Choosing a foreign destination for your higher education can become quite a time-consuming and expensive decision.
I came to Australia in July 2018. In my first 2 years itself, I had spent upwards of about $130,000 in tuition and living expenses, largely financed by education loans taken in India, that came with a standard interest rate, repayable after 7 years.
This figure is by no means the average in Australia. Most of my friends spent $100,000 or less in the same period.
My expenses, however, are of this magnitude since I chose to study at the University of Melbourne – the 2nd best University in Australia (and 33rd in the world) based on the QS World University Rankings 2023.
Whether you’re financed by your parents, or a bank, that’s still a huge sum of money.
Higher Education in Australia
Would I have made the same decision again? Definitely. Not because I splurge my way through life (I’m a self-proclaimed minimalist, owning as few things as possible), but because I knew it was worth it.
And now, almost 4 years later, working as a Digital Marketing Specialist (full-time) and being a Marketing Lecturer at the University of Melbourne (part-time), I have the luxury of reflecting on the experience.
Ultimately, wherever you choose to study, there’s still plenty to figure out (financially) before moving to a foreign destination.
In this article, I’m going to look at arguably one of the most crucial things that would be on any incoming students’ mind – the cost of living, with a close focus on studying and living in Melbourne, Australia’s most liveable city, as noted by 2022 Global Liveability Index.
Before I get to that, I’m going to briefly analyse the macroeconomic context; specifically how that’s going to impact the cost of living for international students commencing their higher education in the 2022-23 period.
Cost of Living Crisis 2022
2020 and 2021 went by in a flash. With several nations in lockdown, and people out of jobs, Governments in most countries had no choice but to extend payments and subsidies to keep the economy afloat.
Now that the pandemic has come to an end, the harsh macroeconomic realities are beginning to settle in.
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showed inflation grew 5.1% in the 12 months to March 2022. To cope with the rising cost of living, 867,000 Australians now work two jobs.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) went on to predict that inflation will hit 6% by year’s end, before easing to 3% by mid-2024 in response to rising rates and as higher energy costs.
Against such a harsh economic backdrop, its important to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, where your money will go, and how you can save money.
Cost Of Living in Melbourne for International Students
There are many elements that contribute towards the cost of higher education. Let’s look at the most you could spend in your first year here. As mentioned above, I spent a lot of money in the first year of Masters.
I didn’t exactly cut back when I it came to accommodation either, accounting for the huge difference between how much I spent ($68,000+) vs cheaper alternatives to studying and living in Melbourne, Australia ($45,000 to $57,000).
|||My Provider||Provider’s Cost||Cheaper Alternatives||Cost|
|Course fees (2023)||The University of Melbourne||$47,712||Deakin, Swinburne, RMIT, Victoria Uni||$30,000 to $42,000|
|Rent with utilities (52 weeks)||Yugo Student Housing||$15,028($289 p.w.)||Apartments in suburbs are usually cheaper.||$10,400($200 p.w.)|
|Oversees Student Health Cover (OSHC)||AHM||$1000*||AHM is one of the more affordable providers.||$1,000|
|Groceries (52 weeks)||Woolworths||$2,600($50 p.w.)||Aldi, Queen Victoria Market||$2,080($40 p.w.)|
|Eating Out & Entertainment (52 weeks)||Restaurants, cinemas, Uni parties.||$1,560($30 p.w.)||Reduced number of leisure activities.||$520($10 p.w.)|
|Public Transport (52 weeks)||PTV||$936**($18 p.w.)||PTV||$936($18 p.w.)|
|Phone Bill (12 month)||Vodafone||$540($45 p.m.)||Lyca, Amasym, Kogan||$120 to $180($10-$15 p.m.)|
|Est. Annual Spend||$69,376||$45,056 – $57,116|
|Est. Living Cost in 2023||$21,664(included in annual spend)||||$15,056 – 15,116(included in annual spend)|
|Av. Living Cost in 2019||$21,041||||$21,041|
*The $1000 for AHM is for a 2-year plan, which usually needs to be fully paid before you come to Australia.
**Public Transport is Melbourne is capped at $9 per day; the table above assumes that you need to take the public transport 2 days per week. If you find yourself travelling by public transport (bus, train or tram) everyday, then you might want to consider getting a Myki Pass.
Cost of living drivers: Where you might be hit the hardest
Groceries. Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci warned that the price of products on supermarket shelves could increase by up to 3% during 2022-23.
Australia’s largest supermarket chain also went on to reveal that it is freezing prices on pantry, meal, cleaning, and baby products until the end of 2022.
This lies in stark contrast with the “Specials” and “Low Price Always” that has been a staple at the supermarket in its 98-year history.
Electricity. The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) recently revealed that the wholesale cost of electricity has increased by 141% as of the quarter ended March 2022 compared to the same quarter last year.
The price increase was mainly driven by a global spike in the price of coal and gas (key ingredients that help generate electricity in Australia), coupled with a rather unstable supply of electricity locally, with the recent extreme weather events and power outages.
Coffee. Caffeine literally pours through the arteries of Melburnians. Sadly, the prices of the not-so-humble $4 coffee cup loved by international students and working professionals alike will be going up by $0.50 to $1.50 as we head into 2023.
The increase comes after wild weather events in Brazil and Columbia – two of the world’s largest exporters of coffee. Café owners have no choice but to pass on the increase onto customers.
Eating out. Inflation really spares nothing. So, the rising cost of the good-old lunchbox shouldn’t come as a surprise. Data collected from cafes and restaurants across Australia points towards the emerging of a “lunchflation” trend (talk about having too little on your plate!) across popular meals.
The prices of sushi, kebabs, sandwiches, and burgers have all recorded increases in 2022.
Healthcare. When I first came to Australia, all my GP appointment were essentially covered by private health insurance.
Student like me just needed to present their insurance cards at the time of the appointment (with a GP), without ever having to pay a single dollar in fees. Now, however, you can expect to pay a $30 gap fee even for a regular GP appointment.
Fuel. Not too long ago, becoming a driver on Uber was a lucrative side-income avenue for student visa and working holiday visa holders in Australia.
However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made that less incentivizing by limiting global oil supplies, leading to an increase in the price of fuel in the first 6 months of 2022.
There you have it – the cost of living and studying in Melbourne broken down for you. Please note the figures in this blog should only be used as a reference point; real figures may vary depending upon individual choices such as city of residence, type, and length of degree, living arrangements and general lifestyle.
If you are looking for more information, you may want to read the following resources –
- 4 Best Casual Job Opportunities for International Students in Australia
- 7 important things to sort as a new international student in Melbourne, Australia
- Going from Unemployed Student to Employed Graduate in Australia: Top 8 Things You Need To Know
If you have any questions about living, studying, or working in Australia, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.