The cost of living in Australia for international students in 2019

The Australian Government specifies AU$20,290 as the minimum amount required to cover living costs for a 12-month period. This figure excludes tuition fees or the cost of travel to and from Australia. It is the minimum required to pay accommodation, commute to school or university, buy food, have fun, and pay for all the little extras that you need day-to-day.

So, how realistic is it for an international student to live on $20,290 per year while studying? If that is the minimum, how far will that go for the average international student?

Australia has a relatively high cost of living; however, wages are much higher than most countries. For example, the average net salary in Shanghai is approximately AU$1,900 per month, while in Melbourne it’s almost $5,000 a month. This is countered by the cost of consumer goods in Australia being almost double, groceries being 30 per cent more expensive, restaurants being 90 per cent more expensive and rent being almost 10 per cent more than China’s largest city.

So, how does $20,290 a year break down?

Whether you choose to stay in a share house or on-campus student lodgings, accommodation will almost always be the largest and least negotiable expense for an international student (more on that below).

Power, gas, phone and internet are unavoidable expenses ) and your options for saving on these are limited  (unless you choose to do without a mobile phone or the internet entirely. Additionally, public transport is unavoidable, unless you choose to buy a car, which will be an added expense.

This means that savings will have to be found elsewhere, perhaps by taking from your food or entertainment budget. With that in mind, the average budget might look something like this each week:

Rent                                                        $140

Groceries and eating out                     $130

Power and gas                                       $25

Phone and internet                                $15

Public transport                                      $40

Entertainment                                         $40

Total for 52 weeks:                                 $20,290

The cost of accommodation

At the higher end of accommodation costs, you’ll spend almost $16,000 for a full year’s rent, which will take most of the $20,290. This presumes you’ll sign a year-long lease and stay throughout the holidays; however, it might be possible to rent at the higher price during the semesters and find somewhere cheaper over the summer holidays. Either way, it’s safe to say that your biggest living expense will be your rent.

In Melbourne, rent for a share house can range anywhere from $150 to $300 per week. Generally, cheaper rent means being further away from the city, living with more people, and older or more run-down accommodation. In a suburb like Melbourne’s Bundoora where La Trobe University is located, the cost of a room in a shared house is roughly $150 a week. Prices will also vary depending on the city in which you choose to study, with Sydney being the most expensive city in Australia, followed by Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Brisbane then Adelaide.

In Australia, almost every residential tenancy agreement includes the payment of a ‘rental bond’. A rental bond is common for long-term leases and is usually required as a security deposit. This bond is needed to protect the owner against damage done to the property or cover any debt you owe to the landlord. Although not every accommodation needs a bond, it’s important to keep this in mind before signing a lease.

The amount of rental bond required varies for each state.

Victoria Max 1 month rent unless the rent is above $350 per week, then any amount can be negotiated between parties.
Western Australia If the weekly rent is $1,200 or less, the maximum bond is the equivalent of 4 weeks’ rent.
South Australia Max 4 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is $250 or less.

6 weeks’ rent if weekly rent is more than $250.
All other states and territories Max 4 weeks rent

It can be done!

There are many ways to stretch your money further. Take a look at some of our budgeting tips to hold on to your precious dollars and get the most out of your Australian education experience:


Other useful links:


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