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

This article is sponsored by Campus Perth

Perth is a bustling city that offers plenty of free and affordable things to see and do, which is particularly important if you’re a student trying to juggle a tight budget and the cost of living.

Insider Guides spoke to Malaysian international student and Campus Perth resident, Gabe, who helped give a deeper insight into his spending habits and what you can expect to spend when living on campus in Perth.

What you’ll spend in a morning in Perth

If you’re like most students in Perth and pinching your pennies, you can save a lot of money making simple breakfasts at home. Sticking with breakfast essentials such as cereal, bread, eggs and fruit is a relatively cheap option; stocking your kitchen with these items typically ranges from A$15-25 per week. 

Gabe says his go-to at-home breakfast is “any sort of fruit like an apple accompanied with avocado on toast, totalling around $4 [per serve].”

Don’t have time in the morning to prepare your own breakfast? You can grab a coffee at one of the numerous cafés around the city for an average of A$4-6. While you’re at it, you may also opt to buy a pastry or toastie, which will set you back about A$5-10. If you want to treat yourself to the full big breakfast experience, you’re looking at a cost of around A$20-30. If you’re living in a central location – such as any of those offered by Campus Perth – you’ll have a wide selection of food and drink venues to choose from.

When you’re ready to head to campus or your part-time job, public transport is one of the most popular options for students. The Transperth SmartRider card is the easiest way to affordably travel around the city and can be used on all public transport types. International students can apply through participating institutions for a Tertiary SmartRider, which offers fares at a discounted rate – something Gabe benefits from firsthand. 

“The cost of public transport from the city all the way to Joondalup costs me around $3.50 because of my university student discount, which is helpful in saving money,” he shares. 

If you’re staying within the city, there are even free Central Area Transit (CAT) buses that operate on a loop around the CBD.

What you’ll spend in an afternoon in Perth

When spending the day in the city, take advantage of the amazing sights at Kings Park and Botanical Gardens, an exquisite inner-city park that offers panoramic city views and magnificent walking trails. Another fantastic experience is the Art Gallery of WA, which offers free admission. Many other spots offer discounted student rates – you just have to keep an eye out!

The best free activity in Perth is definitely soaking up the sun at one of the many beautiful beaches along the coast. Bring a towel, a good book (and maybe some snacks), and enjoy the magnificent white sands and turquoise waters.

Read more: 10 Awesome Reasons to Live in Perth

If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat, many cheap spots around Perth and on campus offer small bites such as dumplings, continental rolls, sushi and tacos for under A$15. If you’re looking for a larger meal, many restaurants advertise discounted lunches under A$25. For more frugal foodie inspiration, check out our guide to the best cheap eats in Perth.

What you’ll spend in an evening in Perth 

At the end of a long day, we often want to do something fun and exciting to unwind.

Fortunately, Perth offers a range of budget-friendly nighttime entertainment, including discounted concession movie tickets for under A$20. Other activities – such as mini golfing and bowling – can be a bit pricier for around A$15-25, but be sure to always check if a venue offers concession tickets for students.

There are also plenty of free events such as trivia nights, bingo, karaoke and live music gigs every day, so be on the lookout for what’s happening around you.

A gym membership can range from A$10-30 per week while a solo fitness class may set you back anywhere from A$20-30. There is also a range of free weekly fitness events around the city, including yoga and community days. Learn more in our guide to getting fit in Perth.

Gabe prefers to prepare his own dinner, with his go-to meal being “mostly rice, with any meat such as chicken thighs, beef cubes, or pork, pairing it with mixed greens. It’s fast, simple, and relatively cheap to make for about $12 to $15 per serving.” 

After dinner, if he’s not staying in, Gabe budgets around A$30-50 for dining out or shopping with friends.

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

Your total cost of living will ultimately come down to your lifestyle and daily choices. If you prep most of your own meals, use Perth’s cheap public transport system and leverage free activities across the city, you should have no trouble staying on budget throughout your studies. 

As for Gabe’s advice, he highlights that “the most important thing [international students] should keep in mind is the cost of accommodations. Always plan ahead [when] booking [your] accommodations.”

To get a more detailed budget estimate (including the varying costs of different accommodation styles), check out our Cost of Living Calculator or read our guide on how much it costs to live in Perth.