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Average Cost of Living in Australia for International Students 2022

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Average Cost of Living in Australia for International Students 2022

Jan 13, 2022Date Published
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Cost of Living in Australia - 2022 Guide

When looking into studying abroad, this is a question that crops up often – how much does it cost? Not just the tuition fees, but the cost of living in a study abroad destination. Accommodation, groceries, utilities, phone bills, transport – there’s a lot to consider. And because there are so many variables, it’s hard to give a solid figure for how much you might be spending while studying abroad. Australia is no exception. With living expenses varying across cities, and within cities too, your living costs will fall within a range of possibilities. Want to find out more? Take a look at our Cost of Living in Australia – 2022 Guide!


Living Costs in Australia for Students

Affordability can range pretty broadly depending on where you are in Australia. After all, we’re talking about a whole continent here. Living costs in Sydney, Australia, for instance, might skew much higher than living costs in Perth, Australia. To give you an idea of where the best Australian student cities fall on the range of affordability, here are QS Top Universities’ rankings for most to least affordable cities in the country:

  • Gold Coast
  • Brisbane
  • Adelaide
  • Perth
  • Canberra
  • Melbourne
  • Sydney

As much as Australian cities frequently tout nicknames as some of the best places in the world to live, the label often comes at a price. As huge metropolitan cities with immense industry presence, Sydney and Melbourne are unsurprisingly more expensive to live in. Nonetheless, you might find them a bit more affordable compared to other major study abroad cities around the world. According to the Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2021, Sydney places #31 and Melbourne #59, compared to London at #18, and New York at #14. And of course, there are the more affordable Australian cities to consider, like Canberra. Home to the Australian National University, Australia’s top-ranking university according to QS Top Universities, the city has a cost of living rank of #75.

There’s plenty of variability within each city too, depending on whether you:

  • Live in the city centre/suburbs
  • Live in student accommodation on campus, or are renting out a flat by yourself, sharing a unit, or opting for a homestay
  • Eat out often
  • Shop for groceries (and where you do your shopping)
  • Use public versus private transport
  • Spend often on entertainment and leisure activities

So, to begin financial planning for your average living costs in Australia, you’ll need to know exactly what you’ll be spending on. Let’s take a closer look at the major categories of expenses you can expect.

Accommodation Options for Students in Australia

Naturally, when looking into the cost of living in Australia, rent is one of the first things to consider. Property prices and rent tend to vary quite a bit across the different student cities. How much you’ll fork up for your crib monthly also depends on what type of accommodation you choose.

On-Campus Accommodation

Many universities offer incoming students a place to stay on campus. There are lots of perks to this. For starters, as an international student, it helps you set up a home base close to classes and student support. This is a huge help when you’re new to the city and still getting a hang of where everything is and how things work. Another benefit is that often, your meals, utilities, and other services fall under a single price tag. As an international student, it can be a relief to know that you don’t have to keep track of bills and budget for monthly groceries. On-campus accommodation may be available as:

  • Residential colleges
  • Halls of residence
  • Student apartments

A downside that we do need to point out early on, though, is that on-campus accommodation tends to be pricier. This is why you’ll often see your seniors move out after their first year to private housing options, off-campus.


This is a pretty unique opportunity for international students to stay with an Australian family while completing their studies. You rent out a room in their home and eat your meals with the family. If you’re looking for an opportunity to completely blend into the Aussie way of life, why not give this a shot?


Private Rentals

Renting out a place off-campus – either by yourself or with flatmates – is the most common option students lean toward. It’s the option that gives you the most flexibility when managing your costs. For instance, if your university is close to the city centre, you could opt for something closer to the suburbs at a lower price tag. Sure, you’ll be spending more time commuting to campus, but your bank account would thank you for it. And don’t forget, Australian cities are world-famous for the sights and sounds they have to offer. If living a little further away from campus lets you explore the city a bit more, that’s a good thing in our books.

You not only get to find a place within your budget, but you also adjust your lifestyle to suit your wallet. Although you’ll be in charge of your own groceries and utilities, this also means you have the control to be mindful of your expenses. And compared to homestays, international students often prefer renting out a flat since they have more privacy and freedom in how they live. 


So, how about getting around in Australia? For the most part, you’ll find that once you master the public transport system, getting from Point A to Point B couldn’t be simpler. Australia has reliable, efficient, and quality public transport options in place. And a huge plus are the student concessions you can enjoy, helping manage your cost of living in Australia! Take a look at the types of transport concessions you can access with your student ID below:

Transport Concessions
Australian Capital Territory 
MyWay Student Concession Card (discounts when using Transport Canberra bus and light-rail services)
Northern Territory
Tap and Ride Card (discounts on bus fares)
50% concession fares
  • TransLink public transport services
  • Regional qconnect bus services
  • Approved regional ferry services
South Australia
Adelaide Metro concession passes (e.g. 14- and 28-day passes for metroCARDs for unlimited bus, tram, and train travel at reduced rates)
Western Australia
Tertiary SmartRider (student concession fares)

Breaking Down Cost of Living in Australia By City

On top of accommodation and transport costs, there are also expenses like meals, groceries, utilities, internet bills, and so on. To a considerable extent, these depend on where you live. As you read earlier, student accommodation on campus might cover your utility bills and meal plans. It might also be pricier than other options out there. Then there’s the question of how living costs vary across cities. How, for example, do living costs in NSW, Australia, stack up against living costs in Melbourne? While the monthly budget will look different from person to person, we’ve collated some data to give you an idea of how much you can expect to spend a month if you attend universities in the following cities:

Melbourne – University of Melbourne
Sydney – University of New South Wales
Adelaide – University of Adelaide
Perth – 

TAFE International Western Australia

Canberra – Australian National University
Brisbane – University of Queensland
Gold Coast – Bond University
AUD 1,360-1,980
AUD 800-2,200
AUD 540-1,540
AUD 280-1,000
AUD 740-1,200
AUD 480-2800
AUD 680-1,420
Meals & groceries
AUD 560-1,120
AUD 320-800
AUD 360-540
AUD 80-1,120
AUD 420-676
AUD 320-600
AUD 460-540
AUD 40-80
AUD 140-560
AUD 160-220
AUD 140-560
AUD 168
AUD 150-175
AUD 80
Phone & Internet
AUD 60-120
AUD 80-220
AUD 80-160
AUD 80-220
AUD 104-200
AUD 80-120
AUD 40-80
AUD 120-240
AUD 160
AUD 80-140
AUD 60-220
AUD 140
AUD 40-100
AUD 40-80
Social/Leisure Activities
AUD 320-600
AUD 320-600
AUD  200+
AUD 320-600

On top of the variation across cities, you can see that the ranges within which your expenses can fall for each category are also pretty wide. To get a more specific estimate of your cost of living in Australia based on your preferences and lifestyle, check out this living cost calculator. Through its nine-step process, you can check off items such as:

  • Where you’re going to be living
  • Which part of the city you’ll be staying in
  • Your chosen type of accommodation
  • How often you’ll be eating out
  • Which type of transport you use often 
  • The price range for services and facilities you use, such as gym memberships, haircuts, cosmetics, and mobile plans
  • The price range for clothing and how often you purchase clothing
  • How often you go for leisure activities like concerts, movies, and sports events

By specifying these items down to your individual preferences and lifestyle, you get a more personalised idea of your average living costs in Australia! Knowing how much you expect to spend also gives you an idea of how to manage your finances.

Living Cost in Australia for International Students

If you’ve been looking into getting a student visa for Australia, you’re likely already aware of the financial aspects of the process. Aside from the actual application fee – starting at AUD 630 – you also need to provide proof that you can cover your education and living costs in Australia for 12 months. If your spouse or parents are sponsoring your studies, you’ll need to provide bank statements or other proof that their annual income is at or above AUD 62,222. If you’re travelling with family, this amount needs to be at least AUD 72,592. 

Immigration agents use this information to figure out from the get-go whether the applicant can afford to study and live in Australia. Fulfilling this requirement affirms to them that the candidate is a genuine applicant who intends to complete the course they got acceptance for. In fact, failing to satisfy this requirement is one of the major reasons for visa rejection. So, even before you step into the country, your finances are a major consideration to keep at the forefront of your decision-making.

As an international student, there are some other costs you’re going to have to factor in too. These may include:

  • Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) – health insurance coverage
  • English language proficiency test fees
  • Biometrics fees
  • Australian Federal Police check (National Police Certificate) or overseas police clearance

How Expensive is Australia Compared to Other Countries?

If Australia is one of the options on the table for your study abroad destination, living costs might be the factor that cinches the deal. Take a look at the estimated expenses of living in Australia versus other major study abroad destinations according to the cost of living calculator, Numbeo:

Cost of Living in Australia Compared to the USA
Consumer Prices
11.45% lower in the USA compared to Australia
Rent Prices
12.63% higher in the USA compared to Australia 
Groceries Prices
11.07% lower in the USA compared to Australia
Restaurant Prices
4.81% lower in the USA compared to Australia
Cost of Living in the UK Compared to Australia
Consumer Prices
13.67% lower in the UK compared to Australia
Rent Prices
15.74% lower in the UK compared to Australia
Groceries Prices
29.22% lower in the UK compared to Australia
Restaurant Prices
1.16% higher in the UK compared to Australia
Cost of Living in Canada Compared to Canada
Consumer Prices
11.46% lower in Canada compared to Australia
Rent Prices
8.46% lower in Canada compared to Australia
Groceries Prices
11.89% lower in Canada compared to Australia
Restaurant Prices
7.89% lower in Canada compared to Australia

Looking at this data, Australia does rank as a bit pricier compared to other study abroad destinations. It’s important to remember, though, that these statistics are all estimates and living costs can vary greatly depending on the location within each of these countries. Plus, your lifestyle and preferences can also denote how much you actually end up spending monthly. With some careful research and financial planning, your dream Australian university may be well within your budget! 

Concluding Thoughts on Cost of Living in Australia

Figuring out your monthly or yearly costs down to the last digit is an almost impossible task when studying abroad. Hopefully, our Cost of Living in Australia 2022 Guide has given you a better idea of how to plan your finances nonetheless! On top of the higher tuition fees international students inevitably end up paying, cost of living is an important factor when planning for the big endeavour of studying abroad. Now that you have a more thorough idea of what to look out for, we hope this takes you a step closer to your dream university in Australia!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do international students have to pay more to study in Australia?

Like most study abroad destinations, international student fees are higher than domestic student fees in Australia.

Is Australia too expensive to live in for international students?

“Too expensive” is a bit subjective – it ultimately depends on your budget. Overall, compared to other major study abroad cities, like London, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Seoul, and so on, Australian cities typically are more affordable. Plus, it’s important to remember that Australia is a huge country. The cost of living can vary quite a bit across its different cities.

How much will it cost me to live in Australia? 

A lot of factors go into determining how much annual living expenses would be in Australia. Depending on which city you’re in, which part of the city you’re in, and your lifestyle, the range can be rather different from person to person. To get a good idea of what your estimated costs will look like, this cost of living calculator is a great place to start. By specifying details like your budget for food and clothing, how often you use different transport modes, where you live, etc. you get a more thorough breakdown of your estimated expenses living in a specific Australian city. According to Study Australia, the overall living costs for 12 months in Australia as a student (as of October 2019) is approximately AUD 21,041.

What is the most expensive city in Australia?

According to QS Top Universities, Sydney is the most expensive student city in Australia. Melbourne comes in at second place. The Mercer Cost of Living Survey also ranks Sydney as Australia’s most expensive city in 2021, followed by Melbourne.

What is the cheapest city in Australia?

According to QS Top Universities, the Gold Coast is Australia’s most affordable student city. Adelaide and Brisbane follow close after. Adelaide, meanwhile, ranks the lowest in cost of living for Australian cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey 2021. Brisbane is the runner-up for this position, while the Gold Coast doesn’t make the list.