Standard of Living in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide for International Students - PFEC

Standard of Living in

A Comprehensive Guide for
International Students

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Standard of Living in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide for International Students 10 Months ago

Australia, renowned for its world-class education and diverse cultural experiences, continues to be a favoured destination for international students seeking academic excellence. This article delves into the standard of living that international students can anticipate in Australia, providing comprehensive insights into various facets that shape their daily lives. From educational expenses to living costs, this comprehensive guide offers a clear understanding of the life of an international student studying and residing in Australia.

1. Tuition Fees at Australian Universities

Australia, renowned for its world-class education and diverse academic offerings, offers an enriching learning environment. The country hosts a variety of esteemed institutions that provide high-quality education. Tuition fees in Australia vary based on the university, program, and level of study.

I. Undergraduate Programs:

For undergraduate degrees in Australia, tuition fees can range from AUD 20,000 to AUD 45,000 per year for international students. The fees vary depending on the field of study, university ranking, and location. Students pursuing programs in fields like business, engineering, computer science, and social sciences may encounter different fee structures.

II. Postgraduate Programs:

Postgraduate tuition fees in Australia are also influenced by factors such as program type, university reputation, and duration of study. On average, international students can expect to pay around AUD 22,000 to AUD 50,000 per year for postgraduate courses. Programs in fields like business, IT, engineering, and social sciences may have varying fee ranges.

Affordable Options:

Australia offers a range of affordable yet reputable universities for international students. Some examples of universities with reasonable tuition fees include:

  • University of Tasmania: Tuition fees for international students start from around AUD 25,000 per year for undergraduate programs.
  • Southern Cross University: This university offers undergraduate programs to international students with tuition fees starting from approximately AUD 24,000 per year.
  • Federation University Australia: Tuition fees for international students pursuing undergraduate degrees can begin from around AUD 25,000 per year.

Fee Considerations:

It's important to note that tuition fees can vary widely between universities and across different study programs. Additionally, living expenses such as accommodation, food, transportation, and health insurance should also be factored into your overall budget when planning to study in Australia.

Cost of Living in Australia

2. Cost of Living in Australia

Accommodation is a significant aspect of the cost of living for international students in Australia. Various types of housing options are available, each with its associated costs and advantages.

I. On-Campus Accommodation

On-campus accommodation, such as university dormitories or student residences, is a popular choice for many international students. These accommodations are typically situated within or near the university campus, offering convenient access to classes and campus facilities.

  • Proximity to classes and university resources.
  • Opportunity to interact with fellow students, fostering a sense of community.
  • Often includes utilities and internet services.

II. Private Rental Accommodation

Private rental accommodation involves leasing apartments, flats, or houses from private landlords. This option offers more independence and the opportunity to experience life off-campus.

  • Greater privacy and autonomy.
  • Flexibility to choose housing location and size.
  • Exposure to local neighbourhoods and communities.

III. Homestays

Opting for a homestay means living with a local host family. This choice provides a unique cultural immersion experience and the chance to engage in the daily life of an Australian family.

  • Immersive cultural experience, fostering cross-cultural understanding.
  • Supportive and familial environment.
  • Potential inclusion of meals, contributing to reduced food expenses.

IV. Shared Accommodation:

Many international students also choose to share rental accommodations with roommates. This approach can help reduce individual living expenses.

  • Cost-sharing among roommates, leading to reduced living costs.
  • Opportunities for building friendships and connections.

V. Temporary Accommodation:

For students arriving in Australia, temporary housing options like hostels, guesthouses, or short-term apartment rentals are available. These serve as interim accommodations until students secure a more permanent residence.

  • Suitable for initial settling-in period.
  • Cost-effective for short stays.
  • Time to explore housing alternatives.
Food and Groceries

3. Food and Groceries

When considering the cost of living in Australia, managing your budget for food and groceries is a vital aspect for international students. Australia offers a diverse culinary landscape, from home-cooked meals to exploring local eateries. Let's delve into the details of food expenses and strategies to effectively budget for your meals.

I. Cooking at Home

Preparing your meals at home can be a cost-efficient approach, enabling you to have control over your spending and dietary preferences. Here's a breakdown of what you can anticipate:

  • Groceries: The cost of groceries varies based on factors such as the store you shop at and your dietary choices. Major supermarket chains like Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi provide a wide range of products at different price points. On average, you might allocate around AUD 70 to AUD 150 per week for groceries.
  • Meal Planning: Strategically planning your meals for the week can help optimize your grocery purchases and minimize food wastage. Seek out economical recipes and contemplate cooking in larger portions to save both time and money.

II. Dining Out

While cooking at home offers savings, treating yourself to dining out occasionally is a delightful experience. Here's what you can expect when opting to eat out:

Cafes and Fast Food: Affordable options such as cafes and fast-food chains offer quick and budget-friendly meals. A meal at a fast-food restaurant might cost around AUD 5 to AUD 15.

Restaurants: Dining at mid-range restaurants or local eateries offers a more elevated experience, albeit with slightly higher costs. Meals at such establishments could range from AUD 20 to AUD 50 per person, excluding beverages.


4. Transportation

Getting around in Australia is a crucial consideration for international students, and the country offers a variety of transportation modes to suit different needs.

I. Public Transportation

Australia's cities have efficient public transportation networks that include buses, trains, trams, and ferries. Here's an overview of what you need to know:

Opal Card (Sydney) and Myki Card (Melbourne): In major cities like Sydney and Melbourne, smart cards such as the Opal Card and Myki Card offer convenient access to public transportation. These cards provide discounted fares compared to buying individual tickets and can be used across various modes of transport.

• Public Buses and Trains: Public buses and trains are widely available in most cities and offer an affordable way to travel within the city and its suburbs. Many cities also offer discounted transportation passes for students.

• Trams: Cities like Melbourne have iconic tram networks that provide a unique mode of transport within the urban area.

• Ferries: In cities with water bodies, such as Sydney, ferries provide scenic transportation options across the harbour.

II. Cycling

Cycling is gaining popularity as an eco-friendly mode of transportation in Australia's cities. Dedicated bike lanes and bike-sharing programs make cycling a convenient option.

5. Entertainment and Leisure

Balancing academics with leisure activities is vital for a fulfilling student experience. Australia offers a diverse range of entertainment options to help you unwind and explore the local culture.

I. Cultural and Historical Experiences

Australia boasts a rich cultural heritage and offers various museums, galleries, and historical sites for exploration. Many of these attractions offer discounted or free entry for students.

II. Performing Arts and Theatres

Major cities like Sydney and Melbourne have vibrant performing arts scenes, offering theatre productions, musicals, ballets, and concerts.

III. Music and Nightlife

Australia's cities offer a dynamic nightlife with live music venues, pubs, and nightclubs hosting a variety of events and performances.

IV. Outdoor Activities

Australia's natural landscapes provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, beach outings, and picnics.

V. Student Clubs and Societies

Most Australian universities offer a range of student clubs and societies catering to diverse interests, from sports and hobbies to cultural and academic pursuits.

VI. Internet and Mobile Connectivity

Staying connected is crucial for academic and social interactions. Australia offers reliable internet and mobile connectivity options.

i. Mobile Connectivity
Australia's primary network operators include Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. These providers offer various mobile plans with different data allowances and features.

ii. Internet Connectivity
Australia offers a range of internet plans, including ADSL and NBN (National Broadband Network) options, with different speeds to suit your needs.

Part Time Work Opportunities

6. Part-Time Work Opportunities

Balancing your studies with part-time work can be a valuable strategy to manage your expenses and enhance your work experience while pursuing education in Australia. Here's a comprehensive guide to understanding the part-time work opportunities available to international students.

I. On-Campus Employment

Australian universities offer on-campus job opportunities for international students, enabling them to balance work and studies effectively. These positions are designed to accommodate your academic schedule.

Types of On-Campus Jobs:

  • Library Assistants
  • Student Ambassadors
  • Administrative Assistants
  • Research Assistants

Work Hours: On-campus jobs typically offer up to 20 hours of work per week during study periods and full-time during breaks.


  • Convenient location on campus.
  • Flexible work hours that align with your class schedule.
  • Networking opportunities with faculty and staff.

II. Off-Campus Employment

International students with a valid student visa in Australia are also eligible to work off-campus, gaining broader work exposure and contributing to the local job market.

Types of Off-Campus Jobs:

  • Retail Assistants
  • Waitstaff
  • Customer Service Representatives
  • Internships
  • Work Hours: Similar to on-campus jobs, off-campus employment allows up to 20 hours of work per week during study periods and full-time during breaks.


    • Diverse work experience across industries.
    • Opportunity to establish connections within various job sectors.

    III. Work Regulations

    When considering part-time work, international students should be aware of these regulations:

    • Work Hours:Work Hours: While studying, you're permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during study periods and full-time during breaks.

    • Minimum Wage: Australia enforces a minimum wage, and employers are required to adhere to it. Make sure to research the current minimum wage rates.

    • Tax File Number (TFN): To work legally in Australia, you'll need a Tax File Number (TFN). You can apply for one upon arrival.

    IV. Balancing Work and Studies:

    Striking a balance between work commitments and academic responsibilities is crucial:

    • Time Management: Plan your work schedule around your class timetable and study sessions to ensure ample time for both.
    • Prioritize Studies: Remember that your primary goal is to study. Ensure that your work commitments do not hinder your academic performance.
    • Communication: If managing work and studies becomes challenging, communicate with your employer and discuss potential adjustments to your work hours.
    7.	Post-Study Work Opportunities

    7. Post-Study Work Opportunities

    Australia's "Temporary Graduate Visa" offers international students the chance to remain and work in the country after completing their studies, promoting career growth and building a professional network. Here's a comprehensive guide to understanding the post-study work rights available to international students in Australia.

    Eligibility Criteria for Post-Study Work Opportunities in Australia:

    1. Residency in Australia: To be eligible, you must be in Australia on a valid student visa.
    2. Completion of Eligible Studies: You should have completed a bachelor's, master's, or other qualifying degree from an Australian educational institution.
    3. Valid Visa: You must hold a valid student visa at the time of applying for the Temporary Graduate Visa.
    4. Course Completion Confirmation: Your education provider must confirm the successful completion of your course to the Australian immigration authorities.

    Application Process:

    To apply for the Temporary Graduate Visa:

    • Apply before your current student visa expires.
    • Once your education provider confirms your course completion, gather the required documents and submit your application.
    • The decision will typically be communicated within a few months of submitting your application.
    • You can stay in Australia during the processing period.

    Charges: The application fee for the Temporary Graduate Visa varies depending on the type of visa and processing time. As of the latest data, the cost is approximately AUD 1,650 for the two-year visa and AUD 2,450 for the four-year visa. Additionally, you may need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for healthcare coverage.


    • Extended Stay: The extended visa duration provides additional time to gain valuable work experience and explore potential career opportunities.
    • Building a Network: The extended stay facilitates networking with industry professionals and potential employers.

    8. Affordable Cities in the Australia for International Students

    Understanding the exchange rate and its impact on daily expenses is crucial for international students planning to study in Australia.

    Converting your home currency to Australian Dollars (AUD) and estimating living costs is an essential step in budgeting for your academic journey.

    Various financial institutions and currency exchange services may apply different rates, so it's important to be aware of the potential variations when planning your finances for your time in Australia.

    To assist prospective students in making informed decisions about their budget, it's important to explore both the more affordable and relatively expensive cities in Australia. By doing so, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of potential living costs based on your preferred study destination.

    Here are some examples of affordable and costlier cities for international students in Australia:

    Five Cities with Affordable Living Costs:

    • Adelaide: Known for its affordability, Adelaide offers a lower cost of living compared to some of Australia's larger cities.
    • Brisbane: With a relatively lower cost of living than cities like Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane provides a more budget-friendly option.
    • Perth: Perth is often considered one of Australia's more affordable major cities in terms of living expenses.
    • Hobart: As the capital of Tasmania, Hobart offers a more affordable lifestyle while still providing a high quality of life.
    • Canberra: Australia's capital city, Canberra, offers a manageable cost of living while providing a dynamic environment for students.

    Five Cities with Higher Living Costs:

    • Sydney: As Australia's largest and most iconic city, Sydney tends to have a higher cost of living due to its popularity and opportunities.
    • Melbourne: Known for its vibrant arts and culture scene, Melbourne can also have higher living expenses.
    • Perth: While Perth is affordable compared to other major cities, some aspects of living in the city can be relatively expensive.
    • Brisbane: Although generally more affordable than Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane can still have higher living costs in certain areas.
    • Gold Coast: A popular tourist destination, the Gold Coast can sometimes have higher living expenses due to its lifestyle offerings.
    Average Salaries in Australia

    9. Average Salaries in Australia

    The latest economic data from Australia sheds light on the nation's average income landscape. According to the most recent available statistics, the average weekly full-time earnings for all employees in Australia stand at approximately AUD $1,750 before taxes. This equates to an estimated annual salary of around AUD $91,000, signifying a 2.4% increase from the previous year. These figures highlight the evolving income dynamics within the country's workforce.

    However, it's important to recognize that these figures provide a general overview and that individual salaries can vary significantly. Factors such as age, geographic location, industry, occupation, and employment sector play substantial roles in determining earning potentials.

    Interestingly, executive compensation also holds a prominent place in the Australian economic landscape. The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) reported that the median realized pay for ASX100 CEOs in 2022 reached approximately AUD $4.36 million, with variations dependent on industry and company performance.

    For a more comprehensive understanding of income distribution across diverse occupations and industries, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) periodically releases the Employee Earnings and Hours (EEH) survey. This comprehensive survey provides detailed insights into earnings across various demographic groups and helps shed light on the economic contours of the nation's labour force.

    Average Salaries in Australia

    10. Health Care and Insurance

    Ensuring access to quality health care is a crucial aspect for international students pursuing education in Australia. The country maintains a well-established health care system, and comprehending health care options and insurance prerequisites is essential for maintaining your well-being and financial security during your studies.

    I. Medicare

    Australia boasts a public health care scheme known as Medicare, designed to provide medical services, treatments, and hospital care to eligible residents, including international students from certain countries.

    • Access to a wide array of medical services, including doctor consultations and hospital treatments.
    • Affordable or free of charge for Medicare-covered services.

    II. Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

    While Medicare covers essential health services, many international students opt for additional coverage through Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). OSHC provides extended health care benefits, ensuring peace of mind and comprehensive medical coverage.


    • Enhanced coverage, including services like ambulance transport, prescription medications, and specialist consultations.
    • Option to choose coverage levels based on individual preferences and needs.

    III. Prescription Costs

    Prescription medications may incur a fee even under OSHC coverage. The cost varies depending on the medication and other factors.

    IV. Consulting a General Practitioner (GP)

    Registering with a local General Practitioner (GP) is recommended to access primary health care services. GPs provide non-emergency medical care and referrals to specialists if necessary.


    • Regular health check-ups and medical guidance.
    • Smooth referrals to specialists if required.

    V. Emergency Medical Care

    In case of emergencies, international students can seek medical attention at hospital Emergency Departments. Emergency care is accessible to all, and international students can access treatment even without private health insurance.

    For more information read our blog “Medical and Health care facilities for International Students in Australia”

    Cultural and Social Life

    11. Cultural and Social Life

    Studying in Australia not only offers top-tier education but also provides a vibrant cultural and social experience. Engaging in cultural activities, participating in social events, and immersing yourself in the local community can enhance your student life. Here's a comprehensive guide to managing your cultural and social expenses while making the most of your time in Australia.

    I. Diversity and Inclusion

    Australia is renowned for its diverse and inclusive society. Embracing this multicultural environment can lead to personal growth and expanded perspectives.

    II. Social Activities and Clubs

    Australian universities offer an array of student clubs and societies catering to various interests. Joining these groups offers an opportunity to connect with peers who share your passions.

    III. Local Events and Festivals

    Australia hosts a plethora of events, festivals, and celebrations throughout the year. Participating in these cultural gatherings provides insight into local traditions and customs.

    IV. Museums and Galleries

    Australia boasts outstanding museums and galleries that provide insights into art, history, and culture. Many institutions offer discounted or free entry for students.

    V. Socializing and Dining Out

    Socializing with friends and fellow students often involves dining out or meeting at cafes. Exploring local cuisine and trying different restaurants can be a delightful experience.

    Please note that cultural and social activities may vary based on location and availability. Stay updated with local events and opportunities to make the most of your experience in Australia.


    12. Academic Environment for International Students in Australia

    As an international student pursuing education in Australia, you'll immerse yourself in a dynamic academic environment that fosters intellectual growth, independent thinking, and research excellence. This section delves into the teaching styles and research opportunities that contribute to the enriching academic experience offered by Australian universities.

    I. Teaching Styles: Independent Learning and Critical Thinking

    Australian universities are renowned for emphasizing independent learning and critical thinking skills among students. These institutions prioritize developing well-rounded and intellectually curious individuals through their teaching styles.

    II. Lectures

    Lectures are a cornerstone of Australia's higher education system. Professors use these sessions to present essential concepts, theories, and ideas related to course material. However, the focus isn't solely on passive learning. Students are encouraged to actively engage, ask questions, and seek clarification.

    III. Seminars

    Seminars, conducted in smaller groups, facilitate in-depth discussions and analysis. Students actively participate, sharing perspectives and engaging in debates. Seminars allow for intimate exploration of complex subjects, fostering critical thinking.

    IV. Tutorials

    Tutorials provide personalized learning experiences. In these sessions, students work closely with professors or tutors to delve into specific subjects, clarify doubts, and receive assignment feedback. Tutorials enable one-on-one or small-group interactions, allowing students to explore topics deeply.

    V. Research Opportunities: A Path to Academic and Professional Development

    Australian universities are globally recognized for their research contributions across diverse fields. International students have unique opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research projects, enhancing their academic and professional growth.

    VI. Collaborative Research Projects

    Many Australian universities prioritize research collaborations between students and faculty. International students actively participate in ongoing research initiatives, collaborating with experts and contributing to knowledge advancement.

    VII. Undergraduate Research Opportunities

    Even at the undergraduate level, Australian universities encourage students to participate in research. Early exposure enables students to explore interests, develop research skills, and understand methodologies used in their chosen disciplines.

    VIII. Research Facilities and Resources

    Australian universities provide well-equipped research facilities and extensive resources for diverse research areas. Access to state-of-the-art laboratories, libraries, and online databases empowers students to conduct comprehensive research.

    IX. Professional Development

    Engaging in research enriches academic experiences and enhances employability. Research participation equips international students with problem-solving, analytical thinking, and a deep understanding of their fields – traits valued by future employers.

    Weather and Climate in Australia

    13. Weather and Climate in Australia

    Australia's weather is characterized by its diversity due to its vast size and varied geographical features. Be prepared for a range of conditions and adapt your clothing and plans accordingly.

    I. Seasonal Overview

    • Summer (December to February): Australia experiences summer during these months, with temperatures often soaring above 30°C (86°F). It's the perfect time for beach activities and outdoor adventures.
    • Autumn (March to May): The weather begins to cool down during autumn. Days are generally warm, while nights become cooler. It's a pleasant time for outdoor activities and exploring.
    • Winter (June to August): Winter in Australia varies by region. Northern areas have mild winters, while southern regions can experience cooler temperatures. Snowfall is limited to certain mountainous areas.
    • Spring (September to November): As winter comes to an end, spring brings milder temperatures and blossoming flowers. It's a great time for outdoor exploration and enjoying nature.

    II. Regional Variations

    • Northern Territories: The north experiences tropical weather with a wet and dry season. Wet season (November to April) brings heavy rainfall and humidity, while the dry season (May to October) is characterized by warm, sunny days.
    • Eastern Coast: The east coast, including cities like Sydney and Brisbane, enjoys a temperate climate with mild winters and warm summers. Coastal areas benefit from sea breezes.
    • Southern Australia: Melbourne and Adelaide have distinct seasons. Summers can be hot, while winters are cooler with occasional rain. Inland areas can experience temperature extremes.
    • Western Coast: Perth enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. However, areas in Western Australia's north have a tropical climate with wet and dry seasons.

    III. Clothing Essentials

    • Sun Protection: Australia's strong UV rays necessitate sun protection. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats are essential.
    • Light and Breathable Clothing: During summer, opt for light, loose-fitting clothing to stay comfortable in the heat.
    • Layering: Autumn and spring can have fluctuating temperatures, so layering allows you to adapt to changing conditions.
    • Winter Attire: In cooler regions, a warm jacket, gloves and scarf are advisable for the winter months.

    IV. Staying Sun-Safe

    Australia's high UV levels require sun protection year-round. Apply sunscreen, seek shade, and wear protective clothing to avoid sunburn and skin damage.

    V. Coping with Heat

    Australia's summers can be intense, especially in inland areas. Stay hydrated, wear appropriate clothing, and avoid strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day.

    Visa Regulations

    14. Visa Regulations in Australia

    Navigating visa requirements and regulations is vital for international students planning to study in Australia. The Australian government offers comprehensive information on student visas, work permissions, and post-study opportunities to ensure a smooth experience during your educational journey.

    For more information read our blog “ A comprehensive Guide to Student Visa for Australia: Types, Requirements, and Application Process”?>

    15. Safety and Security in Australia

    Australia upholds a strong reputation for safety and security. Nevertheless, it's essential to remain vigilant about your surroundings and follow sensible safety measures to ensure a secure and comfortable stay.

    To know more, read our Blog: "Safety and Security for International Students in the Australia"

    16. Banking and Finance for International Students in Australia

    I. The Importance of Having an Australian Bank Account

    Effectively managing your finances is paramount while studying in Australia. Opening a local bank account not only provides convenient access to your funds but also simplifies financial transactions such as paying tuition fees, rent, and day-to-day expenses.

    II. Benefits of Opening a Student Bank Account

    • Low or No Fees: Many student bank accounts in Australia come with minimal or no monthly fees, helping you save on banking costs.
    • Transaction Flexibility: These accounts often offer unlimited electronic transactions, making it convenient for you to manage your money.
    • Overdraft Options: Some banks provide overdraft facilities for students, which can be useful for emergencies or unforeseen expenses. Ensure you understand the terms and any associated fees.
    • Digital Banking: Australian banks offer advanced digital banking services, allowing you to monitor your finances, make transfers, and track your account using online and mobile platforms.
    • Student Offers: Several banks offer special deals and discounts to students, ranging from reduced fees to exclusive offers on entertainment and shopping.

    III. How to Open a Student Bank Account in Australia

    • Required Documents: Banks typically require identification documents (such as a passport), proof of enrolment in an Australian educational institution, and proof of address.
    • Choosing a Bank: Research various banks to find one that suits your needs in terms of services, fees, and branch locations.
    • Application Process: Once you've selected a bank, visit a branch or apply online. Provide the necessary documents, and the bank will guide you through the process. Once approved, you'll receive your account details and access to banking services.

    IV. Digital Banking Options

    Alongside traditional banks, Australia has embraced digital banking solutions like CommBank, ANZ, and NAB. These platforms offer user-friendly mobile apps, real-time transaction tracking, and innovative features tailored to modern banking needs.

    V. Tips for Financial Management

    • Create a Budget: Given the various expenses associated with studying abroad, crafting a monthly budget helps you allocate funds wisely.
    • Use Credit Wisely: While credit options are available, use them responsibly to avoid accumulating unnecessary debt.
    • Leverage Student Discounts: Australia offers numerous student discounts on various services. Take advantage of these offers to save on everyday expenditures.
    • Stay Informed: Regularly review your account statements and set up alerts for transactions to prevent any penalties or late fees.

    Money Saving Tips for International Students in Australia


    Being an international student in Australia brings together academic achievement, cultural richness, and personal development. With strong support structures, numerous employment prospects, and a thriving social environment, Australia remains a premier destination for students seeking quality living standards alongside their educational pursuits.
    Embrace this adventure, seize every opportunity, and allow Australia to leave an enduring imprint on both your academic journey and personal growth.