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This is how much it costs to live in Sydney

cost of living in sydney
What makes Sydney popular is its multicultural and diverse society, world-class educational institutions and teaching, work opportunities and stunning natural places. Source: Greg Wood/AFP

Sydney is one of the world’s best student cities that draw both local and international students to its shores. According to QS Top Universities, Sydney ranks ninth in the 2022 Best Student Cities ranking, topping over 100 cities across the globe. Although Melbourne takes the crown as Australia’s best student city, it’s undeniable that Sydney is a strong contender. But what about the cost of living in Sydney? 

Before we dive into numbers, what makes Sydney popular is its multicultural and diverse society, world-class educational institutions and teaching, work opportunities and stunning natural places. With such features, it’s no wonder why over 1,000 international students head to the city each year.

Despite its popularity, the cost of living in Sydney is one of the most expensive in the world. In the Times Higher Education’s top 10 most expensive cities for rent list, Sydney ranks fourth with an average of 305 US dollars required every week for rent. According to Student Cities, accommodation in Australia typically account for about 30-40% of the students’ living costs. 

Students’ living costs exclude tuition fees, which on their own can cost about 30,000 Australian dollars per year, the UniLodge reported

According to various estimations, factoring only the students’ cost of living in Sydney, students would need about A$2,000 (A$24,000 annually). This figure is only a rough estimate, but it can serve as a guide to keeping a realistic budget.

Breakdown of cost of living in Sydney 

Rent

According to the New South Wales government, renting student accommodation may be cheaper than renting a private rental. Student accommodation priced at A$200 a week typically offers fully-furnished rooms with 24-hour support, electricity and water. This option tends to be more convenient for first-year students.  

For private rental, a one-bedroom apartment or unit in the city centre will cost a minimum of A$450 per week. A three- or four-bedroom apartment will cost between A$550 to A$650 per week and is cheaper after splitting it with your flatmates. 

Approximate cost per month (if you stay on-campus): A$800

Public transport

International students under the Australian government scholarship are only eligible for public transport concessions. This means that most international students in Sydney have to opt for the adult Opal card, a contactless card used to pay public transport fares. 

According to Expatistan, a regular public transport user can pay as much as A$173 per month.

Cost per month: A$173

Groceries

The University of Sydney shared that a student’s weekly grocery bill can range between A$80 and A$280 per week, depending on where students shop. Shopping for groceries at supermarkets such as Coles, Woolworths and Aldi can help students save more. 

For dining out, an average meal in the city can cost about A$19, according to Budget Your Trip, or A$47 for one day’s worth of meals. 

Cost per month (if you spend A$150 on food and groceries every week): A$600

international students in sydney

Always carry your student card with you, as many places offer student discounts that can help you save. Source: William West/AFP

Entertainment 

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, goes the saying. Similarly, students should factor entertainment in their cost of living in Sydney, including watching movies and visiting tourist attractions. 

The University of Sydney recommends putting aside about A$80 to A$150 every week. Students should always carry their student card with them as many places offer student discounts. 

Cost per month: A$350

Insurance

International students must have health insurance when studying in Australia. Students will usually purchase the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) — a type of overseas visitor’s health insurance — that covers visits to the doctor, hospital treatments, ambulance and certain kinds of medicines. 

Studies In Australia reported that the lowest cost of OSHC cover is about A$478 for 12 months. 

Cost per month: A$39.8

Emergency and academic support 

It’s essential to put aside money for emergencies (e.g. broken pipe, spoiled kettle, etc.) and academic support (textbooks, printing and photocopying, student club fees, etc.). 

Students should have at least $500 at the beginning of each semester to cover any urgent costs without their monthly budget taking a hit. First-year students should put aside extra money for household expenses such as new bedsheets, cutlery, and furniture. 

The magic figure: A$1,962.80 a month

Ultimately, every student’s budget depends on their lifestyle. Students who meal prep and use public transportation may have a lower monthly budget than those who eat out frequently and are always out exploring. Remember — these figures are just estimates, so do your research and budget accordingly.