Student life in Australia will be invigorating, to say the least. If you are planning to study in big cities like Melbourne, Sydney or Adelaide, life can be thrilling (and expensive too!)
Once you reach Australia, you would need a lot of information and help about day-to-day life. Here is some helpful information to make your life easier.
Banking services in Australia are extremely competitive with over 20 local banking groups plus numerous international ones. The four major banks are:
- ANZ Bank – www.anz.com.au
- Commonwealth Bank – www.commbank.com.au
- National Australia Bank – www.nab.com.au
- Westpac – www.westpac.com.au
Normal working hours are 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday. In some states selected banking facilities are also available on Saturday morning.
Australia offers a great transport network throughout the country. There are very efficient railway, bus and plane links which are cost effective and useful for backpackers and students, as well as roads that go on for miles with vast sections of open and scenic countryside stretching out before you.
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Buses, Trains and ferries
Within the cities you will find excellent local bus, train and ferry networks, with user-friendly timetables to find the right number bus or what time your train departs and arrives depending on where you want to go. You can buy cheap weekly or monthly passes – please note that according to government regulations, international students are not eligible to apply for student travel concession cards.
It is easy to get around and there are many offices where you can ask for timetables and how to get to different parts of the city. Australian people are very friendly and will usually help you if you look lost and don’t know where you are going. Phone 131500 for timetable information, or go to the website: www.131500.com.au
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Taxis are frequent in cities – just look for a taxi that has its light on and flag it down by waving your hand. Taxis can be expensive however, so it is often worth while to ask the taxi driver approximately how much your journey will cost.Some taxi companies include the following:
- Taxi’s combined: www.taxiscombined.com.au
- Silver service: www.silverservice.com.au
For many one of the priorities on arrival in Australia is finding a job, either part-time or full-time, depending on the type of visa you hold. For some of you this might be casual work, such as working in a café or restaurant as a waiter/waitress, for others you may have skills in an office and want to utilize these in Australia.
Tips for Finding Work
There are many ways of finding work when you come to Australia. Have a look at the various methods described below.
Look for the adverts under part-time, casual employment in the news papers. This is where you are likely to find the kind of work you are looking for whilst studying in Australia.
New South Wales
- Sydney Morning Herald: www.smh.com.au
Australian Capital Territory
- The Canberra Times: www.canberratimes.com.au
- The Courier Mail: www.thecouriermail.news.com.au
- The Adelaide Advertiser: www.theadvertiser.news.com.au
- The Age: www.theage.com.au
- The Mercury: www.themercury.news.com.au
- The Australian: www.theaustralian.com.au
There are also the local papers and magazines to look at (Eg. in Sydney, “Nine to Five”, “Torch” for Banks town and Canterbury area, “Inner West Times” for Glebe, Newtown etc, “North Shore Times” for Crows Nest, Lind field etc.,
The internet is also a great place to find job adverts. Have a look at these websites:
This can be a great way to find work, especially if you come to Australia with previous office experience. You will need a resume and smart clothes for the interview.
Off the Street:
You can find a job yourself! Particularly if you are looking for work in the hospitality industry, sometimes the best way is the direct approach. Employers like to be able to see that you can sell yourself, and what better way to show this than to walk in directly off the street and ask for work. You can do this even if the restaurant is not advertising for positions – sometimes you will get lucky and the manager might be about to advertise, but if he/she likes the look of you they might even hire you immediately. Otherwise they might take your details and consider you when the next vacancy comes up. Don’t be afraid to approach managers – they often prefer to hire casual staff in this fashion because it saves them money and time advertising for the position.
Top tips for finding work and what to do when you’ve found it:
- Make sure you have a tax file number
- Fill out a tax declaration form given to you by your employer, using your tax file number
- Before you agree to the position, ask your employer about the hourly rates of pay and under what Award you will be covered. Also ask whether you will be paid weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and whether your pay will go directly into your bank account or will be given to you directly.
- Make sure you know exactly what the conditions of your employment are so that you don’t take on a job that will not give you what you want.
- Make sure you don’t get taken for a ride by a job agency. If they are going to charge you a lot of money to find work, make sure before you pay that this will guarantee you work, and also that this isn’t just one day’s work which won’t even cover the cost of paying the agency!
- Be persistent and persevere – you may not find that job on the first day, but if you stay positive, focused and determined you will definitely find work. Don’t give up after the first day of looking – realize that job-hunting takes time, moreover you may not like the first job you have but stick with it until either you find something else or the conditions are so bad that you cannot stay there a minute longer!
- Networking – talk to as many other students/travelers as you can about job-hunting – sometimes you can get a position from a backpacker who is about to leave on their travels and is happy to hand over their job to you. It always pays to chat to people about what kind of work they’re doing and if they know of any vacancies in the restaurant/hotel etc they are working in.
- If you have the chance to do unpaid work experience and can afford to do this, take the opportunity. It will give you invaluable experience and assist you in the future, and you can include it in your resume.
Finally, good luck!
Australia is a wonderful place to live. The standard of accommodation is high because the law requires landlords and real estate agents to ensure that residences are safe and secure, and that tenants have proper access to water and electricity. The majority of Australians live 50km from the coast, many in houses, flats and units that have a garden, as well as parks and shopping centers close by, and near to local transportation.
There are many different types of accommodation available for you if you are on a budget, the main ones being:
- Home stay
- Backpacker Hostels
- Rented Houses and Rooms (or share houses)
- University Halls of Residence
- University Apartments
A Home stay is where you the international student would stay with a local family during the course of your studies. This is an excellent opportunity to improve your English skills if required, get to see life in an Australian family and learn more about the Australian way of life and culture. You will be welcomed as a member of the family and do things the whole family does, often including your own washing and cleaning! You can choose to have all your meals with the family or opt to buy your own food, in which the price would be different. The average price per week varies depending on which part of Australia you are in, but in Sydney for example the price might be as follows:• Full-board (breakfast and dinner provided Monday to Friday, all meals at the weekend) from $220 to $240 per week• Part-board (you are responsible for your own meals) from $120 to $140 per week
Most backpackers choose to stay in a backpacker hostel, usually located in the centre of cities all over Australia. Usually you will stay in a 6 to 10 bed dormitory, sharing with both males and females. Bathroom and kitchen facilities are also shared. The prices tend to range from $22 per night in the large cities and $18 to $20 on both the East and West Coast. The standard of backpackers varies from place to place (even street to street!) but nowadays they are becoming pretty sophisticated and cater for all backpackers’ needs, with internet cafes, travel and job centers, and a high standard of cleanliness and security throughout. Some of the larger hostels offer special deals to travelers and backpackers who intend to stay longer in a city whilst looking for work and ultimately share accommodation, such as 5 nights for the price of 4 and so on.
Rented Houses and Share Rooms in Houses
Probably the most popular option for backpackers and students alike, if you are staying in one place for some time, is to rent a house or room in a house. This offers you freedom to come and go as you please, cook your own meals and live as you want to without having to abide by anybody else’s rules.
One of the best ways to save money is to rent a house with other friends who are also students or backpackers, which is called a share house. You can then share the bills and cleaning costs with your house-mates and if necessary put money together to buy furniture.
There are many ways of finding share accommodation, from national newspapers to notice boards in backpackers and international colleges around Australia. You can rent houses, apartments or townhouses and rooms from a real estate agent or private owners, many of whom advertise in the national newspapers.
Usually you will need to sign a lease or at least pay a bond of between approximately $100 to $500, as well as the first 4 weeks’ rent. A bond covers any breakages or damage to property and will be returned to you when you vacate the property, providing it has remained in good condition. These properties might be furnished or unfurnished.
The internet is a great source for finding shared accommodation. Check out the following websites:
Tips for Renting
- Location – is it within walking distance to local transportation and shops (unless of course you have a car), and is it a safe area? Is the price within your weekly budget?
- Be prepared to allow for a bond and first 4 weeks’ rent in your budget
- How many other people will you be sharing the house with?
- Be careful who you share with! Make sure you get on well and if studying in the evenings is what you want to do rather than listen to loud music until 3am, talk to your potential house-mates before signing a lease and/or paying a bond!
- Make sure the facilities are clean and you have enough room for a bed and desk for studying, if this is what you intend to do.
University Halls of Residence
University halls of residence are run by the universities and are only available for full-time students. They are only a short distance from the university (often only a short walk), they offer student services and give you a chance to live with other students, many of whom are also from other countries. You do have your own bedroom, but often you have to share bathroom facilities, recreation areas, laundry and kitchen. Halls of residence are either full board – three meals a day in shared dining area, or room only – shared kitchen facilities for you to cook your own meals .You must formally apply in advance to the institution, and you will usually be asked to pay a fee in advance. Halls of residence will often require an interview as part of the application process. On-campus accommodation is very popular and you will need to apply well in advance to ensure that you do not miss out.
University Apartments are usually for postgraduate students, visiting faculty and married students only. They are usually self-contained and fully furnished.
Cost of Living
A single student will need approximately $9,000 – $11,000 per year to live comfortably in Sydney. This includes rent, food, local transport, telephone, gas/electricity, school stationary, clothing and entertainment. A weekly grocery bill is about $55 per person per week. These costs do not include tuition fees for your place of study and airfare. Remember to check the exchange rate as variations in this may affect your budget.
At a minimum student will need to budget for tuition fees, living expenses, return airfares, and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).
The following list of common costs may give you an idea of how these compare with costs for similar items in your country. All prices are in Australian dollars:
- Apartments / Flats: 1 bedroom $170 – $250 per week
- Apartments / Flats: 2 bedrooms $180 – $300 per week
- Room in share house $80 – $150 per week
- House: 2/3 bedroom $250 – $550
- Movies: $14
- Eating Out: $30+
- Take away food: $10 – $17
- A cup of coffee / tea: $2.50
- Fast food (McDonalds, Burger King, KFC): $5 – $10
Life doesn’t have to be boring just because you are on a budget! Australia is a great place to live on a budget because of the wonderful scenery and beaches it offers, all free of charge! Australia affords a lower cost of living than many other Western countries whilst maintaining a great quality of life.
There are many things to do that don’t cost too much money, for example:
- Local markets Check out your local fruit and vegetables market which also sells meat and fish and dairy produce. You can get fabulous deals, especially if you go close to the end of the day (usually between 5 and 6pm) when market sellers are trying to get rid of their fresh produce at cheap prices. Places like Paddy’s markets in Sydney, located in the Chinatown district, are invaluable for students and backpackers alike. These markets are normally open on weekends and Thursdays and Friday. Or check out the classified ads in your local newspaper to find the market closest to you.
- OP Shops These are shops where you can buy second-hand clothes, furniture, books and many other useful “bits and pieces”. Examples are St Vincent de Pauls and other charity shops – people donate the items you buy there and the money goes to charity, so it’s all for a good cause. Useful tip – go to the op shops in affluent areas. One of the popular second hand stores is The Salvation Army in Australia Central gateway for Salvation Army sites in the various states of Australia.
- Stores – www.salvos.org.au/contact/stores/
- Cinema Cheap Nights Tuesday night is cheap night at the cinema. This is the best night to go and check out the latest movie, as tickets are almost half price! Get there early to ensure the best seats!
- Meal Deals & Happy Hour Many restaurants in cities have special meal deals around lunch-time and bars have happy hour, usually between 5pm and 6pm or 6pm and 7pm which means you can buy cheap drinks. Check out your local area and you will soon find these great bargains!
- Student Card Use your student card if you have one, for cheap entry into museums, cinemas, theatres as well as on-campus services.
- Cheap Textbooks Visit your local Co Op bookstore for second-hand books
- Free Magazines and Newspapers Check out the free magazines that are distributed throughout cities –you will be handed these in subways and on the street, and find them in cafes, shops and bars everywhere you go. These are a great source of information about what’s going on in the city, casual jobs, where to go at night and cheap places to eat and drink, and much more. Finally don’t forget to check out the beautiful scenery and beaches that Australia has to offer, all for free!
Good luck with your Australian sojourn.