International Blog
How to Budget for your life in Australia Posted on
A single international student requires approximately AUD$20,000 to cover their living expenses each…

A single international student requires approximately AUD$20,000 to cover their living expenses each year. This estimation only covers necessities such as  accommodation, food, and transport and leaves out additional  expenses like  tuition fees, text books, social activities and travel. To make sure you set out a realistic budget for your time in Australia, this blog post will outline the relative cost of most things you will need to pay for while in Australia (and will give you some tips on how to save on these expense along the way.) 


Cost: Accommodation will be your most expensive living cost. But of course the cost of accommodation depends on your personal preferences, like where you choose to live and in what sort of accommodation. There are various accommodation options available for your stay in Australia, ranging from home stay, student accommodation, share houses and private apartments.

You will probably wish to stay at temporary accommodation when you first arrive in Australia as you begin the search for a more permanent residence. the cost of standard level temporary accommodation will be around AUD$500 for two weeks.

Once you then find a place to live your accommodation will probably range from AUD$150-300+ each week. You should also take into consideration the cost of a bond/deposit which will be around the cost of four weeks rent but is refundable after you leave if you do not damage the property.

Saving tip: A great way to save money on rent is by getting roommates. Make sure that you make as many friends as you can when you start at uni and you never know – you might just end up living together! It is of course better to live with people that you know, but if this isn’t an option you can always go online to search for a flatmates, or look on the student noticeboard.


Cost: The amount of money that you spend on food will be determined by the type of food that you eat, your personal preferences and how much you eat. Food is one of the best places to save money, as you can usually buy in bulk, eat out less and plan your meals in advance to make use of your produce.

You can get an idea of what your weekly grocery shop will cost using the websites of the two largest supermarkets in Australia – Woolworths and Coles.  Another popular supermarket in Australia is IGA, which is usually cheaper than the two larger chains.

On average it will probably cost you around AUD$50 to 90+ on food a week. this is without factoring in how much you will spend on eating out.

Nirveeka, an ACU International student shopping at IGA
Nirveeka, an ACU International student shopping at IGA

Saving Tip: Make large portions of food, like spaghetti bolognese or a curry and then freeze batches to eat later. There are lots of ways to save money on food, like buying cheaper proteins. There are lots of good sources online for tips on how to eat well cheaply. Also take a look at beyond baked beans, a great website with lots of cheap recipe ideas.


Cost: You will need to get to uni and see the sights of your host city so it is important to factor the cost of travel into your budget. the cost of your travel will depend on how far away from campus you are living and will probably cost from AUD$15 to 40+ per week. The preferred forms of transport in Australia are bus, train, taxi and ferry. Buses and trains are the cheapest form of transport, with ferries following close after. Taxis are the most expensive form of transport and are usually only taken by students late at night when buses and trains may no longer be running.

Saving tip: Each state has a card that allows you to travel on most forms of public transport. These cards make travelling a whole lot easier and mean that you don’t need to carry around coins to pay for your tickets each morning or afternoon. They also mean that you can track your travel and how much you are spending on it, making it easier to budget. Some cards, like the opal card, also reward you for travelling a certain amount of times or charge you less for traveling out of peak hour.
Brisbane – go card
Melbourne – myki
Sydney – Opal
Canberra – MyWay

Other things to keep in mind 

Other things that you should budget for include textbooks, clothes, social activities and travel.  You’d be surprised at just how quickly the cost of textbooks adds up. If you want some tips for saving on the cost of your textbooks, have a read of “the comprehensive guide to cheaper textbooks“.

Unlike textbooks, social activities, travel and new clothes are all optional but of course highly encouraged. The amount that you will spend on each of these items is therefore up to personal taste, and preferences on how much you want to spend.

Working in Australia 

While all of this might sound expensive, depending on your country of origin, it is important to note that wages in Australia are quite high. The minimum wage in Australia is $16.87 per hour. The amount that you will most likely be paid will be higher than this, depending on your job.

Student visas allow you to work for up to 20 hours a week, so getting a job while you’re in Australia is a great way to supplement any help you are getting from home, and possibly cover the cost of most of your in country expenses. If you would like some advice of how to get a job, have a read of “5 steps to find a part time job in Australia“.

If you want more information about what to expect when you come to Australia, please read the Pre-departure guide and the living costs outlined on our website.

Do you have any questions about the cost of living in Australia? please ask in the comments below. 

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