International Students in Australia: A Local Guide to Melbourne

Welcome to life as an international student in Melbourne!

What is life really like for international students in Melbourne? The city is famous for its culture, food and sport. However, if you’re interested in making the move to Melbourne, you’ll want to know the real ins and outs of being a student in this city. So we’ve created a comprehensive “Local” guide to get your exchange student journey started!


1.Cost of living in Melbourne for International Students
2.Working in Melbourne as an International Student 
3. Student Guide to Universities in Melbourne 
4. Public Transport as a Melbourne Student
5. Exchange Student Guide to Melbourne’s Hot Spots
6. Student Shopping in Melbourne
7. Melbourne: The Student Cultural Hub



Estimating your living costs in a foreign city isn’t always a simple task.  Overall, the average living cost for a student is calculated to be around $20,290 per year, as per the student visa application financial requirements.

These costs will obviously vary from person to person, however, they can help gauge the cost of living in Melbourne for international students:

  • Accommodation (house and apartment rentals) – $165 to $440 per week
  • Groceries and eating out – $80 to $280 per week
  • Public transport – $15 to $55 per week
  • Phone and internet – $15 to $55 per week
  • Entertainment $80 to $150 per week

Living costs in Melbourne as an exchange student are same same to the rest of Australia. But thankfully Melbourne is ranked the most affordable city in Australia. So your student budget in Australia will go the mile.


Good news: You can work in Melbourne as an international student!


Good news for your budget, international students can work in Australia on their visa! Exchange students are allowed to work up to 40 hours a fortnight during the semester and full time on holidays.

Some common jobs for international students in Australia include:

  • University or school tutor
  • On campus jobs e.g. university library assistant, university pool lifeguard
  • Retail sales assistant
  • Waiter or bartender
  • Call centre staff
  • Internships


Get your full international student experience at one of Melbourne’s universities


Universities in Melbourne

Melbourne is home to eight universities in the QS World University Rankings for 2019. So it’s worth checking out the best universities in Melbourne 2019 to get a gauge on the right Melbourne university for you.

University Groups

Your university will provide you with a world of opportunities to help you get involved and settled once you arrive. Enter O-Week! Universities in Australia plan orientation weeks, known as ‘O-Weeks’, to help you get familiar with the university and get to know other students. They generally run in the last week of February before semester starts, but make sure you check your university’s O-Week schedule so you don’t miss out!

All universities will have an endless list of student organisations, clubs and societies based on: courses and common interests.  We have everything from wine to pirate societies, so there’s always something for everyone! So, get your international student experience in Melbourne started by getting involved in your uni community!


Hop on some world class transport and get to know Melbourne as an international student.



Melbourne is famous for its trams, but the city also has trains and buses. All of the city’s universities are well connected through the Public Transport Victoria network.

To use public transport in Melbourne you will need your own Myki, which is a single travel card that works on trams, train and buses. Melbourne offers concessions for university students for all public transport and public transport runs 24/7 on weekends.


Keep your foreign exchange experience caffeine fuels at one of Melbourne’s top-notch cafes.



Melbourne CBD

The central business district of Melbourne is a bustling hub full of different cultures. For international students, Melbourne is easy to navigate as it has a grid structure, so it won’t take you long to know your way around the streets just like a local. This area of Melbourne is famous for its laneways, excellent shopping and endless cafes and bars. The city also has a thriving Chinatown with an abundance of Asian food joints and stores.


Just a couple of tram stops away from the city is Carlton and Parkville, the areas surrounding the University of Melbourne. Carlton is known for being a trendy area of Melbourne and it is where many of the city’s most popular cafés are located. Carlton is also home to Lygon Street, a strip dedicated to authentic Italian cuisine where there is pizza, pasta and gelato as far as you can see.

It’s always worth investing in student accommodation in the heart of Carlton to kick your student exchange experience into gear. from here you’re based near other Melbourne student hotspots including:

  • Brunswick – known for its cool vibe, mix of cultures and social venues along Sydney Road
  • St Kilda – laidback, beach atmosphere with lots of music venues, bars, backpackers and festivals
  • Fitzroy – the hipster central of Melbourne with rooftop bars and street art
  • Richmond – home to the Melbourne Cricket Ground and authentic Vietnamese cuisine on Victoria Street


Get your student wardrobe filled (cheaply) at one of Melbourne’s vintage shopping strips.



The city’s main shopping district is in the CBD, where shoppers can make their way through a flow of large shopping centres. These host all of the world’s biggest brands alongside Australian boutique designers.

The city also has large shopping centres including Chadstone, which claims to be the biggest shopping centre in the Southern Hemisphere. If you’re looking for a bargain, it’s worth checking out some markets in Melbourne, such as the Rose Street Artists’ Market or the Camberwell Sunday Market, which have vintage finds and unique items made by local artists.

Other shopping strips include the Chapel Street district, Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and Bridge Road, Richmond. You’ll also find that there are plenty of cheap student discounts in Australia. Most brands offer concessions to students (given you present your student ID card).


Your student exchange experience wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Melbourne’s Hosier Lane



Culture in Melbourne revolves around art and music. What’s special about this city is that our art culture is not confined to galleries and museums; some of the most interesting artwork is on our streets. Laneways in the city and streets around Fitzroy are iconic Melbourne locations for street art and graffiti.

Art exhibitions also come from all around the world to galleries such as the National Gallery of Victoria, The Ian Potter Centre and the Australian Centre for Moving Image.

Live music can be found in all areas of the city any day of the week. Music venues such as The Corner Hotel and Cherry Bar run acts from Monday through to Sunday, whilst summertime in Melbourne is jam packed with music and arts festivals.

And beyond the heart of Melbourne city, there are plenty of day trips for students in Melbourne, to keep you busy.

Life as a student in Melbourne is full of opportunities. From university life to cultural events this city has an endless list of activities and places to explore.  And in such a multicultural place, you will never struggle to find some comforts that remind you of home.


Hopefully this blog gave you a good insight into what it’s like to study in Australia for international students; and if you are interested, contact us to find out more about student life and student accommodation options in Melbourne!