Cost of Living

An international student living in Perth should be able to comfortably manage on approximately $2,500 AUD a month depending on personal lifestyle (this does not include education fees, books, tuition or additional extravagances).  When calculating your weekly budget remember to include such items as

  • Your (weekly) Rent
  • Gas, Electricity, and Water charges.
  • Phone/Mobile charges
  • Internet
  • Food, meals, etc
  • House cleaning materials
  • Health costs
  • Transport (own car, or public transport)
  • Laundry and dry cleaning
  • Miscellaneous (clothes, entertainment, restaurants, etc)
  • Savings against unexpected costs

Quite apart from tuition fees, you may have to pay other costs such as photocopying and membership of student organizations.  Very important are the costs of textbooks and stationery, which could be as much as $1000 a year. You may wish to purchase secondhand books (available at most education campus bookshops) whenever possible to save costs.

Shopping in Perth

Explore the Perth City Council website where you will find  more information on city shopping hours, places to explore, events to attend  and places to go, etc.

Cafes, and Restaurants

Some of the popular areas for eating out are: Leederville, Mount Lawley, Fremantle, Subiaco, Hillarys Boat Harbour, Claremont, Cottesloe, Mount Hawthorn, Perth City, Maylands, Northbridge, Highgate, Victoria Park.

Department stores

Are located in the central city and suburban shopping complexes.  David Jones and Myer specialize in clothes and household items such as cooking utensils and crockery.  K-Mart, Target and Big W Discount Stores carry a cheaper range of household items and clothes.  The department stores usually open for trading are approved by the Council of the City of Perth.  Look for opening hours signs on front of shop windows or ask store staff to learn the opening hours.

Suburban Shopping Centres


Are located in nearly all suburbs for items such as fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meat.

For those seeking Halal meat, there is a butcher near Canning College and Curtin University.  Halal products can also be purchased from small shops found in suburban shopping centres and in the city. If you cannot find a product in the supermarket, you can ask a shop assistant to show you where the product is in the store (if they have it in stock).  Many supermarkets have sections that specialize in Asian and other ethnic foods.

There is also a growing trend for more fresh food markets called “Farmer’s Markets” in the suburbs where you buy direct from the farmer/supplier. Some of these are in the following suburbs: North Perth, Canning Vale, Fremantle, Midland, Wanneroo, Subiaco,  Melville, Scarborough, Hillarys, Kalamunda, and Guildford.

It is generally cheaper to shop at the markets and supermarkets and to buy in cooperation with other students (if you can), rather than make small individual purchases. Prices of goods in Australian shops are fixed.  It is not usual to bargain over the cost.  Some discount may be given for cash purchases of more expensive household appliances and furniture.  Supermarket prices are  usually fixed and advertised specials for the week will state the ‘special price’ on your shopping till docket.

Op Shops

There are a number of shops run by charitable organizations (commonly referred to as Op Shops) where you can buy used/recycled clothing, furniture, kitchen and other household equipment very cheaply.  These shops are used frequently by all types of Australian people, including students. Shops are run by The Salvation Army (known as “Salvos”), Good Samaritans (known as “Good Sammy’s”), St. Vincent de Paul Society (known as “Vinny’s”), Anglicare and small local churches, and so proceeds generally go to charitable causes.

Imported Foods & Places to Buy

Go out with a friend in the daytime and explore the suburbs of Northbridge, Subiaco, Fremantle, Victoria Park and Albany Highway in Bentley and Cannington.  You will find shops that specialize in for example, Middle eastern, Indian and other imported foods as well as cafés and restaurants where you can eat prepared food.

Money and Banking

Banks are open Mon – Fri and most are closed over the weekend.

Money can be deposited in a conventional bank or credit unions or societies. You need to inquire about the bank charges and rates of interest before opening an account.  A Savings Account, which you can electronically access, is a safe way for you to keep your money.  You receive interest on your money in some accounts.

To Open an Account

One of the first things you must do after your arrival in Australia is to open a bank account!

The bank issues you with a plastic card and a secret Personal Identification Number (PIN). With it, you are able to deposit or withdraw money over the Bank counter or from an automatic teller machine (ATM) outside the bank.  You should always keep your EFTPOS and or credit card in a very safe place and immediately notify your bank should you ever lose it, as somebody else could attempt to withdraw your money from your account if they have access to your cards.  For your own security, never give your electronic bank cards or credit cards to anyone! If you lose your EFTPOS card or Credit card you must notify your Bank immediately.

Do not carry your ‘PIN’ number with your card! If you lose your card and PIN together, someone else will be able to access your money.  Do not keep large sums of cash in your accommodation or carry it with you.  High priority is for you to put it in the bank as soon as possible.

Contact your bank regarding international money transfers from home.

Insurance of your valuables

Many different types of insurance are available to protect people against possible financial hardship.  The two types most relevant to international students are (a) insurance of personal possessions against all risks, and (b) insurance to cover you whilst driving a vehicle.

However, insurance of personal possessions can be difficult to arrange as many insurance companies will not give policies to non-permanent residents and those who do may require special conditions.  Some institutions have a policy with a particular company to insure contents in campus housing.


Laundry and Dry Cleaning

Laundry (or Laundromat) to Wash your Clothes

Laundromats are situated throughout the metropolitan area.  It is normal in Australia for men to take their own laundry to the Laundromat and do their own washing; many Australian men do this.   Instructions for use are clearly displayed; usually payment is made by coins or card.

It is necessary to provide your own washing powder or liquid laundry detergent for washing your clothes. Should you forget your own detergent, you can purchase some at the Laundromat.  The use of dryers costs extra. To avoid ruining special items of your clothes, first check the label to obtain the correct laundering instructions.  Always wash woollen garments in water that is just warm, never HOT!  Test bright colours to check that the dye does not run and stain the other clothes.  To do this, wash the item separately, in a bucket or dish with a small amount of detergent, then rinse a couple of times.  If you noticed a lot of dye in the wash and rinse water as you did this, you will know that it would be best to ALWAYS wash this item of clothing separate from the rest.

Dry Cleaning

Dry-cleaning services are also widespread throughout metropolitan shopping centres, with costs varying according to the article to be dry-cleaned. This service can be expensive, although sometimes necessary for certain items of clothing and bedding.