Living in Melbourne

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Living in Melbourne

Melbourne is the capital of the State of Victoria. It is situated on the Yarra River and around Port Phillip Bay with its beautiful beaches and water sports facilities.

It is a beautiful spacious city with all the parks, gardens, sporting venues and scenic places that Australian space and natural resources allow.

Melbourne is a world-renowned cultural, artistic, financial and communications centre served by an international airport, a cargo and passenger seaport, and rail links to neighbouring States.

Melbourne, voted the world's 'most liveable city', enjoys clean fresh air and beautiful parks and gardens. Melbourne is considered to be the shopping capital of Australia and offers some of Australia's biggest shopping complexes as well as sophisticated, exclusive boutiques and a host of lively and popular markets. One quarter of Melbourne's population was born overseas making it one of the world's most multicultural cities.

There are now people from 140 nations living harmoniously together. This broad ethnic mix has brought many benefits to the city including a wide range of cuisines and over 2,300 elegant restaurants, bistros and cafes.

Melbourne has an excellent public transport system with trams, trains and buses providing an extensive network throughout the city and suburbs. The population is approximately 4 million. Melbourne is a sprawling city with suburbs extending up to 50km from the centre of the city. The city centre is on the banks of the Yarra River, 5km from Port Phillip Bay. The city centre features world class

  • department stores
  • historical architecture
  • theatres, galleries and arts centres

Melbourne is only a short distance from many beautiful beaches as well as the Victorian mountain regions, where skiing is popular during winter. The city and surrounding suburbs are well serviced by a public transport network of buses, trains and trams.

A multicultural city enriched by 170 ethnic groups. Sometimes called the culinary capital of Australia, Melbourne has a vast array of restaurants, offering a variety of international cuisine. Bustling Chinatown in the heart of the city, serves up the finest of Asian cuisine and culture.

Several other Melbourne streets are dedicated to Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian and Greek food - cuisine to suit every palate and many to suit a student's budget.

There are more than 50,000 overseas students studying in Australia and each year approximately 15,000 students from the Asia Pacific region arrive in Australia to continue their education. They have chosen Australia for several reasons:

  • Australia has a high quality education system, the equal of any country in the world
  • Australia offers traditional education in reputable schools, Colleges and universities
  • Awards from Australian institutions of higher education are recognized internationally
  • Australian universities, Colleges and schools have established networks of support to help overseas students
  • The Australian education system includes informality and accessibility of academic staff, the availability of computers, small group tutorials and close supervision
  • Living costs and tuition costs compare well with other countries and most overseas students are permitted to work part-time.
  • Australia is a safe, stable country with a pleasant climate.

Melbourne enjoys a temperate climate with four distinct seasons in the year - spring, summer, winter and autumn.

Below is a guide to the average daily temperatures:

Spring September - November 12-22 degrees

Summer December to February 28-32 degrees

Autumn March to May 12 - 20 degrees

Winter June to August 10 - 15 degrees

Melbourne does not have a specific wet season - it can rain at any time of the year. Sports and other outdoor activities are possible at all times of the year.

  • International Comedy Festival
  • International Festival of the Arts
  • Chinese New Year Parade
  • Moomba Festival.

  • Spring Racing Carnival (Melbourne Cup)
  • Australian Open (Grand Slam tennis)
  • Grand Prix Motor Racing
  • World Series and Test cricket
  • Bells Beach Surf Classic

Australian contemporary arts reflect the world‘s oldest continuous cultural traditions and also a diverse, multicultural society. Our visual and performing arts communities receive international acclaim for their vibrancy, originality and cutting-edge work in the arts, literature, stage and cinema, dance, classical music and contemporary Australian rock music

The National Museum of Australia opened as part of Australia‘s Centenary of Federation celebrations in 2001. It is co-located with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies in the nation‘s capital city of Canberra and adds to more than 1000 museums throughout Australia.

More than 100 ethnic groups are represented in Australia, making Australia one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. Australia‘s dynamic multiculturalism can be attributed to its unique combination of Indigenous cultures, early European settlement and immigration from all parts of the world. Australians value the wealth of cultural diversity and social sophistication that international students bring to our campuses and our communities. We take great care in looking after international students and helping them to adjust to the Australian way of life. International students also gain great benefits from their education in Australia and make lifelong friendships.

Although English is the official language, a host of other languages are spoken in Australia. As one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world many Australians are naturally fluent in other languages. More than 2.4 million Australians speak a language other than English at home. Within the education and training system about 15 percent of those of working age studying for an educational qualification have English as a second language. More than 800,000 Australians speak a European Union language, apart from English, at home. Another 800,000 Australians speak an Asian language in the home.

In Australia not only is there the opportunity to improve your English through specialist study in an English-speaking environment but all sectors of Australian education and training provide tuition in many other languages as well. English as it is spoken in Australia is very easily understood by nearly all people from other English-speaking nations. While there are some minor differences in accent between the cities and country areas the difference is much less than you will find in America, Britain and Canada where French is also spoken.

As you improve your English in Australia you will learn some of our slang, and have much fun explaining the meanings to your friends and relatives at home.

Australia is predominantly a Christian country however; all religions are represented in our multicultural society. Australians respect the freedom of people to practice their choice of religion. Churches, mosques, temples and synagogues are located in most major cities. Some universities have their own spiritual groups on campus.

Students from all over the world come to Australia to take advantage of our world-class education and enjoy our friendly hospitality and cultural diversity. Australia has low crime rates and strict gun control laws providing a safe environment in which to learn and travel. With one of the highest standards of living in the world, Australia offers modern transport systems, convenient telecommunications, cosmopolitan shopping complexes and excellent health services.

Visitors from many parts of the world are attracted by Australia‘s spectacular natural environment and the distinctive personality and friendliness of the Australian people. Australia is rich in the arts and is keen to preserve and display its diverse cultural heritage.

Australians are also environmentally conscious and keen to preserve the country's natural beauty and scenery. Our Clean Up Australia campaign is being adopted worldwide.

Australia has a fantastic variety of food. Our top quality meat, fish, fruits and vegetables are exported to markets all around the globe. There is a large range of fruit and vegetables available at Australian produce markets. You should have no difficulty in finding the foods that you are used to at home. You can sample almost every type of cuisine available throughout the world in our many restaurants. There are elegant restaurants or typical Aussie pubs. Ethnic restaurants offer cuisines from all around the world. Good food at reasonable prices can be found at bistros or cafes. And for those who like takeaway, most of the major global fast food chains are well represented. The adventurous can try some of our ‘bush tucker‘.

The electrical current in Australia is 240/250 volts AC, 50 cycles. The Australian three pin plug is extremely safe. Adaptors are usually required for most foreign appliances. A transformer may be required if you bring an appliance from overseas that operates on a different voltage.

With one of the highest standards of living in the world, Australia offers modern transport systems. Australia has an extensive public transport system that includes trains, buses, tramways, ferries, two major national airlines and a number of regional airlines. Metropolitan areas are divided into zones and your ticket type and cost depends on which zone you are going to travel in and for how long. Tickets can be bought at train stations, on buses and trams and at news agencies.

Tourist students may drive in Australia on a valid overseas drivers licence but if the document is not in the English language the visitor must carry a translation with the permit. An international driving licence is not sufficient by itself.

Metered taxi cabs operate in all major cities and towns. You will find taxi ranks at transport terminals, main hotels or shopping centres or you can hail taxis in the street. A light and sign on the roof indicates if a cab is vacant. There is a minimum charge on hiring and then a charge per kilometre travelled. Taxi drivers do not have to be tipped.

Australia has a modern telecommunications system with mobile and internet access generally available at low cost. Public telephones are available at all Post Offices, shopping centres and are often situated on street corners. Public pay phones accept a variety of coins and Phonecards. Phonecards are pre-paid for use in public pay phones and can be bought at a large number of retail outlets in denominations of $A5, $A10, $A20 and $A50.

Credit phones take most major credit cards such as American Express, Visa, Mastercard and Diners International and can be found at international and domestic airports, central city locations and hotels. Mobile phones are very popular and can be purchased from a number of retailers.

Money and banks

Australian currency is the only legal tender in Australia. When you first arrive, money from other countries can be changed at the exchange facilities located at international airports, banks and major hotels. Travellers cheques are easier to use if already in Australian dollars, however, banks will cash travellers cheques in virtually any currency. Major hotels and some shops, depending on individual store policy, will cash travellers cheques.

It is a good idea to set up an Australian bank account. You will need to provide your visa and evidence of residency. Banking services in Australia are extremely competitive. Over 20 local and numerous international banking groups are represented in Australia. All major banks have a branch in cities and regional centres. Most shopping centres have Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) facilities. These machines can be used for deposits and, in many instances, withdrawals 24 hours a day. Many department stores, supermarkets and specialist shops have electronic transfer terminals (EFTPOS) where cash withdrawals can also be made in addition to purchasing goods. More information on banking is available at Study in Australia

Normal bank trading hours

9.30 am – 4.00 pm Monday to Thursday 9.30 am – 5.00 pm Friday Some banks are open Saturday mornings

Credit cards

Credit cards are widely accepted around Australia. The most commonly accepted credit cards are American Express, Bankcard, Diners International, Mastercard, Visa and their affiliates.


Australia uses a dollars and cents system of decimal currency with 100 cents in a dollar. The bank notes in use are $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins used are the silver coloured 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent and 50 cent and the gold coloured $1 and $2 coins. Australia's development of the polymer (plastic) banknote heralds the introduction of advanced banknote technology for the new millennium and rewrites world standards in design. Not only does this leading-edge polymer technology offer immense security benefits but its concepts of cleanliness, environmental responsibility and recyclability set an example for the world to follow.


Tipping is not the general custom in Australia and service charges are not added to accounts by hotels and restaurants. In better-class restaurants, it is usual to tip food and drink waiters up to 10 percent of the bill for good service. Porters have set charges at railway terminals, but not at hotels. However, at any time, tipping is a matter of individual choice.


You should work out a budget covering accommodation, food, transport, clothing and entertainment. Childcare, if applicable, should also be taken into account. The average international student in Australia spends about $360 per week on accommodation, food, clothing, entertainment, transport, international and domestic travel, telephone and incidental costs. School students in Australia typically spend a little less - about $265 a week - on accommodation and food, entertainment, transport and associated items. While this is a realistic guide, it is important to remember that individual circumstances will vary by location, course and lifestyle.

The following types of accommodation are available for International students:-

  1. Full Board (Homestay) AU$200 - AU$270 per week
  2. Student house AU$150 - AU$200 per week
  3. Half - Board AU$150 - AU$200 per week (plus expenses)
  4. Leasing a House/Flat AU$200 - AU$350 per week (unfurnished)

This accommodation can be booked prior to arrival. Two weeks advance notice is required before you depart for Australia. Further details can be obtained from the International Student Welfare Officer. Some useful internet sites for housing are:

Australia has an efficient public transport system (buses, trains and trams) in all cities. Many students ride bicycles on campus and some even have their own car for longer travel. There are also train, bus and air services between cities and towns. Students using public transport can apply for a student concession card that entitles them to discounted fares.

Melbourne is a reasonably priced city providing good quality affordable living and abundant accommodation.

Students will need about A$18,000 per year (excluding tuition) to cover living expenses. According to the Government Website, Study in Australia, Australia is a sophisticated, friendly and affordable country which enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. The average international student in Australia spends about $360 per week on accommodation; food; clothing; entertainment; transport; international and domestic travel; telephone; incidental costs.

The cost of living depends a lot on the kind of accommodation a student chooses. A married student with dependents will need approximately an additional A$4,000 per year for each dependent. The lifestyle in Australia is safe and friendly. Australians have a high standard of living.

The climate is pleasant, there is plenty of food and the vast natural resources in Australia enable most people to live well. Fruit, vegetables and meat are available fresh and at reasonable prices. Clothing and personal effects are usually good quality and available at a wide variety of prices. Below is a price table of typical daily items. This is only a guide. Remember that you can shop around for items such as clothing and shoes to find a cheaper source.

Food Personal Effects/Services
Milk 1 litre $1.80 Shoes 1 pair $70.00
Bread 1 loaf $2.50 Jeans 1 pair $80.00
Apples 1 kg $4.00 Toothpaste 140g $2.50
Potatoes 1 kg $1.00 Shampoo 500ml $3.00
Beefsteak 1 kg $15.00 T-shirt $20.00
Eggs 1 dozen $4.00 Hairdresser $20.00 to $40.00
Cereal 1kg $3.00 Newspaper $2.00
Fruit Juice 2 litres $4.00 Cinema ticket $15.00
Rice 1 kg $2.00 Public transport city an inner suburb
$7.00 for a day pass

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