It’s on the mind of most students who are thinking of an international education in Australia: how can I make the most of my money while I study abroad?
Studying abroad doesn’t have to mean going broke or staying in each night, eating toast for dinner. With some intentional planning, preparation and mindfulness, it’s possible to make the most of your money and get all the experience you’re seeking from the Land of Oz.
Build a budget
Every student will have different financial means, different must-haves for living conditions and that means budgets are never one-size-fits-all; a student who is happy sleeping on a friends couch is going to have much different needs that someone who may want to eat at restaurants for every meal and have their own private apartment and housekeeper.
Create a spreadsheet of possible costs: rent, utilities, food, medical care, toiletries and personal items, clothing, transportation, school materials and even an emergency fund.
Do your research. Using a cost of living calculator can help you understand what you can expect to spend each month and what’s reasonable to pay for rent, food and more.
Don’t forget: currency conversion rates matter! If your country’s currency is stronger than the local currency, you’ll see some savings. If you’re studying in a country with a stronger currency, you’ll need to keep in mind you may be spending an extra 5-30% through the exchange rate.
Once you understand what you’ll spend, figure out a realistic way of paying for it. Do you have enough in savings, are you able to get a loan or is there a grant to help you study abroad? There are lots of opportunities out there for students who wish to study internationally.
If you’re using a credit or debit card, will they charge for international transactions and ATM withdrawals? It may be worth finding an international card that doesn’t charge fees so you can spend your money on fun, not fees.
Do you have questions about what it takes to study abroad in Australia? Get the answers you need-- from visas to housing to finding work-- with our Ultimate Guide to Landing in Australia for Foreign Students!
Choose your program wisely
A significant portion of the study abroad budget will go towards tuition. That means choosing the best program is even more important.
Studying abroad in Australia doesn’t require you to enrol in a four year university program and spend large amounts of money over many years. Instead, look at more sensible options like an RTO program that delivers excellent educational value in shorter time requirements. This option can include classes that cover everything from business to hospitality to retail operations, giving real-world lessons taught by instructors who are experts in their field.
Best of all, you’ll be learning skills you can apply immediately, whether you stay in Australia or bring those skills home with you.
Living well and in budget
Food and housing are usually some of the most expensive parts of any budget-- but there are ways to reduce those costs in Australia.
Getting creative with living situations can mean real savings. Having roommates to split the rent and utilities will lower your costs. It also means a built in group of friends-- and people who can share the cost of buying items everyone will use, like kitchen tools, soap and basic food ingredients.
While everyone wants to sample the local flavors, eating out can get pricey quickly. But that doesn’t mean missing out!
Visiting local farmer’s markets and cooking local dishes at home with your roommates not only saves money, but is fun entertainment at the same time. By making large quantities of food, you’ll always have something to eat at home-- and can save money for the meals you’re truly excited about experiencing!
There are also plenty of cheaper options for eating out. Try splitting a few dishes with friends or hopping between restaurants who are having specials.
There’s no sense in flying across the world to sit inside and abide by a budget alone! Adventure is one of the most important parts of a study abroad experience-- and in a new country, there’s plenty to explore.
While studying abroad, you’ll have a student ID card. These can be used to get discounts or even free offers at museums, theaters, parks, shops and more. It’s never a bad idea to ask someone if they offer a student discount; the number of places that will offer a deal to students is surprisingly high!
There are also tons of free things to do. Festivals, parks, beaches and much more don’t have a cover charge and there are usually plenty of Facebook groups or local websites that cover budget-friendly events happening every day. As is always a good tip when traveling, if you’re looking for something fun to do, ask a local.
For bigger adventures that may require longer travel or hotel stays, don’t go it alone. By teaming up with a few friends, you can split the cost of your travel to a fraction of what it would be if you were to go alone. Plus it’s more fun!
Work or intern abroad
Whether you’re looking to cushion your budget with some extra income, looking to get some international experience or a little bit of both, working or interning while studying abroad can help cover your expenses.
Make sure you know whether or not you’re able to work while you study abroad. Working abroad gives you not only a paycheck, but a look into what it’s like to work in Australia and add international experience to your CV.
Budgeting doesn’t mean cutting out fun
Although budgets usually create images of calculators and spreadsheets, making the most of your money while you study abroad in Australia can also lead you to sharing experiences with friends, great education programs, experiencing food and events in creative ways-- and giving you the flexibility to enjoy your time abroad instead of stressing.
What will you get to experience when you study abroad in Australia? Find out.