Moving to or travelling through Australia can get quite complicated when you don’t know the country. However, Australia offers foreigners numerous possibilities in terms of accommodation: hostels, shared flats, student housing etc.
It is up to you to choose what kind of accommodation suits you best, fulfills your needs, and fits into your budget plan. Learn about the housing situation and conditions in Australia, which might me different to back home. So, here is all of our advice for finding appropriate accommodation in Australia, the conditions, the steps, the options you can choose from and where to start looking for your future home.
Types of accommodation in Australia
The majority of backpackers choose the option of staying short term at a hostel and long term at shared flats. Generally speaking, prices are very competitive. You pay between $20 and $30 per night in a dorm, and between $75 to $150 for a single room. Of course, prices vary between cities and depend on the location of the hostel within that city. This type of accommodation is ideal for backpackers, who are just traveling through. Some of them end up staying for a couple of months though! The down side is the lack of privacy and the state some of these hostels are in (you find messy bathrooms or kitchens)
The best-known hostel chains, which you will be able to find in all the bigger cities, are the YHA, Base Backpackers and Bunk Backpackers. You find YHA in most small towns as well.
Visit Booking.com to find a hostel that suite your needs. It’s very practical for finding a hostel with a good location and a good price!
Hotels in Australia are rather expensive and the standards are often not as high in Europe. This might be an easy option for your arrival or if you only visit Australia as a tourist, moving from city to city. In the big cities, you expect to pay at least $150 per night in a hotel situated in the city center.
Flat shares are an easy and cheap way of living in Australia. The prices vary, an average would be something between $150 and $250 per week. If you are a couple, the weekly rent for a room isn’t just multiplied by two. Instead, you might pay a bit more for the room.
The other aspect of living in a flat share is that you have to know how to live in a community and to obey the rules of the share house. There are housemates who never do their dishes or replace the toilet paper!
In the CBD of bigger cities, it’s not uncommon to see ads for shared rooms. You will have less privacy, but live in the city center for a reasonable price.
They often ask for a deposit (bond) which will be the equivalent of 2 to 4 weeks rent. Sometimes you also have to pay the first two weeks of rent in advance. Be careful, never give cash without having proof of payment. Always ask for a receipt! Also, check if bills are included in the advertised rent and what they include. Before signing the lease, ask for clarification if you aren’t sure.
There is a special option for students, such as Urbanest or Unilodge. These are establishments that offer fully equipped rooms for students, normally including luxuries like AC, TV, a private bath room, a pool, gym etc.
But don’t get excited too early, these are often very expensive, starting at $300 per week.
Renting an apartment or a house
If you want to settle in Australia, renting a house or an apartment is for sure the best option. In Australia’s big cities (especially Sydney and Brisbane), real estate prices are incredibly high. In Sydney, you have to expect at least $400 per week for a studio apartment in the CBD. This is too expensive for most backpackers, but it’s the only option to have a place to yourself. Nevertheless, it might be suitable for young emigrants or couples.
If you are with a couple of friends or family, you can rent a whole house. In the suburbs of a city, rents are cheaper. You just need good public transport connections close by if you don’t want to buy a vehicle.
Like everywhere else, Airbnb is an excellent option for homestay accommodation in Australia. You can choose to live with the owner of the apartment/house, rent a private room or even have the entire place to yourself. You will see that there is a huge variety of prices, depending on several factors. The only inconvenience is that you have to know the dates of arrival and departure in advance and in most cases you will not be able to extend your stay, like in a hostel.
With HelpX or Help exchange you work for accommodation (sometimes even free meals). You will be fed and provided with a bed without paying a cent. It is a great way to learn about the Australian way of life, improve your English, make friends but also discover new talents!! Registering on HelpX costs 20€, which allows you to access all host profiles and to be contacted by hosts.
Becoming an Au pair is also a very popular option. You take care of children for a few hours per day in exchange for a private room and food. This can be a good deal, the condition being that you obviously must love children! Keep in mind that most families want you to stay for a minimum of three months. During that time you won’t have a say in your schedule. So, it’s not the perfect option for party people, but definitely a great opportunity to live in a 100% Australian environment.
Finding accommodation in Australia
The first thing to do is to grab your computer and scroll through the following websites:
On Gumtree you find anything your heart desires, from jobs to used bicycles and blenders, but also flat shares. The good deals are usually taken within a short time, so make sure you refresh the pages a few times a day. You don’t want to miss a great offer. It is also possible to get relevant push notifications according to your search history.
The website Flatmates specializes in ads for flat shares. You can either scroll through the ads or create your own, explaining who you are, and your search criteria. People on the search for flat mates might contact you!!
This is certainly the fastest option to find accommodation in Australia. There are hundreds of Facebook groups that can help you with your search. Start by filtering your results according to the city you are looking to live in. For example, there’s a group called Sydney Flatmates/house share/roomshare/accommodation or Fairy Floss Real Estate for Melbourne. Just ask to join and check out the various posts!! Also, don’t hesitate to join Facebook groups for students! In student groups you have more luck at the end of a university semester (mid-December and end of June).
Real estate agencies
Most of these agencies are not open to people who are planning to stay short term. You have to sign a contract for at least 6 months. If you are on a temporary visa (WHV), this is probably not the right option for you. There are some agencies that specialize in short term accommodation, but the rents are generally high. If you want to settle down long term, the main agencies are: Century 21, LJ Hooker and Ray White. The owners are responsible for agency fees.
If you want to rent an apartment or a house through an agency, you have to complete a form and provide a number of documents:
- Estimate of your income (previous year’s tax return or payroll)
- Type of Visa
- Proof of address (electricity bill, bank account)
- References from previous agencies or owners
By the way, not all apartments in Australia are pet friendly. Finding a place with a dog or a cat might be difficult.
There are two main websites that summarize all offers from real estate agencies:
These two sites are without a doubt the best websites if you are looking for an apartment in Australia! You set a search filter (size, location, with balcony…) and you can also set up push notifications so you don’t miss a single offer! These two sites both have phone apps too.
Related Article: Best suburbs in Sydney & Accommodation guide