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  • International Study

How much it costs to live in Sydney as an international student

February 4, 2020

Sydney is Australia’s largest city, home to about 5.3 million people. This diverse and multicultural city is famous for its iconic landmarks the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but has a lot more to offer. Sydney remains Australia’s most expensive city to live in, so planning ahead, setting financial habits and choosing realistic living options will set you up for success. We have compiled everything you need to know about budgeting for your big move, including average costs of accommodation, transport, health, admin, entertainment and phone charges in Sydney, Australia.

Sydney is home to five universities with global reputation, with two ranking among the top 50 universities worldwide. Attracting over 35,000 international students to live and study, although this might be a more costly option, studying in Sydney could guarantee you a degree that is trusted.


Campus accommodation

The average cost of living on campus at a university in the Sydney area ranges between $665 - $1000 per week. Campus accommodation is by far the most expensive option, but comes with a lot of benefits and convenience. Living on campus means you not only wake up daily on the university’s doorstep but you save money on other expenses such as food and transport. 

This convenient option means having your meals cooked for you everyday, utilities included and you will most likely be travelling less than you would be if you lived off campus. However, you will still need to budget for eating out, health costs, your phone bill and entertainment.

Weekly cost: $665 - $1000

Annual cost: $34,580 - $52,000

Student accommodation

Get a similar experience to living on campus but at a more budget price. Commercial accommodation for students is scattered across Sydney’s CBD. Student accommodation such as Scape, Iglu, UniLodge, Urbanest, StudentStayAustralia, and Link2 Student Living are great options if you want to stay somewhere in the city centre and near other like-minded students.  

The cost will vary depending on the company and your room choice, however it’s important to remember this only includes your rent and utilities. Food, entertainment, eating out, phone and health costs will all need to be factored in.

Weekly cost: $195 - $500

Annual cost: $10,140 - $26,000

Sharehouse accommodation

Moving into a sharehouse (on average) will work out to be the cheapest option when you move to Australia. 

Forecasting a budget for a sharehouse can be tricky, for example; 

  • Where is it located?
  • How many tenants are you moving in with?
  • How old is the house?

Your individual preference on the factors above will impact the price. On average you can expect to pay between $250 - $750 a week in Sydney, keeping in mind this does not include your utilities. Flatmates and Flatmate Finders are popular sites to find shared accommodation in Sydney and will help you fall on the cheaper end ($250) of the rental price. 

To note: When signing a lease for a share house in Australia you are expected to pay an upfront security bond payment to the RTBA (Residential Tenancies Bond Authority). The standard is 4 x your weekly rent payment, but could be more depending on the individual home. Once you have decided to move out of your sharehouse, you will receive your bond back (minus any damages or cleaning fees).

Weekly cost: $250 - $750

Annual cost: $13,000 - $39,000

Temporary accommodation

If you aren’t sold on any of the above options you can always book in something short-term when you first get to Australia and settle on a long-term option later. Having the option to fly over and check out the university and surrounding suburbs will give you the freedom to have a good look around and get a feel for the place so you can be sure of what will suit you best.

Because this is a short-term option, we suggest looking into short stay accommodation. YHA Australia has plenty of options or you can check out lower rate hotels on Wotif and Last Minute, which both offer advance and last-minute discounts.

Weekly cost: $242 - $560

Monthly cost: $1,024 - $2,240

Cost of being 100% sure of your accommodation choice before you commit: PRICELESS


You can’t forget to factor in utilities. Utilities may or may not be included in your housing option. Electricity, water, gas and internet are generally split between tenants, but if you are planning on renting by yourself, this will be more costly. An average home in Sydney costs:

  • Electricity: $500 per quarter
  • Water: $300 per quarter
  • Gas: $169 per quarter
  • Internet: $120 per quarter 

Depending if this is split between five people or just yourself the below budget is set. 

Weekly cost: $15 - $80

Annual cost: $780 - $4,356

Accommodation annual range $9,100 - $56,360


Sydney locals regularly catch public transport, with trains, light rail, ferries and buses having easy access to the Sydney CBD and top tourist spots. As a student you may be eligible for travel concessions, visit Transport for NSW to learn more. On average a student Opal user (Sydney transport payment card) will spend about $1,250 a year travelling 6 days a week compared with $2,000 for an adult. 

However, if you aren’t eligible for concession fees you can apply for a MyMulti 3 pass. This pass saves a third of an adult yearly cost coming in at $1,540 annually. Visit the Transport NSW website for more details. 

Weekly cost: $24 - $38.46

Annual cost: $1,248 - $2000

Transport annual range $1,248 - $2000

Food & drinks

Food. This is where budgeting gets tricky. With the rise of UberEats and MenuLog in Australia, it is getting harder and harder to save our pennies and cook or prepare meals at home. However, buying groceries and meal prepping is the most cost-efficient method. 


Depending on your taste preferences and whether you are eating salmon or sticking with canned beans for dinner the average cook up at home will cost you:

  • $2 a day for breakfast
  • $5 a day for lunch
  • $11 a day for dinner 

Eating out

Eating out will cost you a significant amount more, with the average prices of meals in Sydney:

  • $18 for breakfast
  • $18 for lunch
  • $30 per meal at dinner. 

Drinking out

Coffee, Coffee, COFFEE. If you are a coffee drinker and you have an acquired taste for barista-made coffee, you will know we are looking at a budget killer here. An average cup of coffee in Australia is $4.20 per cup. Depending on your weekly threshold you could be looking to spend between $655 - $1528.80 a year just on that delicious liquid.

To save some money, you can make your own coffee at home - it’s FREE. 

Other than coffee, the average Aussie loves a social glass of wine, beer or kombucha with their lunch. On average in Australia, a glass of wine, beer or cider ranges between $10-$12 each, with spirits being on the more expensive end costing around $12-$25. 

If you were to eat all your meals at home for 6 out of the 7 days ($108) and indulge on Saturday ($60) you are looking at around $165 per week on food. Adding 3 coffees a week ($12.60) and 3 social drinks ($36), your weekly total would be around $220. This total will range significantly depending on individual habits and preferences. 

Weekly cost: $200 - $365

Annual cost: $10,400 - $18,980

Food + drinks annual range $10,400 - $18,980

Admin & stationery

Assuming you are bringing a computer/iPad from home you will just need to worry about your admin/stationery. Officeworks and Kmart will be your best friends for budget-friendly stationery. 

  • Note books: $3 - $15
  • Yearly diaries: $6 - $50
  • Stationery accessories: $1 - $10

Weekly cost: $1 - $4

Annual cost: $60 - $200

Admin & stationery annual range $60 - $200


Overseas student health cover is mandatory for your student visa when coming to Australia. Not only is it great for peace of mind, it covers doctors' appointments, hospital costs, emergency, ambulance and prescription medicine. 

Use the Overseas Health Cover (OSHC) tool to check the price and book your overseas health cover today. 


Entertainment is another expense you will want to factor in while you are in Australia. Ranging from going to the gym, watching a movie, taking a trip to the beach or enjoying a comedy show. Below are a few different options you could add to your budget. 

  • Movies (student night): $7 - $9
  • Fitness: $15 - $30
  • Shows (comedy, plays etc): $50 

Weekly Cost: $72 - $89

Annual Cost: $3,744 - $4,628

Entertainment annual range $3,744 - $4,628


A prepaid phone plan is the way to go when you are coming to Australia with a working phone. These will range in price but are the best value for money. Some options are:

  • Optus My Plan Plus 12M SIM
  • Telstra 4G Pre-Paid Max 

Visit Finder to compare more phone plans and pre-paid options. 

Weekly Cost: $7.5 - $15

Annual Cost: $360 - $780

Phone annual range $360 - $780

TOTAL Weekly Budget: $514.50 - $1,592

TOTAL Annual Budget: $24,912 - $82,888

There you have it, It’s time to start saving. A guide to help you budget for your move to Sydney, Australia. Whether you are coming over on a tight budget or have been saving up so you can spend big in the big city, save on international money transfers with Cohort Go. Visit our website to learn more.