Moving to or traveling through Australia can get quite complicated when you don’t know the country. However, Australia offers foreigners numerous possibilities in terms of accommodation: hostels, flat shares, student housing…
It is up to you to choose what kind of accommodation suits you best, fulfills your needs and fits into your budget plan. Nevertheless, it is always important to know the conditions and various steps that come with living in Australia, which might me different to the ones you are used to from back at 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 housing.
Types of accommodation in Australia
The majority of backpackers choose the option of staying at a hostel for short term stays and flat shares for long term stays. Generally speaking, the prices are very competitive. You will be paying between $20 and $30 per night in a dorm, between $40 and $60 for a room shared between two or three people and $75 to $150 for a single room. Of course, the prices vary between cities and depend on the location of the hostel within that city. This type of accommodation is ideal for backpackers, who don’t wish to stay for a long time, though some do choose to stay for a couple of months! The down side to that is the lack of privacy and the way some of these hostels are kept (not so nice 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. But be assured that, even in small towns or cities, you will be able to find a hostel to stay at.
Visit the website HostelWorld to help you find a hostel that suits your needs. 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 as the ones in Europe. This might be an easy option (for your arrival), or if you only wish to visit Australia as a tourist, moving from city to city. In the big cities, you will have to count with 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 $140 and $250 per week. *
*The rent is calculated per week, though it is paid every two weeks.
Know that in a flat share, if you are a couple, the weekly rent for a room isn’t just multiplied by two. Instead, you might be asked to pay higher rent per person. We’re talking about a couple of dozen additional dollars per week.
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. Beware of those who never do their dishes or replace the toilet paper! In the CBD of bigger cities, it’s not uncommon to see shared rooms, which, as the name says, consist of sharing your room with other people. You will have less privacy, but the advantage of living in the city center for a reasonable price.
There is a special accommodation option for students, such as Urbanest or Unilodge. Those are establishments that offer fully equipped rooms for students, normally including luxuries like AC, TV, a private bath room, a pool, gym…
But don’t get excited too early, these are often very expensive options, 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) the real estate prices are incredibly high. In Sydney, for example, you will have to count with at least $400 per week for a studio apartment in the CBD. Being too expensive, this is mostly not an option for backpackers. Nevertheless, it might be suitable for young emigrants or couples. Of course, this option has a high price, but it’s the only option to have a place to yourself.
If you are with a couple of friends or family, you can also rent a house. By moving to the suburbs of a city, you will avoid too high costs. But be sure to have public transport connections in a reasonable proximity, otherwise you will have to buy a vehicle.
Like everywhere else, Airbnb is an excellent option for homestay 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 numerous factors. Airbnb is a great alternative! The only inconvenience that may come up is the rental of entire apartments, because you will have to know your dates of arrival and departure in advance and you will not be able to extend your stay according to your liking, like in a hostel.
With HelpX or Help exchange you will be able to benefit from free accommodation (sometimes even including for free meals) in exchange for services. You will be fed and provided with a bed without paying a penny. It is very popular in Australia, it’s an opportunity to be led into the Australian way of life, improve your English, make friends but also discover new talents!! Registering to HelpX will cost you 20€, which will allow you access to all host proposals and to be contacted by hosts.
Becoming an au pair is also a very popular option. You take care of children for a couple of hours per day in exchange for a private room, food and the possibility to wash your clothes. This can be a good deal, the condition being that you must love children! Beware, families will want you to stay for a minimum of three months, during which you will not have a say when it comes to managing your schedule. So, it’s not the perfect option for party people, but for sure 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:
The website Gumtree is where you can anything your heart desires, from jobs to used bicycles and blenders, but also flat shares. The good deals are usually taken within a very small time, so make sure to refresh the site in order to make sure you don’t miss a great offer. That way, be sure to be one of the first ones to call the person who posted the ad and find your happiness in the form of an accommodation! 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 one, explaining who you are, and your search criteria. People on the search for flat mates might contact you!!
This is certainly the fastest option. 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, where there are also a lot of ads! There you will have more luck at the end of a university semester (mid-December and und of June).
Real estate agencies
Visiting a real estate agency is almost an automatic move when looking for a place to live. Beware that those agencies are often not open to people who are planning to stay short term; you will have to sign a contract for at least 6 months, so if you are on a temporary visa (WHV). This option is most probably not for you. There are nevertheless some agencies that specialize in short term accommodation, but the rates are generally very high. If you wish to settle down long term, the main agencies are: Century 21, LJ Hooker and Ray White. Agency fees are the responsibility of the owners, for the tenant their services are free.
If you want to rent an apartment or a house through an agency, you will 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
Know that in case you have a pet, you will have to note that. Not all apartments in Australia are pet friendly, so you will have to be aware of the difficulty of finding housing with a dog or a cat.
There are two main websites that summarize all offers from real estate agencies:
These two sites are without a doubt the best way to look for an apartment in Australia! They allow you to look for a place to stay by filtering according to various criteria (size, location, with balcony…) and you can also set up notifications so you don’t miss a single offer! These two sites both have very practical apps for your phone.