Sydney’s reputation as one of the most cosmopolitan (and beautiful!) cities in the world means you’ll likely never get bored. With plenty of incredible beaches on offer and a bunch of fun things to do, Sydney is an ideal destination to live and study.
Whether you want to live directly in the central part of the city or in one of Sydney’s many historic suburbs, you’re bound to have an awesome study experience. Here’s how much you can expect to spend while studying and living in Sydney.
Sydney is Australia’s most expensive capital city (and one of the most costly cities in the world), so you can expect to spend slightly more. And, like any of the major capital cities of Australia, you’ll be spending more in the inner city than you will in the outer suburbs.
In Sydney’s trendy inner-city suburbs, you can expect to spend $352 per week on average in a share house (living with professionals or other students), $370 a week for a serviced apartment, or $815 a week for a one-bedroom unit all to yourself. Additionally, there are homestay options where you can live with a local family and usually receive meals. This usually costs around $320 a week.
In the outer suburbs, a one-bedroom unit is significantly cheaper at an average of $540 a week, while a share house outside of the city will likely go for around $317 a week depending on the number of bedrooms available and the area you want to live in.
Which one to pick?
Sydney’s university campuses are more spread out than other cities, so you should be aware of this when deciding on a place to live. Macquarie University, for instance, is north of Sydney’s famous harbour, which can add quite a bit of time to your commute. Even though access is easy with the train system, the time adds up when you’re getting from one side of the city to the other.
Most of Sydney’s other universities like UNSW Art & Design, the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney are located near the city centre, which means access is easier from all parts of Sydney.
You should also think about your what’s most important to you when weighing up living options. Living further away from the city usually offers more living space and can be significantly more affordable. However, you could end up spending more on public transport and taxi or Uber services if you go out in the city. Living near the city can be a little more expensive, but you’ll be closer to the action.
To explore Sydney using public transport, you will need to purchase an Opal Card. This is a smartcard that you keep in your wallet which can be used to travel on trains, light rail, buses and ferries across the city and surrounding areas.
Unfortunately, unlike in other cities, international students are traditionally not eligible for reduced fares. The cost of a trip is based on distance travelled, so the amount you pay depends on how far you are going. On average, you should expect to pay around $26, depending on how often you travel and how far from school you are living. A full list of costs can be found here.
On Sundays, all-day travel will only cost $2.70, no matter how much you travel.
If you choose to cook and eat at home, you can generally expect to spend around $2 per breakfast, $5 per lunch, and $11 per dinner. Of course, this depends on your grocery preferences.
Sydney has an incredible food and drink scene that changes from suburb to suburb. From trendy bars and restaurants to historic pubs and clubs, you will want to make sure you take advantage of everything Sydney has to offer and set aside money to go out for meals.
On average, a breakfast at a cafe in Sydney is going to cost you $15, but make sure to budget a bit extra if you’d like to add a coffee – Sydney serves up some of the best. For lunch, you will likely have to spend around $16. Dinner might be slightly more expensive at around $25 per meal.
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.
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, burlesque or other live entertainment will likely enforce a cover charge, but rarely more than $20. While there, you can expect a glass of wine, beer or cider to cost approximately $10-15 each. Spirits might be anywhere between $12-$25 depending on the venue and whether you have a desire for cocktails.
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 Sydney, $50 or more per ticket is an expected figure to pay for live music or sporting matches. For a larger act at a stadium or arena, over $100 and up to $200 per ticket is typical. Other events like dance or theatre performances will usually cost $50 or more. Always make sure you investigate the weekly city guides, as there are plenty of regular free events taking place around Sydney.
A movie at any of the city’s cinemas will likely cost around $23. Make sure you take advantage of any cinema membership programs that will get you discounted tickets and free popcorn and drinks. A membership at the Ritz Cinema in Randwick, for example, will get you $8 tickets on Tuesdays.
If a gym membership is something you want to include in your budget, a membership at one of the more common gym franchises like Goodlife, Fitness First, Virgin or Anytime Fitness, will cost around $18 per week. Make sure to ask about any student discounts on memberships or classes.
For more information on the cost of living in Sydney, make sure to check out our Cost of Living Calculator.