AUSTRALIAN COST OF LIVING INDEX
The cost of living in Australia is generally quite high compared to many other countries around the world. Prices vary between cities but there are some items which are around the same price in any city. For example, a cup of coffee costs around AU$4 in every city and the cost of a monthly unlimited internet plan is around AU$55 wherever you are. Here is a list of prices that may differ in each city. Please note that all prices are quoted in Australian dollars.
SYDNEY (NEW SOUTH WALES)
Australia’s largest city is also the most expensive city and this is especially true when it comes to accommodation. The price of food is around the same as other cities and can in fact be cheaper because of its variety compared to smaller cities. Most students want to live in the city centre, but this is much more expensive than in other Australian cities. Therefore, it is important to look at alternative accommodation arrangements such as sharing a room with a friend to reduce costs.
Average dinner: $16 Average lunch in a fast food restaurant: $11
Movie ticket: $20 Average share accommodation: $340 per week
Public transport: $3.46 for peak hour trip / $2.42 for non-peak hour trip, using an Opal Card.
On Sundays, there is a maximum cap of $2.60 for all day usage of public transport.
International students are not eligible for concession tickets in the state of New South Wales.
Why live in Sydney? This is the fastest paced city in the whole country and it’s also the most international in terms of tourist arrivals and immigrant populations. More opportunities can be found in certain industries such as advertising, banking, film, tourism and hospitality. It’s impossible to be homesick in Sydney because there is something for everyone. All different types of supermarkets, restaurants, museums and cultural centres can be found here – as well as neighbourhoods that cater to different communities from Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Italian, Filipino, Greek, American, Irish and of course Chinese. Students who choose Sydney particularly enjoy the many beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and mild weather.
The second largest city in Australia is considerably cheaper than Sydney and food prices are around the same. Accommodation is much more affordable though. There is a free tram zone in the city centre which means many students who live in the city centre pay nothing to go to their classes.
Average dinner: $16 Average lunch in a fast food restaurant: $10
Movie ticket: $18 Average share accommodation: $205 per week
Public transport: $4.10 for a two-hour ticket, using a Myki Card in Zones 1 and 2.
International students are eligible for concession tickets at some institutions in the state of Victoria.
Why live in Melbourne? This is the cultural centre of the country and it’s where you’ll find the most galleries, museums, art shows, theatres and fashion. It’s also the best place for international cuisine and you’ll find restaurants here from almost every country in the world. Students who are in areas such as commercial cookery, hospitality and business courses benefit from living in this city and those who are interested in hanging out in cafés, nightclubs or bars really enjoy living here. It’s colder than most other Australian cities but it’s a very trendy, cosmopolitan place to live in.
The third largest city in Australia is not as cheap when it comes to food, but it is affordable in terms of accommodation and discounts for international students.
Average dinner: $17 Average lunch in a fast food restaurant: $11
Movie ticket: $14 Average share accommodation: $175 per week
Public transport: $3.20 peak hour trip / $2.56 off-peak hour trip in Zone 1 with a Go Card.
International students are eligible for concession tickets in the state of Queensland.
Why live in Brisbane? This is the most northern of the five listed cities which means it’s warmer. Brisbane enjoys a sub-tropical climate and winters here are very mild. The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are both nearby and there are stunning beaches to spend the weekends or just chilling out in the bars and cafés of Brisbane’s city centre. Tourism is very important here – especially for local tourists but also from countries such as Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea.
PERTH (WESTERN AUSTRALIA)
The largest city on the western side of the country is more expensive than Melbourne and Brisbane for most items but cheaper for public transport.
Average dinner: $17 Average lunch in a fast food restaurant: $11
Movie ticket: $18 Average share accommodation: $220 per week
Public transport: $2.79 for a two-hour ticket using a Smart Rider Card.
International students are eligible for concession tickets in the state of Western Australia.
Why live in Perth? While this might look like an isolated city on a map of Australia, it’s also the wealthiest city per capita. That means that the average salary is higher than in other Australian cities. Students who choose this city enjoy beautiful beaches on the Indian Ocean, excellent seafood and a laid-back lifestyle. It’s also cheaper to fly from Perth to Asian destinations such as Bali, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.
ADELAIDE (SOUTH AUSTRALIA)
The smallest of the five major cities is also the cheapest in all areas, including public transport and accommodation.
Average dinner: $15 Average lunch in a fast food restaurant: $10
Movie ticket: $15 Average share accommodation: $150 per week
Public transport: $3.62 per trip in Zone One with a Metro Card.
International students are eligible for concession tickets in the state of South Australia.
Why live in Adelaide? This is the most affordable of all the major Australian cities and the lifestyle is much easier than in Sydney or Melbourne. Just like Melbourne, the trams in the city centre are free and there is wide variety of food. In fact, this is Australia’s second food capital after Melbourne. Students who choose this city enjoy the nearby beaches, wineries, mountains and the cheaper cost of living. The climate here is also quite similar to Melbourne but a bit drier in summer.
SOME ADVICE ABOUT COSTS
Average dinner: An affordable dinner in any of these cities is usually in a restaurant or in a food court. Australia is a very multicultural country so there is a wide variety of all types of cuisine – but some restaurants are slightly cheaper than others. For example, Asian food such as Chinese, Korean, Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai and Japanese are usually cheaper than European food such as Italian or French. The most expensive type of food is (surprisingly) Australian cuisine, which is usually found in pubs or high-end restaurants. If you prefer Asian food, you’ll save more money and if you stay in areas such as Chinatown (every Australian city has a Chinatown) you’ll definitely save more.
Average lunch: There are many take-away food options and just like dinner, these include Asian fast food (fried noodles, sushi, curry or rice dishes) as well as international chain restaurants such as McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and Hungry Jack’s (Australia’s version of Burger King). Once again, Chinese fast food is the cheapest, followed by pizza or sandwiches.
Movie ticket: There are often cheaper nights to go to a cinema (such as Tuesday nights) and in some cinemas, you may be eligible for a concession ticket as an international student.
Share accommodation: This is based on a single room in a share household (usually an apartment or house) in the city centre or inner suburbs. These prices are average prices and can of course be much cheaper, depending on the quality and location. Most international students prefer to live in the city centre because it’s walking distance to the college.
Public transport: Each state in Australia has different rules regarding international student discounts. In New South Wales there is no international student concession but in most other states it is no problem. You will of course need to show proof of your student status (student ID card, for example) to be eligible. This means you can save up to 50% of the prices listed above.
Salaries: The minimum hourly wage throughout the country is $16.87 per hour. As can be seen, this money goes a lot further in Adelaide than in Sydney. However, it is possible to earn much higher wages per hour in larger cities such as Sydney or Melbourne whereas smaller cities such as Adelaide (on average) would receive slightly lower average wages. Therefore, the cost of living in each city is quite relative but the minimum hourly wage is the same.