Ever thought of studying in South Australia? The capital of the ‘Festival State’, Adelaide, might just be the place to go.
Adelaide is well-known for its diverse cultural scene, classic architecture and unique city planning that sees the Adelaide CBD surrounded by parks on all sides, which makes for a picturesque and thriving place to live and study. Plus, compared to many of the other capital cities in Australia, Adelaide is more affordable to live in. This is our guide to the cost of living in Adelaide to give you an idea of its affordability.
Adelaide is relatively inexpensive when it comes to accommodation. Like any of the major capital cities in Australia, it’s going to cost more to live in the city centre than it is to live further out in the suburbs.
In Adelaide, you can expect to spend $170-$250 per week in a sharehouse (usually living with professionals or other students), $200-$500 per week for managed student accommodation (this price will normally include amenities like 24-hour support and internet), or $450-$550 per week a room in a residential college (which tend to be located conveniently close to campuses). Additionally, there are homestay options to live with local families that cost $250-350 per week on average.
It’s important to weigh up these accommodation options, understand which area of Adelaide is best for you to live in and consider the area’s cost of living. Living close to the city can potentially mean less money being spent on public transport and taxi or rideshare services, as well as getting home earlier from classes. However, living further from the city can mean larger living spaces, more leisure space, and less noise. Living on or near campus can be hugely convenient, as you’ll have a minimal commute to class.
Almost all of Adelaide’s education providers have one or all of their campuses located within the city’s unique, gridded CBD, including the iconic University of Adelaide campus on North Terrace. That means public transport access in Adelaide is very easy. For campuses outside of the city limits, there are frequent buses or trains to get you there.
The city’s public transport network is called the Adelaide Metro. In Adelaide, you’re encouraged to purchase a metroCARD for all of your travel. If you are a full-time international student in tertiary education, you are entitled to a concession card. With your concession card, you are eligible for 50 per cent off regular fares, so make sure you take advantage! You can also purchase a 28-day MetroCard pass for only $51.50* for unlimited travel within that period. This is a major saving and means you rarely need to worry about topping up your card’s balance any time you want to travel on a train, tram or bus.
Ensure you carry your student card with you at all times on public transport when using concession fares in case ticket inspectors want to inquire. Also, make sure to get your metroCARD registered so that if you misplace it, you won’t lose any of the credit you’ve purchased.
Did you know? A metroCARD fare is valid for two hours from the first validation and you can travel anywhere on any mode of public transport within two hours of tapping on.
Luckily for Adelaide residents, the city has after-midnight bus services on almost every bus route to and from the city. So, no matter where you live, you can still enjoy a night out at your favourite bar or a late study session with friends. Taxis and ride-sharing services such as Uber, Ola, and DiDi are also available, with prices varying depending on where you live.
*Price subject to change.
If you want to take full advantage of Adelaide’s food scene, you will want to make sure you set aside time to go out for meals. Adelaide is full of world-renowned restaurants, multicultural eateries and busy cafés. Plus, it’s easy to find something affordable, no matter your budget.
It’s important to remember that in Australia, waiters and servers get paid a liveable minimum wage. This means that your sandwich or salad may cost a little bit more than you expect, but it also means the staff are being paid fairly for their time. Unlike some other places you may have visited, such as the United States, Australia does not have a tipping culture. Places may ask if you would like to tip, but it’s not necessary.
On average, breakfast at a cafè in Adelaide is going to cost you $15-$20, but be sure to budget a bit extra if you’d like to add a coffee or freshly blended juice. Australia is famous around the world for its coffee and fresh fruit and vegetables, so you can expect to get a high-quality beverage for the price you pay. For lunch, you will likely have to spend around $16-$20, but keep an eye out for meal deals – eateries around the city will usually offer a discounted lunch with extras such as drinks. Dinner might be slightly more expensive at around $25 per meal.
Some eateries or stores on your campus might also have cheap lunch and coffee deals, and being a member of your student union can also help you save money. For example, The General at The University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus offers $2 coffees and has simple grab-and-go food options. If you are a member of the Adelaide University Union, you’re in luck! They have ongoing discounts at various restaurants on and off-campus. Check the food options and exclusive deals that are available at your educational institution, as all of these can help contribute to a lower cost of living in Adelaide as an international student.
Depending on your circumstances, it’s always worth planning ahead for a night out. You don’t want to accidentally splurge your weekly savings just by walking into an expensive venue! Some bars that feature music or other live entertainment will likely enforce a cover charge, but rarely more than $10. While there, you can expect a glass of wine, beer or cider to cost approximately $12 each. Spirits might be anywhere between $9-$25 depending on the venue.
Concerts and live music can be more expensive in Australia. Performers have to spend more to travel here, and the costs associated with paying bar and security staff add up. In Adelaide, $50 or more per ticket is an expected figure to pay. For a larger act at a stadium or arena, over $100 per ticket is typical. Other events like dance or theatre performances and dance parties will usually cost $45 or more – if it’s a touring musical, tickets can be well over $100, but you’ll find discounted tickets if you’re happy to sit nearer the back of the theatre. Always make sure you investigate the weekly city guides, as there are plenty of regular free events taking place around Adelaide.
A movie at any of the city’s cinemas will likely cost over $20 for an adult ticket, which may sound like a lot compared to Netflix at home. However, as a student in Australia, you will often find cheaper student or concession tickets available (just keep your student card on you) – some cinemas even offer ‘student nights’ with tickets as low as $8. Also, make sure you take advantage of any cinema membership programs that will get you discounted tickets and free popcorn and drinks.
If you prefer to spend your downtime at the gym, a membership at one of the more common gym franchises like Goodlife, Zap Fitness or Anytime Fitness, will cost upwards of about $15 per week. Make sure to ask about any student discounts on memberships or classes. Alternatively, joining your education provider’s gym or sports teams could be a much more affordable and convenient option.
As the ‘Festival State’, there are always events happening in Adelaide. Major festivals in Adelaide include WOMADelaide, Adelaide Festival, FEAST Festival, Adelaide Fringe, OzAsia and IndoFest – just to name a few! Many attractions within these festivals are free or offer discounted student tickets, so there’s always something to suit your budget.
For more information on the cost of living in Adelaide, make sure to check out our Cost of Living Calculator.
The University of Adelaide’s main campus, located on the tree-lined and historic North Terrace, is easily accessible to international students living across Adelaide.
For more information about studying at this central learning hub, click here!