Sydney is Australia’s largest internationally recognisable city. The city is famous for its beautiful harbour, its weather, its ethnic diversity and its large areas of bushland and national parks. Our major landmarks include the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.  Sydney offers a very modern, friendly and vibrant lifestyle, and exceptional leisure, transport and telecommunication facilities.

Sydney is home to approximately 4.5 million people. It has a very large international student population as well as a diverse cultural population that caters to every community.

The weather in Sydney is generally mild enough to allow a year-round outdoor lifestyle. The seasons in Australia are opposite to the northern hemisphere. Summer occurs at the start and end of the year and winter is in the middle of the year.

Season      Months                                Average Temp
Summer    December – February        18˚C – 32˚C
Autumn     March – May                       11˚C – 25˚C
Winter       June – August                     6˚C – 16˚C
Spring       September – November     10˚C – 24˚C


Home Stay / Furnished Accommodation

Please note that Sydney Film School does not have on-campus accommodation. 

Boarding houses range from fairly large commercial properties to average sized houses run by private citizens.  Accommodation available includes full board, rooms with use of facilities, or rooms only.  Students can expect to pay $220 (AUD) to $380 (AUD) per week for a single or shared room in a Boarding House. Once settled in Australia, students may wish to share rented accommodation. Rental properties are advertised on the internet through various website including the following links:

Hostel Accommodation

Hostels provide a friendly, safe, supervised environment. You get your own room or a shared room with communal facilities such as dining room, games room and television room. Many hostels also provide meals. Share rooms cost around A$30 – A$35 per night and private rooms A$60 – A$100 per night.

Sharing a House

Sharing a house or apartment gives you more independence than homestay or hostel accommodation. However, you will need to provide your own furniture (if the house/apartment is unfurnished) and linen. You share the cost of rent, telephone, electricity and gas. You need to buy your own food and do your own laundry and cooking (although many sharing arrangements include sharing the cooking).

Renting by yourself or with others

Studio or one-bedroom apartments are smaller and less expensive to rent than larger apartments. You’ll need to provide your own furniture (if the house/apartment is unfurnished), pillows, sheets and blankets and pay for expenses such as electricity, gas, and telephone. You’ll also need to clean your apartment, do your own laundry, buy your own food and do your own cooking. Costs depend on the size and location of the apartment or house.

Some estimated costs for Sydney are:

  • 1 bedroom apartment / flat $200 – $400 (AUD) per week
  • 2 bedroom apartment / flat $260 – $600 (AUD) per week
  • 2 / 3 bedroom house $450 – $750 (AUD) per week
  • Sharing an unfurnished bedroom with other persons $175 (AUD) to $250 (AUD) per week per person.

Rental accommodation also requires the payment of a bond which equates to one month’s rent.  Most renters are also required to pay their rent two weeks in advance.


The Australian dollar (AUD) is accepted for all purchases in Australia. Cash is in the following values:

Notes: $5, $10, $20, $50, $100
Gold coins: $1, $2
Silver coins: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c
(100 cents make up one dollar)

Credit cards and debit cards are also accepted in most stores.

Living Costs

In addition to your course tuition fees you’ll need to allow for living costs.

The average living expenses for an international student or a local student relocating is approximately AUD $16,000 to AUD $20,000 per year (AUD $310-AUD $450 per week) to cover food, accommodation, telephone, gas, electricity, transport and entertainment. This will change depending on where you stay and the lifestyle you live.

Example weekly budget (in Australian dollars):
Accommodation (shared house or apartment)  –  $220-$380
Food –  $70-$80
Utilities – telephone, electricity, gas (shared) –  $30-$40
Public transport –  $20-$30
Entertainment –  $40-$50
Total –  $350-$530

It generally costs more to live in Sydney than in other cities or towns in New South Wales. Outside Sydney, accommodation and transport costs are lower.

Estimates of common expenses (AUD):
Cinema/movie ticket –  $15
Dinner (restaurant) –  $25 – $35+
Lunch (cafe) –  $8 – $12
Coffee –  $3 – $4
Newspaper (local) –  $1.50
Newspaper (international) –  $4 – $7
Magazine –  $5 – $8


There are a large number of local and foreign banks and other financial institutions in Australia. There is also a large network of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) that allow you to withdraw cash 24 hours per day, 7 days per week without going into the bank.

Most banks also provide:
* Telephone and internet banking facilities
* Savings and cheque accounts
* Credit cards and debit cards
* Other financial services – loans, bank drafts, transfer of funds
* Foreign currency exchange and travellers cheques

Bank opening hours are usually 9:30am – 4:30pm Monday to Thursday and 9:30am – 5:00pm on Friday.


Sydney Film School understands that local and international students may need to work part-time. It should be understood, however, that the Diploma of Screen and Media (CUA51015) and Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media (CUA60615) are intense courses and adjustable working hours will be needed.

International Students Working Part-time

The Australian government permits international students to work part-time while studying. New South Wales is the largest state and there is plenty of part-time work available in Sydney and surrounding regions.

Many students like to work part-time while they are studying.  However, work should not interfere with your studies or attendance in class, and you should not rely on income from part-time work to pay your living or tuition expenses.

Permission to work

People granted student visas will receive permission to work with their visa and do not need to apply separately in Australia for permission to work. Students can work up to 20 hours a week while their course is in session (excluding any work undertaken as a registered component of their course of study or training) and they can work unlimited hours during scheduled course breaks.

Tax file number (TFN)

Before you start part-time work, apply for an Australian Tax File Number (TFN) – a unique identity number issued to you by the Australian Tax Office.

When you earn money from a part-time job you are required to pay Australian taxes. At the end of each financial year (June), you claim back the income tax from the ATO using a tax return form. This is a simple process and students receive a tax refund cheque from the Australian Tax Office within 10 days of lodging their tax return.

Your employer and your bank (if you open a bank account) will ask you for your Tax File Number. It is not compulsory to have a TFN but without a TFN you may pay more tax than necessary on your income from your job or on the interest on savings in your bank account.

For more information visit the Australian Tax Office website   


It is easy to get around in Sydney using the extensive network of train, bus and ferry services to all parts of the city. Taxis are also easy to find, although they cost more than public transport.

Tickets can be purchased for most train, bus and ferry services at the railway or ferry station, but it is cheaper to pre-purchase an Opal Card if you plan to use public transport every day. International students are not entitled to concession fares and must purchase a full adult fare so an Opal Card is a better option.

Free printed timetables are available from train stations, bus depots and ferry terminals.

More information online:

Sydney Transport Info –

CityRail –     

Sydney Buses –       

Sydney Ferries –        

Whereis –          

Opal –

The Sydney Cityrail network covers the region from Bondi Junction in the east to the Blue Mountains in the west, south to Wollongong and north to Newcastle.
Inner-city trains depart from most stations every few minutes. Services to and from regional areas, such as Wollongong and Newcastle, usually depart every 30 minutes.


Bus services operate to almost all parts of Sydney. Frequency of services depends on the time of day and some services operate only during peak hours. Bus fares depend on the distance travelled.


Sydney Ferries operates ferry and Jetcat services between Circular Quay and most suburbs situated on Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River.                              

Driving in Sydney

If you are an international visitor, you are allowed to drive a car in NSW if you hold a valid and current driver’s licence from your home country.

Please note that you are required to pay a licensing fee for a New South Wales driver licence . Details of converting your overseas driver licence are listed on the link below:

If you drive you must carry with you:

* Your original valid, current licence from your home country
* EITHER an International Driving Permit OR a certified   English translation of the licence (if your licence is not written in English)
* Your passport and visa (or a certified copy of these documents)

An International Driving Permit can be arranged in your home country before you leave for Australia.

Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road. There are strict road rules that all drivers must obey such as:

* Seatbelts must be worn by drivers and passengers at all times
* Speed limit signs
* All vehicles must be registered with the Roads and Maritime Services, and owners must have third-party insurance
* Drivers must not drive under the influence of alcohol

If you intend to buy a car or other motor vehicle, check the RTA website for motor vehicle registration requirements.

More information online:                   
RMS (Roads & Maritime Services) 


Australia has a modern communications network and it will be easy to contact family and friends locally or in your home country.

Mobile Phone Services

Mobile phone services are available from a range of telephone companies. They offer a wide range of phones and payment options. Depending on the network in your home country, you may be able to connect your existing mobile phone to an Australian network by installing a new SIM card. Mobile call costs may be more expensive than fixed line calls.  You can buy a number of mobile phone plans in Sydney. They are available on arrival at Sydney International Airport.
Many students find it easier to purchase pre-paid mobile phone packages to budget for telephone costs.

Internet and Email

Sydney Film School provides free internet and email services to enrolled students. Internet cafes that provide internet services at low rates are easy to find in city areas. The internet can also be connected at your Australian house or apartment address by contacting an internet service provider.

Postal Services

Australia Post is the national postal service. Australia Post delivers letters and cards to your residential address. Small and large parcels addressed to you are kept at your local post office, and you are notified by card to collect and sign for the parcel.

You can also purchase a post office box at any post office and your mail is collected at the box. A small fee is charged for post office boxes and you have a key to unlock the box at any time.

Stamps for local and international postage, envelopes, packing boxes and cards can be purchased at Australia Post offices.

Australia Post offices are open Monday to Friday 9:00am – 5:00pm, and many offices are also open Saturday 9:00am-Noon.

It is easy to send letters or packages to your family in your home country. Australia Post delivers letters and parcels by airmail to most countries within one week. Letters and parcels sent within Australia usually take 1-2 days to be delivered. You can also pay many bills with cash, BPay or debit (EFTPOS) cards at any post office.


Sydney and regional cities and towns in NSW offer a wide range of choices for shoppers:

Supermarkets sell fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, frozen foods, canned goods, bread, paper products, stationery, personal needs and some non-prescription medicines. Many supermarkets have extended shopping hours and are open late at night each day of the week.

Department stores sell products including clothing, shoes, furniture, computers, electrical goods, kitchenware, and gifts at a fixed price. Compare price and quality and look out for discount sales.

Large shopping centres are located in Sydney’s central business district, in Sydney suburbs and in larger regional towns. Shopping centres often include major department stores (David Jones, Myer, Target, K-Mart or Big-W), supermarkets (Coles, Woolworths, Franklins), specialist retail stores (books, clothing, shoes, sportswear, music, etc), banks, cafes and fast-food outlets, and movie theatres.

Markets sell a wide variety of new and second-hand goods. There are a number of weekend markets, and you may be able to bargain at some stalls. Some well-known food and clothing markets in Sydney are:
                      # Paddy’s Markets in Haymarket and Flemington
                      # The Rocks Markets
                      # Glebe Markets
                      # Bondi Markets
                      # Balmain Markets
                      # Sydney Fish Markets

Second-hand goods, from household items to motor vehicles, are advertised in various online marketplaces such as Gumtree ( or eBay ( People may also hold ‘garage sales’ at their homes to sell personal second-hand items and will usually advertise the date and time in local newspapers.

Most stores open from 9:00am to 5:00pm Monday to Saturday, with the exception of Thursday when trading hours are usually 9:00am to 9:00pm. Shops in the Central Business District and major suburban shopping centres open from 10:00am to 4:00pm Sunday.

Almost all shops accept major credit cards or debit (EFTPOS) cards.

In Australia, most items sold in stores are sold at a fixed, marked price. However, there may be some room to negotiate price on higher-priced items (e.g. furniture or electrical goods), if goods are second-hand or are sold at markets and you are paying cash.

Consumers in NSW are protected by Fair Trading.