Cost of living


First time in Australia? Perhaps even your first time living away from home and not sure what to expect?

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

Brisbane is an affordable city and has a lower cost of living when compared with other Australian capital cities. 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 in 2017, 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 2017 only.

Before arrival costs in AUD

Student Visa

As per Department of Immigration and Border Protection website

Overseas student health cover

Varies based on duration of student visa length

Travel to Australia

Varies based on departure location

Accommodation Bond (refundable deposit)

Four – six weeks rent

Rent in advance

One – two weeks rent

Average monthly expenses in AUD


Single student living on-campus

Single student living off-campus* (commercial private provider)

Single student living off-campus* (share house)

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


$1935 - $2580***

$1075 - $1440

$645 - $1075

$1505 - $1935

Utilities - including gas, electricity and water

included in rent

most included in rent - check with individual provider

$40 – $60

$100 – $150


included in rent

$400 – $500

$400 – $500

$1000 – $1250

Mobile phone

$40 – $50

$40 – $50

$40 – $50

$80 – $100


included in rent

most included in rent

$15 – $25

$30 – $50

Public transport

$25 – $45

$80 – $100

$80 – $100

$260 – $300


$30 – $50

$30 – $50

$30 – $50

$30 – $50


$100 – $160

$200 – $300

$200 – $300

$625 – $750

Total monthly expenses

$2130 – $2885

$1825 – $2440

$1450 – $2160

$3630 – $4585

9 months (36 week academic year) $19,170  $25,965 $16,425 – $21,960 $13,050 – $19,440 $32,670 – $41,265
12 months (52 week calendar year) N/A $21,900 – $29,280 $17,400 – $25,920 $43,560 – $55,020

Other annual expenses in AUD

Textbooks and study materials (depending on program of study)

$500 – $850


$600 – $1500

Health (dental/medicine not covered by OSHC)

$520 – $1300

Tuition fees

Please see your program

Item costs in AUD

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

You will need access to a personal computer and the internet at UQ. Although computers are available on campus, we suggest bringing a computer with you, or purchase or hire one in Australia.

If you wish to purchase a car, costs can vary from AU$5000 to AU$25,000 or more, and running costs after purchase price are approximately AU$100 per week. We strongly recommend the use of public transport.

*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 2016 prices and may vary in 2017.

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