Last Updated: December 09, 2021
Life and Living in Australia
Australia is a country as well as a continent famous for its diversity, its twisted climate (where Christmas is celebrated in hot summers), Koalas, and the stunning Great Barrier Reef. The capital city of Australia is Canberra, and the largest city is Sydney. The country is also popularly known by names such as "The Land Down Under", "The Land Beneath", "Oz", and so on. Australia is also eminent for its healthcare service, education system, and ideal learning atmosphere which is why it attracts a large number of international students. However, the country is also known for its high cost of living. This is a convenient guide for those who wish to live and study in Australia, detailing several factors 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.
Languages in Australia
Australia is known to be a multi-lingual region that is also culturally diverse. English may seem like the official language in this country as it is widely spoken by a majority. However, unlike most countries, Australia does not have an official language. English spoken here is different from British English because of the gradual changes over time. This paved the way for the English language spoken here to have a distinct vocabulary, accents, and slang, and is called 'Australian English'. Apart from English, other languages spoken here are Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Hindi, Spanish, and Punjabi. There are also a few who use the Australian Indigenous languages.
Cost of Things in Australia
Australia is known to be an expensive place to live which is why the cost of living can be higher than in most other countries. However, the price of things does vary depending on the city, or the type of lifestyle one chooses to have. Students should make a plan to make shopping more budget-friendly and opt to buy things from discount stores that are available locally or online. Some of the popular discount stores in this country are Costco, Catch, Target Australia, Kmart Australia, Discount Superstores Group, The Reject Shop, and more.
One can expect to spend about:
- 1 liter pasteurized whole milk - A$1.03 to A$2.5
- Butter - A$5.00 to A$5.50 per 500 grams
- 12 large eggs - A$5.00
- Potatoes, onions, and tomatoes - A$3.5, A$3.5, and A$5.00 per kg respectively
- Peas - A$2.60 per half kg
- Peaches and pineapples - A$2.75 and A$2.60 per half kg
- Diced beef - A$19.00 per kg
- Roast beef - A$24.00 per kg
- Sausages - A$10.00 to A$24.00
- Chicken - A$5.99 per kg
Critical utilities such as basic electricity, heating, water, garbage disposal, fuel (for cooking) for an 85 sq. meter apartment (280 square feet) the estimated average cost will be between $150 and $400 per month. Additional monthly energy costs (gas and electricity) can be 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 this cost with roommates/flatmates is recommended.
The average living cost of a single person in Australia is estimated to be around 4,000 AUD (over 3,000 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. Several essential goods like electricity, water, and gas may appear to be priced incredibly high in comparison to other countries, especially to international students.
In a more expensive city, a 1-bedroom apartment can be rented out for A$1,800 on average. The starting price for a 3-bedroom apartment rental is A$2,200. But if one wants their apartment to be larger or more extravagant, they can expect to shell out a price between A$3,000 to A$4,000. If one happens to rent outside of the major cities, they will have to pay A$1,300 per month. For a 3-bedroom apartment, it can cost as little as A$1,600 to as much as A$3,000. 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)|
- 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.
From the year 1910 to 1966, the currency of Australia was the Australian Pound, which was later replaced by the Australian dollar. The official currency of Australia is the Australian dollar (AUD). The denominations of notes come in $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 and the denominations of the coins come in 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents. The most recent currency conversion to USD would be at a rate of 1.33 Australian Dollar being $1 US Dollar.
Things to do in Australia
Australia is known for its high standard of living and incredible infrastructure. While the purpose of staying in the country might be education, it is evident that one would want to explore every nook and corner of the place. Australia is one of the best tourist destinations in the world, which offers a vast range of flora and fauna, as well as some of the most stunning natural and man-made wonders.
Places to Visit in Australia
Some of the most popular cities in Australia include:
- Canberra: This is the capital of Australia that was established on 12 March, 1913. The city is known for its rich history and culture. Some of the most fascinating tourist attractions in Canberra are New Parliament House, Australian War Memorial, Lake Burley Griffin, National Gallery of Australia, Berrima Historic Walk, Lanyon Homestead, and so on.
- Adelaide: Named after the queen of King William IV, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, the city is the capital as well as the largest city in the state of South Australia. It is popularly known for its Adelaide Festival. North Terrace, Adelaide Botanic Garden, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide Central Market, Adelaide Zoo, are popular tourist sites in this city.
- Sydney: Sydney is New South Wales's capital city and is also the largest city in Australia in terms of population. Sydney is widely known for the Sydney Opera House. Some of the most fascinating places in this city are the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Rocks Discovery Museum, Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, Queen Victoria Building, Bondi Beach, Hyde Park, and more.
- Melbourne: This is the capital city of Victoria but is popularly known as the cultural capital of Australia. It is a vibrant city known for its amazing infrastructure, flourishing economy, and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Some of the most popular tourist destinations include the National Gallery of Victoria, Federation Square, The Edge, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Zoo, and so on.
Cuisines to Relish While in Australia
Australia is diverse not just in the field of culture, ethnicities, languages, and landscapes, but also with regards to good food. It even celebrates having different types of foods through its popular food festivals. The country offers a broad spectrum of amazing delicacies, be it authentic traditional cuisines or dishes from different cultures. Some of the best and most popular dishes offered here are Chicken Parmigiana, Lamingtons (also called the ‘National Cake of Australia’), Pavlova, Aussie BBQs, Meat Pies, Australian Barramundi, Grilled Kangaroo, and a lot more.
Festivals to Attend While in Australia
Student life is not supposed to be boring or be all about studying and scoring good grades. Studying abroad has the advantage of getting to experience the cultures and festivities of the place. For all the spirited young people who wish to explore the best celebrations in all its thrill and grandeur in Australia, here is a list of some of the best festivals:
- The joyful and colorful festival of Mardi Gras
- The world-famous Ultra Music Festival
- The Byron Bay Blues Fest for lovers of Blues
- Melbourne International Comedy Festival for the lovers of wit, humor, and laughter
- The luminous Vivid Sydney festival
- The Adelaide Festival that promotes the best of art and literature
- The Parrtjima festival to celebrate Aboriginal artists and their artforms
- The Woodford Folk Festival to enjoy fireworks and the glorious dance and theater performances
Commuting to Places in Australia
Australia has an excellent public transport system that is widely used which includes buses, trains, trams, and taxis. Buses are 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 is mandatory for cyclists.
Entertainment Options for Students in Australia
On visiting Australia, one can surely indulge in a plethora of activities such as dining, shopping, participating in sports, long road trips, watching fireworks during festivals, enjoying a variety of rides in amusement parks, and other fun things such as rock climbing, hiking, skiing, camping, scuba diving, water rafting, snorkeling, and more. Hot-air balloon trips are also a unique experience that one must try on visiting Australia. The Land Down Under also has a large number of fascinating tourist attractions such as:
- Great Barrier Reef
- The pink Lake Hillier
- Royal National Park 8 Pools
- Sydney Opera House
- The Blue Mountains National Park
- Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
- Cape Pillar Sea Cliffs
- Daintree Rainforest
- Kakadu National Park
- The Royal Botanical Gardens Victoria
Safety Concerns for International Students in Australia
Although Australia is generally considered to be very safe for international students, one should always be aware of the following:
- Avoid traveling alone whenever possible.
- Always obey traffic rules
- Always make sure to know the address, routes, or important landmarks of the destination before riding a taxi or any means of public transport.
- While swimming, one must never dive into water if they are not sure how deep it is.
- One should not carry large amounts of money or valuable items/documents along with them when not necessary.
- Call 000 in case of an emergency. These calls are toll-free. There is also a student hotline number initiated by the Government of Australia to help international students: 1300 363 079.
- One should familiarize themselves with the security and emergency protocols of the apartment or institution.