How Do I Live on a Budget in Australia?

Studying in Australia can be one of the greatest adventures of your life, but having said that the one thing you cannot ignore is the cost of your tuition, accommodation, and lifestyle. As an international student studying at an Australian university, you’ll most likely have a limited income, so the most important skill you need is budgeting!

With both living and tuition expenses to consider, budgeting is the best way to structure and control your costs. Learn to track your income and where you spend it. You can help cut costs, and over time, you will have good financial discipline, which may come in handy in your career.

There are a few ways to ensure a strong budgeting plan. Here are some tips on surviving on a budget as an Australian student.

1. Get a part-time job

In the early years of university, you will have a lot of time to spare; spending this time on a part-time job is one of the best ways to survive the uni life. Try and find jobs at your university, for example, at the local coffee shop or as a student ambassador. Another popular option is to ask your fellow students where they work – this way, you might even get to work with your friends.

Seasonal work is another option for students to take on over the summer break. Especially during the Christmas holidays, when retail stores and restaurants usually need a lot of help. Getting a part-time job has financial and career-based benefits, as you will gain important skills that will help you stand out from other candidates. If you can get work even somewhat related to your field of study, it would do wonders for your career.

2. Choose a good savings account

Do some research on savings accounts and banks that are student-friendly. As a student, you are eligible for a savings account that is fee-free, so don’t settle for one that charges you. Find out about your options, compare rates, and find an account with a good interest rate and no ongoing transaction fees. Most importantly, although it might be tempting to get a credit card or overdraw facility on your account, this is definitely something you are better off without.

These days, banking apps allow you to set up savings goals, which can be very helpful with your daily, weekly, or monthly budget planning. Finally, there are a lot of banks that offer perks to students, so be sure to take advantage of those.

3. Find accommodation that suits your budget

Even though you are just a student, you’d be surprised at how much student accommodation can cost. A number of things factor into how much your accommodation will end up costing – how new the building is, the location, the number of people living with you, whether it is furnished or unfurnished, on-site facilities (such as gyms and pools), and whether your meals are provided.

University campus rooms are relatively cheaper because most utility bills are included in the total cost. However, opting for a meal plan can steadily increase your cost. Staying at a homestay would include lodging with a family, which can be a pleasant experience especially if you are an international student. It does curb your freedom, and that could lead to some tensions if you are not an accommodating person.

4. Make use of supermarket specials

Always be on the lookout for supermarket specials, and this won’t be too hard because most supermarkets have offers. Try to shop smart and take advantage of these specials to save money. One good trick is to stock up on non-perishable goods when they go on special. Don’t go overboard either; only buy what you know you can afford. Regarding perishable goods such as meat and dairy products, be careful not to buy too much otherwise, it might just turn to waste.

Another way to save money is to cook your own food because it’s much cheaper and healthier than buying take-out from the uni cafeteria each day.

5. Choose the cheapest travel option

Public transportation in Australian cities are well connected and accessible. Read up on which mode of transportation will save you the most money and use your student status to get a discount. You can use student concession cards such as an Opal Card, Go Card, or Myki Pass on the bus. Alternatively, consider walking or riding a bike if your destination is close by.

Instead of taking a cab every time you need to go somewhere, hire a scooter and bike services such as Lime and Orange. Drivers can drop you off and pick you up from wherever, whenever!

6. Sell pre-loved items

Another great way to save money is to flip pre-loved or second-hand items. Find your local second-hand bookstore, electronics shop, or thrift stores like Vinnies or Salvos. All it takes is setting it up nicely, taking some cool photos of the item, and posting them on eBay, DePop, Instagram, or Facebook marketplace.

Whether you’re a guy or a girl, it’s guaranteed that you’ll find something for yourself in the same way. The best way to stay fashionable on a budget is to check out multiple thrift stores or suggestions from online bloggers.

Accommodation and tuition fees are the most expensive expenses for international students while studying in Australia. Even if you can’t get a scholarship or find cheap accommodation, there are plenty of other ways to manage your expenses and cut costs. Living on a student budget can be tricky, especially when you’re still adjusting to life in a new country but with these tips, it should be a lot easier to manage!

To explore more ways to live on a budget in Australia, start a co-design conversation with Gradstar.

Date Published: Sep-01-2022

Our Dream Makers are expert listeners, educators, career consultants and student supporters. They co-design your study abroad experience with you to empower you to reach for the stars. Because dreams deserve a helping hand.

About the author

This blog was written by Gradstar Global Education.