Cost of living

In addition to paying course fees, the Australian Government estimates that the average living cost for an international student is A$20,290 per year ($A350 - A$400 per week). This pays for accommodation, food, telephone, gas, electricity, transport and spending money.

Your living costs could be higher or lower than this, depending on where you study and the lifestyle that you live. It usually costs more to live in Sydney than in other cities or towns in New South Wales.

Guide to living costs for one week*

Item Weekly Cost Range
(Australian dollars)
Accommodation (house or apartment shared with others) $100 - $150
Food: meals and groceries $90 - $100
Utilities: telephone, electricity, gas (shared costs with others) $20 - $40
Public transport $30 - $50
Spending money: entertainment, clothing, personal items $50 - $60
Total $290 - $400

*As well as accommodation, costs for food and utilities are included in Homestay fees.

Estimates of common expenses

Item Cost (Australian dollars)
Cinema/movie ticket $12 (student concession)
Dinner (restaurant) $18 - $35+
Lunch (cafe) $10 - $15+
Coffee $3 - $4
DVD hire $4 - $8
Newspaper (local) $1.50
Newspaper (international) $4 - $7
Magazine $5 - $8

Note: All costs are in Australian dollars and are provided as a guide only.


There are a large number of local and foreign banks and other financial institutions in Australia.

When you open a bank account you must bring identification with you (birth certificate, passport or visa). If you are under 16 years of age, your parent or guardian must accompany you to the bank and bring their driver's licence or passport with them. The bank may also ask you for a Tax File Number which you can get from the Australian Taxation Office

When choosing your bank and bank account:

  • compare interest rates, fees and charges at different banks. Some banks provide students with accounts where fees are not charged.
  • ask whether you can transfer money from your home country directly into your bank account by telegraphic transfer.
  • ask what fee the bank charges for transferring or receiving funds.

After you open a savings or a cheque account at the bank you will be issued with an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card. You can use this to get money from ATM machines or use your ATM card to pay for goods purchased in shopping centres and supermarkets. You can arrange money from your home country to be transferred directly into your bank account. A telegraphic transfer takes 2 to 4 working days to be deposited into your account. Your Australian bank will also charge a fee of between A$5 - A$10 for transferring funds.

Banking hours are usually Monday to Thursday, 9.00am to 4.00pm and Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm. Some banks/building societies are open on Saturday mornings. Many banks have ATM machines which you can use 24 hours each day to withdraw cash.

Most banks also provide:

  • telephone and internet banking
  • savings and cheque accounts
  • credit cards and debit cards
  • foreign currency exchange and travellers cheques
  • other financial services such as loans, bank drafts and transfer of funds


Supermarkets sell fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, frozen foods, canned goods, bread, paper products, stationery, personal needs and same non-prescription medicines. The majority of stores open from Monday to Saturday, 9.00am to 5.00pm; Thursday, 9.00am to 9.00pm and Sunday, 10.00am to 4.00pm. Many supermarkets have extended shopping hours and are open until late in the evening.

Department and variety stores sell products including clothing, furniture, cutlery, gifts and shoes at a fixed price. Compare price and quality and look out for store sales when goods are discounted.

Large shopping centres such as Mirvac and Westfield are located in the centre of Sydney and suburbs as well as larger regional cities and towns. Large shopping centres usually contain:

Markets sell new and second-hand goods. There are a number of weekend markets. You can bargain at some stalls. Some well-known food and clothing markets in Sydney are:


Some country areas in NSW and interstate numbers (STD) require an area code before the telephone number. The NSW code is 02.

If you are making an international call from Australia to another country you will have to dial 0011 + country code + area code + telephone number. Overseas phone cards are also available. These offer cheap call rates. You can buy overseas phone cards from most newsagencies and convenience stores.

A reverse charge (collect) international call is also available. A collect call is a telephone call that is charged to the person you are calling. To make a collect call with Telstra dial 1300 362 162 to be put through to an operator who will assist you. For more information about collect call visit Telstra website and 1800 Reverse website

For operator-assisted calls within Australia, internationally, telephone 1234.

Telephone providers include Telstra and Optus

Public payphones

  • Public payphones that accept coins can be found in airports, post offices, railway stations, shopping centres and in the centre of the city.
  • Local calls are untimed. They cost 50c from a pay phone if you use coins. Long-distance and international calls are charged by the minute.
  • Find a public payphone's location using Payphone Locator search tool

Home (fixed or landline) phones

  • You can rent a home phone from one of the telephone service providers in Australia. Calls from a home phone cost 25c - 30c per local call.
  • Interstate and international calls are timed and are usually charged by the minute.

Mobile phones

  • Mobile phone services are available from several telephone companies. The telephone companies offer a wide range of phones and payment options.
  • Depending on the network in your home country, you may be able to connect your existing mobile phone to an Australian network by installing a new SIM card. Mobile call costs may be more expensive than fixed line calls.
  • Many students find it easier to buy pre-paid mobile phone packages which also help to budget for telephone costs.

Internet and email

  • TAFE NSW Institutes provide their students with free internet and email services.
  • Internet cafes providing internet services at low rates are easy to find in city areas.
  • The internet can also be connected at your Australian house or apartment. To arrange this, contact an internet service provider.

Postal services

  • Australia Post is the national postal service. Australia Post delivers letters and cards to your home letterbox Monday to Friday.
  • Small and large parcels addressed to you are usually held at your local post office. The postman leaves a card in your letterbox and you take the card to your local post office to collect your parcel.
  • You can also rent a post office box at any post office for a small fee. Your mail is placed in your post office box. You are given a key and you can collect your mail at any time.
  • Australia Post offices and shops also sell postage stamps, envelopes, packing boxes, cards and other stationery items.
  • You can also pay many bills with cash, BPay or debit (EFTPOS) cards at any post office.
  • Australia Post offices and shops are open Mondays to Fridays from 9.00am to 5.00pm. Many post offices are also open on Saturdays from 9.00am till 12.00pm (noon).
  • It is easy to send letters or packages to your family in your home country. Australia Post delivers letters and parcels by airmail to most countries within one week.
  • Letters and parcels sent within Australia usually take 1-2 days to be delivered.


The Australian dollar (AUD) is based on the decimal system with 100 cents to the dollar. Australian currency is available as plastic notes and coins in the following values:

  • Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
  • Gold coins: $1, $2
  • Silver coins: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c

Most stores also accept credit cards and debit cards.

Large businesses, including telephone, gas and electricity companies, also allow you to pay bills directly from your Australian bank account, by telephone or internet.


Do you need help?

Ask a question online or contact
TAFE NSW International or an authorised agent for help with choosing a TAFE NSW course or enrolling.

New South Wales


NSW lies on the east coast of Australia.
Sydney is the state's capital and the largest
city in Australia.

To find a campus go to TAFE NSW Institute locations.

Helpful guides

Guides on living, studying and working in:

ESOS Framework

The Australian Government wants international students to have a safe, enjoyable and rewarding study experience in Australia.

Read more about the ESOS Framework.

Find an agent

You must select a program and a country.