Life and Living in Australia
This is a convenient guide for those who wish to live in Australia, detailing several factors (mundane or otherwise) that may be critical to international students or ex-pats who plan to move to the country. This extends from the average rent that may be charged per month, to how much one has to spend on a cup of coffee. Several essential goods like electricity, water, and gas may appear to be priced incredibly high in comparison to other countries, especially to international students. The average living cost of a single person in Australia is estimated to be around 4000 AUD (3000 USD) per month. This estimate includes essential costs such as housing, education, medical care, etc. However, this is somewhat offset by higher median wages across the board, better living conditions, and the widespread and easy availability of amenities as a whole.
In a more expensive city, a 1-bedroom apartment can be rented out for A$1800 on average. The starting price for a 3-bedroom apartment rental is A$2200. But if you want your apartment to be larger or more extravagant, expect to shell out between A$3000 to A$4000.
If you happen to rent outside of the major cities, you will have to pay A$1300 per month. For a 3-bedroom apartment, it can cost as little as A$1600 to as much as A$3000.
However, it must be noted that the median rent of different cities in Australia may differ drastically depending on which state it is in and a variety of other contributing factors. The following information about weekly rent for a single unit household is from a report from GQ Magazine:
|City||Median Rent (per week)|
Critical utilities such as basic electricity, heating, water, garbage disposal, and fuel (for cooking) for an 85sq. meter apartment (280 square feet) the estimated average cost is around $220 per month. This estimated typically ranges between $150 and $300. Additional monthly energy costs (gas and electricity) are around $500 for a 200 sq. meter (650 square feet) home.
As for telephone and basic internet services, the monthly charge for a single line ranges from $60 to $120. Several plans/options exist matching the needs of the user.
A dedicated fiber/broadband internet connection will cost around $75 to $125 per month depending on speed/bandwidth and ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Broadband/Fiber connections are typically faster and provide better bandwidth and connectivity than regular cellular or phone-line internet, but generally cost more as well. Sharing of this cost with roommates/flatmates is recommended.
- Overseas Student Health Cover: International students admitted to universities and various other educational programs in Australia, and their dependents (for example, spouses and children under 18 years old), must obtain OSHC. This program provides basic cover for visits to the Hospital, treatment, doctor’s appointments, and pharmaceutical drugs and medicines. OSHC insurers can provide a range of different products that provide different levels of cover to the student in question. These may range from a basic product that covers only the compulsory minimum services to more complete and comprehensive products that cover particular extras that the student deems necessary to opt for, in addition to what s/he receives with the basic compulsory coverage. Overseas students are required to maintain OSHC for the duration of time they are in Australia, by The Department of Home Affairs.
- Medicare: Those looking for additional health insurance in Australia may take advantage of the state-sponsored (and publicly funded) universal health care insurance scheme. This initiative, called Medicare allows Australian citizens and permanent residents access health care with partial or full coverage in both public and private institutions.
However, to apply for Medicare, one must make sure that they are registered as permanent residents. Registration for permanent residency can be done by submitting an Australia Permanent Residency application.
- Private Insurance: One also has the option to opt for a private insurance scheme. In Australia, there are about 36 insurance providers to choose from. The best-known insurance companies are Medibank Australian Unity, HCF, NIB, and Bupa. Bupa Australia is pretty renowned. These are structured for-profit. There are also several non-profit insurers with the largest non-profit provider HCF insurance and GMHBA being among them.
Private insurance companies also offer additional types of insurance that may be useful to international students, including Travel insurance, Home and contents insurance, and Vehicle insurance.
You can expect to spend A$2.5 for 1 liter of pasteurized whole milk. Butter averages A$ 5.50 per 500 grams and 12 large grade A eggs cost A$ 5.00. A kilogram of potatoes, onions, and tomatoes cost A$3.5, A$3.5, and A$5.00 respectively.
Half a kilogram of peas is priced at A$2.60 and peaches and pineapple with the same weight can be enjoyed for A$2.75 and A$2.60 each.
Meat and Poultry Products
A kilogram of beef is available in the supermarket for A$34.90 and roast beef can be picked up for A$21.99 a kilogram. Sausages cost A$11.97 and chicken averages A$5.99 a kilogram.
Miscellaneous grocery items
In between study sessions or work breaks, it's always nice to grab some peanuts or potato chips. 150 grams of each cost A$1.57 and A$4.99 respectively. After a good meal, there is nothing like ice cream with a liter being priced at A$9.24 on average. Additionally, a box of 'After Eight' chocolates will cost $A15.16 for 250 grams.
Differences among urban areas
Some cities and regions are more expensive than others. For instance, the cost of living in a very urban area such as Melbourne is typically more than the cost of living in any other more rural regions in the state of Victoria.
There is a similar difference in the overall cost of living between various major cities in Australia (in which a prospective student is likely to settle). Mercer Consulting conducts a survey evaluating and ranking the living costs in over 400 cities in the world. 6 Australian cities make the list, including Sydney (Rank 66), Melbourne (Rank 99), Perth (Rank104), Canberra (Rank 118), Adelaide (Rank 126), and Brisbane (Rank 126).
These rankings can help the average reader to assess and approximate what the relative costs of living in each of these cities would be and thus help inform their decision to move to a city or state which suits their very specific personal needs.
: Australia has an excellent public transport system which is widely used and is the most popular means of transport in the country, especially in more urban areas. Safety is of great concern, and thus there are security officers and guards, help points, good lighting, and security cameras aplenty to keep these services safe for users.
Roads in Australia are generally well maintained, especially in urban areas. However, roads are often shared between vehicles of all sizes and shapes, heavy and light rail, bicycles, and even pedestrians. This makes, road safety awareness very important for international students unfamiliar with such roads. The following should be always kept in mind:
- Wearing seat belts is mandatory in private vehicles, including taxis and ride-share.
- Avoid drinking if you are planning to drive as it is strictly prohibited in the country.
- Mobile phone use while driving is strictly prohibited in all Australian states and territories with harsh fines and penalties for offenders.
- Wearing bicycle helmets are mandatory for cyclists.
Although Australia is generally considered to be very safe for foreign students, one should always be aware of the following:
- Avoid traveling alone whenever possible.
- Always obey traffic rules
- Always make sure you know the address of your destination before riding a taxi.
- While swimming, never dive into water if you are not sure how deep it is.
- Don’t carry large amounts of money with you.
- Call 000 in case of an emergency. These calls are toll-free.
- Familiarize yourself with the security and emergency protocols of your apartment or institution.