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What an International Student Spends in a Day

Prices are certainly not what they used to be. As the cost of living in Australia continues to rise – from groceries, transportation, dining out and everything in between – we wanted to investigate what it truly costs an international student to live Down Under.

And while every day is different, Insider Guides spoke to three past and present international students with varying lifestyles as they take us through a day in their lives in Australia – and how they spend their money.

Meet Yeganeh



Current city: Adelaide

Degree: Master of Business Administration at Adelaide University 

Country of origin: I am half Iranian and half from the United Arab Emirates.


I usually wake up by 6 am every morning to go to university because I’m currently studying a set of difficult topics. Public transport is the easiest way to get in, and because I use it every day, it is more cost-friendly to purchase a monthly pass. The monthly pass costs $53.50 for 20 days, which would cost $2.68 every day.

I order a coffee and the Greek eggs from Clio Café because I’m feeling generous and want to have a good day. It costs a total of $24. 

I head into the university and pick something up for the vending machine. Today it’s a Red Bull for $5. At around 1 pm, I head for lunch and spend $17. 

As an international student, I spend almost no time at home because I like exploring and walking around. When I am home, I want to unwind and relax. To do this I enjoy doing crafts, which I buy either from the local craft store or order supplies from Amazon. Recently I have gotten into fleece toy making and got a $12 set from Target and $35 worth of supplies from Amazon.

I like eating out with friends once a week (or fortnight if rock bottom was fast approaching!) Today we go for hotpot for $25 per person. We then splurge $7 on a bubble tea. 

I live in the suburbs and it’s hard for me to get food from home because I’m always at university and have nowhere to store it in the fridge. On the occasion I do, I get groceries for that day which costs me $24 for ingredients like salad, spaghetti or any other meal I’m in the mood for. 

Total: $151.68

Below, Yeganeh walks us through another average day of spending in her life.

@insiderguides Tag along with @💚🧿 Yegs 🧿💚 to see what an average day of spending as an international student in Adelaide really looks like #whatispend #whatispendinaday #budgeting #internationalstudents #fyp ♬ BORN FOR THIS – Foxxi

Meet Dat



Current city: Melbourne

Degree: I finished my Master of Data Science at La Trobe University in July 2022.

Country of origin: Vietnam


I get up on Monday morning for the day at around 9 am and spend an hour preparing for a job interview for a position as a Graduate Data Analyst. The interview takes place online and lasts about 30 minutes. Once I finish, I get ready to head out for the day to the CBD and take the 200 bus from Kew for $4.60.

It’s lunchtime when the bus makes it to Central Melbourne so I make my way to Chinatown to have a bowl of noodles for $13.50. After a quick break, I visit the State Library for four hours to reply to emails and do some personal work.

After the library, I visit the Melbourne City Baths for 40 minutes to swim in the indoor pool. Entry costs $7.20 for a casual visit. 

I’m ready to take the bus home after a long day in the city for $4.60.

Once home, I make myself a home-cooked meal using food I purchased the day before (which costs me about $7) so technically doesn’t count towards my daily spend.

Total: $29.90

Meet Salwa



Current city: Newcastle

Degree: PhD in Education at the University of Newcastle Australia

Original country: Indonesia


I’m out of the house at 8 am and walk to the bus stop to catch number 27 to the university. $1.20 for a concession.

At 10 am, I pick up banana bread and cappuccino from Sprout cafe at the university. The large coffee costs me $7 and the banana bread is $5.20.

I spend the morning studying on campus. After two hours, I walk to the uni bus stop to catch the number 11 to Jesmond Central for $1.20.

It’s lunchtime when I arrive so I stop at Tandoor Indian Restaurant in the mall and order biryani rice and orange juice for $16.

After lunch, I make my way to Woolworths to purchase some groceries for my family. I buy some Jasmine rice, sugar, eggs, vegetables and milk which costs me $59.40.

I’m done with Jesmond Central and take the bus back to the university for $1.20. I spend the next few hours studying at my PhD office and revising my final chapters as my thesis submission is due very soon. I’m hanging in there!

After 6 pm, I’m ready to head home and take the bus back to my unit for $1.20.

I have to pay a number of bills today including my rent for $600 per fortnight, my energy bill at $270 for the quarter, my internet at $75 a month and I top up my mobile at $30 per month.

I don’t have time to cook tonight so I get takeaway for me and my family. We order food from Erawan Thai and Western Restaurant and get three portions of chicken satay, fish curry and spring rolls for a total of $55.50.

Total: $1,122.90

Check out the Insider Guides Cost of Living Calculator to compare the cost of accommodation, transportation, entertainment activities and more in each Australian city.