A Complete Guide to Living and Studying in Australia

All you need to know about being an international student in Australia.There’s nothing quite like living and studying in Australia, an experience that has shaped the memories of countless international students. Home to quality universities and a culture that’s both vibrant and inclusive, there’s something for everyone within a country so diverse and liveable.Of course, we understand that the beginning of each adventure is different for everyone, whether it’s to first settle on the right course and university, wondering about the visa application process or simply finding out about the job prospects of working in Australia.

Why Study in Australia

If you are looking to further your education, undertake a world class degree or fast track your career, Australia offers a range of opportunities. Whether you choose to undertake an MBA, engineering degree, humanities or English language course, Australia is difficult to beat in terms of standard of living, academic excellence, and support for international students.

Quality of life

The quality of life in Australia ranks behind only Norway as the best in the world. With sophisticated infrastructure, world-leading healthcare services, a dynamic range of public transport, numerous student services, and a comparatively affordable cost of living, Australia is a haven for those looking to study abroad.

Australia’s state capital cities, including Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane, are ranked among the world’s 30 best cities for students, in terms of quality of life, employment opportunities, cost of living and student community.

The Australian Government also offers many incentives for those looking to study abroad in its country, including some $200 million worth of scholarships, job visas in multiple fields, numerous research opportunities, and the possibility of gaining permanent residency status after you graduate.

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Top-ranking universities

Australia is home to some of the world’s leading universities. Australia has a national regulatory and quality agency for higher education called – the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA). It was established by the Australian Government to monitor quality, and regulate university and non-university higher education providers against a set of standards developed by the independent Higher Education Standards Panel.

In addition, the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) law protects:

  • the wellbeing of all international students.
  • the quality of students’ education experience.
  • the provision of up-to-date and accurate information.

Post-study work opportunities

Many international students have the opportunity to spend more time in Australia following the completion of their studies.

The temporary graduate visa (subclass 485) allows you to remain in Australia to live, study or work after you have finished your studies. The visa has two streams: Graduate Work stream and Post-Study Work stream. The length of your stay will depend on which stream you apply for.

Applying For A Visa

The visa you need will depend on the type of study you want to do, and how long you want to stay in Australia. You can find out more about each type of visa on the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) website.

You apply online

You will need to create an account using DIBP’s online application system – ImmiAccount – to complete and submit your student visa application. You can also track the status of your visa through ImmiAccount once you have submitted it.

The information you need for your visa application will depend on your nationality and which course you’re studying. You will generally need:

  • Proof of enrolment (your Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment)
  • Your health insurance (Overseas Student Health Cover) policy details
  • Your Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) statement
  • Evidence of your English skills
  • A valid passport
  • Your visa application fee

If you are under 18 years of age, you will also need to provide additional documents such as parental consent.

You can get a full list of what’s needed for your visa application from your IDP adviser or by using the Document checklist tool on the DIBP website

You should submit your application no later than six weeks before your course starts, and no earlier than 12 weeks.

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Making sure your visa remains valid

Once you get your visa, there are a number of things you need to do to ensure it remains valid, including:

  • Remain enrolled and maintain satisfactory course progress and attendance
  • Provide your Australian address to your institution so they can contact you (don’t forget to let them know if you move)
  • Continue to be able to financially support yourself while in Australia
  • Don’t breach the working conditions that apply to your visa

If you want to change your qualification level you will need to apply for a new student visa.

Australia Culture and Way of Life

If you want to make Australia your home, it helps to gain some perspective and understanding of the Australian way of life as it will open up a whole world of exciting new possibilities and experiences.

Once you adapt to your new surroundings and appreciate why things are the way they are, it’s likely you won’t be disappointed.

Read on as there’s much more to getting by in Australia than knowing how to cope with spiders, understanding traffic rules and being mad about vegemite.


While English is the official language of Australia, more than 300 languages are spoken throughout the country. This includes Mandarin, Italian, Arabic and Greek. You might also hear Aboriginal influences through words like boomerang and kangaroo.

Australians have our own unique slang and phrases. If you want to sound like an Aussie, get familiar with words like g’day (hello), ‘bloke’ (man) and barbie (barbeque). You may also come across some odd phrases and rhyming slang, where one part of a phrase is removed and replaced with a word that rhymes. For instance, “Captain Cook” means to have a look and “Bag of fruit” means a suit.


Sport is a huge part of the Australian way of life and a national fixation! Cricket, Australian Rules Football (AFL), Rugby League, Rugby Union, soccer, swimming, basketball and horse racing are among the most popular and enjoy a high level of participation at the grounds or via broadcast.

Nearly every Australian suburb and town boast top-class sporting facilities to provide an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to be physically active and strengthen social connections. Weekends are usually spent having a backyard ‘barbie’, playing cricket or Aussie Rules Footy with family and friends, where a cold beer is often a must.

Australia has a rich history of hosting major international sports events and world championships. There’s never a shortage of events on the sporting calendar with AFL, Melbourne Cup, Australian Tennis Open, Formula One Grand Prix and the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race to keep sports fans happy.


Aussies tend to be casual and relaxed and are not very big on formal greetings. When meeting for the first time, generally Australians shake hands, smile and introduce themselves with their first names. They love their laid-back lifestyle and take their time with family and friends very seriously. Picnics, family barbeques, parties, a day at the beach and gatherings at the park are all essential to the Australian way of life.

Giving and exchanging gifts with family, friends, neighbours and workmates on birthdays and Christmas is common. If you have been invited to someone’s home for a meal, it is polite to bring a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates for the hosts. Please be punctual as it is impolite if you are late by more than 15 minutes. If your delay is unavoidable, contact and inform your host ahead of time.


Australia has a generally temperate climate where most of the country receives more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year. There are four seasons across most of the country and a wet and dry season in the tropical north.  Mild winters and warm to hot summers are what attract most people to Australia especially those hoping to escape scorching heat, high humidity, dreary winters and unhealthy air quality.

Download your preferred weather app and use it to determine what you should wear and bring with you. In some Australian cities, you may experience four seasons in a day so it always helps to be prepared. A beautiful sunny day can quickly transform into a cold wet one so carrying an umbrella, sunglasses, hat and dressing in layers is a tried-and-true way to maximize your comfort in the outdoors.

Health and Support Services

Congratulations! You’ve made a great decision to live and study in Australia. Before you can obtain your Student visa, you’ll need to buy Overseas Health Cover (OSHC).  We’re here to make the process easy, finding the best cover to suit your needs.

Why do I need Overseas Student Health Cover?

It helps cover you for medical expenses whilst you’re studying in Australia, including:

  • Doctor visits
  • Hospital
  • Emergency Ambulance
  • Prescription medicine
  • You will need OSHC before you can apply for your Australian Student Visa
  • Get the Student Health Care stress-free with IDP

We’ve done the hard work of selecting quality providers, all meeting Australian Government visa requirements.

Our quality providers offer:

  • Exclusive benefits
  • Speedy turnaround
  • Value for Money

Apply online for a quick turnaround

You can apply online and have a policy confirmation in just a few minutes.  Or if you need a little extra help, ask an IDP counsellor to help organise your Health Cover with you.

Once it’s done, you can rest assured that you’ve made the best decision for your journey. And you can move to the next job on your list!

Compare and find the Health cover for your needs

Compare and choose the most relevant, affordable health cover for your needs.  Our partners policies meet the strict conditions that registered Australian health funds must comply to provide high-quality cover for overseas students.

Our Partners:

  • Allianz
  • BUPA Australia
  • NIB
  • AHM
  • Medibank Private

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Cost of Living in Australia

There is no “one size fits all” plan for all but it is understood that an individual may need approximately $20,000 each year and an average family needs more than $50,000 a year to get by in Australia.

The cost of living may be higher or lower depending on where you live and this estimate doesn’t include the cost of any social, sporting or other recreation activities you might want to be part of, or any health or emergency costs not covered by your private health insurance or Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

Accommodation costs top the list with home loans, rates, utilities and maintenance. Food is the second highest followed by car costs which include petrol, insurance, registration, parking and public transport fares.

Cost of Living

Accommodation costs

Hostels and guesthouses: $90 to $150 per week

Shared rental: $85 to $215 per week

On campus: $90 to $280 per week

Homestay: $235 to $325 per week

Rental: $165 to $440 per week

Other living expenses

Groceries and eating out: $80 to $280 per week

Gas and electricity: $35 to $140 per week

Phone and Internet: $20 to $55 per week

Public transport: $15 to $55 per week

Car (ongoing cost): $150 to $260 per week

Entertainment: $80 to $150 per week

How can you save?

  • If you are renting, share a unit/apartment/house with family or friends as you can share grocery and utility expenses. Plus, it is always nice to come home to great company.
  • Check your spending regularly to identify possible savings.
  • Avoid shopping without a plan. Compare prices, look out for deals and discounts for things that you can’t live without and make a shopping list. Stop the impulse buying habit and get your budget on track.
  • Time your clothing purchase during end of season sales and it will save you hundreds. Another handy tip is to mix and match with cheaper designer items from op shops or second-hand stores.
  • Strike gold by shopping in op shops for your home. From spoons to furniture, you’ll find heaps of pre-loved goods at amazing prices.
  • Compare gas and electricity deals to make sure you are getting the best rates.
  • Monitor petrol prices and buy when the price cycle is lower.
  • Shop for the best mobile plan that offers the best price and usage limits for your needs.
  • Make your own meals, pack lunch, breakfast and bring coffee from home.

Transport in Australia

Travelling from A to B quickly and easily

The cost of public transport is dependent on where in Australia you live and the type of transport you use. Check the relevant state government websites like Transport NSW or Public Transport Victoria for the full range of services available, timetables and the costs associated.


Driving regulations differ from state to state in Australia. In some states, if you hold a temporary visa, you are not required to get an Australian driver licence and or/learner permit as you are allowed to use your current overseas driver licence for the length of your stay.

Other states, however, require permanent visa holders to get an Australian driver licence six months from the date they first entered Australia.

If you want to drive, it is best to consult the traffic authority in your Australian state or territory for further information.

Transport Concessions


The ACT government provides transport concessions. Just present your formal student identification card or upon successful application for an ACTION Students Concession Card. For more info on student concession cards for the ACT, visit ACTION.


Generally, international students are not eligible for transport concessions but tertiary institutions are now able to offer discounts on My Multi passes offering periodic unlimited travel on buses, trains, light rail and ferries in Greater Sydney, the Hunter and Illawarra. International students are only entitled to concession fares when their study is fully funded by specified Australian Government scholarships. For further details, please refer to Transport For NSW


School students travel free by presenting a valid student card. University and VET students, however, are permitted unlimited bus travel for three hours on any scheduled public bus service at a cost of $1.00 with a valid student card. Details are available in the NT Department of Transport website.


You are eligible for concessions on public transport if you are a full-time international student studying in a course approved by Centrelink for Austudy, Abstudy or Youth Allowance purposes. Check out the Translink website for full details on Queensland concession fares.


As an international student in South Australia, you may eligible for transport concessions upon presenting your formal student identification card. Go to Adelaide Metro for further information on fares and conditions.


Students may be eligible for a concession card if they are studying as part of an approved exchange program, have a refugee status or hold an Australian Development Scholarship. Get detailed information from Public Transport Victoria or check with your education provider about your eligibility.


International students and local students are eligible for the same travel concessions. For more details on transport concessions in Tasmania, visit Tasmanian Government Discounts & Concessions


International students studying full time in Western Australia are eligible for transport concessions. Get more information about concession passes on the Transperth website.

Keen to kick-start your own overseas adventure? Swing by our upcoming Study Abroad Education Fair – the biggest of its kind in town! Happening 7 & 8 March, Suntec Convention Centre, Level 3, Summit 1. Doors open from 12pm to 6pm.

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