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Understanding Australia's cost of living for international students

Tips on how to save money as a student

Two international students eating at a restaurant in Australia
Two international students eating at a restaurant in Australia

Before moving to Australia as an international student, it is important to know what to expect financially. From rent to groceries to entertainment, you are bound to incur a wide range of expenses throughout your study journey. 

By getting a sense of exactly how much these day-to-day costs may be, you will be better prepared to budget accordingly. Here, we break down key details about the cost of living in Australia and how you can save money. 

What you need to know before you arrive  

To enter Australia on a Student (subclass 500) visa, you will need to meet certain financial requirements. As part of your application, the Department of Home Affairs may require you to provide proof of sufficient funds equivalent to 12 months of living expenses, including travel and tuition fees. These costs are outlined on the Department of Home Affairs website.  

An excellent tool you can use to get a more specific cost of living estimate is the Insider Guides Cost of Living Calculator. This interactive tool asks you questions about which Australian city you will live in, your chosen accommodation style, as well as your lifestyle (i.e. how often you will use public transport, how often you will dine out, etc.) Once you have answered all the questions, the calculator will generate an estimated cost of living based on your answers.  

Muslim student with her mobile phone outside of her university campus

What you are likely to spend on 

Below, we look at some of the most common day-to-day expenses you can expect to incur during your time in Australia and how much they will cost.  


Rent prices vary significantly across Australia. Your rent will depend on your style of accommodation (i.e. private rental, student accommodation, residential college, homestay) and location. You can expect to spend anywhere from $200 to $700 per week on rent.  


Depending on your accommodation style, you may have more bills to pay in addition to your rent, such as water, gas, electricity, or internet. You will also likely need to pay a monthly fee for your mobile phone plan. These costs can vary quite significantly based on your provider and location. 


Your weekly grocery bill will depend on the kinds of items you buy and where you are shopping. Specialty food retailers may sell things at a higher price, where supermarkets (such as Coles or Woolworths) or shopping at farmer’s markets will be cheaper. In general, you can expect to spend anywhere from $50 to $150 per week on groceries.  

Public transport 

Again, your public transport costs will vary depending on how much you use it and if there are any student/concession discounts on travel offered in your city. For example, in some cities, tram lines are free in certain areas, helping you cut down on costs. On average, you can expect to spend anywhere from $25 to $60 per week on public transport.  


Whether it is grabbing dinner with friends or catching a movie at the cinema, there are all kinds of ways to entertain yourself in Australia. Of course, these activities come at a price. Most restaurants and bars cater to all budget levels, so it is up to you how much you spend. Other experiences have fixed prices; for example, depending on the cinema, a standard movie ticket will usually cost between $10 and $20.  

How you can save money and stick to your budget  

While the cost of living in Australia might seem intimidating at first, there are all kinds of creative strategies you can use to save money. Plus, the more money you save on day-to-day living, the more you can spend on exploring Australia and making the most of your life here as an international student! Here are some of our top recommendations. 

nib rewards 

As a nib member, you are eligible for nib Rewards, which can help you save on everyday items and experiences. With over 100 partnering retailers, you will have no trouble leading a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life - without breaking the bank.  

For instance, you can save up to 5% on groceries, 30% on health and wellness, 20% off eligible retailers and up to 10% off participating restaurants.  

Not sure where to start? A nib employee took the ultimate challenge and only bought things through nib Rewards for a week. Here is how they saved (and how you can, too!)

Student discounts 

As an international student, you will be eligible for concessions on various items, including clothing, movie tickets, electronics, food, drink, and more.  

Several retailers across Australia offer discounts to full-time students. For example, if you sign up for UNiDAYS or Student Edge, you will have access to concessions with well-known brands such as Apple, Microsoft and ASOS. You may also want to get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC), which offers discounts on brands like Reebok, Planet Fitness and H&M. 

We recommend always keeping your student card on you. You never know! That café, restaurant, cinema, or retailer you pop might offer exclusive deals for students.