Plan your stay in Australia and work out your weekly budget with our handy guide to the cost of everyday living.

Plan your budget

The cost of living for a single international student is approximately A$21,000 per year. This includes rent, food, transport and other essential living expenses. It does not include tuition fees, textbooks, the cost of running a car, or social activities.

The true cost of living depends on the sort of lifestyle you lead. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) advises that applicants for student visas require A$21,041 per year for living expenses.

If you are bringing your family, you will need to budget for additional living costs. You will need a minimum of A$7,362 per year for your spouse and A$3,152–$11,448 per year for each child, depending on whether they are school age. If your children are of school age, you will need to budget for school fees and uniforms.

Understand your expenses

Initial setup expenses

These are the approximate costs you will need when you begin your ACU study experience:

  • Temporary accommodation (2 weeks) – A$600
  • Food and transport (1 month) – A$500
  • Rent in advance– A$300
  • Bond (usually 1 month, refundable after leaving) – A$600+
  • Furniture, bedding and kitchenware – A$1,000
  • Connection charges (for utilities) – A$200

Ongoing expenses

These are the approximate costs you will need week-by-week while you are studying in Australia:

  • Accommodation – A$150–$300+
  • Food – A$60-100+
  • Transport – A$15–$40+
  • Extras – A$50–$80

Cost of basic items

These are the approximate costs of basic items you may need to buy:

  • Litre of milk – A$2–$3
  • Loaf of bread – A$2–$6
  • Cup of coffee – A$3–$4.50
  • Glass of wine at a bar – A$5–$15
  • Lunch on campus – A$6–$12
  • Fast food (McDonalds) – A$8–$12
  • Dinner at a restaurant – A$15–$40
  • Single bus or train ticket – A$2–$5
  • Movie ticket – A$10–$20
  • Haircut – A$15–$120

Tips for saving money

There are lots of ways to live a cheaper lifestyle if you’re trying to save money. For example:

  • Use your student concession card wherever it is accepted. This can save you money in campus shops or on the cost of social activities, like going to the movies.
  • Shop at fresh food markets rather than supermarkets for fruit, vegetables and meat. Buy fruit and veg when it’s in season.
  • Shop at discount pharmacies when purchasing medications, and shop at supermarkets to purchase over-the-counter pharmacy products like moisturiser, shampoo and toothpaste.
  • Consider buying second hand furniture to furnish your apartment.
  • Shop around. Compare prices before you purchase, particularly on items of clothing and larger items like white goods, furniture and electrical goods.
  • Use a budget-planning tool to manage your money.


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