Living Costs During Your First Year Of Medical Study

Last updated: 19/11/2020

As a very rough guide, a university student living away from home can expect a living cost of $20,000-$30,000 in Australia and $20,000-$25,000 in New Zealand per academic year (~40 weeks). This, of course, in addition to the tuition fees.

However, everyone has different needs, lifestyles and circumstances. For example, you might be a student renting out an apartment in Sydney (known for its high cost of living) who regularly goes out for dinner and entertainment, or you might be a student commuting from your family home in Adelaide (known for its low cost of living). 

Since the cost of living will vary significantly from one student to another, we do not intend to provide an accurate estimate of living costs. Instead, we present a list of expenses for you to consider, and what a typical lean/baseline budget might look like. Knowing the costs involved and budgeting wisely will help minimise financial stress, which is something you definitely don’t want on top of intense medical studies!

Accommodation

If you are living away from home, accommodation will likely make up the majority of your expenses. Here are some options that you could consider:

  • Fully catered halls of residence (residential colleges): For your first year of university, a hall of residence is an excellent option. Most universities offer halls of residence, which usually includes a furnished room, utilities (e.g. internet access, electricity, local phone), full catering, sporting facilities, cleaning of communal areas and laundry facilities. Fully catered halls usually cost between $350-550 per week. This may seem expensive at first but may work out to be a good deal considering everything that is included in this price, as well as the security, premium location, convenience and social aspects.
  • Self-catered university accommodation: These include self-catered halls of residence or university flats/apartments. They usually offer everything that a fully catered hall does, except the meals. They usually cost around $200-$300 per week.
  • Private renting or flatting: These options are usually recommended for more senior undergraduate students and graduate-entry students as they provide you with all the flexibility and freedom you want. A private accommodation for a room can cost anywhere from $100 to $400+, and really depends on the location and housing conditions. Remember that unless you have an all-inclusive accommodation, you will need to be well organised and budget wisely for paying utility bills, which is something you usually wouldn’t worry about with university-run (or associated) accommodations. 

Most universities will have support staff available to help with accommodation issues. Get in touch with them to find out more local information.

Food

If you are not living in a fully-catered residential college or your family home, food will be the next biggest expense for you. You can significantly save money by shopping in bulk at a cheap supermarket (e.g. Aldi in Australia, PAK’n’SAVE in New Zealand) and cooking for yourself, instead of eating out often.

A typical lean budget for food and groceries would be around $80 to $120 per week. It may be worth learning basic cooking skills during the summer holidays before you start medical studies.

Utilities

As mentioned briefly in the 'Accommodation' section above, you will need to consider various utility bills when living in a private accommodation. These include electricity, gas, internet and phone/mobile, which can collectively cost around $200-$300 per month. Before semester 1 starts each year, do shop around to get the best deals.

There are plenty of websites that help you compare the pricing of different companies (electricity, internet, mobile, etc.) and you will be amazed at how just a few clicks can save you hundreds of dollars every year!

You should get in the habit of practising energy-saving tips like turning unused appliances and lights off, using energy efficient light bulbs and using fans instead of air-conditioners to save money and minimise your carbon footprint.

Transport

Unless you live on or near the campus, some expenses will incur for transport, which will typically be around $80 to $150 per month. Most public transport systems in Australia and New Zealand have discounted rates for students, so make sure to take advantage of them. Bikes and electric scooters are an affordable option if you don't live far away from the campus. 

Other expenses

Some other essential costs include the following:

  • You should reserve some emergency funds for medical and dental needs. It would be a remarkable feat to not catch a single cold throughout the year!
  • Clothing, grooming and hygiene products.
  • Books, printing and equipment costs. This could cost around $1,000 per year or more. It is worth considering purchasing second hand textbooks, as they are significantly cheaper - just make sure that you are purchasing the prescribed edition. From time to time you will need to print course materials or reports. Purchasing a small laser printer can significantly save your printing costs in the long-run. 

Of course, the above items are the bare essential items to consider. To achieve a healthy study-life balance, you should budget for things that you enjoy, like music subscriptions, entertainment, gym memberships and social outings.

Are you interested in attending a medical school in the UK instead of Australia or New Zealand? Check out Medify’s UK Medical School Admissions Guide.

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