Cost of Living

Below is an estimated overview of general weekly expenses comparing a shared house, living on your own, or living on campus. We have not included entertainment costs as these will vary for each individual. However we have include an entertainment table which will assist you budget for your social life.

A great tool to help plan your budget is available on the Australian Government's MoneySmart website.

 Shared House/Unit1 Bedroom UnitOn Campus College (Catered)On Campus College (Self-catered) 
Weekly Rent$200-$300$400-$550$436.70 approx$382
Utilities (gas, electricity, phone)$20$20----
Mobile phone$12.50$12.50$12.50$12.50
Travel$40 (depending on location)$40 (depending on location)----
Household products (cleaning, toothpaste)$10$10$10$10
Approx. weekly total$476.50$701.5$489.20$534.50
Total estimate (one academic year = 37 weeks)$17,630.5$25,955.50$18,100.40$19,776.50


Restaurant meal$30.00
Movie ticket$13.00
Internet streaming service$9.00
Bottle of wine$15.00
Glass of wine$8.00
Soft drink$2.00
Cafe tea/coffee$3.50


Milk 1L$1.25
Apples (1kg)$4.50
Potatoes (1kg)$3.50
Chicken breast (1kg)$9.00
Can tuna$0.80

Sydney has a variety of large supermarket stores where you can buy cold food, dry food, fruit, vegetables and household supplies. They are usually found in most major suburbs and shopping centres. You can search for store locations via their websites by entering your suburb or postcode details.

There are also smaller independent grocers, corner stores and specialty shops. It is cheaper to shop at larger supermarkets than smaller convenience stores.


Sydney climate

Summer average high: 26 degrees Celsius
Winter average low: 8 degrees Celsius

Factsheet: Second hand furniture, crockery and clothes

Extreme temperatures are not uncommon with approximately 14 days reaching above 30 degrees Celsius during summer. Sydney can also experience cool winters with temperatures to dipping below 8 degrees overnight. Rainfall is spread throughout the year so it’s always good to have a lightweight raincoat and umbrella for all seasons use.

Make sure you bring some warm clothes with you for the winter and cooler clothing for the summer. If you need to purchase items there are plenty of places to get clothes from department stores, second-hand stores and even online stores.

The closest shopping centres to UNSW are in Randwick, Eastgardens and Bondi Junction. You can get second-hand clothes and furniture from places such as Salvos and St Vincent De Pauls.

Furniture and electrical

If you are moving into an already established share house, chances are there will be some common furniture and whitegoods (whitegoods are electrical items like fridges, washing machines and clothes dryers).

If you are moving into a new unit or house you will most likely need to furnish it with basic items unless otherwise specified as ‘furnished’ or ‘partly furnished’. Many rental properties do not come with a fridge or washing machine while some older units have shared laundries between all residents. When you inspect a rental property or share house/unit it is good to ask about these items in advance.

Second-hand furniture

Factsheet: Second hand furniture, crockery and clothes

Cheaper new furniture

Online second hand furniture and electrical

Council collections

A local council clean-up is when local residents are allowed to put larger items out for street collection such as chairs, tables and bookcases. It can be a handy and free way to pick up a piece of furniture for your new unit or house. These collections usually happen twice a year but varies from each city council. Check local area councils for dates and times of clean-up collections.

Fridge, washing machine and electrical rental

Utilities (banking, mobile phones, internet, power)


Australia is serviced by a number of large reputable banks with many branches throughout Sydney. You can usually open a bank account online. Some accounts attract monthly service fees if you do not deposit a certain amount each month so it is important to read fee information before opening an account. There are two banks on our Kensington campus: ANZ and Commonwealth Bank. There are also a number of other bank branches in nearby Randwick. Australia is a leader in online banking and you will be able to pay most bills and transfer money easily online with an Australian bank account.

Some providers are listed below. Please note this is not a complete list and students should make their own investigations into a suitable banking institution.


The University has free Wi-Fi on campus, however if you want internet at home you have two options.

Option 1 - ‘Mobile internet’ or ‘mobile broadband’ is by way of a wireless dongle device. Some dongles allow you to connect multiple devices at once (phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) while other only connect to a laptop via a USB port. This is good if you want flexibility and to take the internet with you wherever you go in the city. It is also handy if you are moving house. The downside is they are more expensive with smaller data allowances. Typical costs are up to $150 to purchase the dongle device and pre-pay around $40 for 1GB of data per month.

Option 2 – The internet can be connected through a home phone line. If your property already has a working fixed home telephone line you can get broadband internet which costs approximately $80 to set up followed by a monthly fee between $60 - $100 (depending on the size of the data plan). If you do not have a working home telephone line (and do not wish to set one up) you may be able to get ‘Naked ADSL’ which turns on the phone line for internet use only. This costs approximately $150 to set up and then anywhere from $30 to $100 (depending on the size of the data plan). Most plans are contracts between 12 – 24 months. Discuss flexible plan options if you think you may need break your contract as this usually results in a cancellation fee.

Some internet providers are listed below. Students should make their own investigations into private internet providers.

Mobile phones

Factsheet: mobile phone stores near UNSW

Australia has several large telecommunication companies who provide mobile phone plans both pre-paid (no contract) and post-paid (with contract). Most plans include a monthly dollar value for calls and text messages and a certain data amount. These prices remain fixed when talking or texting anyone in Australia; however, international calls and text messages attract higher costs. It is important to consider your budget and whether you will be using your own compatible handset on an Australian mobile phone plan. To get a mobile phone plan, visit one of the store locations of the companies below and make sure to take identification with you.

TIP: Pre-paid options help you budget your spending on your mobile phone as you pay for phone credit upfront.

Fixed landline home phones

If your property has a working home phone line socket you can usually connect a landline phone. If you intend to have a fixed home phone line make sure you ask if the property has a working phone line before moving in. The advantages of a home phone are cheaper local and international calls than a mobile phone. You will still pay a monthly access fee from $25 – $80 a month and may be required to enter into a contract for 12 – 24 months.

TIP: Think about bundling home phone and internet into a package with one provider for a better deal.

Some home phone providers:

Gas and electricity

You will need to get your electricity connected as soon as you move into a rented property. In some cases you will need to also get gas connected for stove tops, ovens and sometimes hot water systems. Ask about gas and electricity when you are inspecting rental properties and share houses. Budget between $50 - $75 a month if you are living alone or $15 - $25 a month if you are in a share house.

TIP: Avoid using clothes dryers as they increase electricity bills substantially.

Some gas and electricity companies:

Water usage

If you are renting an apartment you will not be required to pay for water usage. If you are renting a house you will be required to pay for water on a quarterly basis (every 3 months) unless otherwise indicated in the tenancy agreement. Water usage will vary on the number of tenants so budget about $20 month for water usage in an entire house.

TIP: If you are in a house and paying for water usage, make sure you keep your showers to 5 minutes or under.