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What Are Some Tips For Living Cheaply In Melbourne?

So you are thinking about moving to Melbourne? What you've heard is right - Australia is expensive. Inner-city living, especially, can be astronomically costly, but the point of studying, working or moving Down Under is to experience the culture and lifestyle. So how, when do you have the constraint of a budget? With these tips on how Aussies live well on the cheap in Melbourne, you won't feel like you're living less just because you have less. When you calculate the cost of living in Melbourne or regional Victoria, you may find that the expenses differ from what you have to pay in your own country.

How To Experience Melbourne On A Budget?


A big tip is to jump in on one of the many apps designed to get you out and about. The Happiest Hour, for example, keeps you informed of the pubs and bars having happy hour, a tradition of often half-price drinks around pre-dinner time. Select the suburb you intend to visit and cross your fingers because many of these happy hours offer discounted food, too. China Town.

In the very centre of Melbourne, along Little Bourke Street, is the lovely and colourful Chinatown district. Home to incredible Asian cuisine, one can eat very well for practically nothing here. So fill up on dumplings, rice and curries, and discover many tasty treats from all Oriental influences. Most are BYO (bring your wine/beer), sometimes with a possible 'corkage' fee (from $2 per bottle to $2 per head), which is still more wallet-friendly than ordering from the wine list.


Melbourne loves its coffee. And if you're not down with coffee, something is wrong with you (sorry, not sorry). But as good as Melbourne coffee is, a good cup of it can set you back 4 dollars to 5 dollars a cup. If you're drinking it every day, that can cost you a total of 1,825 dollars! Let that sink in. But if you NEED your coffee, there is one way to get it for much cheaper. Sacrifice taste and texture for affordability by grabbing your coffee instead from 7-Eleven. It's just one whole dollar there, and while it may not be great, at least you're getting your day's worth of coffee right.


Melbourne is known as the cultural capital of Australia, and all manner of entertainment, from theatre, festivals and music shows, are on offer. Many companies offer student discounts if your interests include theatre, and matinees are generally less costly than the evening shows. Some even offer discounts for bookings of large groups, so get all your friends together and take advantage of this! In addition, Melbourne has an extremely vibrant live music scene, with free gigs at the local pub to arena concerts.

Federation Square, in the centre, hosts free outdoor concerts throughout summer, with a fantastic selection of local talent given a stage. In addition, because of the international nature of Melbourne and its cultural scene, the city hosts many festivals throughout the year. The Comedy Festival, the Fringe Festival, International Jazz Festival, the Fashion Festival… The list goes on! These festivals often have many free events to attend, all around the city, and guides are easy to find both in print and online. Finally, if dancing is your thing, many nightclubs and open late bars have no cover charge if you arrive early, usually before 11.30 pm.

We all need to eat, and it's just a fact of life. While grocery shopping is generally affordable, we all know that there's a bargain that can be found, and Indonesian student Kevin Bambang has just the tip for students who want to save more money to spend on other things. Kevin's other trip was for students to join as many clubs and attend as many events as possible. Every club will want your attention, so why not use that to your advantage and take up whatever free food or gifts they might be distributing. Not only will you be meeting new people, but you'll be saving money too. Talk about win-win!

Movie Tickets

A movie ticket can cost one adult $20.00 for an international release in a Melbourne cinema. If you investigate some of the chain cinemas, you can join membership programs that get you extra movie offers and discounts. Sometimes independent theatres cost less than the major chains. If you are out to go clubbing in the Melbourne CBD, you are looking at a cover charge from $15.00 - $35.00 depending on what time of the night you step in, and it costs more money as the night rolls on.

Health And Fitness

Melbourne gym memberships for one adult come in around $64.69 per month. The average tennis court hire is around $21.60 per hour.

FAQs About Living Cheap In Melbourne

Family of four estimated monthly costs are 3,556$ (4,730A$) without rent. A single person's estimated monthly costs are 990$ (1,317A$) without rent. Melbourne is 20.10% less expensive than New York (without rent).

The average price of a 7-day trip to Melbourne is $1,735 for a solo traveller, $3,116 for a couple, and $5,842 for a family of 4. Melbourne hotels range from $38 to $143 per night with an average of $86, while most vacation rentals will cost $210 to $420 per night for the entire home.

According to Expatistan, an online cost of living calculator, the cost of living in Melbourne is almost 5% less than the cost of living in Sydney. Travelling in Melbourne is also approximately 4% cheaper than in Sydney.

As a rough rule of thumb, expect to spend on utilities equal to about 20 per cent of your monthly rent if you live alone or about 10 per cent of your monthly rent if you live with roommates.

The Best Suburbs to Live in Melbourne in 2020

  • St Kilda.
  • Carlton.
  • Brunswick.
  • Footscray.
  • Fitzroy.
  • Richmond.
  • South Melbourne.
  • East Melbourne.

Melbourne is ranked as the world's 99th most expensive city out of the 209 cities surveyed for Mercer's 2020 Cost of Living Survey. Though ranked below Sydney, it's more expensive than Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Canberra.


Looking good is important, but why bother with brand-name clothing when you can get the same white t-shirt from Big W or Target for way less? Take our advice and be more thrifty with your spending habits by shopping at these department stores. If you're looking for more quality items, consider vintage shopping as well. Bargains can always be found from the clothing of yesteryear, and if you sport the right retro outfits, you'll be a trendsetter at your school in no time. Don't let the Regina Georges of the world tell you your vintage skirt looks ugly!

Can You Afford The Culture Of Melbourne?

With the mighty Yarra River winding from the rugged country of the Yarra Ranges National Park, snaking its way through one of Australia's largest cities to flow into the harbour of Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne life is carved out of this natural environment at the very bottom of mainland eastern Australia. Although it's one of Australia's largest and most desirable lifestyles for urban dwellers, with food, culture, art, history, and environment at your fingertips, can you afford the cost of living in Melbourne for the ultimate lifestyle experience?

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Melbourne is a multi-faceted and complex metropolis, and though the select inner areas may have astronomical house prices, there are still many rental options. Or you could find the perfect lifestyle a little further out from the hustle-bustle that gives you everything "Melbourne" and offers a better life balance with day-to-day living expenses. We examine the cost of living in Melbourne on an itemised basis, so you can mix and match what you need to be paying in living costs per week depending on your living index and estimate how much money you need to move to Melbourne.

Overview Of Living Expenses In Melbourne

  • Rent for 1-bedroom Melbourne apartment in the city centre
    • $1756.48
  • Rent for 3-bedroom Melbourne apartment in the city centre
    • $3329.17
  • Rent for 1-bedroom suburban/regional Melbourne apartment
    • $1416.11
  • Rent for 3-bedroom suburban/regional Melbourne apartment
    • $2288.14
  • Electricity/heating/water/garbage (85 m2 apartment)
    • $203.66 approx.
  • Internet (60Mbps or more, unlimited data, Cable/ADSL)
    • $70.56
  • Mobile phone data (one-minute local prepaid mobile tariff call with no plan or discount)
    • $0.20
  • Public Transport One-Way Ticket (average across all transport options)
    • $4.50
  • Public Transport Monthly Ticket (average across all transport options)
    • $156.00
  • Fuel (per litre)
    • $1.33
  • Buying a new car (the equivalent of a Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90KW Trendline)
    • $27000.00
  • Basic groceries per person
    • $612.00

The Average Salary In Melbourne

Melbourne's average net salary (after tax) per month is comparably more than the Australian average net salary. Still, it is offset by the fact that the cost of living in Melbourne is higher than in some of the other capital cities. For example, the average earning is around $5028.73 per month to work in Melbourne compared to $4843.42 per month nationally. So now, to figure out how much money you will need to use your earnings to cover the cost of living in a city with living expenses considered not only expensive in Australia but also in the world.

Housing And Rent

Accommodation is generally the largest budget for everyone, professionals, families, students and international students alike! Our lifestyle is underpinned by where and how we live in any location. As with any city, the closer you get to the central business district, the higher the price tag. We have the averages below to help give you an idea of what you may expect to pay for accommodation in Melbourne:

Type Of Accommodation

  • Rent for 1-bedroom Melbourne apartment in the city centre
    • $1756.48
  • Rent for 3-bedroom Melbourne apartment in the city centre
    • $3329.17
  • Rent for 1-bedroom suburban/regional Melbourne apartment
    • $1416.11
  • Rent for 3-bedroom suburban/regional Melbourne apartment
    • $2288.14


Suppose any Australian city was known for its unpredictable weather. With the term "four seasons in one day", Melbourne is commonly used as either a quirky quip or a curse in conversation. Therefore, you will need heating in the winter and cooling in the summer, which could drive your energy cost up to more. On average, electricity, heating, water, garbage combined for an 85 m2 apartment will cost approximately $203.66 per month.


Melbourne public transport relies on the Myki card, a prepaid system that grants travel on trains, buses, trams etc. Public Transport Victoria manages to schedule, and fares are determined by how far you travel, the type of ticket you are buying (for example, a 2 hour or daily ticket, concession, or free travel), and any other discounts you may be entitled to. Melbourne is famous (unlike other major cities) for having kept its historic tram line system with some of the old trolley cars still circulating with the modern light rail. Getting around the inner CBD is easy by tram with a free tram zone that operates the perimeter and crisscrosses the grid pattern streets of inner Melbourne.

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Melbourne's public transport network is quite large and connects well to all city areas. Trains, buses and trams are used, and the access to the network is through an electronic card called a MyKi. These credit card style passes are available at a concession to international students studying in Australia. Depending on which university you study at, it is necessary to register first.

Otherwise, your card can be 'topped up' in many different levels, depending on how frequently you travel. For example, some tram lines in the centre of Melbourne are free, and travel just in zone two is much cheaper than zone one (the central zone). When travelling out of the city, perhaps for a day trip, check what the 'peak' times are and arrange your travel around this- peak time travel is more expensive!  

Melbourne is a friendly city, welcoming for all. Student culture is big here, and the city does its best to support those on a light wallet! So as you settle into your new suburb, notice how community focussed Melbournites are- events and community activities are advertised everywhere, and if you make friends with your local barista, get the goss from the one in the know. Don't forget, many free internet spots are available throughout the city, and discounts for students are often available, both in stores and for activities. Don't hesitate to ask, because Melbourne is more than happy to help make your stay the best (and most fun!) it can be

Activities Out & About

Getting out and about in the city is a great option for those on a budget. Walking doesn't cost a thing, so explore some of the many parks in central Melbourne. The Royal Botanic Gardens is a must-see, a beautiful and massive park of many different varieties of fauna, both native and international. Nearby is Memorial Park, and from here, there is an incredible view of the city. Walking along with the Murray, the river that intersects Melbourne, is relaxing- watch the rowers go past and hear the hum of the distant traffic.

Explore Birrarung Marr Park on the north side of the river, and check out the inspiring indigenous rock carvings. For interesting and educational experiences, the Melbourne Flexi Attractions Pass also offers discounts of up to 40% on a range of activities. Options included can be cruises and sports activities and maritime and local history. There is a time limit. Choose with two, three and seven-day options, and get your fill on as many attractions in Melbourne as you can


Melbourne is considered an expensive city when comparing average living expenses (one of the most expensive cities in the world) and is only challenged by Sydney. However, unlike Adelaide, it is well above the national average. Walking through Melbourne is a feeling that mixes your senses and emotions and is hard to describe in any other way than unique and rich. The city heaves and breathes with the aroma of coffee and fine food, the views of the grand Yarra River, and its Victoriana history of colonial architectural grandeur. Melbourne presents an unmatched lifestyle anywhere else in Australia from the gentrified neighbourhoods with their renovated terraces and warehouses to the docks, the bayside beaches, and the Dandenong Ranges.

Just remember that you can always have the extra money in your pocket if you're smart about how you spend your money. So keep looking for bargains and do whatever you can to hold onto some of the precious money you have because you never know when it'll come in handy.

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