Cost of Living in Australia

    By Kevin G. Trainer at Ausinet – 20 February 2022 – Australian Institute of Electrotechnology


The cost of living concept: The cost of living is the monetary contribution required to maintain a certain standard of living in a specific location in the recent past. Housing, food, taxes, health care, clothes, education, entertainment, and transportation are all examples of necessary costs included in the cost of living.

Does the cost of living vary from city to city?

Yes, is the obvious answer. The cost of living is not just a high school economics concept but a perpetually researched one. For example, a recent comparative study found out that housing and utilities in Sydney are 32% more expensive than in Brisbane. And transportation is 14% cheaper in Brisbane as compared to Sydney. 

The cost of living takes into account financial spending you need to undertake, to avail all things necessary for making livelihood possible. Because prices vary from city to city, the cost of living helps define how expensive life is in a particular city or region. Thus, in reality, the cost of living significantly influences your day to day life as per the geography you live in.

Cost of Living Index

The cost of living index compares the costs that an average individual might anticipate spending in different places for food, lodging, transportation, energy, clothes, education, healthcare, and entertainment. The cost of living index can be referred to get an estimation of how quickly the expense of living increases over time. The cost of the living index may also be understood by asking, “How many things and services does a particular amount of money purchase in a specific location?” Food and fuel have witnessed enormous price rises, implying that consumers must spend more money to maintain the same level of life as in past years. Now, from a student’s perspective, let us look into detail what makes up the ‘Cost of Living’:

Avenues for Higher Education

Over the last 30 years, university fees in Australia have risen consistently as they have in most other parts of the world, however, please take note that courses such as veterinary medicine and science, are more expensive on average. On the other hand, vocational training is affordable to attend and serves you with the added benefit of working concurrently with your studies. Back at the university, money spent to study and successfully obtain your degree varies based on the duration of the course, the field being studied, and of course, the university you attend. To discover more about the tuition and college fees, please visit the specific university’s website to get a more accurate estimate of what your course may cost you. Studying for a university degree might be less expensive if you obtain a scholarship from the university.

Where to live? (City or State)

You must determine if you want to live in the city or the suburbs. When choosing, bear in mind the time taken to travel to your institution, the cost of lodging, and the proximity to your friends and the local community. The cost of living in Australia varies according to your lifestyle and where you reside, such as city and state. Most colleges and institutes for students are located in or near cities. According to student surveys in the past, a majority of them opted to live closer to their classmates. Living near the city will cut down on your journey time. However, living expenditures (such as rent) are often higher in the city.  Living in the suburbs is relatively inexpensive, and the residences are spacious too. However, living further out may mean skipping lifestyle perks such as more entertainment alternatives and a higher student density.

Choosing a suitable accommodation

The cost of accommodation is expensive, especially in major cities where the rental market may be on the higher side. Full-time students will struggle making ends meet as they must balance spending their money and not breaking the bank. We understand that as a student, every dollar counts. There are several sorts of accommodations available, including on-campus housing. You must consider following mainstream options before choosing what sort of lodging is suitable for you.

The options:

  • Homestay 
  • Sharehouse
  • Accommodation for students/managed student housing
  • Private for Individuals


It’s natural to feel homesick when you first arrive in a new nation, especially if it’s your first time away from your family. When you start off, living in a homestay on arrival to Australia, you won’t lose out on the comforts of home and you will also have time to settle into your studies without the burden of arranging on-campus or rented housing. You could learn about Australian culture more closely and improve your English language skills while staying in a secure and welcoming environment.


Moving into shared housing is an excellent choice for university students. A shared accommodation facilitates experiences with new people and broadens your social network. Shared housing is an amazing way to save money on living expenses.


Managed student housing: 

If you want to live with other students while enjoying the convenience of an all-inclusive plan, consider managed student housing. Student flats are created near the most significant universities and colleges and are ready for you to move in. All housekeeping and utilities are provided, however, you must make provisions for your food.

Private rental: 

Using a real-estate agency, you may find and rent an apartment or a home. You will likely pay rent to a landlord and be responsible for your bills and utilities. It means you may have to budget more for unforeseen expenditures, but you have more discretion in deciding where to live. The cost of this option will depend on where you live in Australia. Local estate agents can typically assist you in discovering these places, and your institution can also recommend certain agents.


You must choose between walking, riding a bike, taking public transportation, or driving a car. Your transportation choice is determined by where you reside; if you live in the city and are close to the institute, you can ride a bicycle or walk. If you are too far away or in the suburbs, you should take public transportation or drive yourself.

Let’s explore this more:

Cycling or walking

If you don’t want to take public transit or you don’t possess a car, you have a few excellent options for getting around. Using your own two feet is the cheapest and most convenient method to navigate your new city. You don’t need to be concerned about bus schedules or if you’ve taken the correct train; manage your time well and get out into the fresh air to explore your city. If walking isn’t your thing, investing in a bicycle is a wise decision and a great way to save money as a student. It will not only get you about for free, but it will also keep you active and healthy! If you’re thinking about getting a motorbike, make sure you choose the right sort because there are numerous kinds of motorcycles (e.g. road bikes, mountain bikes, etc.)

Public Transportation

In a small city like Darwin, public transportation costs around $1 for one day. Most cities in Australia are reasonably easy to navigate. Australian cities employ trams, trains, buses, and ferries for public transportation. The specific public transportation alternatives differ per city, so make sure you evaluate the sort of public transportation available and what best meets your needs.


Depending on where you live in Australia (for example, in regional or distant locations), you may not need a car. However, if you want to get out and about and explore your new place, a car allows you to do so. If you want to buy a car, don’t forget to budget for gasoline, registration, and insurance.

Taxi service/Uber

You may hail a cab on the street in most major cities. You may also reserve a taxi in advance online or by phone. Another alternative is to utilise Uber, a simple ridesharing service using an app you can download on your phone and use. Uber is an on-demand service that often has a bit lower prices than taxis.


The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that food is the second-most expensive part of the cost of living after housing and transportation.

If you dine at home, it is significantly less expensive. On an average, for one day, you consume just $11.08 worth of food, which is nearly half of what you would spend at a single café brunch. The key thing you need to know is eating on a budget does not imply eating poorly. Some handy tips:

  • Decide your time to go to the market. That’s correct! Arriving in the supermarket or fresh food market at the start or end of the day, especially on a Friday, might significantly affect your expenditures.
  • Take a subscription to grocery stores with your friends. Choose an affordable plan through grocery providers/larger stores. It is ideal for sharing the subscription with housemates or friends. If you order a greater quantity at one time you could get a discount.
  • And yes, eating together is less expensive – and more enjoyable!

Plan frequent dinners with your friends, or if you live with others, take turns cooking for everyone – this saves money on staples like oil and spices and your gas bill. You may cook in large amounts and freeze the leftovers.

Health Insurance

Health insurance abroad is required to ensure coverage if you want assistance with medical treatment in the new nation where you plan to reside. In Australia, international students must obtain private health insurance because the public system is not designed to help overseas students. You must manage your medical insurance coverage. It pays for medical visits, hospital bills, ambulance service and some prescription drugs. Many health funds have been authorised by the Australian Government’s Department of Health to deliver OSHC. Your OSHC is either recommended by your educational institution or university or purchased online through the OSHC provider’s website. It is helpful if you speak with many OSHC providers before deciding on a level of coverage that matches your needs.

Other necessities

Other necessities include gym memberships, haircuts, cosmetics, mobile phone contracts, power, clothing, and entertainment. If you are a fitness fanatic, you probably like going to the gym. But doing the exercise at home will save your precious money. Haircuts and cosmetics are optional; you can choose less expensive options. You may include trendy hairstyles in your budget if you want to. The cost of a mobile plan is determined by how frequently you call friends and family. You may chat with your parents or friends a lot at first, but after a while, that may change. So choose your cell plan at your leisure. Clothing is up to you. You may complete your shopping before arriving in Australia and realise your purchases are out of style in Australia. If that’s the case you could go shopping at a few outlets like Target, Kmart, Big W or other trendy shops.  Cinemas, music performances, sports, and night outs are all possibilities for amusement or leisure. Usually, movies are available on other apps on the internet, such as Netflix, so going to the theatres is optional. Depending on your budget, night outs or sports can be added to your list once a month or once a week.

So, to sum it up, you may use this cost of the living blog to understand the concept and refer to various online sources to check which city is within your budget. For an approximate estimation, you can use this Cost of Living Calculator by Study Australia or watch this video. This calculator will tell you how much it would cost to live your lifestyle in a specific city in Australia. Cheers!

Last reviewed date: 20/02/2023

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