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How to plan your budget for living in Perth 

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You’re about to start your journey as an international student – how exciting! When you study at Curtin University’s Bentley campus, you’ll be lucky to live in Perth, one of the most affordable cities in Australia*. However, it’s still important to manage your money effectively when living away from home. 

In this guide, we’ll explore important considerations for planning your budget while you study, such as understanding the cost of living in Perth – known as Boorloo by the Whadjuk Nyungar people – figuring out options for work and organising your banking, and how to leverage practical money-saving tips –  the key considerations that you’ll want to make to feel financially stable throughout your studies.  

Plan your expenses 

One of the most important steps in planning your budget is to outline your expenses. A great place to start is by sorting your expenses into two categories: fixed and variable. 

Fixed expenses remain the same each month. These include costs like rent, tuition and insurance. Variable expenses are those that can change, such as groceries, entertainment and travel. By listing these expenses ahead of time, you’ll have a clearer understanding of where your money is going. 

You can also check out our ​​article on the cost of living in Perth for more information. 

Organise your banking 

Opening an Australian bank account is a smart move for international students. 

Having a local bank account might save you money, as it helps you avoid international transaction fees. It also makes things like paying bills, receiving payments and managing your finances simpler, as you won’t need to think about currency conversions. 

The best part? You can take this step before you even arrive in Australia. Many banks allow you to open an account online from anywhere – even overseas. You’ll simply need to go into a branch to verify your identity once you’ve arrived in Perth. For more information, head to the website of the bank you’d like to open an account with.  

Look for part-time work 

Balancing your studies with part-time work can be a useful way to earn an income and stay on budget while studying in Perth.  

Until you start working, it may be hard to predict exactly how much you’ll earn. However, there are a few key things that can help you get a better idea.  

At the time of publication, international students are allowed to work up to 48 hours per fortnight during the academic term, and can work full-time during breaks. The minimum wage in Australia (which you are entitled to as an international student) is $23.23. So, if you work the full 48 hours per fortnight at the minimum wage, you can expect to earn roughly $1,115 per fortnight (or $557 per week) before tax.  

Not sure where to start looking for part-time work? Be sure to explore Curtin’s support services, which can help you identify part-time jobs in Perth.  

Take advantage of student discounts 

Although Perth offers a lower cost of living than that of many Australian cities, it is always worth saving money when you can. As a student, you can take advantage of various discounts to make your dollar go a bit further. Finding student discounts is often as simple as asking store staff or doing a quick search of a business’ website. To use these discounts, you may need to present proof of student ID or a registered student email address. 

Full-time international students are also eligible for discounted public transport fares in Perth with a Tertiary SmartRider card. With the help of this handy card, you can explore your new home cost-effectively and easily. 

Be on the lookout for Perth-specific student discounts, which often include deals on attractions, events and activities. These discounts will help you to save some money while experiencing the best of the city. 

Make the most of free activities 

Thanks to the diverse range of free activities and events across Perth, staying on top of your student budget doesn’t have to come at the cost of fun.  

If you’re an art lover, you can experience some of the city’s finest art establishments without spending a cent. Entry to the Art Gallery of Western Australia as well as the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA) is free, excluding certain events and exhibitions.  

Perth also plays host to several festivals throughout the year – such as Fringe World Festival and Perth Festival – which typically feature free-to-attend events in their schedule.  

You can also explore Perth’s nature completely free of charge. Cycle along the Swan River, stroll through Kings Park and Botanic Garden or head to one of the city’s breathtaking beaches. Immersing yourself in the region’s natural beauty is an excellent way to embrace your new home without breaking the bank. 

Curtin offers a supportive environment, and we have resources to help you make informed financial decisions

With careful planning and smart spending, you can fully enjoy your academic experience while embracing all that Perth has to offer.  

*Comparative analysis of cost of living. Deloitte Access Economics, 2022. 

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