Moving out of home for the first time? Or perhaps you’re just new to Brisbane and wonder how it compares to where you’re from?

Going to university can mean more costs than just course fees and student contributions. Accommodation, books and study materials, transport and parking are all common expenses that are often overlooked.

Brisbane’s affordable cost of living makes it an ideal choice for those who want to enjoy a major city on a budget. It is consistently shown to be one of the cheapest cities in Australia for students to live. Nevertheless, you still need to plan and budget carefully.

Concessions and student discounts

UQ students can get many discounts, which are typically accessed using a valid student card. These include discounted products such as software and technology, as well as concession prices for many public services such as trains, cinemas, museums and more.


If you drive a car, petrol and parking expenses can quickly become a burden. Luckily there are plenty of options available to you which can save you money:

Public transport

UQ's St Lucia and Herston campuses are serviced by an extensive and growing bus and rail network, offering congestion-free, fast and reliable services to and from campus. With concession fares available for full-time students, it's a smart way to save money.

Free inter-campus bus

Travel between campuses has never been easier with a free shuttle bus service connecting our St Lucia and Gatton campuses. For more information, see the intercampus bus page.


Consider riding a bike as an alternative to driving or taking public transport. Cycling can be a great way to keep fit while getting you around town. UQ is cycle-friendly with special facilities set up for cyclists. For more information, see Cycling@UQ.

Books and equipment costs

Faculties and schools will often issue lists of books and equipment that you need to obtain.

With a little care, costs can be minimised. There is little need, for example, to buy books that are suggested for reference only – these can be found in one of the University library branches.

Textbooks and other equipment such as laboratory coats can often be bought second-hand. Look for advertisements on notice boards in the departments and in the Union Complex.

General tips

Being smart with your money and careful with your expenses can save you money, and help you avoid financial problems. Here are some helpful tips and advice on how to save money:

Food and groceries

  • Buy generic or home brand products.
  • Shop at low-cost supermarkets.
  • Shop only once a week: the less you shop, the more you save.
  • Take advantage of specials and discounts.
  • Use up your pantry, cooking any items about to expire.
  • Cook large portions and keep leftovers for lunch or dinner for the next day.
  • Bring lunch from home, rather than buying food.
  • Avoid shopping at corner stores, petrol stations and other convenience store locations.


  • Play free sport at the university to have fun and keep fit.
  • Join one of our clubs and societies to get involved and meet like-minded people.
  • Take advantage of inexpensive UQ events: UQ Union is all over keeping your social calendar buzzing.
  • Make the most of campus arts and entertainment activities and venues.

Expenses guide

The following is a guide to what an average student can expect to pay, including basic monthly expenses and costs of some regularly purchased items. All prices are in Australian dollars (AU) and are intended as a guide for 2015 only.

Average monthly expenses in Australian dollars


Single student living on-campus

Single student living off-campus*

Student with dependants living off-campus (two adults, one child)





Utilities – including gas, electricity and water

included in rent

$50 – $100

$100 – $150


included in rent

$400 – $500

$1000 – $1200

Mobile phone

$45 – $60

$45 – $60

$90 – $120


included in rent

$20 – $30

$30 – $50

Public transport

$30 – $40

$90 – $110

$220 – $280


$40 – $50

$40 – $50

$40 – $50


$100 – $150

$250 – $300

$600 – $700

Total monthly expenses

$2335 – $2420

$1820 – $2075

$3970 – $4440

36 weeks (academic year) $19,398 $20,105 $15,120 – $17,238 $30,489 – $36,886

Other Annual Expenses

Textbooks and study materials (depending on program of study)

$500 – $850


$500 – $1000

Health (dental/medicine not covered by medicare or private health)

$520 – $1300

Academic fees

Please see your program

Item Costs in Australian Dollars

Loaf of bread

$1.80 – $3.50

1 litre carton of milk

$1.45 – $2.00

Bottle of water (600ml)

$2.50 – $3.00

Cup of coffee

$3.00 – $3.50

Big Mac


Cinema ticket (student rate)


Phone call (local)


Bus ticket (student rate)

$2.68 – $4.80

*Based on sharing a communal household with two other people with a commute time to university of less than 30 minutes.

**Rent can be affected by whether you live alone or share with others, whether you live in areas of high demand such as in the city centre, and by your style of accommodation.

***This cost may vary from college to college. College fees are drawn from average 2015 prices and may vary in 2016.

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