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Living in Australia

You will find this section a useful guide to living in the Australia throughout your stay in Australia. It explains everything from the basics, such the Australia climate, monetary and banking system, to the intricacies of clothing, Travel and Transport etc.


Most universities and colleges can provide accommodation on or near to their campus. University apartments, residential colleges and halls of residence are generally available.

International students often enjoy staying at the halls of residence as they have opportunity to mix with many other students on a full-time basis. This is also one of the cheapest options for accommodation. Meals and some cleaning services are usually provided.

Residential colleges provide accommodation with meals. They are slightly more expensive than university Halls of Residence. The facilities are more comprehensive and often include fully serviced rooms, sporting and recreation facilities, computer and internet access and sometimes a library.

International students have the option of sharing accommodation with other students. They are able to share the rent on an apartment or a flat close to the campus. Some Australian families provide homestay accommodation for international students. It is often wise for a student to organise temporary accommodation until they have had a chance to consider the alternatives.

Institutions maintain a register of families prepared to board international students during the academic year. They check to ensure that homestay families are reputable and that they offer accommodation of a reasonable standard. Farm stay accommodation is often available in rural areas. This is an exciting option for students wishing to experience a farming lifestyle.

Backpackers, youth hostels, guest houses and hotels provide a variety of housing options at various costs. Individual universities and colleges are also able to provide information on accommodation available. Prices vary from place to place, so local information is important.

Universities, TAFE institutes and other large education providers have housing offices to assist their students find accommodation. They will be able to provide information on the full range of available housing options, including prices and any rules and regulations you need to know. It may be possible to have temporary accommodation organised for when you first arrive, so there will be time to look around and choose your permanent living arrangement after having personally perused the locations and choices available. This would need to be arranged with the housing office prior to your arrival. There may be a placement fee for the provision of accommodation, either temporary or permanent, which you will need to check with your education provider.

The main options are

Boarding schools
Many private schools offer boarding options. Students are fully catered for whilst they board with their meals, cleaning and laundry being part of the services offered. Boarding house residents also have access to the school facilities to assist with study and social activities. Tuition fees must be added to the boarding fee range shown.

Cost: A$8 000-A$11 000 per year

Homestay or Farmstay
Homestay and farmstay are where the student lives with an Australian family in their house. Generally some or all meals are included. It can be an easy entry to Australia for young students and is a popular option for those attending high school or ELICOS courses. Homestay is accommodation within a city whereas farmstay is housing in a rural area. Your housing office will have a list of suitable potential families.

Cost: A$110-A$270 per week

University Accommodation

  • University residential colleges
    University residential colleges provide accommodation along with all meals, cleaning and a wide range of support services for both social and study needs. They are generally more expensive than Halls of Residence because of the wide range of facilities offered.
    Cost: A$190-A$280 per week

  • University Halls of Residence
    University halls of residence offer accommodation also but with a lesser range of services attached. Some meals and cleaning will generally be included but there may also be self-catering facilities. This form of accommodation is very popular, especially with first year students and will have to be booked well in advance of your arrival in Australia.

  • University Apartments
    Some universities also have a range of apartments, either close to or on campus. These can be rented and provide the security of university based and run accommodation with the increased autonomy of share living. Apartments are generally popular with students in the later years of their degrees. University accommodation prices and options vary between different institutions and all students should contact the international office of their prospective university for full details. Due to the popularity of these choices it is important to apply early.

Private or Church-owned Boarding Hostels

This option can be cheaper than university accommodation and shares many of the attractions. It is available for both tertiary and non-tertiary students. Residents share kitchen and bathroom facilities and cater for themselves.

Cost: A$80-A$135 per week

Share Accommodation

Share accommodation is advertised on student notice boards, in housing offices and in the 'Share accommodation' section of newspapers. Advertisements will appear for one or more people to share a house or a flat where a lease has already been taken out. Many students prefer to move into share accommodation after a year or two of on-campus residence. Students are generally expected to provide some (or all) of their own furniture.

Cost: A$50-A$160 per week

Rental Accommodation

Rental accommodation is the same as share boarding except that it involves finding a residence to rent, rather than moving into one that has already been leased. Once again, students are generally expected to supply their own furnishings. Rental agreements require payment of rent in advance and a security bond to be paid at the start, which is usually equivalent to one month's rent. Your housing office will be able to assist with finding rental accommodation and your rights as a tenant.

Cost: A$70-A$350 per person per week

Please Note: the range of costs shown above are a guide only. Prior to arrival you should contact the Housing Office or International Education Office at the institution where you will be studying and ask about the accommodation options available and the costs involved.

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Clean, Safe, Cosmopolitan

Students from all over the world come to Australia to take advantage of our top-notch education and enjoy our friendly hospitality and cultural diversity. Australia has low crime rates and strict gun control laws providing a safe environment in which to learn and travel. With one of the highest standards of living in the world, Australia offers modern transport systems, convenient telecommunications, cosmopolitan shopping complexes and excellent medical services.

Visitors from many parts of the world are attracted by Australia's spectacular natural environment and the warmth of the Australian people. Australia is rich in the arts and is keen to preserve and display its diverse culture.

Australians are also environmentally conscious and keen to preserve the country's natural beauty and scenery. Our Clean Up Australia campaign is being adopted worldwide.

Health Care

Australia has a very good health care system. All Australians pay a Medicare levy (additional tax) to fund the public health system and ensure everyone gets access to public system doctors, hospitals and other health care services. People who pay extra into a private health insurance fund receive certain privileges when they use private health care services.

International students studying in Australia are required to have Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of their student visa.


Australia has a fantastic variety of food. Our top quality meat, fish, fruits and vegetables are exported globally. There is a large range of fruit and vegetables available at Australian produce markets. You should have no difficulty in finding the foods that you are used to at home.

You can sample almost every type of cuisine available throughout the world in our many restaurants. There are elegant restaurants or typical Aussie pubs. Ethnic restaurants offer international cuisines. Good food at reasonable prices can be found at bistros or cafes. And for those who like takeaway, most of the major global fast food chains are well represented.


The electrical current in Australia is 240/250 volts AC, 50 cycles. The Australian 3 pin plug is very safe. Adaptors are usually required for most foreign appliances. A transformer may be required if you bring an appliance from overseas that operates on a different voltage.


With one of the highest standards of living in the world, Australia offers modern transport systems. Australia has an extensive public transport network that includes trains, buses, tramways, ferries, two major national airlines and a number of regional airlines. Metropolitan areas are divided into zones and your ticket type and cost is contingent on which zone you are going to travel in and for how long. Tickets can be bought at train stations, on buses and trams and at news agencies.

Tourist students may drive in Australia on a valid overseas drivers licence but if the document is not in the English language the visitor must carry a translation with the licence. An international driving licence is not sufficient.

Metered taxicabs operate in all major cities and towns. You will find taxi ranks at transport terminals, main hotels or shopping centres or you can call taxis in the street. A light and sign on the roof indicates cab vacancy. There is a minimum charge on hiring and then a charge per kilometre travelled. Taxi drivers do not have to be tipped.


General shopping hours
9.00 am - 5.30 pmThroughout the week
Late night shopping until 9.00 pmThursday or Friday
Some supermarkets are open 24 hours a day7 days a week


Australia has a modern telephone system. Many private households now also have internet access. Public telephones are available at all Post Offices, shopping entrees. Public pay phones accept a variety of coins and Phone cards. Phone cards are pre-paid for use in public pay phones and can be bought at a large number of retail outlets in denominations of $A5, $A10, $A20 and $A50. Credit phones take most major credit cards such as American Express, Visa, Master card and Diners International and can be found at international and domestic airports, central city locations and hotels.

Mobile phones are very popular and can be purchased from a number of retailers.

Australian Weather

Australia is diverse in its geography and climate. Being in the southern hemisphere Australia's seasons are reversed. Summer starts in December and winter in June. Nearly a third of Australia is in the tropics where the average temperatures are in the mid 20 degrees Celsius. The southern areas are in a temperate zone.

Australian Geography

Australia is a land of contrasts: sweeping golden beaches, coral reefs rich with marine life, tropical rainforests, mountain ranges, vast grazing lands and sparse deserts.

One of the oldest continents, Australia is as wide as the distance from Kuala Lumpur to Taipei and as long as the distance from Singapore to Manila. It is the only country to occupy an entire continent.

Surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Australia has many animals and plants, which are unique on the planet.

More Information

The Australian Government has an extensive network of Education and Training Counsellors, Australian Education Centres (AEC's) and education advisers globally providing reliable and impartial advice on study opportunities in Australia. The latest information on the Australian education and training system costs of study and living, application and enrolment procedures and the Australian way of life is also available from Aussizz and reference sites set up in local institutions and libraries around the world.

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Monetary & Banking System


You should work out a budget covering accommodation, food, transport, clothing and entertainment. The average international student in Australia spends about $320 per week on accommodation, food, clothing, entertainment, transport, international and domestic travel, telephone and incidental costs. School students in Australia typically spend a little less - about $265 a week - on accommodation and food, entertainment, transport and associated items. While this is a realistic guide, it is important to remember that individual circumstances will vary by location, course and lifestyle.

Money and Banks

Australian currency is the only legal tender in Australia. When you first arrive, money from other countries can be changed at the exchange facilities located at international airports, banks and major hotels. Traveller cheques are easier to use if already in Australian dollars, however, banks will cash travellers cheques in virtually any currency. Major hotels and some shops, depending on individual store policy, will cash travellers cheques.

It is a good idea to set up an Australian bank account. You will need to provide your visa and evidence of residency. Banking services in Australia are extremely competitive. Over 20 local and numerous international banking groups are represented in Australia. All major banks have a branch in cities and regional centres. Most shopping centres have Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) facilities. These machines can be used for deposits and, in many instances, withdrawals 24 hours a day. Many department stores, supermarkets and specialist shops have electronic transfer terminals (EFTPOS) where cash withdrawals can also be made in addition to purchasing goods.

Normal bank trading hours
9.30 am - 4.00 pmMonday to Thursday
9.30 am - 5.00 pmFriday
Some banks are open on Saturdays mornings

Credit Cards

Credit cards are widely accepted around Australia. The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bank card, Diners International, Master Card, Visa and their affiliates.


Australia uses a dollars and cents system of decimal currency with 100 cents in a dollar. The bank notes in use are $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins used are the silver coloured 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent and 50 cent and the gold coloured $1 and $2 coins.

Australia's development of the polymer (plastic) banknote heralds the introduction of advanced banknote technology for the new millennium and rewrites world standards in design. Not only does this leading-edge polymer technology offer immense security benefits but its concepts of cleanliness, environmental responsibility and recyclability set an example for the world to follow.


Tipping is not the general custom in Australia and service charges are not added to accounts by hotels and restaurants. In better-class restaurants, it is usual to tip food and drink waiters up to 10 per cent of the bill for good service.

Porters have set charges at railway terminals, but not at hotels. However, at any time, tipping is a matter of individual choice.
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Leisure - What you can do in your spare time

Sports and Recreation

Australians are very keen on sport and outdoor activities and have gained a worldwide reputation, both as individuals and as teams. Hosting the Year 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney highlights Australia as a leading destination for international events. Australia has more than 120 national sporting organisations and thousands of state, regional and club bodies. It is estimated that 6.5 million people, about a third of the population, are registered sports participants. While there are over 120 sporting organisations, Australians also take part in bushwalking, fishing, boating and water sports.


Campuses offer spacious surroundings suitable for social, sporting and other outdoor activities. They are also centrally located for students to experience the sophistication of our cities and excitement of our entertainment facilities. There are plenty of opportunities for international students to have an enjoyable time with friends.


During semester breaks, you may like to venture beyond the capital cities to experience more of Australia's spectacular natural environment and great physical beauty-national parks, The Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, Uluru and the Tasmanian Wilderness.
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About Australia

Public Transport

You will probably not have a car in Australia, so you should know how to get around using public transportation. The capital cities all have good public transport facilities. Trains service the suburbs of the larger cities and buses are available in most locations. Melbourne is unique with its large network of trams (trolleys) and there are trams in other cities. Adelaide and Bendigo are examples.

By Air

There are good and frequent air connections between the major capital cities. Qantas is the main airline, but you may find yourself on one of several smaller airlines for domestic flights. Your Australian campus may have a travel office in The Union. STA travel is the most common. You can also call the airlines direct to make a booking.


During semester breaks, you may like to venture beyond the capital cities to experience more of Australia's spectacular natural environment and great physical beauty-national parks, The Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, Uluru and the Tasmanian Wilderness.

Mystery Tickets

Qantas offers mystery tickets. You can sign up for one of these and at short notice you may get a day trip to some mystery destination. It may be far away or close. The airlines use this as a way of filling empty seats. It can be fun and is quite cheap. Standby As on U.S. airlines you can ask for a standby ticket. The same system works in Australia; you do not find out until the last minute if you are on the flight. It is less expensive and an affordable option if you have plenty of time on your hands.

Air Passes

Check on the availability of special air passes sold by Australian airlines. Tickets can be bought for a number of flights, and are relatively cheap. Note, however, that these can be bought only in the U.S., and cannot be bought in Australia. It will not be possible for your folks to buy them and send them to you, so you must do this before you leave.

By Train

There are fast train connections between all of the capitals (except between Hobart and the mainland). Train tickets are more affordable than air tickets, but you need to have the time for the trip. Melbourne to Sydney is an overnight trip, whereas by air you can cover the distance in little over an hour. For the adventurous and the frugal the train can be a good option.

By Bus

Many students travel between the capitals by bus. The interstate bus lines are cheaper than the train, but probably a bit less comfortable. Note also that some bus lines, like Oz Experience, offer long distance tickets with allowances for frequent breaks in travel. This allows you to travel almost the full length of the east coast, stopping off wherever you like and for as long as you want. Some students will fly one way, and take such a bus back the other way. The advantage is that you are in control of where you stay, and you can see lots more of the country and meet many more people.

By Car

Australia is such a large country with many things worth seeing very far away from the main cities and highways. Travelling by car can sometimes be the best way to visit out of the way places. Remember, though, that buying a car can be expensive and requires registration and insurance. Petrol (gasoline) costs twice as much as it does in the U.S., so you need to feel confident that you can satisfy the car's thirst. And then there is the problem of selling it when you leave. You may be in a hurry and not have enough time to find a suitable buyer.


You must have a license to ride a motorcycle, and you must be over 18. Helmets are mandatory.

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