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.


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.


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.


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?

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

5 Ways to Earn in Australia as International Students

Are you planning to study in Australia as an International Student? Whilst it is the beginning of a rewarding journey, the flip side of the matter is that Australia is ranked world number 32 in the Cost of Living Index. As a result, most International Students work part-time to make ends meet. The silver lining is that there are plenty of jobs in Australia for those who make an effort. Some students actually end up finding great opportunities as a result of part-time work.

If you are interested to know how to earn extra money in Australia, keep reading. There maybe ways that you didn’t know existed!


Tax File Number

First things first, you need to get your Tax-File Number (commonly referred as TFN). With this you will be treated as an Australian-resident for tax purposes and will not be taxed excessively. It is a very simple process that you can complete online at the ATO website.

Fair Work in Australia

As per Fair Work policy in Australia, International Students are allowed work a maximum of 20 paid hours a week during semester and full-time during winter and summer breaks. While it doesn’t seem like a lot of hours, it is considerable given that you are enrolled for full-time studies and undertaking minimum 4 units a semester. So between, attending lectures to working on assignments and preparing for exams, 20 hours is plenty to make the extra buck.

Australia has very strict labour regulations. You have similar rights to an Australian to be offered safe work-environments and paid at least minimum wage. – refer Fair Works pay calculator. Fair Work Australia have published many cases where International Students are exploited, underpaid and overworked. If you are in such situations, immediately report on 13 13 94. You can refer to the Fair Work Ombudsmen website to have a basic understanding of your rights and awards (legal documents that outline the minimum wage rates and conditions of employment in Australia) related to your field.

Write a Resume

This is self-explanatory that you need a well-written resume. I am not going to go in to too much detail on this as it is a significant and standalone topic that is addressed  in our winning strategy to write a resume article.


Now that all the preliminary work is done, it is time to make $$!

Job Sites

job hunting through online sites

This is the most common way to find a part-time job in Australia and you can start your job search on your University Careers page. The advantage in that platform is because postings on this site are not visible to non-students and it is an indication that employers are interested in hiring students from your University. Apart from major job sites like SEEK, Indeed, CaeerOne and Adecco, you can refer to Gum Tree job board. I would actually state that you are likely to find a job as an International Student on the latter site. The common jobs for International Students are in retailing, hospitality and business administration.



You can also apply for tutoring positions in subjects that you are confident as a high school or University tutor. You have two options, either respond to adverts on Gum Tree requesting for tutors or advertise your services. General rate for high school and first year University subjects range from $20 to $30 per hour.

Mystery Shopper

mystery shopper

Companies commission other people to act as Mystery Shoppers. As a Mystery Shopper, you will be asked to visit retail stores, cafes, etc. to act as a customer to observe and engage. Later, write a report explaining the experience and submit to the company or agency that hired you. You know what the best part about this? You get to eat food and buy clothes, FREE OF CHARGE; you will be reimbursed for what you spent. Sometimes, this is the payment, where as most companies pay a fee on top of that for your time invested. You can become a mystery shopper by looking for opportunities under the previously mentioned “Job Sites”.

Uber and Uber Eats

If you have your own vehicle and an Australian Driver’s licence, you can consider signing up as a Uber or Uber Eats driver, which is the most flexible job you can have during your studies. There are no schedules, you can choose to be on the road at your convenience. The amount you earn depends on your effort and time you are willing to commit.

Uber is a taxi hiring service, where the customers can request for a taxi through their mobile Uber app. Uber Eats is a food delivery service, where customers can request for food delivery through the mobile app from local restaurants and cafes registered with Uber Eats.

Sounds like your kind of work? Find out if:

  1. You meet the requirements of a Uber Driver? Yes?
  2. Your car meets the vehicle requirement? Yes?
  3. You can cover and exceed your expenses? Yes?

Great, sign up!

Uber Driver

Walk-in Interviews

All you need to do is print out around 10 – 20 copies of your resumes, and walk-in to places around your University and hand in your resume. This works really well for cafes and retailing. Some stores have boards outside with vacancies, these are easy invites for you to walk-in. You can also walk-in to other stores and speak to the manager. I have friends who have been able to land the job right away, while other times they have a chat with you and keep your resume for future. Easy enough, but there are few things you need to be mindful.

  • This is an interview, so dress accordingly. You need not be in formal attire but smart casual is preferred.
  • Turn on your positive and chirpy personality. Most are simply judged based on how you communicate and present yourself and less with what’s on the resume.
  • Avoid morning and lunch hour rush; I would recommend between 10.00 am to 11.30 am or 2.30 pm to 4.00 pm.
  • Be polite. If you think the place looks busy, come again another time.
  • Be quick. You do not have an appointment, so be quick and get to the point. Rehearsing what you want to say might help.
  • If you feel shy or scared, go with a friend you feel comfortable. Let the friend pretend to be a customer and hang around.
  • Try this with small local stores. You might not have much luck at large supermarket chains like Coles or Woollies or department stores, because recruitment is done through head offices.
  • (Brutal) rejections are inevitable. Don’t let it dishearten you.

job interviews


This an online outsourcing company based in Sydney. Anyone, from individuals to small companies, can list tasks / jobs they wish to outsource, ranging from cleaning, deliveries, admin / creative work, etc. If you feel you are able to get the job done, you can offer your services. How does this differentiate from other sites? It is a secured service because Airtasker acts as a middleman for the payment. Once the job is assigned to you, Airtasker will hold the payment safely with them and once you complete the job successfully, Airtasker will release the payment after deducting a small service fee.

Networking, LinkedIn and Social Groups

Finding jobs through social media

There is no better way than landing a job that you love and in your field than networking, and what better site to do this than LinkedIn. This social media platform offers more relevant vacancies based on your skills, work experience, endorsements and connections. While this is more a long-term strategy, you will reap its benefits overtime. Maintain a close relationship at an intellectual level with your lecturers and fellow students during semester, and add them on LinkedIn and sustain the relationship.

There are several active Facebook groups that you can join, where members are posting opportunities ranging from casual to full-time jobs. I feel you are able to communicate with the individual to understand the job requirements prior to applying for the positions. Sydney Jobs, Backpacker Jobs Australia, Melbourne Jobs, Jobs in Brisbane are just a few of many popular job groups on Facebook.

Other easy ways to make money

This option is not a solid way to make money but you can make money fast. Yet, you can earn anywhere ranging from $10 – $500 or more per month. These do not count for your 20 hours work restrictions.

  1. Paid participation in University research – This is available at Universities with research faculties. The researchers invite University students to take part in surveys and experiments by paying for their time. You can head over to the University website or speak to University admin to find out where to sign up. You will fill up a form to state your demographics and you just wait for the email requesting your participation. The more you participate, the more invites you receive.
  2. Paid surveys – I am sure the first thing that came to your mind was SCAM! Yes, you need to be mindful of the disingenuous sites. I will share with you two that are legit and pays straight to your account. Pureprofile requests you to participate in random online surveys for cash through mobile app. Any redemption is limited to $70.00 every 60 days. Octopus Survey is similar to Pureprofile’s functionality, however, pays more. You can redeem the balance after you collect at least $20.00 at any given time.


  • If you don’t find success in one of the methods, try another or better, a combination.
  • The amount of money you earn is directly correlated to your commitment.
  • Doing part-time / casual jobs that doesn’t directly relate to your field or career growth is frustrating at times – so try to find an enjoyable place of work with amazing colleagues.
  • Working part-time might help with job hunting after graduation, since most employers do appreciate your commitment for working and studying.

Until next time…