Melbourne Vs Sydney: Cost of Living for International Students 2024


When we talk about studying abroad then, Australia is chosen to be the top destination against the USA, Canada, and the UK. There has been a significant increase in the number of international students who come to Australia to continue their higher education. But coming to Australia is not just about attending university, it involves finding suitable accommodation, part-time jobs, and much more to the expanded list. It simply offers an environment for any student overseas to look for a land of multi-cultures, magnificent landscapes, and a highly advanced education system, which allows them to open and broaden their thinking prospects. However, as told above it just does not revolve around the university, or the expenses are not just confined to university fees, the overall living cost in Australia is a series of expenses including accommodation, food, transport, health insurance, and entertainment. The cost varies depending on various factors such as where the student lives, as cities like Sydney and Melbourne are more expensive than others like Adelaide and Perth. 

Although these cities are costly, with the help of this blog, we embark on a comparative exploration of the cost of living for international students in Melbourne and Sydney in the year 2024. 


Understanding the Disparity: Cost of Living vs. Cost of Education in Australia

The cost of living and the cost of education are both diverse aspects of the Australian education landscape. The cost of education revolves around the resources essential for studying in Australian University whereas the living cost involves the accommodation, food and grocery costs, etc. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne, are both expensive and the financial realities of residing in each locale can present distinct challenges for international students, yet promising in transferring education and resources that complete the survival of an international student. 

In Sydney, typically renowned for its cosmopolitan allure and scenic vistas, the cost of living is comparatively higher than in Melbourne. From accommodation in sought-after neighborhoods like Darling Harbour or Bondi Beach to daily expenses such as groceries and transportation, the financial outlay for students can be considerable. 

Conversely, Melbourne is slightly cheaper than Sydney. Being a metropolitan city it offers a more affordable alternative without compromising on quality of education or lifestyle. The living cost is generally more moderate, making it an attractive option for budget-conscious students. From affordable accommodation options in eclectic neighbourhoods like Fitzroy or Carlton to a diverse range of dining and entertainment choices, Melbourne presents international students with a compelling combination of affordability and urban sophistication.

However, let's look broader into the aspect. An International student will try to entertain themselves by other means while staying in Australia, which also adds up to the finances. Other factors in contribution include the healthcare services and transportation which can not be deducted, whatever you do. 

Ultimately an international student must manage and plan their finances in a way that can hinder the alluring challenges and ensure a fulfilling and sustainable experience.


Breakdown of cost of living in Sydney and Melbourne for International students

Let us see all of the portions that make up the living cost in Australia for international students, examining the various components that contribute to the overall financial landscape.

1. Tuition fee: The cost of education depends upon the level, duration, and type of study that you choose. On average, the cost of an undergraduate degree and the cost of a master's degree in Australia for international students may range from AUD 25,000 to AUD 40,000 per year, while postgraduate fees may range from AUD 30,000 to AUD 50,000 per year. In addition to these fees is the amount charged for the study materials, textbooks, and student fees. 

2. Accommodation: The cost of accommodation depends upon the taste and requirements of an international student. For the one who have no issue with the expenses can look for lavish apartments whereas those who are working and need to incur expenses on their own can look for shared apartments, on-campus hostels, or homestays, being a common choice. 

Ultimately when it comes to rent prices, Sydney tends to be more expensive than Melbourne, as told above. Monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Sydney can range from AUD 2000 to AUD 3000, while in Melbourne, it may range from AUD 1500 to AUD 2500. 

3. Food & Groceries: Both cities offer a diverse culinary scene, with options ranging from budget-friendly eateries to upscale restaurants. Sydney and Melbourne have an average monthly food expenditure of AU$754, which is the same across the board. There are, nevertheless, small price differences for typical food products.

In terms of groceries, prices can vary depending on the supermarket and location. Even if we consider that on average a basic weekly grocery shop for one person may cost around AUD 80 to AUD 100 in Melbourne and slightly higher in Sydney. Dining out prices also vary, with Melbourne generally offering more affordable options compared to Sydney. A meal at a mid-range restaurant in Melbourne may cost around AUD 20 to AUD 30 per person, while in Sydney, it could be around AUD 25 to AUD 40.

4. Transportation: In terms of commuting from one to another basic transportation costs have to be incurred. The best source to commute is through public mode of transportation which is an affordable offer for international students. The cities, of Melbourne and Sydney, have an extensive network of trains, buses, trams, and ferries, providing convenient access to campuses, city centers, and popular destinations. In terms of cost, Melbourne generally has more affordable public transport fares compared to Sydney. For example, a single adult fare for a one-zone trip in Melbourne may cost around AUD 4.50, while in Sydney, it could be around AUD 4.80. 

5. Healthcare: Since health is an important aspect when you shift to Australia, be it in Sydney or Melbourne, to be physically attentive and fit you need to have the Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) to cover medical expenses while studying in Australia. The cost of OSHC depends on the provider, coverage level, and duration of the policy. However, the cost of healthcare services, including doctor's visits, prescriptions, and health insurance, can vary depending on the type of service and insurance coverage. The health care cost in Sydney can be approx. AU$ 190 and in Melbourne it can be up to AU$160, which is comparatively more affordable than in Sydney. 

6. Entertainment and Recreation: Again there are a variety of activities in which a student indulges into. At times these are essential for networking purposes or sometimes for leisure activities to divert your mind for some time. These cities have cultural events and festivals organised for outdoor adventures and sports activities, there's something for everyone to enjoy. In terms of cost, the prices for entertainment and recreational activities vary depending on the activity and location. For example, a movie ticket in Melbourne may cost around AUD 15 to AUD 20, while in Sydney, it could be around AUD 18 to AUD 25. Here you can benefit from being an international student, as you can get discounts and special offers to save money on entertainment and recreation expenses.


How to reduce your living costs in Sydney and Melbourne respectively? 

Living in the main cities of Australia like Sydney and Melbourne can be expensive, but there are several strategies international students can employ to reduce their living expenses and manage their budgets more effectively.

Being an international student you cannot opt for a remote countryside since most top universities and job opportunities are available in top cities. So, the only alternative you have is to plan and budget your finances in a way that they are easily manageable and fosters efficient ways to divide your expenses into portions.  

We have compiled a list of practices that would help you to reduce your living costs in Australia:

1. Accommodation: To reduce the expense of accommodation, you can consider living further away from the city center or university campuses, where rent prices may be more affordable. Else you can opt for shared or homestay accommodation which involves splitting the overall cost with roommates or the host families.

2. Transportation: Another significant area where you can save your expenses is through transportation services. Instead of having a private mode of mobility, you can utilise public transportation, which includes certain discounts and concessions as well. If not these then walking or cycling can be best for covering short distances. Plan travel during off-peak hours when fares may be cheaper, especially for trains and buses.

3. Food and Groceries: Why not try cooking instead of depending on the processed ready-made food that you purchase from the supermarkets? Meal prepping and buying in bulk can also help save money. Plan your food early and shop accordingly. This will help you to avoid impulsive buying at the last moment. Take advantage of loyalty programs and discounts offered by supermarkets to save on food expenses.

4. Education Expenses: It is very obvious that these expenses are crucial but what if you look up scholarships, grants, or financial aid opportunities offered by universities, government agencies, or private organisations? They can surely help you cut down on expenses. Otherwise, if you think that the course you are doing can have less tuition fees in some other university then you can consider that too. You can buy second-hand textbooks or explore digital alternatives such as e-books or online resources to save on textbook expenses.

5. Entertainment and Recreation: You can explore less expensive areas such as parks, museums, or other cultural events. You can evenly look for discounts on movie tickets, gym memberships, and other subscriptions. Avoid overspending on non-essential items. And, your universities organise events and activities which may offer you the opportunity to socialise without breaking the bank.

6. Healthcare: You can choose a comprehensive Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) plan that offers adequate coverage at a reasonable cost. Utilise the bulk-billing medical centers or public hospitals for routine healthcare services, where possible, to minimise out-of-pocket expenses.



When you think of coming to Australia then the only cities that come to mind are Sydney and Melbourne. What exactly is the reason is their popularity and the kind of atmosphere it offers to international students. Not just the infrastructural beauty but the academic sphere is so versatile and advanced that they quest to look for universities and accommodation in them. However, if you plan to move to any one of these cities then it is very obvious that you need to plan and manage your living cost in Australia. It isn’t easy but surely is possible by following certain tips. So, whether you're dreaming of strolling along Sydney's Bondi Beach or exploring Melbourne's hidden gems, remember that with prudent financial management, the adventure Down Under awaits.

For any more details and guidance, you can reach out or partner with Oz Assignments. Contact us today to unlock your full potential and thrive in your educational pursuits Down Under!

Read More

Exploring New South Wales: Study Opportunities and Attractions for Students
Kaplan Business School: Everything you need to know
Affordable Accommodation Options in Australia