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Living costs

Plan for your everyday expenses and accommodation

Understand the costs you're likely to face as a student in Sydney and keep to a realistic budget.

Whether you’re moving here from overseas, interstate, or you’ve grown up in Sydney, there are various weekly and monthly outgoings you'll need to budget for. These are some examples. 

  • Accommodation (which may or may not include your electricity and internet bills)
  • Mobile (cell) phone
  • Food and drink
  • Lifestyle, clothing, and entertainment
  • Travel
  • Insurance (such as overseas health cover if you are an international student)
  • Childcare / school fees if you are a parent or carer

The Australian government website MoneySmart has lots of information and advice about a range of financial issues, including a section specifically for students on how to live on student budget.


For international students, the Department of Home Affairs have financial obligations you must comply with. As a single student you must be able to show you have the financial capacity to cover living costs of at least $20,290 Australian dollars per year. There are additional costs for extra family members. 

Using this amount as a guide, a single student living away from home will require at least $1,690 per month for accommodation, food, utilities and entertainment. The actual costs will depend on your lifestyle choices and needs. 


The Study in Australia website estimates general living costs for students, including:


  • A weekly grocery bill for one person is usually between $80 - $280. You can save money by buying groceries at supermarkets including ColesWoolworths and Aldi. Shopping at fresh food markets like Paddy's Market can save you money too. 
  • Buying lunch on campus is a more expensive option, with most meals costing $10 -15 each. Join the USU Access Rewards program and get 10% discount to purchase food and drinks at USU food outlets on campus. 


  • Put aside around $80 - $150 per week for entertainment and socialising. Lots of places including movie cinemas offer student discounts so keep your student card with you. 
  • Don't forget to budget for other incidental expenses like clothes, shoes and toiletries. 
  • Expenses may vary depending on your lifestyle. 


  • You may need to purchase equipment for university, including stationary and study materials such as textbooks and laboratory coats. Essential items are listed in your Unit of Study Outline. Have at least $500 available at the beginning of each semester and keep an eye out for second-hand textbooks (make sure they are the right edition) and supplies to save money. 
  • Printing and photocopying cost around 10 cents per page. 
  • According to Tutor Finder, private tutoring costs range from $50 - $80 an hour, but mentoring support may be available through the University. 


  • Access public transport with an Opal card. You can order a card online or buy from a registered retailer. Single trip tickets are available at retailers and train stations. 
  • If you’re a full-time domestic student, you may be eligible for a Concession Opal. Have your student card with you as proof whenever you travel. 
  • International students are currently not eligible for concession tickets. Fare prices are listed on the Opal website.


  • Overseas Student Health Cover is compulsory for international students. Costs will depend on your insurance provider and your level of cover. Check with your insurance provider for rates for your selected cover. 
  • You may have additional costs including fees for specialists and prescription medications. 
  • Alternative forms of coverage are available for non-student visa holders. Please check with a provider for details. 


According to Care for Kids:

  • The average cost of long daycare (8am to 6pm) in Sydney are approximately between $70 - $190 per day. Some students may be eligible for government subsidies. 
  • Before school and after school care costs around $15 - $30 per day. 
  • Public school tuition is free for Australian permanent residents; however uniforms and levies can cost about $500 a year. 
  • Private schools may charge additional fees. 
  • If you're an international student with school-age dependents in Australia, visit the Department of Education website for approximate costs of schooling. 
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