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5 cheapest Australian cities for international students

Live life to the fullest, even on a budget. In Australia, it's possible. Source: Arina Dmitriev

Apart from the US, UK and Canada, Australia is among one of the popular destinations for international students. But how much does it cost when you add everything in, like groceries, accommodation, transportation and utilities? According to Study Australia, as of October 2019, students are estimated to pay a total of 21,041 Australian dollars annually, for living costs alone. 

Generally, universities across Australia offer on-campus housing which covers utility and meal plans. If you’d prefer a different student experience, several off-campus accommodations are available, with costs varying accordingly. 

Though it’s hard to give a solid figure to the actual costs of living in Australia as it varies across cities and personal lifestyle, here is a list of the cheapest Australian cities best for international students to consider: 

cheapest australian cities

Public transportation is big in Canberra with options such as trams, trains and buses. Source: Jean-Pierre Muller/AFP

Canberra

Known as the national capital of Australia, Canberra is one of the most liveable and most affordable cities for international students. 

On average, the cost of living in Canberra varies depending on your personal lifestyle and your choice of accommodation, especially if you’re staying off-campus. Accommodation costs vary according to the type of housing you choose – from the cheapest being A$160 per week for a room in a shared house to A$400 to A$500 per week for a house with two to three bedrooms.

On top of accommodation costs, there are also utility and transportation costs. Public transportation is big in Canberra, with many students also choosing to bike around the city. Concession cards for public transport travel are available to tertiary students, reducing costs to just A$1.61 per trip and capped at A$4.80 per day. As for utilities, these can range between A$20 to A$55 per week.

Brisbane

Popular for its warm welcome of expats, job seekers and students, Brisbane’s average cost of living for students varies from A$556 to A$1,120 per month, depending on where you stay. This figure includes rent, meals and groceries, utilities, transport and leisure activities. If you’re looking for off-campus accommodations, check out this list of the cheapest accommodations in Brisbane. 

TransLink operates transport in Queensland and it includes trains, buses and ferries. Students will have to apply for a go card which is an electronic ticketing system that works across all Translink bus, train (including Airtrain), ferry and tram services in the greater Brisbane, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast, and Gold Coast regions. Here is a list of fares and zones Translink operates in. 

cheapest australian cities

Gold Coast is located an hour down south of Brisbane and is the largest non-capital city in Australia. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

Gold Coast

Gold Coast is located an hour down south of Brisbane and is the largest non-capital city in Australia. Compared to living in capital cities, Gold Coast is a considerably cheaper city for international students. Weekly costs — inclusive of rent, food, utilities and transport — total A$350 to A$700.

Operating on the same transport system as Brisbane, students studying on the Gold Coast have to apply for a go card which entitles them to certain rebates and offers. 

As for housing, here’s a list of websites you can search for shared or private accommodation:  

Hobart

Hobart offers big-city benefits with a small-town flair to international students. Considered one of the most affordable and safest cities to live in, it is perfect for those who enjoy nature. Living here costs an average of A$280 to A$625.

International students qualify for the same concession rates as local students – where the full fare is A$75 a month. The Tasmanian government has listed concessions under the transport category. You can check them out here.

Adelaide

Adelaide is a big city that was planned well before it was built, making it a relatively easy city to get around. Though Adelaide is considered a big city, it doesn’t get as busy as Sydney or Melbourne. It is also 14% cheaper than other major cities. Students here will enjoy a welcoming community with residents of a relaxed attitude. Considering Adelaide is still a city, its weekly costs are between A$350 to A$700.

The transport system in Adelaide includes buses, trams and trains. Unlike the previously mentioned cities, concession cards work on a 14-day or 28-day pass with unlimited trips. 

Estimate your own costs before deciding to study in Australia with this cost of living calculator.