Types of accommodation
When choosing accommodation in Sydney or wider NSW, the most important thing is to feel secure and happy, so you can focus on your studies and enjoy life. It is a good idea to research all your options before making a decision.
There are different accommodation options available to international students in Sydney and NSW. Each type of accommodation has its own unique range of features. Some will align with your preferences and budget more than others. There’s a type of accommodation to suit everyone!
If you are an under-18 international student in Australia, the Australian Government requires special accommodation arrangements to ensure your welfare and safety.
Make an informed choice
The National Property Accreditation Scheme (NPAS) is an industry-led program that is owned, governed, developed and administered by the Student Accommodation Association (SAA) to assist international students and stakeholders to identify and support quality, accredited student accommodation. The accreditation means a property is being operated to a set of industry led minimum standards for the exclusive use of students with a focus on student safety and wellbeing. Visit the NPAS website for up-to-date information on accredited properties providing quality accommodation to international students in NSW.
It is best to book short-term accommodation before you arrive in Australia, and look for longer-term options when you arrive. This allows you time to explore the neighbourhoods and view the properties, and can help you choose an option that best suits you. Temporary accommodation includes budget hostels and hotels.
Purpose-built student accommodation
You may hear this accommodation type called, simply, ‘student accommodation’. Located either on campus or near education providers, student accommodation can be incredibly convenient places to live.
In this kind of accommodation, you may have an apartment to yourself or share with fellow students. Rooms are generally fully furnished and come with 24-hour support. There is a real sense of community in student accommodation, and you will have many opportunities to make friends with other international and domestic students. This kind of accommodation may also offer facilities such as a gym, pool, BBQ area and study areas.
How much does student accommodation cost? The cheapest studio apartments and single rooms in a shared apartment are available from around $200 (AUD) per week but can go up to $500 (AUD) per week. Rent generally includes all utilities, but you will need to buy and cook your own meals. Check out these providers.
Private rentals and shared housing
This is true independent living! A private rental means renting a house, flat or apartment from a private landlord or real estate agent. You can rent by yourself or with other people, and rooms may be furnished or unfurnished. Private accommodation rent does not include utilities and you will have to buy and cook your own meals. Tenants NSW provides useful tips and information about renting in New South Wales.
City of Sydney has put together some helpful tips for when you are looking for shared accommodation. If you’re looking for someone to live with or a room in a share house, visit flatmates.com or Gumtree.
Share housing is one of the cheapest student accommodation options in Sydney and New South Wales. The more people that share the rent and bills, the less each person will pay. Share housing also provides an opportunity to meet people and make friends.
How much does a private rental cost? A one-bedroom apartment or unit in the Sydney city centre will cost a minimum of $450 (AUD) per week. A three- or four-bedroom house will cost around $550 (AUD) - $650 (AUD) per week. The further the house, flat or apartment is from the centre of Sydney, the cheaper the rent will be. Check out the following links to see what private rentals are available in Sydney.
Halls of residence or residential colleges
Halls of residence or residential colleges are accommodation types located very close to campuses. They are very convenient, with fully furnished rooms, meals and room cleaning provided, and often featuring onsite gyms and libraries. One key advantage of this kind of accommodation is that you will have virtually no travel time to get to your classes. You will also be able to easily make friends with other students staying in the same hall or college.
How much does a halls of residence or residential college room cost? A room in a halls of residence or residential college will generally cost between $450 (AUD) - $550 (AUD) per week, but this cost usually includes all utilities such as electricity and internet. To find out more about accommodation options like this, please contact your education provider.
Eager to experience living like a local Australian? Homestay could be perfect for you! With homestay, you live with a family in their home. The host family will provide a furnished room with a study space and access to communal spaces and facilities such as a washing machine.
Staying with a family provides you with the chance to get to know them and enjoy a familial atmosphere in an Australian home.
How much does homestay cost? The weekly fee for a homestay is around $250 without meals provided and around $350 (AUD) per week with meals. The fee includes utilities. However, additional administrative fees may also be required.
Eager to learn more about homestay? Check out these providers.
- Oz Homestay
- Aussie Families Homestay Care,
- Homestay Network
- Meridian Homestay Services
- Global Experience
- Australian Homestay Network
- Study Vision
HomeShare is a similar option, which matches you with an older person living alone. You will be able to live in a fully furnished home at an affordable price while providing companionship for someone.
Some primary and high schools offer on-campus accommodation for students who are below 18 years of age. For more information, contact your education provider directly.
Youth hostels provide cheap temporary accommodation, in either private or shared dormitory rooms. In a youth hostel, you will have the opportunity to meet international travellers and students and make friends. Facilities such as bathrooms, kitchens and hang-out spaces are usually shared, and linen and free Wi-Fi are provided. You won’t need to pay for utilities.
In the Sydney city centre, private rooms cost from around $70 (AUD) per night and dormitory rooms from around $30 (AUD) per night per person. YHA Australia and Getaroom are great places to start looking for youth hostel accommodation.
Cost of living
Knowing the average living costs in Australia is an important part of your financial preparation.
The Department of Home Affairs has financial requirements you must meet in order to receive a student visa for Australia.
Refer to the step by step Student Visa Subclass 500 application and Document Checklist Tool for details on how to provide the evidence required to cover the costs of your stay, including your travel, study and living expenses.
The Home Affairs website covers in more detail how to work out how much money you might need to cover the costs of your stay in Australia as international student.
The Insider Guides Cost of Living Calculator is also a useful, practical tool to help estimate your cost of living in Australia.
Setting up your new home
There are a few steps you’ll need to take when moving into a new home in NSW.
- Notify your bank, employer, education provider and OSHC provider of your new address. Your student visa requires you to update your education provider within seven days of arriving in Australia or moving to a new address.
- Get to know your local area and council. Find out where your nearest medical centre, shops, public transport hubs, fitness facilities and more are located. Learn about waste disposal in your area, including recycling and composting options. Check out your local council’s website for more information.
- Tell your friends and family back home where you’re living. They probably want to know that you’re in a safe place and they may want to send mail from time to time.
- Think about home and contents insurance. If you’re living in your own apartment or house, or have joined an existing share house, you might want to purchase home and contents insurance to protect your belongings from theft or damage.
- Check your home is in working order. Make sure things like hot water, taps and switches work. If there are any faults or issues, notify your agent or landlord.
What to consider when choosing accommodation
If you have any questions, you can contact your education provider and speak to their international student support team. Alternatively, visit Tenants NSW for tips and advice on renting in NSW. Multilingual factsheets are also available. City of Sydney council has some great tips on what to look for in share accommodation.
- What is included in the cost – for example, utility bills, telephone, internet?
- What are my rights and responsibilities as a tenant?
- What public transport options are available?
- How close is the accommodation to where I am studying?
- How safe do I feel in the area?
- Is the area quiet enough for sleeping and studying?
- How many others am I sharing with? What are they like?
- Am I comfortable sharing with people of a different sex?
- Is the accommodation furnished or unfurnished?
- Does the accommodation include food or meal plans?
- Do not leave it to the last minute - Start making accommodation plans as soon as you receive an acceptance letter from your school, college or university.
- Look for cheaper alternatives for household items - In Australia, second-hand and pre-loved markets and rental schemes can offer good alternatives to buying new things such as refrigerators, washing machines and furniture, which usually aren't included with accommodation.
- Ask advice - If you are looking for private accommodation, check with your educational institution, which will most likely have lists of accommodation options in your area.
- Get online - Check out websites such as realestate.com.au and domain.com.au to find local share houses and apartments.
- Know your rights - Check out the range of tenant fact sheets available at Tenants NSW.
- Carefully read your contract or lease - Understanding your accommodation contract or lease is important – take the time to read the document or ask someone at your educational institution to double-check it.
- Keep an eye on costs - Ensure you fully understand what additional expenses are incurred on top of your deposit and rent, what is included and what is not included
- Check your inventory or condition report - If you are renting private housing or a university-managed property, you will be given a list of the contents of the property (an inventory) and the condition of each item or a condition report which describes the state of the property. This allows you to prove that you did not cause damage, and therefore are entitled to have your deposit returned in full when you move out. Be sure you understand what you are signing and agreeing to.
What support services are available for renters in NSW?
Tenants NSW can help you understand your rights when renting a room, apartment or house in Sydney. Visit the Tenants NSW website to learnabout bonds, condition reports and where you can ask for assistance with accommodation issues before and after you arrive.
Community Legal Centres are independent community organisations that provide free legal services to the public. They help people who are ineligible for legal aid and cannot afford a private lawyer. Redfern Legal Centre is a great resource if you need free information and advice on tenancy issues.
How to get legal support with your accommodation
Do you have questions about housing and the law? The My Legal Mate App offers international students in NSW instant access to confidential and free legal information, and answers to commonly asked questions about the law in Australia.
International Student Guide to Sydney and NSW
This free guide is designed to help you enjoy your new home on your terms. Filled with local student contributions, this guide not only helps you get settled but gives you the inside word on adventure, shopping, nightlife, food and more.
Student Accommodation Association
The Student Accommodation Association (SAA) is a national body representing education providers and student accommodation operators who manage student accommodation options, including university accommodation, residential colleges and student hostels.
SAA member properties offer:
- An exclusive student residential environment
- 24/7 access to professional student accommodation management teams
- Fully furnished housing
- Accommodation contracts that comply with local law and regulations
Visit the National Property Accredited Scheme (NPAS) website for up-to-date information on accredited properties. This national body promotes the value of quality accommodation that is provided for the exclusive use of students, to enhance the Australian education experience.