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Brisbane may be one of Australia's cheapest major cities for students to live in, but you'll still need to plan and budget carefully.

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

To help you plan for your time at UQ, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has outlined minimum cost of living requirements that all international students must demonstrate in order to obtain a student visa.

We've also compiled some helpful cost of living information you can use as a guide in estimating your budget while studying at UQ.

Pre-departure expenses

If you're relocating from overseas, you will incur some costs before you depart:

  • student visa: as per the Department of Immigration and Border Protection
  • Overseas Student Health Cover: varies based on duration of student visa length
  • travel to Australia: varies based on depature location
  • accommodation bond (refundable deposit): four to six weeks rent.

Accommodation

There are plenty of accommodation options available near UQ's campuses, making it easy to find housing that suits your budget. Depending on whether you want to live on campus or off, you can expect to pay approximately:

Single student: on-campus Single student: off-campus share house Single student: off-campus apartment Family (two adults, one child): off-campus apartment
$480 to $645 per week* $85 to $215 per week $165 to $440 per week $350 to $600 per week

UQ's Student Services can help you find accommodation that meets your requirements, with information available for both on- and off-campus options.

*Cost of fully catered accommodation including utilities. These vary from residential college to college and are drawn from 2017 prices.

Other monthly expenses

Determining the cost of other living expenses can be difficult as it will depend on your personal needs and lifestyle.

This list of common, recognisable items can give you a better understanding of everyday expenses in Brisbane:

  • loaf of bread: $1.80 to $3.50
  • 1 litre of milk: $1.45 to $2.00
  • bottle of water (600ml): $2.50 to $3.00
  • cup of coffee: $3.00 to $3.50
  • Big Mac: $5.00
  • cinema ticket (concession rate): $10.00
  • phone call (local): $0.50
  • bus ticket (concession rate): $2.68 to $4.80.

We've also put together a table of general living expenses to help you estimate a weekly budget:

  Single student: on-campus Single student: off-campus share house Single student: off-campus apartment Family (two adults, one child): off-campus apartment
Food Included in rent $80 to $280 $80 to $280 $160 to $560
Utilities (gas and electricity) Included in rent $35 to $140 $35 to $140 $70 to $280
Phone and internet $20 to $55* $20 to $55 $20 to $55 $40 to $110
Public transport $15 to $55 $15 to 55 $15 to $55 $30 to $110
Photocopying $8 to $13 $8 to $13 $8 to $13 $8 to $13
Recreation $20 to $40 $20 to $40 $20 to $40 $40 to $80
Clothing or personal care $40 to $60 $40 to $60 $40 to $60 $80 to $150

Insider Guides also provide a helpful online Cost of Living Calculator to estimate your weekly, monthly and yearly living costs in greater detail.

*Internet expenses are generally covered in your on-campus accommodation; however, you will be responsible for your own mobile phone expenses.

Books and equipment costs

Faculties and schools will often issue lists of books and equipment that you need to obtain for the semester. Depending on your program, this can cost approximately $500 to $850 per year.

You can find many of these materials at the Co-op Bookshop, which has outlets on the St Lucia, Gatton and Herston campuses, or you can check out the Secondhand Bookshop for used textbooks.

The UQ Library also usually has copies (either online or hardcopy) of suggested reading materials, and University noticeboards are a great resource for secondhand equipment. 

You will need access to a computer and the internet during your time at UQ. Although computers are available on campus, we suggest owning one, if possible.

Public Transport

If you own a car, the cost of driving and parking can be upwards of $150 per week. We recommend using Brisbane's Translink public transport services to get to and from the University.

UQ's St Lucia and Herston campuses are both serviced by extensive public transport networks, offering congestion-free, fast and reliable transportation.

If you need to travel between campuses, UQ offers a free shuttle bus service, which connects our St Lucia and Gatton campuses. 

Concessions and student discounts

As a UQ student, you can take advantage of concessions and student discounts at participating retailers and institutions. Student discounts are usually accessed by presenting a valid student ID card. They can help you minimise your expenses on a number of products and services, including:

  • software and technology
  • public transport
  • cinema tickets
  • museums
  • select food and drink venues
  • select hair salons and barbers. 

Help and advice

If you need help with your expenses while studying, UQ offers a number of resources. It doesn't matter if you're trying to establish a budget or you're finding it difficult to manage expenses through the semester, Student Services and the UQ Union offer guides, workshops and advisors to help.

You can book an appointment with a SHOC advisor for one-on-one assistance, or sign up for one of the workshops offered by Student Services.

Regular sessions such as "Living on a Student Budget" and "Eating Well on a Budget" provide advice on everything from establishing a budget to cooking healthy meals while saving money.

For most international students a student visa allows you to work while studying in Australia.

How many hours a week can I work?

If you have a student visa you can work up to to 40 hours per fortnight (two-week period) during university semesters, and full-time hours during vacations. In general, students shouldn’t expect to cover tuition fees or living expenses by holding down a casual job.

If you are studying at UQ on a scholarship, you should contact your scholarship provider about how many hours you are permitted to work each week.

What is a tax file number?

A tax file number (TFN) is a unique number issued to individuals to help the Australian Tax Office (ATO) administer tax and other government systems. Before you can begin working you will need an Australian tax file number.

What if my visa does not have permission to work?

If, for any reason, your student visa is issued without the right to work, you will need to apply for a permission-to-work student visa after commencing classes.

You can find out more about applying for a student visa with permission to work, a Tax File Number, and obtaining part-time work during Orientation week or by contacting Student Services.

What type of work am I likely to find?

Casual or part-time work is a great way to provide yourself with an income while you’re studying. It’s also great experience to include on your resume. Typically, these positions include retail, hospitality and customer service roles.

When seeking career specific information and employment related to your studies you can register on UQ Careerhub, UQ's exclusive online vacancy system. You can register with UQ CareerHub for exclusive access to jobs and career information upon commencing your studies. You can also speak with staff in the Careers and Graduate Employment Office for advice and assistance in finding work.

Student Help On Campus (SHOC) also operate a free service as part of UQ Union that specifically helps students with their job search.

Please keep in mind that casual or part-time work can be difficult to find and there is much competition for such jobs.

There are four major banks and a number of smaller banks to choose from in Australia.

These financial institutions are licensed and regulated under Federal or State Government legislation:

Australia also has credit unions and building societies. They’re not banks, although they offer many similar services.

There are banks in cities and towns right throughout the country, but not all banks operate nationally. It’s a good idea to check their website to see if the bank you’re considering has a branch near you.

Opening a bank account

Information on how to open a bank account will be provided at your Getting Started session. If you open a bank account within four weeks of your arrival it is a much simpler process.

Commonwealth Bank and the Australia and New Zealand Bank branches are located on the St Lucia campus, and there are a variety of banks close to the Gatton and Herston campuses.

All banks offer a full range of banking facilities, including savings and cheque accounts, fixed interest deposits, currency exchange, travel services, receiving and sending money, and safe custody for valuables.

Most are open from Monday to Friday during business hours (9am – 4pm, excluding public holidays). However, Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are usually open 24 hours a day for transactions.

Transferring money to Australia

The most common way to arrange the transfer of money from abroad is by electronic transfer to your Australian bank account, which may take one to two days (although please note that, at times, international money transfers can take up to 10 working days).

If you're receiving funds via electronic transfer, you might want to check with your bank overseas to determine which bank in Australia they have an agreement with.

You can also arrange to have money sent by bank draft in Australian dollars; however, you may have to wait some time before you can access the funds.

Do not let family or business contacts abroad send you cheques from their local chequebook.

Bringing cash into Australia

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service does not currently have any restrictions on the amount of money you bring into or take out of Australia, whether it is cash, cheque, money order or any other form. However, amounts of AU$10,000 or more, or equivalent in foreign currency, must be declared on departure and arrival. Failure to declare is an offence and can result in serious penalties.

Exchange rates

What the AU$ is worth in your currency can vary considerably. You can check the current value of AU$ against your currency, and see how it’s varied over time, on numerous foreign currency exchange websites such as XE.com or with your local bank.

UnionPay

The National Australia Bank (NAB) accepts China UnionPay cards. Students can directly access their Chinese bank account in RMB. There is a NAB automatic teller machine (ATM) on the St Lucia campus.

Links to help you plan

UQ Orientation


Currency Converter

If you plan to bring your family with you to Australia, there are a number of requirements you must consider.

Costs

Ensure you have sufficient funds to support your family for the duration of their stay in Australia.

Costs you will need to consider include:

  • airfares for your family to and from Australia
  • overseas student health cover for all family members
  • employment opportunities for your spouse
  • higher rent for a larger home
  • living expenses for dependants, including extra costs for food, clothing and other necessities
  • additional costs such as public transport fares, childcare and schooling.

Visas

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) allows most students to bring their family members to Australia as their dependants. Dependant family members include your spouse or de facto partner and dependant children. You must declare all your dependant family members in your student visa application, even if they do not travel with you.

For your dependant family members to obtain a student visa you can either include your dependant family members in your visa application, or they apply for a visa after you have started your program.

Your student visa assessment criteria may change if your family is accompanying you to Australia.

For more information, please contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or the Australian diplomatic mission in your country.

Schooling in Australia

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection requires that dependant children between the ages of five and 18 attend school full-time as a condition of the dependant visa.

If you have school-aged children, please contact Student Services for assistance with applying for schooling and obtaining an Authority to Enrol, which provides proof of school enrolment for your child's dependant visa application.

Once you arrive in Queensland you can then register your children to attend a specific school near where you will be living. Queensland has a wide range of schools to choose from with more than 1230 public and 470 private schools spread across the state.

Visit Education Queensland International for indicative fee information. Some sponsored students may be exempt from paying school tuition fees for their children. For more information please check Education Queensland's policy on the waiver of school tuition fees.

More information at Education Queensland International

Childcare

Independently operated childcare, kindergarten and after-school facilities are available on or near all UQ campuses. Childcare costs in Australia are very high (up to approximately $95 per child per day). We suggest researching these options as early as possible, as many centres have long waiting lists. 

Contact the centres directly to find out about vacancies and service rates.

English language support for your family

The English Conversation Club is a free support service for UQ international student family members, which visiting professors, international staff members and research fellows also use to improve their skills and confidence.

Conversation groups are available for beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. There is no formal pre-entry testing to join.

Learn more about the English Conversation Club

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