I started typing this blog, with a completely different title and a different intro, but oh how time and words change. Just to catch everyone up to speed, I moved to Sydney recently (i.e. November 2015 to be more specific). This inspired me to do some ‘advice blogs’ that will help people moving to Australia (or more specifically Kiwis moving to Australia). This move has kept me busy and hence why I have been AWOL on my YouTube channel and my blogs. I’ll be active on my channel sporadically and I will make an effort to be active on my blogs as frequently as possible. As my move was to Sydney, the focus of these ‘advice blogs’ will be on Sydney. However a lot of this might be the same for the rest of Australia, I cannot guarantee that. Today’s topic for this advice blog is finding accommodation.
Now lets get down to the nitty gritty. Lets be real now, given the era we are living in and all the facilities that are available to us, we all dream of moving to other countries living there for a while gaining some overseas experience and/or maybe just discovering ourselves. But no one really says how difficult it is to move from one country to the other, even if it is just across the ditch. There’s no handy dandy guidebook that gives you all the tips or for that matter what you can expect. Having gone through this process recently I thought I’d share my nuggets of experience.
If you are a Kiwi and living in New Zealand and are planning to move to Australia, there’s a lot you should know. I tried doing research and came across bits and pieces. What I suggest in my advice blog(s) isn’t official information, so if you do want to double check by all means please do so to get the confirmation you need.
First things first, in order to move from one country to the other you need the correct visa. This is easy for Kiwis (and Australians wanting to move to New Zealand). If you have a New Zealand passport you can live and work freely, i.e. without visa sponsorship, in Australia. This makes things a bit easier as you don’t have to move to Australia with a job. You can move here, and then look for jobs, which might be a better option for some, who would prefer to do some sightseeing and wander through Australia before deciding to settle down in a particular city. There’s not really much I can shed light on regarding this other than what I’ve already mentioned, but if you do have a question leave it below and I’ll try responding to them to the best of my abilities.
Finding accommodation in Sydney can be tiresome. You have to be prepared for ups and downs and for some interesting experiences. First and foremost Sydney is not a cheap place to live in. Accommodation is probably one of the most expensive things here. Throughout Australia the process to lease an apartment/house is the same. Each listing will have a 15-minute inspection time on a certain day and if you’re interested you have to make it in at that time (or you can contact the agent to see if they are able to schedule an alternate time). If you like that listing, you fill in a rental application form. These rental application forms are then given to the property owner who scans through the applications and then shortlists the ones they are interested in. This is followed by all the background and reference checks etc (some property owners may not do this, but it’s good to have all the necessary documents handy). The best place to look for rental properties is this website. However, if you do go to see a property and you come across a house where you know someone who knows the property owner you can essentially ‘jump the queue’. I haven’t heard of a lot of people doing so, so I wouldn’t be able to give you the best advice. What I can say however is that; if you come across an apartment that you like, fill in the rental application form immediately, even if you want to check out other places. Don’t second-guess yourself. Apartments in Sydney get rented out like it’s nobody’s business.
In another scenario if you’re new to Australia and on top of that new to the workforce you might prefer to live with flatmates so your costs are shared. If this is the case for you have a look on the Flatmates website. Apart from these options, if you want a more flexible option in terms of accommodation, you can look into hostels or dormitories which you’ll mainly find in the city and last but not the least the up and coming Air BnB, which is a popular option for travellers and even locals. Prior to my move, I was under the impression that if you’re new to Australia, you will have to live with flatmates to begin with whilst you build up your credit history, references via flatmates so that the property owner can consult these references to know more about you. After talking to a friend, this doesn’t seem to be the case as she’s new to Sydney as well and has found herself a studio apartment for herself.
The other thing you need to keep in mind is furniture. Yes, furnished apartments are available in Sydney, if you plan on living by yourself. In the case of flatmates, you may very well come across people who are looking for flatmates, and they’ve furnished the house and you might just need to buy yourself a bed. Either case, it is quite important to remember that ultimately you’ll have to worry about furniture. Furnished apartments are available, I won’t deny that, but they can be VERY pricy. I live just over the bridge, and rent on average in this area is roughly $300/week for a single person (if you’re lucky it might be with bills) and then usually bills on top of that. In my research, I found this was the average for an unfurnished room when flatting. Furnished apartments and living by yourself will easily cost at least $400/week. Keeping all these factors in mind, you really need to give yourself enough time in Australia when apartment hunting. Furniture is also quite pricy. The most cost effective place I found was Fantastic Furniture. I’m not sure if this is an Australian chain or if it’s just a store in Sydney, but this is a good place to buy furniture even then you’ll easily end up spending a grand or so just to buy the essentials. Last but not the least, you’ll definitely need to buy yourself a fan and/or a heater depending on which season you move to Sydney (or Australia) in. Summers in Sydney can be a killer and well winters, I haven’t quite experienced it yet so cannot say much, but you’ll definitely need the warmth. A lot of the modern and newly built apartments do not have air conditioning, not quite sure why!
Regardless of whether you decide to find an apartment for yourself or if you decide to find some flatmates, the one piece of advice I will emphasise on is to find a place that is located as close as possible to your work, or if you’ve moved for further studies then close to campus. As great as Sydney’s public transport is (trust me it’s good, you don’t know public transport issues unless you’ve lived in Auckland) it can be quite time consuming travelling to and from work. In my case, I managed to find a place just a 10-minute walk away from the office. This advice that I’ve just given to you, was given to me by a lot of my friends who live in Sydney. If you’re able to find yourself a place close to work there’s nothing like it. At least for the beginning stages of your move, when you’re getting acquainted with the city try and find a place close to work.
Another good thing to do would be to research the suburbs in close vicinity. When you’re new to a city, you obviously wouldn’t know what is a safe area and what isn’t. So talk to locals, maybe even real estate agents. If you’re looking for specific advice for Sydney, I live just over the bridge close to North Sydney and this area is relatively safe. Numerous people have told me all the suburbs over the bridge are relatively safe. If you are someone who wants to live in the city, again do your research. Because city means, there will be drunks late at night, cop cars, ambulances etc, the list goes on. If you want some peace and quiet, the city is definitely not for you.
Living in New Zealand, you know the worst thing you can have in the house is a mouse. But in Australia, you can have a whole bunch of uninvited visitors. Yes you have spiders in New Zealand, maybe they’ve even bitten you, however you cannot say that so casually about spiders in Australia. If you’re looking for apartments, avoid the ground/first floor and avoid the top most floors. Find something in the middle say between second to fourth or fifth floor, depending on how many levels your apartment complex has. I haven’t come across a lot of multi storey apartment complexes; a lot of them are just a few floors. The reason I say to avoid ground/first floor is because, those are easily accessible by blue tongues and of course these are easier to get robbed as they are closer to the exit. The issue with the top most floors are spiders. Getting pest control done numerous times during the summer is quite common and in fact recommended. The heat brings out the worst of them all.
I think that covers all aspects of finding accommodation. If you have any questions leave them below and I’ll respond to them as soon as possible and to the best of my abilities. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get your first preference for your apartment, just keep at it and you’ll find something great. If you have some handy tips regarding finding accommodation whether it be in Sydney or any other city in Australia leave them below! I might even share some of those via my social media channels, don’t worry you’ll receive your credit too.
Until next time,