Living in Australia

COST OF LIVING

Knowing the average living costs in Australia is an important part of your financial preparation. For your reference, here are some of the costs associated with living and studying in Australia. (All costs are in Australian dollars.)

Accommodation

Accommodation Per week
1 Hostels and Guesthouses $80 – $135
2 Shared Rental $70 – $250
3 On campus $80 – $250
4 Homestay $110 – $400
5 Rental $100 – $400
6 Boarding schools $10000 – $20000 a year

Other living expenses

Expenses Per week
1 Groceries and eating out $80 – $200
2  Gas/Electricity $60 – $100
3  Phone & Internet $20 – $50
4 Public transport $10 – $50
5 Car (after purchase) $150 – $250
6  Entertainment $50 – $100

Minimum cost of living

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has financial requirements you must meet in order to receive a student visa.

For Amount
1 You $18610
2 Your first child $3720
3 Your partner $6515
4 Every other child $2790

All costs are per year in Australian dollars. To convert to your own currency, visit http://www.xe.com/

The Australian Government provides information and guidance on managing your finances. You can read more at www.moneysmart.gov.au

HEALTH

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Australia’s health outcomes are among the best in the world. The Australian health system involves multiple layers of responsibility and funding provided by governments, individuals, health providers and private health insurers.Primary care (the first level of contact with the health system) is mostly provided in the community by general practitioners (GPs), who are generally self-employed. GPs also operate as ‘gatekeepers’, referring patients to specialist medical services where needed. The national public health insurance scheme ‘Medicare’ provides either free or subsidised benefits for most medical, diagnostic and allied health services.

Acute care is provided in either private or public hospitals. Public hospital treatment is free for public patients, but public hospital care can be subject to long waiting times. Private hospitals cater to patients who want choice of doctor and private ward accommodation and include a growing number of ‘day-only’ specialist facilities. For private hospital care, Medicare pays 75% of the Medicare schedule fee, with the balance met by private health insurance (if purchased and if gap arrangements apply).

More information can be found here: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1314/QG/HealthAust

INSURANCE

Australia’s insurance market can be divided into roughly three components:

Life insurance products sold in Australia include term life insurance and disability income insurance. Australian insurers are unusual in providing a lump sum Total and Permanent Disability insurance. Life insurers also sell superannuation investment products

General insurance products sold in the Australian market can roughly be divided into two classes:

  • Liability insurance such as Compulsory Third Party (CTP) motor insurance, worker’s compensation, professional indemnity insurance and public liability insurance, business insurance
  • Property insurance such as Home and Contents insurance, travel insurance, and comprehensive motor vehicle insurance

Certain types of insurance, such as CTP and worker’s compensation, are statutory (i.e. are required by law), and can differ considerably by state.

The Australian Government provides a basic universal health insurance, ‘Medicare’. Private health insurance in Australia is limited to those services not covered by Medicare or to services provided in private hospitals.

Australia’s health system is sometimes described as a ‘mixed system’, because private funding and services operate alongside the public system. Private health insurance provides cover for private hospital services and many out-of-hospital services not covered by Medicare (such as dentistry). Consumers with private cover can avoid potentially long waiting lists in the public system and choose their own doctor.

TAXATION

Income received by individuals is taxed at progressive rates, while income derived by companies are taxed at a flat rate of 30%. Generally, capital gains are only subject to tax at the time the gain is realised. Income tax is collected by the Australian Taxation Office for the Government of Australia.

In Australia the financial year runs from 1 July to 30 June of the following year. Income tax is applied to the taxable income of a taxable entity. Taxable income is calculated, in a broad sense, by applying allowable deductions against the assessable income of a taxable entity.

Income tax on personal income is a progressive tax. The current tax-free threshold is $18,200, and the highest marginal rate for individuals is 45%. In addition, most Australians are liable to pay the Medicare levy, of which the standard is 2% of taxable income. As with many other countries, income tax is withheld from wages and salaries in Australia, often resulting in refunds payable to taxpayers. A nine-digit tax file number (TFN) must be quoted to employers for employees to have withholdings calculated using the various tax brackets.

The Low Income Tax Offset (LITO) is a tax rebate for individuals on lower incomes. From 1 July 2010 it provides individuals earning less than $30,000 with a tax rebate of $1,500. The full offset is reduced by 1.5c for every dollar of taxable income above $37,000, meaning incomes greater than $66,647 do not receive any benefit

The company tax rate is a flat 30%, though through the dividend imputation system Australian residents only pay this company income tax once as shareholders of the company on the profits distributed as dividends by Australian-resident corporations. Double taxation relief on resident owners of resident corporations is common in other countries. When an Australian corporation pays corporate income tax, franking credits are generated and can then be applied to dividend payments at a maximum rate of 30 cents per dollar of dividend.

Capital gains tax in Australia is part of the income tax system rather than a separate tax. Net capital gains (after concessions are applied) are included in a taxpayer’s taxable income and taxed at marginal rates. Capital Gains applies to Individuals, Companies and any other entity which can legally own an asset. Trusts usually pass on their CGT (Capital Gains Tax) liability to their beneficiaries. Partners are taxed separately on the CGT made by partnerships.

State governments in Australia levy a payroll tax on the wages outlay of employers. Typically the tax applies to all wages above a threshold. Groups of companies may be taxed as a single entity where their operations are significantly integrated or related.

TRANSPORT

You know Australia is a big country, but you may not know how easy it is to get around. The untouched beaches that stretch for miles and deserts that touch the horizon are all within your reach.

Coach and Bus

Coach and bus travel in Australia is comfortable, easy and economical. Coaches generally have air conditioning, reading lights, adjustable seats and videos. Services are frequent, affordable and efficient. Australia’s national coach operator, Greyhound, offer passes to fit every budget.

Ferry

The Spirit of Tasmania runs a passenger and vehicle ferry service between Melbourne and Tasmania nightly. Extra services are running during summer peak times. Sealink ferries also connect suburbs in our capital cities – they criss-cross Sydney Harbour, the Swan River in Perth and the Brisbane River in Brisbane.

Walking

Walking is a great way to get around our cities. There is great range, from easy-on-the-feet pedestrian streets to some of the longest tracks and trails in the world. So get your walking shoes ready!

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Drive

Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car. The maximum speed limit in cities and towns is 60km/h, and 50km/h in suburban areas. On country roads and highways, the maximum speed is usually 110km/h. For your safety, drink-driving laws apply, and drivers and passengers must wear seat belts at all times. Motor cyclists and cyclists must wear helmets. An international visitor may drive in Australia on a valid overseas driver’s licence for the same class of vehicle. You should carry both your home licence and international licence when driving.

Public Transport

All of Australia’s capital cities are served by a wide variety of public transport, including trains, buses, ferries, monorail, light rail and trams. Taxis charge according to their meter. To check how to use public transport in state of Victoria, visit: http://ptv.vic.gov.au/

PHONE & INTERNET

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Mobile Phone Providers

With so many mobile providers operating on different networks in Australia, selecting the best provider for your needs can be a daunting task. Here is a list of top mobile phone and plan providers in Australia:

This Melbourne-based telecommunications and media company is responsible for providing basic access services, mobile telecommunications services and broadband Internet access and content to most homes and businesses in Australia. It also builds, operates and markets: voice, mobile, television and internet products and services. It is a public company and it is traded as (ASX, NZX and OTC Pink)

SingTel Optus Pty Limited is one of the biggest telecommunications companies in Australia. The company deals mainly under the brand ‘Optus’, while at the same time maintaining several subsidiaries such as Virgin Mobile Australia and Boost Mobile.

This is a joint venture in the telecommunications industry operating in Australia as a merger between Vodafone Australia and Hutchison 3G Australia. This now has more than 7,000,000 subscribers, to whom it provides all sorts of telecommunications services. The joint venture entity belongs to Hutchison Telecommunications Australia which is a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Hutchinson Whampoa.

Virgin Mobile Australia (VMA) is a telecommunications company based in Sydney, Australia. It was founded by Richard Branson in 2000, and although it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Optus in 2006; it maintains its own brand identity, customer service, management structure and staff. Virgin Mobile offers prepaid and post-paid mobile phone and mobile broadband services to approximately one million customers in Australia.

Broadband Providers

There are two main types of broadband networks you may choose, one is called NBN and the other one is called Naked DSL. The National Broadband Network (NBN) is expanding across the country and has the fastest speed. This means the provision of download speeds up to 100Mbps, or around 10x faster than the actual speed achieved by current ADSL2+ connections, along with massive (up to 40x) improvements in upload speeds. Whereas Naked DSL is now one of the most popular forms of home broadband connection in Australia. It is cheaper, more dedicated and provided by most major ISPs (Internet Service Providers). Major ISPs include the following:

  • Dodo
  • iiNet
  • Internode
  • NetFone
  • Optus
  • Telstra
  • TPG