  • Public transport                               $40
  • Entertainment                                  $40


You will have different types of accommodation to choose from. And depending on which state you live in, prices would differ. Below are some examples and their price range:

  • Hostels and Guesthouses – $90 to $150 per week
  • Shared Rental – $95 to $215 per week
  • On campus – $110 to $280 per week
  • Homestay – $235 to $325 per week
  • Rental – $185 to $440 per week
  • Boarding schools – $11,000 to $22,000 a year

At the higher end of accommodation costs, you can easily spend all the minimum annual cost of  $21,041 for a full year’s rent. Clearly, your biggest living expense will be your rent.

So, how can you find affordable accommodation? Generally, you can pay cheaper rent by living further away from the city, or choosing older or more run-down accommodation. Also, you can share a unit/apartment/house with family or friends. Not only can you share and save in rent, groceries and bills, but it is always nice to come home to great company! 

Of course, the cost of accommodation also depends on where you choose to live, with Sydney being the most expensive city to live in, followed by Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Other Living costs in Australia

Next to the cost of your accommodation, food comes second highest, followed by the costs of having a car if you decide to get one.

  • Groceries and eating out: $80 to $280 per week
  • Gas and electricity: $35 to $140 per week
  • Phone and Internet: $20 to $55 per week
  • Public transport: $15 to $55 per week
  • Car (ongoing cost): $150 to $260 per week
  • Entertainment: $80 to $150 per week

Tips on how to save money on your student budget

  • Set a budget and stick to it! Always check your spending to identify possible savings.
  • We know it’s hard, especially after finishing a hard exam, but avoid unplanned shopping sprees and impulse buying. Compare prices, keep a look-out for deals and discounts for necessities, and make a shopping list.
  • Time your clothes shopping during end of season sales and save hundreds of dollars.
  • Compare prices for gas and electricity to ensure that you get the best rates.
  • Monitor petrol prices and fill your tank when price cycle is lower.
  • Nothing beats a home-cooked meal! Pack your lunch, and bring coffee from home.
  • Choose the best mobile plan that offers the most value in terms of usage limits based on your needs
  • Secondhand does not mean second best! Check out op shops to buy stuff you need for your home.

Coming with someone?

If you will be accompanied by someone, the Australian Government would also require evidence that you have the following funds to support their living costs in Australia while you study. 

  • For partners coming with you – AUD$7,362
  •  For a child coming with you – AUD$3,152

Ready for your next adventure?

To  find more information on how to work out how much money you might need to cover the costs of your stay in Australia as an international student, or what evidence to present, you can visit the Home Affairs website.

  • For partners coming with you – AUD$7,362
  •  For a child coming with you – AUD$3,152

You can also estimate your living costs with this useful and practical tool: The Insider Guides’ Cost of Living Calculator. Give it a go!
If you have any more questions, don’t be shy and send us a message! We are more than happy to help you.

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