Budgeting

Your Budget should include the cost of food, rent, clothing, travel and of course entertainment. For an International student studying in College or University, approximately AUSD 320 should cover a week’s expenses of the above including a few extras such as telephones and incidentals. School children would require less, approx. AUSD 265 per week for the same overheads. However, individual lifestyles and location could influence this estimate, which is only a fair indicative of an average international student’s lifestyle.

 Money and Banks

The only legal tender is Australian currency. One can change any international currency to the Australian currency at registered forex facilities available at the airport, banks, major hotels and even some malls. Traveller cheques are more easily accepted if already made out in AUS dollars. However other currency TCs may be cashed in at banks, hotels etc. Once a student has made themselves comfortable, it is a good idea to open an account with a local bank branch. Several banks both of Australian origin as well as from other countries are represented here and so the banking services can be quite competitive. Day to day banking has become very easy in Australia too, as it has all over the world, with Automatic Teller Machines (ATM), 24 hour banking being available as well the acceptance of credit and debit cards at most shopping outlets including grocery and convenience stores.
Normal bank trading hours
9.30 am – 4.00 pmMonday to Thursday
9.30 am – 5.00 pmFriday
Some banks are also open Saturday morning

 Credit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted around Australia. The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bank card, Diners International, Master Card, Visa and their affiliates.

 Currency

The currency of Australia is the Australian Dollar and Cents. The Dollar comes in notes of denomination 5, 10, 50 and 100, whilst the Coins are available in 5,10,20,50 cents, 1AUSD and 2AUSD. Australia is the first country to introduce plastic currency in the form of polymer banknotes, as far back as in the 1880s – a world’s first. These notes have since been known to offer benefits such as security as well as easier handling, hardiness and recycling possibilities. This again underlines Australia’s prowess in ingenuity and leadership.

 Tipping

Tipping is not the norm in Australia. In smaller cafes etc loose change from return of the bill may be left behind by the patrons, but not expected. In larger sit-down restaurants and hotels a 5-10% tip is accepted if given but not expected by the staff. In taxis too all change is returned to the customer unless asked to round off to the nearest dollar.

 Public Transport

As a student there is little possibility that you will own a car, so use public transport. Most of the big cities, especially the capital cities of each territory/ state have good public transport services. Popular modes are the trains and buses whose routes cover a large part of the country. Many cities also still run the tram services of old in a modern avatar.

 By Air

Quantas, Virgin Blue and Regional Express are the three major air service providers within Australia and between its major cities. Other smaller operators may service limited areas. Students can avail of student discounts on economy fares by presenting credentials at the time of travel, providing there are seats. Many Universities offer Travel Desk facilities to their students and it may be wise to use this as a starting point whilst checking out options.

 Travel

A student can (and must) use their weekends and summer breaks to explore the country they have adopted. Australia offers a variety of travel and exploration options. Australia is endowed with beautiful landscapes and it takes getting out of the main cities to see Australia in its natural splendor. Government national parks, tours by private companies, adventure tourism are a few examples of  activities that students can explore.

 Mystery Tickets

Quantas has a scheme of ‘mystery tickets’ for which students can sign up for. The airline offers last minute deals if flights to certain sectors are not filled before take-off. This is an economical and exciting way of spending one’s time off, if one is able to get away at very short notice.

 Standby

This system of getting seats at the very last minute is also a popular one amongst students. The hitch is that it does not work out ever time and one must be ready to invest a lot of time in waiting.

 Other Modes of Travel

As mentioned in several other parts of this website, other modes of travel include trains, buses and car. Depending on free time available versus the time taken by these somewhat slower modes of travel, a student might find this a more economical and also pleasurable way of discovering Australia. Rail and road transport unlike air travel, allows a traveler to experience first hand, the actual layout, culture and lifestyle of the area.
Most universities and colleges can provide accommodation on or near to their campus. University apartments, residential colleges and halls of residence are generally available. International students often enjoy staying at the halls of residence as they have opportunity to mix with many other students on a full-time basis. This is also one of the cheapest options for accommodation. Meals and some cleaning services are usually provided. Residential colleges provide accommodation with meals. They are slightly more expensive than university Halls of Residence. The facilities are more comprehensive and often include fully serviced rooms, sporting and recreation facilities, computer and internet access and sometimes a library. International students have the option of sharing accommodation with other students. They are able to share the rent on an apartment or a flat close to the campus. Some Australian families provide homestay accommodation for international students. It is often wise for a student to organise temporary accommodation until they have had a chance to consider the alternatives. Institutions maintain a register of families prepared to board international students during the academic year. They check to ensure that homestay families are reputable and that they offer accommodation of a reasonable standard. Farmstay accommodation is often available in rural areas. This is an exciting option for students wishing to experience a farming lifestyle. Backpackers, youth hostels, guest houses and hotels provide a variety of housing options at various costs. Individual universities and colleges are also able to provide information on accommodation available. Prices vary from place to place, so local information is important. Universities, TAFE institutes and other large education providers have housing offices to assist their students find accommodation. They will be able to provide information on the full range of available housing options, including prices and any rules and regulations you need to know. It may be possible to have temporary accommodation organised for when you first arrive, so there will be time to look around and choose your permanent living arrangement after having personally perused the locations and choices available. This would need to be arranged with the housing office prior to your arrival. There may be a placement fee for the provision of accommodation, either temporary or permanent, which you will need to check with your education provider.

The main options are:

 Boarding Schools

Many private schools offer boarding options. Students are fully catered for whilst they board with their meals, cleaning and laundry being part of the services offered. Boarding house residents also have access to the school facilities to assist with study and social activities. Tuition fees must be added to the boarding fee range shown. Cost: A$8,000-A$11,000 per year

 Homestay or Farmstay

Homestay and farmstay are where the student lives with an Australian family in their house. Generally some or all meals are included. It can be an easy entry to Australia for young students and is a popular option for those attending high school or ELICOS courses. Homestay is accommodation within a city whereas farmstay is housing in a rural area. Your housing office will have a list of suitable potential families. Cost: A$110-A$270 per week

 University Accommodation

  • University Residential Colleges
    University residential colleges provide accommodation along with all meals, cleaning and a wide range of support services for both social and study needs. They are generally more expensive than Halls of Residence because of the wide range of facilities offered.
    Cost: A$190-A$280 per week
  • University Halls of Residence
    University halls of residence offer accommodation also but with a lesser range of services attached. Some meals and cleaning will generally be included but there may also be self-catering facilities. This form of accommodation is very popular, especially with first year students and will have to be booked well in advance of your arrival in Australia.
  • University Apartments
    Some universities also have a range of apartments, either close to or on campus. These can be rented and provide the security of university based and run accommodation with the increased autonomy of share living. Apartments are generally popular with students in the later years of their degrees. University accommodation prices and options vary between different institutions and all students should contact the international office of their prospective university for full details. Due to the popularity of these choices it is important to apply early.

 Private or Church-owned Boarding Hostels

This option can be cheaper than university accommodation and shares many of the attractions. It is available for both tertiary and non-tertiary students. Residents share kitchen and bathroom facilities and cater for themselves. Cost: A$80-A$135 per week

 Share Accommodation

Share accommodation is advertised on student notice boards, in housing offices and in the ‘Share accommodation’ section of newspapers. Advertisements will appear for one or more people to share a house or a flat where a lease has already been taken out. Many students prefer to move into share accommodation after a year or two of on-campus residence. Students are generally expected to provide some (or all) of their own furniture. Cost: A$50-A$160 per week

 Rental Accommodation

Rental accommodation is the same as share boarding except that it involves finding a residence to rent, rather than moving into one that has already been leased. Once again, students are generally expected to supply their own furnishings. Rental agreements require payment of rent in advance and a security bond to be paid at the start, which is usually equivalent to one month’s rent. Your housing office will be able to assist with finding rental accommodation and your rights as a tenant. Cost: A$70-A$350 per person per week Please note: the range of costs shown above are a guide only. Prior to arrival you should contact the Housing Office or International Education Office at the institution where you will be studying and ask about the accommodation options available and the costs involved.

 Clean, Safe, Cosmopolitan

Students from all over the world come to Australia to take advantage of our top-notch education and enjoy our friendly hospitality and cultural diversity. Australia has low crime rates and strict gun control laws providing a safe environment in which to learn and travel. With one of the highest standards of living in the world, Australia offers modern transport systems, convenient telecommunications, cosmopolitan shopping complexes and excellent medical services. Visitors from many parts of the world are attracted by Australia’s spectacular natural environment and the warmth of the Australian people. Australia is rich in the arts and is keen to preserve and display its diverse culture. Australians are also environmentally conscious and keen to preserve the country’s natural beauty and scenery. Our Clean Up Australia campaign is being adopted worldwide.

 Health Care

Australia has a very good health care system. All Australians pay a Medicare levy (additional tax) to fund the public health system and ensure everyone gets access to public system doctors, hospitals and other health care services. People who pay extra into a private health insurance fund receive certain privileges when they use private health care services. International students studying in Australia are required to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of their student visa.

 Food

Australia has a fantastic variety of food. Our top quality meat, fish, fruits and vegetables are exported globally. There is a large range of fruit and vegetables available at Australian produce markets. You should have no difficulty in finding the foods that you are used to at home. You can sample almost every type of cuisine available throughout the world in our many restaurants. There are elegant restaurants or typical Aussie pubs. Ethnic restaurants offer international cuisines. Good food at reasonable prices can be found at bistros or cafes. And for those who like takeaway, most of the major global fast food chains are well represented.

 Electricity

The electrical current in Australia is 240/250 volts AC, 50 cycles. The Australian 3 pin plug is very safe. Adaptors are usually required for most foreign appliances. A transformer may be required if you bring an appliance from overseas that operates on a different voltage.

 Transport

With one of the highest standards of living in the world, Australia offers modern transport systems. Australia has an extensive public transport network that includes trains, buses, tramways, ferries, two major national airlines and a number of regional airlines. Metropolitan areas are divided into zones and your ticket type and cost is contingent on which zone you are going to travel in and for how long. Tickets can be bought at train stations, on buses and trams and at news agencies. Tourist students may drive in Australia on a valid overseas drivers licence but if the document is not in the English language the visitor must carry a translation with the licence. An international driving licence is not sufficient. Metered taxicabs operate in all major cities and towns. You will find taxi ranks at transport terminals, main hotels or shopping centers or you can call taxis in the street. A light and sign on the roof indicates cab vacancy. There is a minimum charge on hiring and then a charge per kilometer travelled. Taxi drivers do not have to be tipped.

 Shopping

Australia’s major centers and capital cities have world-class shopping facilities
General shopping hours
9.00 am – 5.30 pmThroughout the week
Late night shopping until 9.00 pmThursday or Friday
Some supermarkets are open 24 hours a day7 days a week

 Telephones

Australia has a modern telephone system. Many private households now also have internet access. Public telephones are available at all Post Offices, shopping entrees. Public pay phones accept a variety of coins and Phone cards. Phone cards are pre-paid for use in public pay phones and can be bought at a large number of retail outlets in denominations of $A5, $A10, $A20 and $A50. Credit phones take most major credit cards such as American Express, Visa, Master card and Diners International and can be found at international and domestic airports, central city locations and hotels. Mobile phones are very popular and can be purchased from a number of retailers.

 Australian Weather

Australia is diverse in its geography and climate. Being in the southern hemisphere Australia’s seasons are reversed. Summer starts in December and winter in June. Nearly a third of Australia is in the tropics where the average temperatures are in the mid 20 degrees Celsius. The southern areas are in a temperate zone.

 Australian Geography

Australia is a land of contrasts: sweeping golden beaches, coral reefs rich with marine life, tropical rainforests, mountain ranges, vast grazing lands and sparse deserts. One of the oldest continents, Australia is as wide as the distance from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei and as long as the distance from Singapore to Manila. It is the only country to occupy an entire continent. Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia has many animals and plants, which are unique on the planet.

 More Information

The Australian Government has an extensive network of Education and Training Counsellors, Australian Education Centers (AEC’s) and education advisers globally providing reliable and impartial advice on study opportunities in Australia. The latest information on the Australian education and training system costs of study and living, application and enrollment procedures and the Australian way of life is also available from Aar Overseas and reference sites set up in local institutions and libraries around the world.

 Sports and Recreation

Australians are very keen on sport and outdoor activities and have gained a worldwide reputation, both as individuals and as teams. Hosting the Year 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney highlights Australia as a leading destination for international events. Australia has more than 120 national sporting organisations and thousands of state, regional and club bodies. It is estimated that 6.5 million people, about a third of the population, are registered sports participants. While there are over 120 sporting organisations, Australians also take part in bushwalking, fishing, boating and water sports.

 Entertainment

Campuses offer spacious surroundings suitable for social, sporting and other outdoor activities. They are also centrally located for students to experience the sophistication of our cities and excitement of our entertainment facilities. There are plenty of opportunities for international students to have an enjoyable time with friends.

 Travel

During semester breaks, you may like to venture beyond the capital cities to experience more of Australia’s spectacular natural environment and great physical beauty-national parks, The Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, Uluru and the Tasmanian Wilderness.