What exactly is “Cost of Living”?

In this blog, we’ll take a look at the cost of living in Australia, including estimates on how much you’ll be spending on common expenses like food, accommodations, transportation, and so on. Along with those are tips on how you can cut down costs and make the most out of your budget.

The cost of living refers to the amount of money needed to cover basic expenses such as food, housing, transportation, healthcare, and education. This varies depending on the location, lifestyle, and personal choices of the individual.

It’s important to understand the cost of living in Australia before you arrive, so you can plan your finances accordingly.

Overview of Cost of Living in Australia

As an international student, you’ll need an estimated amount of around AUD$ 20,800 annually to cover the cost of living – that’s at least AUD$ 1600 to cover the average living expenses per month.

If you’re wondering why it’s so expensive, it’s because of the high standard of living in Australia, which includes top-notch education, healthcare, and other essential services.

The table below will give you an idea of how this amount can be allocated across different types of common expenses you’ll likely encounter during your stay in Australia.

However, remember that your actual expenses can vary depending on the specific city or region you choose to study in, as well as your lifestyle. The Australian Government has a cost of living calculator you can use to estimate your weekly or monthly expenses.

Common expensesEstimated monthly cost
AccommodationsAUD$ 800
UtilitiesAUD$ 50
TransportationAUD$ 70
Food/groceriesAUD$ 420
Entertainment/leisureAUD$ 230
MiscellaneousAUD$ 30

Cost of Living vs Standard of Living

Before we delve further into the matter, you may be wondering what the difference is between cost of living and standard of living.

On one hand, “standard of living” refers to the overall quality of life in a place. For example, if residents in a particular area enjoy a good living wage and have easy access to high-quality education and healthcare, the place is said to have a high standard of living.

On the other hand, “cost of living” is basically the amount of money you’ll need to sustain a particular standard of living in a specific location. So, by logic, a higher standard of living generally means a higher cost of living.

Living Expenses in Australia

Accommodation and housing costs are usually the biggest expenses.

It’s difficult to provide an exact value for the cost of accommodations, as the price usually varies depending on the city or region you’ll stay in and the type of accommodation you choose. A good benchmark for decent accommodations would be around AUD$ 500 per month, while more expensive ones could cost up to AUD$ 1200 per month.

Overview of Cost of Living in Australia

Types of Accommodations

To give you a better idea, take a look at the table provided for the common types of housing and their price ranges.

Types of housingEstimated weekly cost
HomestaysAUD$ 250 – 350
Residential collegesAUD$ 200 – 750
Private rentalsAUD$ 100 – 500
Managed student accommodationAUD$ 200 – 500

Homestays are a great option if you want a taste of authentic Australian culture and lifestyle. During a homestay, you’ll have a single room at an Australian local or family’s home, which may come already with meals and utilities.

Apart from that, you’ll get to learn more about life in Australia from the Australian family host themselves and immerse yourself in the local community.

Private rentals are privately owned houses or apartments for rent. They offer more flexibility in terms of the type of rental you want, such as the style, amenities, and location. Plus, you can save money by sharing the rental with roommates.

Hostels and guesthouses is a popular accommodation option among international students and expats. They are similar to dorm-type accommodations with shared facilities (e.g. kitchen, bathroom) and common spaces.

What makes it one of the top options is its affordability and flexible stay options. On top of that, you get to meet and build relationships with like-minded people, which makes for a better Australian experience overall.

Managed Student Accommodations are accommodations suited for students, usually located outside (but still near) the campus. They are similar to private rentals except that the features and facilities being offered are more catered toward students.

These accommodations offer fully furnished rooms, usually with basic utilities already included, as well as facilities like gyms and recreational spaces.

Residential colleges are student accommodations located either on campus grounds or nearby.

Opting in one means you’ll have a furnished room with access to facilities such as Wi-Fi, shared libraries, communal study areas, bathrooms, kitchens, and sometimes even meals and cleaning services. They also provide recreational spaces, social activities, and sporting events.

However, since they are located on campus grounds, they may have more restrictions in terms of curfews and visitors.

Additional Accommodation Costs

Apart from the cost of renting a furnished room, there are other essential housing costs that you need to keep in mind. We have mentioned them earlier, and these are utilities, internet, and security bonds. Utilities include gas, electricity, and water. Among these, electricity is usually the most expensive, costing around AUD$105 per month, while gas and water cost around AUD$60 and AUD$90 per month, respectively.

For internet access, the average monthly fee is around AUD$ 70 to AUD$ 90. As previously discussed, most of the housing rental options usually include utilities and internet in their rental conditions. However, in case they are not included, at least you already have a good idea to be aware of how much these services would cost you.

Another thing. When you rent a place, you may be required by your landlord to pay a certain security fee or bond, which is a form of financial security for the landlord in case of any damage to the property or unpaid rent at the end of the tenancy. The fee varies, depending on factors such as the length of your lease, market conditions, and so on. Typically, the bond or deposit will be returned to you at the end of the tenancy if there is no damage to the property, and all rent and bills have been paid in full.

Tips for Finding Affordable Housing

Tips for Finding Affordable Housing in Australia.

  • Opt for shared accommodation options.
  • Choose accommodations that cover utilities and other bills, and offer facilities like gyms and recreational areas, so you don’t have to allocate a separate budget for them.
  • Rent a place that’s just big enough for your needs. Too big means a higher, unnecessary cost.
  • Consider renting a place further away from campus, as deals can be better there.
  • Read online forums or join an online community where you can seek advice regarding accommodation matters from current and former international students and/or expats in Australia.

Transportation Cost

Of course, unless you’re staying on campus grounds or just a few steps away from work, you’ll need to find a way to travel.

Fortunately, there are several modes of public transport available for you to use, including buses, trains, trams, and ferries. But, note that public transportation costs can be a bit pricey and can cost you around AUD$ 75 – AUD$ 216 per month.

Also, transportation costs can vary depending on where in Australia you are residing. If you’re a student, you can take advantage of transport concessions, which can help you save some money for your other expenses.

Public Transport in Australia

There are many public transport options in Australia but the availability and cost can vary in each city. Refer to the table below featuring the different states/territories, the public transport methods available, and the cost of the full fare per month.

To learn more about the transportation system and how it operates in each state or territory, visit their respective transportation websites.

State/territoryAvailable mode of transportMonthly cost of travel
New South Wales (NSW)Trains, buses, light rail, ferriesAUD$ 216
Northern Territory (NT)BusesAUD$ 86
Queensland (QLD)Trains, buses, light railAUD$ 151
South Australia (SA)Trains, trams, busesAUD$ 101
Tasmania (TAS)BusesAUD$ 75
Victoria (VIC)Trains, trams, busesAUD$ 159
Western Australia (WA)Trains, buses, ferriesAUD$ 135

Other Ways of Getting Around

Getting a taxi or “cab” is a convenient way to get from one place to another. You can easily book a ride via your smartphone app or just flag one down on the street since they are pretty much readily available at places like malls and train stations.

However, taxis tend to be expensive which is why the majority tend to look for more affordable transportation options. Even more, taxis tend to be pricier during late-night hours or when traveling on toll roads.

Ride-sharing services like Uber are a cheaper alternative to taking taxis because basically, you’ll be splitting the fare with people headed to the same destination or whose destination is along your route.

And for that reason, it is a much more go-to option for students and expats. Booking the service is easy and can be done through a mobile app run by the ride-sharing service.

Driving a car is a great option especially if you’re residing in areas where public transport is limited. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before you hit the road.

Firstly, you must have a valid driving license from your country or an International Driving Permit. Depending on the state/territory you’re in, you may also need to apply for an Australian driver’s license after a certain amount of time.

Also, each state/territory in Australia has its own set of road rules which can vary from one another. So, make sure to go through the road rules of the state/territory you’re in.

Of course, driving a car comes with costs, and the rental fee is at the top of them. Prices vary depending on the rental shop and the duration of renting the car. You can browse through the best car rental websites in your state/territory to find the best deals.

Or, if you decide to buy a car, think about the purchasing price on top of insurance costs and other fees.

Take note that purchasing a car can be a bit tricky, because there are several considerations such as visa validity and proof of financial capacity, among many others. If you go down that route, make sure to purchase from authorized dealers or resellers. Finally, don’t forget about fuel costs. Gas prices can fluctuate, but according to Numbeo, expect to pay around AUD$ 2 per liter. This can add up quickly, so make sure to budget accordingly.

Riding a bike is a popular way to get around among locals and foreigners. It’s a healthier and much cheaper alternative to public transport.

In fact, you can rent a bike starting at around AUD$ 35 a week. Better yet, buying a new one can save you a lot in the long run as a long-term investment. Just remember to follow safety rules, such as wearing helmets and installing front and tail lights on your bike.

Tips for Reducing Your Transportation Costs

Here are some tips for saving money on transportation expenses:

  • Use public transportation instead of owning a car.
  • Take advantage of student discounts and concessions.
  • Rent a placWalk or bike towards your destination.
  • Plan your trips ahead of time so you can maximize time and transportation costs.

Food and Grocery Cost

Food and groceries can be a big part of your daily expenses. If you’re looking to cook your own food, here’s a list of prices to give you an idea of the cost to expect for common grocery items:

Note, however, that those prices are just estimates, and that they greatly vary depending on the brand and where you are purchasing your groceries.

If you are fond of dining out, however, know that it’s going to be more expensive than cooking your own food. To give you an idea, here are the costs:

New South Wales (NSW)AUD$ 216
Northern Territory (NT)AUD$ 86
Queensland (QLD)AUD$ 151
South Australia (SA)AUD$ 101
Tasmania (TAS)AUD$ 75
Victoria (VIC)AUD$ 159
Western Australia (WA)AUD$ 135
Meal optionsPrice
Basic lunchtime mealAUD$ 25
Fast FoodAUD$ 14
Mid-range restaurant (3 course meal)AUD$ 110

Budget Eating Tips

Below are some tips on how you can cut costs for food and groceries:

  • Cook your own meals instead of eating out.
  • Better yet, cook your meals with companions, as cooking in bulk usually comes out cheaper.
  • Plan your meals in advance so you can avoid or minimize impulse buying.
  • Buy groceries in bulk.
  • Minimize eating out at restaurants or cafes.
  • Take advantage of any student discounts at restaurants.
  • Shop at cheaper grocery stores. Consider farmer’s markets as they can be more affordable at times.

Health Care Cost in Australia

To give you an overview, Australia’s healthcare system, considered to be one of the best in the world, provides all Australians with access to basic medical care and services. It’s composed of the public health system, known as Medicare, which is government-funded, and the private health system, which includes privately-run hospitals and clinics.

Can international students use Australia’s Medicare?

As an international student, you can utilize Medicare services, but not before applying for the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Basically, OSHC is a type of health insurance that covers any medical treatment you might need while you’re studying in Australia. Through it, you have coverage for things like:

  • Doctor visits
  • Medical treatments and services
  • Pharmaceutical services
  • Emergency services
  • Public and private hospital accommodations

How can I register for OSHC?

Many universities in Australia have preferred OSHC providers, which can make the process easier for international students. So, you can check with your university and see if they offer OSHC options that suit your needs.

However, if you prefer a different provider, you can purchase OSHC on your own. Just make sure to do some research first so you get the best value for money and ensure that the policy covers all your needs.

Either way, to get OSHC, approach your university or preferred provider and express your intent to apply for OSHC. Then, you’ll be required to complete an application form which further requires you to provide information like citizenship, birthdate, visa information, length of stay, medical information, and so on.

Keep in mind that when choosing a plan, make sure that it is valid for the entirety of your stay in Australia. If you are extending your stay in Australia to continue your studies, you will need to purchase a new OSHC policy to ensure continuous coverage.

The cost of OSHC varies depending on the duration of your stay, the level of coverage you choose, and the number of persons included in your policy, if any. So, it’s best to consult your university or your chosen OSHC provider. Some reputable OSHC providers include:

  • Allianz Care Australia
  • Bupa Health Insurance & Care
  • Medibank
  • Nib Health Insurance

Apart from OSHC, there may be additional healthcare expenses that you need to consider since they are not usually included in an OSHC policy. For example, dental care and specialized medical services such as optical treatments, physiotherapy, and so on. So, if you need coverage for these services, make sure to discuss it as well with your chosen health insurance provider.

If you’re an expat who meets the criteria for permanent residency in Australia, you can enjoy the benefits that come with Australia’s Medicare. Or, if you come from one of the countries with which Australia has a reciprocal healthcare agreement, you can still qualify for majority of the public healthcare benefits.

Unfortunately, if you don’t fall under these categories, you’ll need to obtain private health insurance. This is even a requirement during the visa application process, as you need to show proof of adequate private health insurance.

The cost of the insurance will vary depending on benefits and provider you choose. So, make sure to find a plan that covers all your health care needs and offers the best value for your money.

Australia offers top-quality education, and if you’re looking to pursue your education here, you probably already know that. In fact, Australia’s higher education system is world-class, attracting a number of over 500,000 plus international students in 2020 alone.

In terms of education costs, the first thing you need to consider is the tuition fee. The cost of your tuition fee varies greatly depending on the program you are taking and the university you enroll in.

To give you a benchmark, a bachelor’s degree would cost you between AUD$ 20,000 and 45,000 a year. On the other hand, a master’s or PhD would cost you around AUD$ 22,000 to 50,000 annually.

Note that that’s just a benchmark. It’s better to keep in touch with the universities you are prospecting so you’ll have a better understanding of the tuition fees, as well as any other associated university fees.

Aside from tuition fees, you will also need to consider other expenses such as textbooks, equipment, and course materials, all of which can vary based on your program and the requirements of your coursework. To be safe, budget at least AUD$ 500 a year for these.

Here are some tips to cut down on education costs:

  • Look and apply for scholarships, grants, and other financial aid opportunities offered by your university or external organizations.
  • Consider finding a part-time job to earn money.
  • Consider borrowing books from the library or buying or renting used textbooks.

Achieve Your Migration Dream With a KBA Global Consultant

Moving to Australia can be an overwhelming experience. Apart from adjusting to new norms and culture, and managing your finances, you must also navigate through a plethora of paperwork.

However, you don’t have to do it alone. Our team at KBA Global is here to share the burden with you and make the migration process as smooth as possible.

We’re here to assist you in achieving your goals of migrating to Australia, whether it be for work, study, or permanent residency. Whether you have questions or worries, we are here to answer them and provide you with advice so you can have peace of mind every step of the way.

We can offer you:

  • Expert advice on the best migration program suited to your needs and qualifications
  • Assistance in selecting the right educational institution or employer to help you achieve your career goals
  • Guidance in navigating the complex visa application process, ensuring that you meet all requirements and deadlines
  • Assistance in finding suitable accommodation and affordable health insurance coverage
  • Advice on finding part-time work opportunities to help support your finances Don’t delay any longer in achieving the Australian dream. Give us a call and let’s talk about your future!
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