Endless summers, stunning sunsets, tranquil beaches… If this sounds like a tropical paradise, that’s because it is! And it is closer than you might think.
The capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin, is quickly becoming one of the trendiest cities in Australia, as well as a popular study destination for international students.
But, how much does it cost to live in Darwin? Fortunately, it is an incredibly affordable capital city to live in. Let’s break down what you need to know, so you can accurately prepare your student budget.
On-campus or off-campus living? A managed student apartment or a rental with friends? It can be hard to decide which style of accommodation will suit you best. Each will come with its own unique price point, so it’s important to factor these into your budget.
The weekly prices range between $175 and $227 at IHD* and $191 and $308 at UniLodge*. These prices include all utilities and both IHD and UniLodge offer a wide range of additional services and activities. For example, UniLodge has yoga evenings and dog visits (for when you need to snuggle with a furry friend!), while at IHD you can challenge your friends to laser tag competitions or enjoy trips to Kakadu National Park.
If you would prefer to live in a rental property or share a room with housemates, there are plenty of options available. StudyStays is a private rental search tool for CDU students. Alternatively, realestate.com.au or Domain offers comprehensive listings of rentals around Darwin.
The average price to rent a bedroom in a shared apartment is around $250 per week, while the same in a unit or house is around $350 per week. These prices will change depending on whether you choose to live in Darwin’s city centre or in the suburbs. Make sure to check with your landlord or new housemates if utilities (and things like WiFi) are included in your weekly rent.
With an efficient bus network, you can get to every corner of Darwin, including neighbouring cities such as Palmerston.
As an international student, you can purchase a single concession fare ticket for $1, or you can purchase a weekly pass for just $7.
When it comes to doing your groceries, Darwin has plenty of shopping options to choose from. Popular supermarkets include Coles and Woolworths. Both of these stores have extensive international food sections, so you won’t have trouble finding food from home.
As an example of what you might be spending in Darwin, a loaf of white bread will cost around $2.50; a kilo of dry lentils will be about $5; a kilo of rice will cost about $1.50.
Local farmers’ markets, such as the Rapid Creek Markets on the weekends or the Parap Village Markets on Saturdays, are also a great alternative. Shopping here, you’ll be supporting local farmers and businesses.
When it’s time to relax and take a break from your studies, you’ll find so much to do in Darwin. Art, music and nature come together to make the city so vibrant, you’ll want to make sure you’re enjoying it to the fullest.
One of the best things about living in Darwin is that many places offer free entry. For example, the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory showcases some of the most fascinating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art in the country and the entrance is free 7 days a week.
The City of Darwin’s What’s On page regularly lists free events such as dance lessons, concerts and workshops.
Cinema tickets cost about $20 (make sure to check if student discounts are available, and have your student ID handy for if they are) and entry to a live comedy show may cost around $30. If you want to explore nature, a trip to Lee Point Beach, Dripstone Cliffs or George Brown Darwin Botanic Garden are a must, and they are all free to visit. If you’re looking for an affordable way to stay fit, swimming at the Casuarina Pools is a great option. A 30-swim card (which allows 30 entries) is only $47 for students. Gym membership will cost upwards of about $15 per week.
Having fun on a student budget is easy in Darwin!
Some final tips
An easy way to stick to your student budget is to consider what your monthly expenses are and find affordable alternatives, if possible. For example, consider the cost of eating in versus eating out, using library services instead of buying new books, or buying secondhand clothes and homewares.
*As of June 2022