Sydney pretty much has it all: gorgeous beaches, a thriving dining and nightlife scene, and world-class universities. The city is regularly ranked in the top ten of the Global Liveability Rankings, and people come from all over the world to experience what it has to offer. But this incredible lifestyle can be a little costly.

Accommodation is by far the biggest living expense you’re likely to encounter, so it’s important to figure out whether a private rental or managed accommodation will be the best option for you. By breaking down your budget into categories, you’ll be able to choose the cheapest choice for your lifestyle.

Rent

On average, private rental accommodation in Sydney costs around $540 per week for a one-bedroom apartment in the suburbs, or around $815 per week in the city. A private room in a shared rental costs around $317 per week on average, depending on amenities and location. In the city, rent could go up to as much as $750 per week.

Another popular option for students is managed accommodation. Managed accommodation providers offer modern, dorm-style rooms in central locations, often with amenities like electricity, water, internet, social activities and food included in the price. For example, at Urbanest Darling House (which is located in the Sydney CBD) rent starts from $575 per week for a twin bedroom with ensuite, or $665 per week for a single room with ensuite (both are all-inclusive rates).

Managed accommodation providers usually provide six or 12-month contracts, whereas private rentals are often only available for a full year. This could be an additional cost to take into consideration if you are planning to go on exchange or complete a short program in Sydney.

Furniture

Furnishing a private rental could cost up to thousands of dollars, depending on whether you need to purchase expensive whitegoods like a washing machine and refrigerator on top of the bedroom basics. But, if you’ve already got furniture from a previous apartment, you’ll be able to fit out your room to suit your tastes on a pretty small budget.

In managed accommodation, the bedrooms and common areas come fully furnished at no additional cost. It’s a great option if you’re only planning on staying in Australia for a short time or don’t want the burden of having to sell your furniture when you leave.

Food

Most students in private rentals spend between $50 and $100 a week on groceries, plus another $30 to $50 on eating out. If you love cooking your own food, this can be a huge plus. But if you’d prefer to use your spare time for studying or socialising, you might not want to be spending your evenings hunched over a stove.

In managed accommodation, meals are generally included in the weekly cost, so you know exactly how much you’re spending on food each week. This also gives you the chance to socialise over dinner or focus more on study.

Utilities

Gas, water and electricity bills in a private rental will vary based on usage (like whether you blast the air conditioning in summer or the heater in winter) but usually come in between $100 and $300 per month, adding $25 or more to your weekly bills. Internet can range between $60 to $100 per month for an average apartment, meaning an extra $15 or more per week.

In managed accommodation, these bills will be much more predictable as they are already included in your rental costs. The upfront price of managed accommodation makes it easier to budget for bills, as there won’t be any unexpected blowouts.

Entertainment

You can expect to spend between $30 and $150 per week on socialising and entertainment if you live in a private rental. If you like going to the movies or want to join a gym, those costs will also contribute to your entertainment budget. On the plus side, you’ll have a lot of independence and flexibility to catch up with friends at home.

If you choose to live in managed accommodation, you’ll have access to events like Halloween parties, wildlife visits and sports competitions free of charge, as well as a gym. Not only will this allow you to save money on entertainment and fitness expenses each week, but it will also help you get to know your neighbours.

Transport

If you choose a private rental in the outer suburbs and commute to your university or college, you’ll likely be using an Opal card to catch Sydney’s trains and buses. The weekly cap on an Opal card is $63.20, although you may spend less depending on how many times you travel to and from your institution.

Depending on the location of your managed accommodation, you will likely also be using public transport to get around. However, if you’re close enough to walk to your institution, you might be able to reduce this part of your budget even further.

The result

As a student, living in a private rental is a great choice if you have your own furniture, an independent spirit, and maybe even a group of friends you want to move in with. Private rentals will allow you to have your own space and plenty of room to cook, study and relax.

However, if you are looking to live in a central location, socialise with other students and take advantage of all Sydney has to offer without the hassle, managed accommodation may be the way to go. Of course, you will be able to find cheaper prices for private rentals, but once you take food and other bills into account, the costs really start to add up.

Only you can decide which accommodation option is best for you, but being realistic about how much you will spend is always a good idea (we recommend checking out our Cost of Living Calculator to work out your expected budget). Wherever you choose to live, the beautiful city of Sydney offers an awesome student lifestyle for you to enjoy.