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What I Spend in a Day in Melbourne: Living on an International Student Budget

Melbourne Central

This article is sponsored by PTV

Melbourne is a vibrant city with plenty of things to see and do that won’t break the bank, which is particularly important if you’re managing a student budget.

While living and studying in Melbourne, staying on top of your finances is made even easier thanks to the many affordable or free food options and activities. Here’s what you can expect to pay for your daily expenses and some tips to budget effectively. 

What you’ll spend in a morning in Melbourne

If you prefer to have breakfast at home, you’ll find yourself saving a lot of money. Stocking your kitchen with items such as milk, cereal, bread, spreads (like jam or, if you’re feeling brave, Vegemite!) and fruit would cost approximately A$15-20 and can last you a few weeks (if you store your food properly).

If you don’t get a chance to make breakfast in the morning, you can start your day with a cup of coffee, which is usually between A$4-5 at one of Melbourne’s many incredible cafés, and grab a bite at a bakery, where you can expect to spend A$5-10 on budget-friendly options like pastries, pies, and toasties. 

After breakfast, depending on your schedule, you can either head to campus to study or explore the city’s attractions and iconic landmarks (many of which are perfect to add to your Instagram feed).

There are free tram zones within the CBD, making it easy to travel around. Alternatively, for further distances, opt for a myki card, the city’s public transport card, and enjoy the convenience of trams, trains, and buses. Eligible students can also take advantage of the International Student Travel Pass, which will save you 50 per cent when signing up for any one of the 90-day, 180-day, or 365-day passes. You can save $1034 with a 365-day pass, $572 with a 180-day pass and $286 with a 90-day pass. Your pass can be used for all your travel, even if you’re just going out with friends or going to work. It also gives you access to all-night weekend travel on the Night Network.

What you’ll spend in an afternoon in Melbourne

When in the CBD, indulge in Melbourne’s art scene by taking advantage of the free entry offered by the National Gallery of Victoria and ACMI. Check their respective websites for any special exhibitions and student discounts on offer. 

@insiderguides Movie fans, TV fanatics and aspiring directors unite! 🎥 ACMI – the Australian Centre for the Moving Image – celebrates all things screen culture. The best part? It’s free to visit! #melbourne #melbourneaustralia #melbourneaustralia🇦🇺🇦🇺🇦🇺 #ACMI #australiancentreforthemovingimage #australianmuseum #museumtok ♬ Stolen Dance (Single Version) – Milky Chance

If you prefer the outdoors, walk along the Yarra River. The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Fitzroy Gardens, and Flagstaff Gardens also make for a relaxing stroll. The iconic street art in laneways such as Hosier Lane, AC/DC Lane and Blender Lane are unmissable and fantastic ways to appreciate local art without spending any money. 

For lunch, consider grabbing a quick and affordable meal at the Queen Victoria Market (QVM). The QVM offers a wide range of international food trucks and street food options such as sushi, dumplings, tacos, falafels, and more. Here, you can expect to spend anywhere between A$10-15 for a filling lunch. 

Alternatively, look out for restaurants offering “meal deals” or special lunchtime offers. There are plenty of food options under A$15, but try to avoid the lunchtime rush of students and workers taking a midday break by eating a little earlier or later in the day. You can also check out our guide to the best cheap eats in Melbourne.

What you’ll spend in an evening in Melbourne

Evening expenses can also be managed cost-effectively, allowing you to enjoy the end of your day. If you need an afternoon snack, budget around A$2-5 for options like a piece of fruit, a granola bar, or a small snack from a convenience store. 

Another great option would be packing a picnic and taking it with you to one of Melbourne’s beautiful beaches, accessible by trams from the city, such as St Kilda or Port Melbourne. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the picturesque coastline, soak up the sun or watch the sunset. 

A lot of nighttime entertainment in Melbourne is also budget-friendly. You might spend A$20 for a movie ticket (or less, if you have your student ID and buy a concession ticket), but some events such as trivia nights, live music gigs or open mic events can be free.

For fitness enthusiasts, gym membership can cost you as low as A$10-30 for the week. Some gyms also offer no-contract options which can cost a bit more than longer-term contracts but offer greater flexibility. 

If you plan on cooking most of your meals, budget around $30-50 per week for groceries, depending on what your dietary preferences are. Alternatively, if you decide to eat out, you can expect to spend A$15-25 on meals.

Remember to carry your student ID with you at all times. Many attractions, cinemas, theatres, and eateries offer discounts for students, so take advantage of these savings whenever possible.

So, what should I budget for a day as an international student in Melbourne?

As mentioned, the total cost will come down to your lifestyle and the choices you make during the day. If you have all your groceries bought, meal prep for the day, use your International Student Travel Pass and head to any of Melbourne’s free attractions, you could be spending nothing!

If you’d like to spend a day exploring more of the city, we recommend budgeting A$50-100. This will cover at least two meals and an activity.