Cost of living for International Students in Australia

Planning your budget when moving to Australia is imperative. This will not only help you understand your spending capacity, but make a sensible decision regarding your overseas studies. Before you make a decision to enrol as an International Student, I’d suggest you take a moment to draw the budget. In this post, I will breakdown the monthly average spend for an International Student in Australia.

Keep in mind this is an average. The numbers may vary depending on your lifestyle and services / products you opt for. Also, since I live in Sydney, this information is based on living cost here. Sydney is known for its high cost of living compared to other states.

Accommodation

In my experience, major proportion of the living cost is attributed to rent. The monthly rent actually depends on the type of place you rent. Whilst a studio or one bedroom apartment could be between $350.00 to $400.00 per week, most students prefer shared accommodation for its reasonable pricing. On average student accommodation will cost $250.00 a week. Try to find accommodations with bills included, so you can budget exactly how much rent you will incur.

Refer to our How to find cheap accomodation article to learn more about saving $$ on rent.

Transportation

Unfortunately, International Students in Sydney are not eligible for concessions on public transport. If you do not live in walking proximity to the University, you may incur an average of $40.00 a week for travel. Other states like Victoria where the students are fortunate to receive travel concessions, will incur an average weekly cost of $20.00.

Tip: Learn to use public transport to your advantage to help you save on unnecessary spending.

Tuition fees

It is hard to put a finger on the average spending because it depends on the course, level of study and University. Due to work restrictions for International Students it is not easy to find the money to pay for tuition through a part-time job right away. I’d recommend you have tuition fees for at least the first three semesters in-hand prior to arriving in Australia.

Medical expenses

This shouldn’t be a problem because you will most likely have paid for Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) prior to arriving in Australia as a part of the Student Visa process. On average OSHC will be around $500.00 per year. For day to day medical expenses, OSHC cover mostly consultation for general practitioners and proportion of prescribed medicine. You can compare different OSHC covers through this website to understand what is suitable for you depending on your medical needs.

Groceries and food

It goes without saying, cooking at home is way cheaper than eating out. For example, a coffee from the local cafe would be around $3.20; you do the math if you plan to have a coffee everyday.

If you are living by yourself groceries will not cost a lot. You can go for house-brands, which are relatively healthy. I am pretty generous when comes to groceries, because I am happy when my tummy is happy. For a person like me, $40.00 a week is more than sufficient.

You can check out our Heathy Study Snacks post to get some ideas on healthy, tasty and cheap snack ideas.

Mobile and internet

This is obviously an essential but is not very expensive. You can find a prepaid sim for $30.00 per month with Unlimited National Calls / Text and few gigs of data from providers such as Optus and Vodafone.

Most student accommodation comes with free WiFi, so definitely is not something to worry about. In the rare chance you are need to have your own internet connectivity, TPG offer unlimited downloads on high speed internet connection for around $60.00 per month.

Entertainment

This expense is subjective depending on your lifestyle. As students, you are able to receive student concessions at the movies, adventure parks, etc. If you are part of University clubs and societies, you will receive special discounts at certain stores. Alcohol is expensive in Australia, a night out could cost you up to $70.00. Always look out for weekday specials and student discounts for cost-effective options. On average, I would say up to $30.00 a week is a reasonable estimate.

In summary

Weekly cost for a student would add up to:

  • Accommodation – $250.00
  • Transportation – $40.00
  • Tuition fees – Depends
  • Medical expenses – Depends
  • Groceries and food – $40.00
  • Mobile and internet – $10.00
  • Entertainment – $30.00

What are your thoughts on this analysis? What other expenses would an International Student incur?

How important is your Credit Score?

Credit Score was one of those terms that I learnt about but never paid attention to until recently. I never understood why grown-ups kept harping on maintaining the credit score, until I was looking to borrow money. Here’s what I think, we tend to ignore the concept of credit when we are students. Once we surpass that stage of our life, loans, some may say, are inevitable. So it is not a bad thing to think about how you can look at improving or maintaining your Credit Score even whilst studying.

What is a Credit Score?

Before we go any further, I think it is important understand and clear any misunderstandings about Credit Score.

In simple, Credit Score is a numerical figure that represents your reliability in terms of borrower. It looks at your financial history and summarises it into one figure that screams if your credit worthy.

You can use site like getcreditscore.com.au to get your Credit Score free of charge. They connect directly to Equifax, Australia’s leading credit bureau, to identify you. You are required to provide personal details along with your Australian driver’s license. If you do not have a driver’s licence, you can get a free credit report from Equifax.

Importance of Credit Score

Credit Score isn’t a one time deal, it follows you through your entire life. Definitely don’t take it for granted. I am sure this applies to many countries, in Australia, Credit Score is everything.

Once you leave behind the student life and start your professional career, you will realize your Credit Score will appear in various aspects of your life. Credit Score will enhance your borrowing capacity with banks and financial institutes for luxury purchases. Your Credit Score will also add value to your renting history to rent a property of choice. Now a days, vendors including insurance companies, energy retailers, seek your credit history prior to contracting services.

It goes without saying that, a bad credit score can be disasterous. Not having neutral credit score may not be that great too.

How to build Credit Score while in Uni?

For starters, repaying any student loans whilst in University is a smart decision. Student loans, in most cases, are not required to be paid off until you graduate and earn above a certain threshold. However, you can get ahead of the game and start making smaller and consistent contributions towards your student loan.

Make sure you pay your rent on time! Whether you are residing in on or off campus accomodation, ensure you request for a transaction log from your landlords / real estate agents. Whilst you can not directly report rent payments to credit bureaus, your landlord / real estate agent may be registered with special credit services that accepts rent reports which will in turn be added to your credit record. This is a great way to use paying bills to your advantage, but at the same time finding landlords / agents who are registered for such services is not easy.

Get yourself a credit card. Credit cards have bad conotations, especially amongst students. If you are not adult enough to responsibily manage a credit card, how can you expect lenders to have trust in you? If you are serious about building the credit score, walk to a bank and sign up for a credit card. It is a very simple process, even for International Students. Simply make sure you pay for the relevant transactions at the end of the month without delays.

I would love to hear your thoughts on Credit Score. Is this something you thought about while being a student? How did you build your Credit Score while in University?

Things you may not know about Partner VISA Application

Every year many couples with foreign partners apply for the popular Partner Visa.Whilst the process seems simple at first sight, the lengthy process, paperwork and cost can place a lot of pressure on individuals if they are unsure what to expect. Minor errors or inadequacy of documents could lead to possible rejection without refund or significant delays in granting the Visa. To avoid any avoidable mistakes, you need to be well-informed about the process.

Here are some little known facts and we are also touching significant changes to the Partner Visa in the near future. 

It is expensive

The Australian Partner Visa is one of the most expensive Visas, with a rough estimate of AUD 7,000 application fee. In addition, we also need to factor in the costs for medical examination, police checks and Migration agent, which ranges between AUD 3,000 to 5,000. The application fee had increased significantly from last three to four years.

Types of Partner Visa

There are the two ways to obtain the Partner Visa: de facto or married. The former, de facto, is eligible if you and your partner lived to together for over 12 months. There is no intent for marriage required for this stream of Partner Visa. If you are married, you need not have lived together at the point of applying for the Visa. In both instances, you require evidence of genuine and on-going relationship. 

Importance of evidence

Many believe proving a relationship is easy now a days thanks to social media and shutterbugs. As there are many false applications, Department of Home Affairs scrutinise every detail. If there are any question marks, there is a tendency for the application to be rejected. It is important to share financial evidence, co-habitation evidence and social evidence. This includes, joint bills, assets co-owned, joint bank accounts with consistent activity.

Speaking of consistency, you need address any inconsistency in your relationship. For example, your case officer will cross-check your statements against social media. If you have been consistently posting your relationship on social media and stopped, explain the reason for the hiatus. 

It is difficult to prove a relationship where you haven’t lived together, especially long-distance relationship. In these instances, you will require statements from friends and family who are Citizens or Permanent Residents of Australia reflecting their knowledge of and vouching for the relationship. The key is to make the statements detailed and consistent to your cover letter and other evidence like social media posts. In addition, photographs (don’t submit albums!), social media posts and joint travel stamps will serve as evidence. 

When your application is being processed the Visa officer consider the below four aspects of the relationship.

  • Nature of household
  • Financial aspect of the relationship
  • Social aspect of the relationship
  • Nature of commitment to each other

You can access the below document to understand what each refers to. Having substantial evidence for each of these will help strengthen your application to prove genuinity of the relationship.

Attaching evidence

Any documents attached as a part of your application must be clear, complete and less than 5 MB in size. If it doesn’t meet the requirements, processing of the application maybe delayed.

Full disclosure

Apply what you learnt at school, honesty is the best policy. It is important even minor offences and inconsistencies in your relationship are disclosed. If it comes to light any information is false or incomplete, it could lead to rejection or worse you may be barred from applying for the visa for a several years. Especially ensure the Information represented on Form 80 – Character Assessment is accurate. 

All relationships undergo difficulties, some applicants state these on their statements. Be sure not to paint a picture that you are about to break-up.

Take health checks seriously

All applicants, referring to spouse and children, are required to take a health check. The Australian authorities take this very seriously as they are concerned for the well-being of the Australian community and also possible burdens on the Australian healthcare system. Even if the children are not planning to move to Australia, it is required for them to undergo a health check as they may return to Australia in the next few years. 

Longer processing time

Currently, there is a wait time of 12 to 18 month wait time for Partner Visa. The main reason for this is because the Department of Immigration limit the number of applications processed within an year, but there is double the number of applicants pending results. You need to be mindful that some documents such as Medical assessment and police checks may expire within this processing time. You will be required to provide these documents once again. Further, on shore applications take longer than off shore and prospective marriage visa.

Prospective changes to legislation

In December 2018, a new Migration Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill was passed through Parliament. As per the amendment, the sponsor (partner who is an Australian Permanent Resident or Citizen) must lodge a sponsorship application and have it approved prior to applying for the partner visa. The processing time for the sponsorship application could take up to 12 months. It is still unclear as to when this will commence.

If you have any question in relation to your Partner Visa process, write to us at admin@intstudi.com