What to Buy to Get Started in Australia

Setting up your new life can appear daunting, but we’ve compiled a list of some of the essential items that you need to get started. Some for school, some for the little corner that you call home. We’ve even thrown in a few crucial but not-so-obvious items that can have more to them than meets the eye.


Pens, notebooks, folders; you certainly need a few things when it comes to starting at uni. First off, get yourself a good diary, and keep it up to date. Invest in a few solid black, blue, and red pens, three or four highlighters, a pencil and eraser, enough notebooks and files for each class, and post-it notes, both the square ones, and the thin ones, and a good water bottle.


A good pair of scissors will always come in handy. While everything for school is done online these days, you never know when you’ll need to open a package, fix your clothes, or even cut something in the kitchen. Also pick up an external hard drive: back up your files AND have somewhere to keep a collection of music and movies.

Head to Officeworks for all your student needs.


Make sure you’ve got all your bedding—a pillow or two, fitted sheets, bed sheets, quilt and cover—so you can get a good night’s sleep. Get yourself some coat hangers, so all your clothes can be kept nicely. Make sure you have a spare blanket, too. Not only will it keep you warm in bed during winter, but you’ll have something to throw around yourself if your out-of-bed heating situation isn’t so great.

A couple of things that will make all the difference to your living space are a big laundry bag and a clothes horse. Make sure your clothes bag is a transportable one—just shove all your dirty clothes in there, pack it up, and take it to the laundromat. While a clothes horse may take up a bit of room, you’ll have somewhere to dry your clothes if waiting for the dryer isn’t your thing, and it can also double as hangar space.

To make sure you’re always connected, get an extension cord and a power board. You’ll be able to keep your electronic items charged and ready to go.


If you’re in shared accommodation, be sure to pick up a set of ear plugs. They can mean the difference between a good night’s sleep, and that loud party down the hall keeping you up all night. While your phone probably has a torch app, buying a real torch will save you if there’s ever a power outage and your phone is dead. Read our guide to finding great housemates.


It might be obvious, but don’t forget bath towels and a bath mat. Get at least two towels, as drying off with a cold, damp towel sucks, and this way you can make sure this isn’t going to happen to you. During summer you can also hang a damp towel over an open window to help cool your room down.

Be sure to get all the right toiletries, whether it’s shower gel, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush, shampoo. Don’t forget painkillers like Panadol or Nurofen, you never know when a headache may strike.


If you’re in a dorm situation be sure to buy a pair of cheap shower flip flops (or as we call them, thongs). With so many people using the showers there’s the chance of picking up a foot infection if you go barefoot, and that is something you definitely don’t want.


Even if you don’t have the luxury of a kitchen, there are a few kitchen essentials you can buy that will make living much more enjoyable.

Make sure you’ve got microwaveable plates and bowls, so your leftovers never go to waste. Pair those with a good mug, and one or two glasses, cutlery, a kettle, and you’re set for meals. Here’s some Australian foods you should try.

If you do have a kitchen get a good chopping board and a kitchen knife, spatula, a non-stick frying pan, and a saucepan. Throw in a few tea towels, too, so you always have dry and clean crockery. These can double as packing for boxes later down the line, will let you clean up spills, and serve as a holder for hot pots or bowls, too.

It’s so small that you might forget about it, so definitely make sure you invest in a can opener. Have you ever been in the situation where you need to open a can, but nothing to do it with? No? Then make sure you never are.


Don’t just get any old mug—invest in a good, solid one. As well as always having something with which you can drink tea, having a good mug around opens up the doors for culinary creation, too. You can make scrambled eggs in the microwave, try your hand at mug cakes, heat up porridge/oatmeal, and much more. In a pinch, a mug will do as a replacement for most of your crockery, and you can even use it as a makeshift amplifier for your iPhone, in place of speakers. So above all else, invest in a mug.

If you don’t want to get a saucepan and a frying pan, buy a wok instead. You can use it to fry, boil, or cook a full meal, all from your stovetop.

Whether you’re in a dorm situation or living in a house, having an easy way to provide yourself sustenance can save you heaps of money, and time. Buying a sandwich press means you can toast sandwiches, but also make toast, cook meat or vegetables, fry bacon, and reheat pizza. A better question would be, what can’t it do? A top Aussie recipe that always hits the spot is a cheese and Vegemite toasted sandwich. Thank us later.

Where to buy

For the one-stop-shop for all your homeware needs, Target and Big W have all the affordable homewares you need to get started. For cheap toiletries and medical supplies hit up Chemist Warehouse.