Australia Vs USA For International Students Base On Cost Of Living

Before you decide to choose whether you want to live in the USA or Australia as an international student, you must first decide to study abroad. Australia and the USA are among the best places to take undergraduate and graduate programs in the whole world. However, deciding from the cost of living in Australia vs USA will depend on factors we’ll disclose to you in this post.

Superficially, the two countries are similar. It takes a while to really understand the differences, partially because of the ubiquitousness of US popular culture in English-speaking countries.

In any of these countries, you’ll get the best education for any degree program you choose. However, choosing a particular country to study may depend on the type of program and opportunities you’re looking for or how long you wish to stay there. Different students will have different reasons to want to study in either the USA or Australia.

So, to avoid making bias conclusions, let’s take a look at an overview of Australia and USA. Then we analyze the various factors that affect cost of living in Australia or the USA. Shall we?


USA Overview

The U.S. is a country of over 325.7 million people with 50 states covering a vast swath of North America, with Alaska in the northwest and Hawaii extending the nation’s presence into the Pacific Ocean.

Major Atlantic Coast cities are New York, a global finance and culture center, and capital Washington, DC. Midwestern metropolis Chicago is known for influential architecture and on the west coast, Los Angeles’ Hollywood is famed for filmmaking.

There is no doubt that the united states hold a good ranking when it comes to places for international students across the world. A large proportion of adults in America have a university education – 43%.

That is the fifth-highest proportion in the OECD. Often, students from different parts of the continent are still in pursuit of education in the united states. Universities in the United States also have their acceptance rate on the good side in percentage, even though it varies with schools and is dependent on certain factors as well.

Australia Overview

Australia is a country and continent surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide – are coastal. Its capital, Canberra, is inland. The country is known for its Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, a vast interior desert wilderness called the Outback, and unique animal species like kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses.

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Australia is a well-educated country and has a particularly high proportion of tertiary-educated adults. 43% of adults have trained at an institution after leaving school – that’s behind only Canada, Japan, Israel, Korea, the US, and the UK. Just like the USA, Australia is now one of the fastest and growing study abroad countries for any International student.

International students’ acceptance in Australian universities is quite high as there is always a place for any students regardless of where you come from or what you have come to study.

Comparison Between Living In Australia and USA

Australia and the USA have many similarities, even though the U.S. is generally a more expensive place to live as an international student. However, you should know why you should choose to live in one instead of the other.

So, we will proceed to point out their differences using key areas that affect the cost of living. We hope that when you’re done reading through, you’ll know which country satisfies your study interest and living budget.

#1 Climate


The US is a huge area of land and has varied temperatures and climate in various areas. East Coast has a warm climate covering cities like St. Louis, NYC. The Midwest and New England regions have frozen winters and covering cities like Chicago, Boston. The Pacific Northwest has a humid oceanic climate covering cities like Seattle, Portland.

The Southwest has a hot desert climate covering cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas. The south-east has a warm to a hot, humid climate covering cities like Houston, New Orleans.


The country Australia is located in the southern hemisphere. This means Australia’s summer begins in December and winter starts in June. Approximately a third of Australia is in the tropics where the average temperatures are in the middle of 20 degrees Celsius. The southern areas are in a temperate zone.

#2 Eligibility/Requirements


For undergraduate courses in the USA, you need to have finished 12 years of schooling. To gain admission though you need to sit for the SAT exam.

However, in postgraduate courses, you require 16 years of education as an international student. For Indian students, it changes to 12 years of schooling and four years of undergraduate education.

Nevertheless, since most Indian colleges grant three years of education at the undergraduate level, you might require to take up a one-year course to cover up the difference.

Also, if you have studied from the premier Indian institute, some of the USA universities might allow your three years’ degree as well, though the cases are few. You can check with the university’s acceptance number and inquire about your case.

To gain admission in management courses you will have to sit for GMAT, and for science courses, you’ll require to give the GRE exam. There are no cutoffs for colleges, so you have to score the best that you can in all the exams.

Colleges make provision of the average scores they accept for different courses on their websites. That will give some insight into what they consider a good score in the college. You will also require to sit for language exams like TOEFL or IELTS, not minding the degree.

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Even though the colleges may not need any language test for Indian students, you should still give either TOEFL or IELTS as they are necessary for the purpose of getting a visa.

In the case of MBA, you might need to have a few years of work experience.


For undergraduate courses in Australia, almost all universities need 12 years of pre-university education, which makes it simpler for Indian students to gain admission directly to the course or degree of their preference.

In postgraduate courses, you can gain admissions after completing a three-year undergraduate degree. In the case of engineering, you will require a four-year undergraduate degree in engineering. To gain admission in management courses you will have to sit for GMAT, and for science courses, you may require to sit for the GRE exam.

You might not be expected to have work experience in the case of management courses at some colleges. In the case of no work experience, you’ll have to enroll in a graduate certificate or graduate diploma program. TOEFL or IELTS may be waivered by the university but are necessary for the idea of getting a visa

#4 Visa processing


A full-time USA student visa is called the F1 visa. This visa has the following regulations:

  • A personal interview is mandatory, and you will need to sit for an appointment to present Biometrics.
  • You can remain in the USA up to 60 days beyond the period of time it takes to finish your academic program unless you have been permitted to stay and work for a duration of time under the OPT Program (Optional Practical Training)
  • It costs about $160 to apply for this visa. You will need to pay an additional sum of $160 for the dependent visa (per dependant)
  • You cannot work for over 20 hours a week. During holidays, breaks, and summer sessions, the student may be able to work for up to 40 hours per week. The student can only work on-campus for a commercial firm that renders services to the college, such as a bookstore or cafeteria.


For an Australian student visa, on the other hand, these rules apply:

  • They don’t give an Australian student visa in the form of a sticker.
  • It costs about $535 to apply for this visa.
  • Spouses get dependant only if the student is seeking a Master’s degree or Ph.D. The spouses of Masters and Ph.D. students can work unlimited hours.
  • Student visa holders are permitted to work up to 40 hours per fortnight during their study in Australia.

The student visa foreign students need in Australia is the Subclass 500. It currently costs about US$535.

In addition to paying for the visa, it is also the student’s duty to organize health insurance during the duration of study in Australia. This is a visa essential and you must buy it for the duration of your stay.

Universities will provide recommendations for reputable insurers. For a single person (with no partner or dependents) the cheapest alternative for this health cover is roughly $1,550 for the three years of study (presuming the student goes back to their home country during the summer break).

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Some universities in Australia will also require an application fee for international students. The University of Sydney, for example, imposes an additional fee of $87 per year of study.

#5 Post-Study Work Permit


As an international student, if you want to stay back in the US to get practical knowledge of your subject, you have the choice to do so through OPT. It is a temporary employment permission that grants students the chance to gain practical experience in their field of study for a 12-month duration. You can apply for OPT after being employed for at least 9 months, but you cannot start employment until you get your Employment Authorization Document

This Student Co-Op Program is a formally-structured program where the purpose is to recruit students, while still in school, to occupy permanent positions upon graduation. Co-op programs are usually undertaken at colleges and universities. In most cases, you will have to apply for a Work Visa upon receiving a full-time job of permanent nature.


Graduates who have completed a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree may be qualified to apply for a two-year post-study work visa. Other graduates may be qualified to apply for an 18-month subclass 485 visas through the graduate workstream.

Australia continues to have a request for international workers, and students that have gained a degree in Australia have a special work visa category.

There are also many other visa categories available to foreign students in Australia, and Australia has a very honest path to permanent residency using a points system. If you want to stay and work after you graduate, you must apply and get a work visa.

Here are a few of the categories of visas that are available:

  • 485 Skilled Graduate Temporary Visa:- This visa is the most common choice available to foreign students after graduating. With a 485 visa, you are permitted to stay in Australia for 18 months to get work experience only if you have just finished at least two years of study in Australia.
  • 402 Training and Research Visa:- Another choice for foreign students, the 442 visa is for students to develop their work skills for up to two years while sponsored by an employer.
  • 487 Regional Sponsored Visa:- This visa gives a pathway for permanent residency while permitting you to work for 3 years and work in a specialized regional area
  • 887 Skilled Regional Residence Visa:- The 887 visa grants you permanent residency and with this you can live and work in Australia permanently. You must have previously lived in Australia for two years, have a year of work experience, and have enough points.
  • 885 Skilled Independent Residence Visa:- The 885 visa permits you to live as a permanent resident and work without needing to be sponsored
  • 886 Skilled Sponsor Resident Visa:- The 886 visa permits an overseas student to apply for permanent residency and work while being sponsored by an employer.
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#6 Employment opportunities 


Jobs in fields of study like management, advertising, finance, dentistry, software engineer etc. are some of the top jobs in America.


For Australia, top careers include education, medical services, hospitality industry, computer system design, accounting etc.

#7 Permanent residency opportunities


A permanent residency alternative is possible but it is a very long-drawn and slow method. It is a complicated process and needs the person applying for it to live in the US for at least five years on the grounds of employment. After that you will get a “Green Card”, but the whole process may take years to finish.


Just like in the US, obtaining a permanent residency permit to Australia is possible but it is a long process. The immigration officials conduct a complete background check on the candidate to make sure s/he is not fraudulent.

Because of the complicated process, the PR permit may require some time to get approved but it is possible to obtain Australian citizenship.

Cost of Living as an international Student


The estimate of living costs for the US is about $10000 to $12000 per year, which averages approximately $700 to $1000 per month. This covers your accommodation costs, room, and board, food, travel, textbooks, weather-appropriate clothing, and entertainment costs as well.

Here is a range of costs considered while estimating the living expenses of an international student:

  • Books and study material costs about $500 to $1000 per year
  • Travel costs within the US will be between $300 and $700
  • Accommodation will cost within $5000 and $7500 a year
  • For living off-campus, the cost of renting an apartment will be within $300 and $600 per month but could be higher depending on the location of the school.
  • Meals should cost about $2500 per year if you do not eat out several times
  • Shopping for clothes will cost more than $500 yearly if you are in a cold country
  • Personal and variable expenses will be about $2000 a year

Additional Costs

Students should be able to meet up with the following costs while studying in the US. Costs may increase by about 5% to7% a year due to inflation and external factors.

  • Travel costs between India and the US during vacation time
  • Large purchases, such as PC, furniture, or even a rental car, etc.
  • Medical payments not covered by health insurance, e.g. dental care, eye care, cosmetic treatments
  • Extra summer expenses – room and board, grocery expenses for the summer months you stay on in the US when classes are not being held
  • Extra expenses such as off-campus transportation
  • Entertainment, social outings, weekend trips


As mentioned earlier, living costs in Australia are very high and you are expected to show that you have access to US$14,600 a year of study for living expenses only. The visa also requires you to show funds for return airfare.

If you desire to move to Australia for studies with a partner or child, the amount required for living significantly increases and you will also need to show money for the return airfare of those accompanying you, as well as money for school fees if your child is of school age.

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Accommodation at universities in Australia generally costs about US$60 to US$315 per week, this depends on whether you choose to live on campus, which provides the cheapest option, or in rented accommodation off-campus.

In addition to accommodation, expenses to consider include food (shopping and eating out), transport, bills (including gas, electricity, phone, and internet) and entertainment. On average, these extra expenses are likely to cost anywhere between US$160 to US$470, depending on how thrifty you are!

Obviously, studying in Sydney is going to result in far higher living costs than studying in Adelaide, Canberra or Melbourne. You can also check individual university websites for more direct information on living expenses in the region.

Financial aid for international students


Most universities offer financial help to foreign students focusing principally on merit and rarely on need. Scholarships are easier to get for graduate studies. Study areas that regularly receive more generous funding include engineering, physical sciences, and biological sciences.

All universities in the U.S. are required to include fees and a financial assistance calculator on their websites. You can find them on this government website.

Look for scholarships, awards, assistantships, work-study plans or consider study loans. Apply for financial assistance at the same time you submit your university application for the U.S.


There are numerous scholarships and grants available to foreign students who desire to study in Australia. Some of the foremost providers are the Australian Government, higher education institutions, and other public or private organizations.

Each scholarship provider is responsible for establishing the application standards, but most financial assistance opportunities are available to all foreign students.



How much does it cost to study in the USA for international students?

The fees below reflect the average cost of tuition fees per year for undergraduate foreign students studying in the USA. At some universities, the figure might even soar above the US $50,000 per year. For a cheaper alternative, average tuition costs at a community college are calculated at around the US $2,527 per year

Is it possible to study in USA for free?

Attending college or university in the United States at a lower cost or without incurring debts is possible. This is possible if you get a fully-funded university scholarship or by attending a tuition-free university to study in the USA. The United States has universities that do not pay tuition fees.

What is the living cost in Australia for an international student?

The average international student in Australia spends about AUD$1,753 per month (approximately AUD$404 per week) on accommodation, food, clothing, entertainment, transport, international and domestic travel, telephone, and incidental costs.

How much money can an international student earn in Australia?

The average income is within 15 – 30 dollars per hour.


Preparing to study abroad, whether it’s in the US or Australia, involves so much information to sort out, so it might be challenging to know where to start. So, we’ve compiled this quick guide to help determine the cost of living as an international student in Australia and the USA.

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