What to pack?

It's only a couple weeks until you head to Australia for university. Your student visa has been granted and flights been booked. You're all set to go - except you're faced with one more problem. "How do I fit my life into 2 suitcases?" 

Remember: LESS IS MORE

Things to consider when packing:


Be careful what you bring into the country. Australia maintains a very strict custom and immigration policy as means of preventing exotic pests, disease and foreign matters from entering. This also means a lot of food stuff is not allowed into the country (e.g. Fresh unprocessed food, dairy & egg products, food that might contain soil).

Failure to comply to the legislative requirements may result in confiscation, fines and other legal proceedings may also be applied. If you're unsure about any item(s), it is best to declare them to a quarantine inspector or deposit it into the bins available at the airport.

Below are a summary list of what you can't bring into Australia. For more information, CLICK HERE to refer to the full list which provided The Government of Australia.

  • Food
  • Dairy and Egg Products
  • Meat, Poultry and Seafood Products
  • Seeds and Nuts
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
  • Plant Material
  • Live Animals and Animal Products

Useful Information and Contacts:

  1. Department of Immigration and Border Protection (Australia Government)
      • By post
          • Department of Immigration and Border Protection
          • GPO Box 241
          • Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3001

          • Australian High Commission
          • PO Box 10921
          • Kuala Lumpur 50730
          • Malaysia

    • By phone
      • Call on 131 881 inside Australia between 8:30am - 4:30pm AEST (Monday to Friday, except public holidays).
      • Call on +603 2146 5555 outside Australia between 8:30am - 4:30pm MYT (Monday to Friday).
Luggage Limit

You're usually given a 20-30kg luggage allowance on international flights. Make sure to only bring the essentials unless you want to be unpacking your suitcase at the airport check in counter.

Take note, you can buy almost everything you love about home here in Melbourne. Most things are around the same price if not cheaper. So our advice is to save yourself the hassle and luggage space by leaving your kitchen sink at home.

Useful Information and Contacts:

  1. Baggage Allowance
Power Outlet

Make sure to bring a suitable power adapter as Australian sockets are different to the ones we have in Malaysia. The electrical voltage in Australia is usually between 220V and 240V.

The plugs in Australia has two flat metal pins shaped like a "^" and some may contain a third straight pin in the centre.

Malaysia Australia

Melbourne is well known for its changeable weather conditions throughout the day which is why many have described it as the city that experiences "bipolar weather" or "four seasons in one day".

A tip to keep in mind is to always to check the weather forecast before going outside during your time in Melbourne. We're not kidding when we say that it could be a warm, sunny afternoon one minute and pouring rain or a large temperature drop the next.

So, make sure to pack a fair share of jackets, umbrellas and warm winter clothing in your backpack.

Useful Information and Contacts:

  1. Melbourne Weather Forecast:

The Essentials:

  • Clothes (T-shirts, Sweaters, Jeans, Thermal Wear, Coats/Jackets, Pyjamas, Formal);
  • Shoes (Sports, Sneakers, Slippers);
  • Umbrellas;
  • Toiletries (Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Contact Lens, Makeup, Tissues);
  • Chargers + Outlet Adapter;
  • Backpack;
  • Electronics (Laptop, Phone, Camera, iPod etc.);
  • Water Bottle;
  • Bed Linen (Bed Sheets, Pillowcase, Comforter, Duvet);
  • First Aid Kit;
  • Notebooks + Stationery

For a full list and/or a printable checklist of what to pack CLICK HERE.


Finding somewhere to stay is part of the study experience is Australia. You could stay in a private rental property (alone or with friends), homestay with a family, student apartment or residential college. Whatever you choose, it is important that you fully understand all of your options and aware of your rights and responsibilities.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Accommodation:

  • How close is it to your university?
  • How will you travel to RMIT? (Walk, Bike, Tram)
  • What is nearby? (Shops, Hospital, Parks)
  • Is it noisy? (Is there construction going on nearby?)
  • Is the area safe?
  • Is the building secure?
  • Does everything work? (Smoke alarms, electrical appliances, light switches, cooling, heating)
  • Is it near public transport?

Long Term Accommodation

On Campus Accommodation

RMIT Village

Located about 16 minutes walking distance from RMIT University. Although it is not the closest option to university, it is a popular option for most students. Places are normally booked out, so make sure you apply early to secure your spot as soon as possible.

Off Campus Accommodation


This usually involves staying with a local family in their home. You will get most of your meals provided and internet, electricity and water are usually included in the rent so you do not have to worry about setting up utilities.

Private Rental

If you are looking for a private rental property to rent with a group of friends or by yourself, we highly recommend looking through this website. Just type in your preferred suburb and personalise your search by filling in your criteria (Fully Furnished/Unfurnished, No. of Bedrooms, Budget, Availability Date etc.)

Shared Accommodation

If you are looking for a housemate to share a place with but do not know of anyone to room up with, this is the perfect place to go! These websites provide options whether you are looking for a housemate or if you are looking for a room in an incomplete house.

Student Accommodation

If you do not have a group of friends or do not prefer to live solo, there are numerous student housing agencies to consider. Not only are they located close to RMIT University, they pose as perfect opportunities to meet likeminded students. You can expect to find different room types: studio apartments, 2 bedrooms as well as room-share apartments (all furnished of course).

Student Hostels

This is a popular option for interstate as well as international students because they are usually conveniently located near RMIT campuses and offer a lively social atmosphere through organised activities for its resident.

Short Stay Accommodation

Recommended Options

Short Stay Accommodation provides a temporary place for you to stay while you are looking for Long Term Accommodation. It allows you time to conduct inspections and make a more informed decision before you make your choice.

Budget Accommodation

Cheap, short term arrangements. Budget accommodations have a mix of private and dormitory style rooms. It is advisable to compare prices and read reviews before you place your booking.

Discounted Online Rates for Accommodation

Some sites give you access and offer cheaper rates when you place a booking nearer to your date of departure.


When renting, you will be required to pay a bond in advance that will be returned at the end of your lease if no damage has occurred and your rental payments are up to date. The bond is usually equivalent to one month's rent.

The bond is legally not allowed to be more than one month's rent if the rent is $350 a week or less, but can be more if it is above $350 a week. Make sure you receive a receipt for all payments to your landlord, this includes the bond as well as the bond authority lodgement notice.

Be careful when looking for accommodation through the internet. Do not enter into a tenancy agreement if you have not conducted a house inspection in person.

Welfare for Under 18's

If you are an international student and are not yet 18 years of age, there are several additional requirements you must fulfil. Australia has strict laws that you must have a caregiver to look after your welfare for the duration of your visa or until you turn 18. So once you have accepted your RMIT offer, a parent or legal guardian needs to complete and sign the Under 18 Student Welfare and Accommodation Approval form. Your student visa will not be granted until your welfare and accommodation arrangements are settled.

Option 1: Stay with relatives

Welfare is approved by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Australia Government (DIBP).

One of your options is to stay with a parent, legal guardian or close relative over the age of 21. You will need to ensure you have the documents in the given link as you will need to submit them to DIBP. They will then assess whether your caregiver is suitable and of good character as part of the visa application process.

Useful Information and Contacts:

  1. RMIT Compliance, Regulation and Reporting Group (Under 18 Officer)

  2. Welfare Approed by DIBP

  3. Welfare Approved by RMIT University

Important Information

Airport Transfer
  1. Personal Airport Pickup
    • The easiest option is to ask a friend or someone you know to pick you up personally from the airport.

  2. University Transportation
    • RMIT University provides a free one-time transportation service from the airport for new students. You will have to arrange this with RMIT University at least 5 working days before your arrival date. CLICK HERE to book your transportation now.

  3. Public Transport
    Transport Service Cost Description
    Skybus AU$19.50 per journey You may purchase your ticket at the ticket booth outside T1 at the airport or online.
    Pickup from Melbourne Airport to Southern Cross Station (about 20-30 minutes journey).
    Skybus runs every 10-15 minutes, 24 hours a day.
    Starbus AU$20 - AU$30 per journey Bookings must be made in advance either by calling or through their website.
    Pickup from Melbourne Airport straight to your accommodation.
    It operates from 6:00am - 6:00pm every day.
    Uber AU$37 and higher per journey (Cost is only an estimate of a UberX ride from Melbourne Airport to Melbourne CBD) Book your ride using the Uber App.
    It operates 24/7 hours.
    If you are departing from T1, T2, and T3, followers the signs for 'Uber' towards the pickup zone. For T4, the pickup zone is on level 2 of the T4 carpark.
    Taxi AU$50 and higher per journey You can find taxi rank at any airport exit.
    Taxi can be pre-booked at waiting are on the ground floor of T1, T2, and T3 carpark and on the public pick-up zone of the forecourt with booking fees of AU$2 - AU$3 apply.
    High occupancy fee applies for 5 - 11 passengers or for use of the van.
    It operates 24/7 hours.
  4. *Take note of surges during peak hours.
  5. *Please note that it is cheaper to book Skybus online (AU$18) than at the airport counter (AU$19.50).

Useful Information and Contacts:

  1. Skybus

  2. Starbus

  3. Uber

  4. Melbourne Airport
Australia Bank Account

Choosing A Bank

The bank branches nearest to RMIT are:

  • Commonwealth Bank
    • RMIT Building 8, 360 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
    • Melbourne Central, Level G, 211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

  • Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Bank
    • 353 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
    • 230 Swanston Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

  • National Australia Bank (NAB)
    • QV Melbourne, 228 - 234 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
    • 196 - 208 Russell Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

  • Westpac Bank
    • QV Melbourne, 172 - 174 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
    • 150 Collins Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

  • Bank of Melbourne
    • Melbourne Central, Level G, 211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
    • Shop 37 / 38, Midtown Plaza, 235 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000

Before you choose your preferred bank, check the locality of the banks and if they are easily accessible from your most frequent locations (e.g. university, restaurants, groceries, accommodation). RMIT University has Commonwealth Bank Branch and ATM available throughout their campuses.

It has also been recently announced that the big four banks of Victoria, which is Commonwealth Bank, Westpac Bank, ANZ Bank, and NAB, has dropped their ATM fees. This means that all CommBank and non-CommBank customers will be able to withdraw free of charge.


Simply head into a bank and let them know you are an international student wanting to open an account. You will need to bring photographic identification (Passport or National Identity Card), a valid Australian address and confirmation of enrolment (CoE).

Usually you will then be provided a day to day account and an online savings account (this does not apply to all banks). After that, you will receive a debit card within 5 working days.

Opening A Bank Account Online (OPTIONAL)

The big four banks of Victoria actually allow you to open an student account before you arrive in Melbourne. You can apply up to 3 months before your departure date. The process is relatively quick and straightforward; all you have to do is fill out an online application form through the bank's website. While completing the form, you may be asked to provide your Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (eCoE), passport, Letter of Offer and other forms of identification.

When your application has been processed and approved, you will usually be notified through your registered email and given your bank details of your new account. You will then able to start transferring money to have ready before you arrive.

Once you arrive, you will have to to visit your nearest bank branch or the bank branch you selected to activate your bank account, show them your passport and you're all set. Some banks will send your debit card via post, in which you will receive your card within next 3 - 5 business days and then you can start withdrawing your money.

Useful Information and Contacts:
  1. Commonwealth Bank

  2. Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) Bank

  3. National Australia Bank (NAB)

  4. Westpac Bank

  5. Bank of Melbourne
Cost of Living

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Australia Government (DIBP), it is estimated that a single international student requires approximately $20,000 per year for living costs. This cost is on top of your tuition and study fees, and include accommodation, transport, food, utilities and other things that you will need while in Australia.

Of course, this is just a rough estimate as it varies according to the lifestyle of the individual, the type of accommodation you choose and its location.

To break it down, here's a sample student weekly budget:

Item Cost per week ($)
Rent (Shared) City: AU$ 200 - 300
Brunswick: AU$ 150 - 250
Bunddora: AU$ 120 - 200
Electricity, Gas and Water AU$ 40 - 100
Food AU$ 80 - 150
Phone and Internet AU$ 20 - 50
Public Transport Up to AU$ 50
Entertainment AU$ 30 - 100

*Figures taken from RMIT University Website

Health Care (Overseas Student Health Cover)

All students are required to have OSHC to cover the entire period of their stay in Australia. This would have been explained in your Offer Letter fees section and paid for when you arranged your visa.

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC), is a type of health insurance that cover in hospital and out of hospital medical assistance, some prescription medications and emergency ambulance assistance dependent on the insurance company.

There are several insurance companies that offer OSHC including Allianz Global Assistance, BUPA Australia and Medibank Private. You can apply for your own insurance directly from their website instead of applying through RMIT University. Make sure you know the extent of your cover to avoid any unwanted charges.

Types of insurance company and the summary of their covers:

  1. Allianz Global Assistance (CHECK HERE for full list):
    • Doctor visits;
    • Hospital treatment and accommodation;
    • Emergency Ambulance Services;
    • Prescription Medicine;
    • Pathology and Radiology;
    • Surgically implanted prostheses.

  2. BUPA Australia (CHECK HERE for full list):
    • Hospital accommodation and some treatments;
    • Medical expenses (incl. pathology and radiology services);
    • Outpatient pharmacy;
    • Emergency Ambulance Services;
    • Surgically implanted prostheses (up to the approved minimum benefits of the Government Prostheses List).

  3. Medibank Private (CHECK HERE for full list):
    • Hospital accommodation and treatments;
    • Medical (incl. treatment for flu/stomach illness, pathology, radiology);
    • Pharmacy (prescription-only medication prescribed by a doctor);
    • Emergency Ambulance Services.

Useful Information and Contacts:

  1. Allianz Global Assistance

  2. BUPA Australia

  3. Medibank Private
Tips to Minimise Spending
  • Shared Rental
    • It is considerably cheaper to stay off-campus and share an apartment with friends. The more people there are in the house, the cheaper the rent; also, the further you stay from the city, the cheaper the rent.

  • Cook Your Own Meals
    • It is also cheaper to cook your own meals. Eating out in Melbourne can be quite pricey depending where you eat. A single meal is typically around AU$ 11 - 20.

  • Groceries
    • It is relatively cheaper to buy your groceries at the market. We recommend going when the market is about to close, this is usually when fruit and vegetable shopkeepers will be selling off their goods at basement low prices.

  • RUMA Membership
    • As one of the many perks of signing up as a RUMA member, you get access to lots of discounts and crazy deals. Our growing array of sponsors range from food and beverage, entertainment, student services and even corporate partners. For full list of our sponsors and the benefits you'll receive, CLICK HERE to visit our website.

Before You Go...

Pre Departure Checklist

Make sure you have all your important documents with you. You may be required to show these items as identification when you are setting up your bank account, phone plan as well as securing your accommodation.

  • Passport
  • Valid Student Visa
  • Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE)
  • University Admission Offer Letter
  • Certificate of Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC)

Please note that your passport must be valid at least 6 months before departure.

Last updated on February 13, 2018.

RMIT University Student Union (RUSU)

RMIT University Student Unicon Affiliate


RMIT University Malaysian Association (RUMA) accepts no responsibility for the supplied information or omissions, or any use or reliance of the said information. The information is based on our own research and the personal experiences of students. Although we try to update our information as frequently as possible, we ask that you do not solely rely on this information but do further research of your own.

Scroll Up