Home Accommodation guide in Australia

Accommodation guide in Australia

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, fulfils 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.

Hostels, hotels and other short accommodation options

Backpackers Hostels

If you travel to Australia as a backpacker, and you plan to travel frequently, one of the most economical options for a short stay is a hostel. This type of accommodation is a good solution if you do not want to commit. You can choose to stay there for a few days or to live there for several months!

The Pros

  • Prices are generally quite competitive. Count between $20 and $30/night in a dormitory, between $40 and $60 for a room shared by 2 or 4 people, then $75 to $150 for a private room. Obviously the rates vary from one city to another and according to the standing of the hostel.
  • Australia has a lot of hostels (backpacker hostels or hostels), even in small towns, you will always find a hostel ready to welcome you.
  • It is also a great way to meet other travellers in the same situation.

The Cons

  • The lack of privacy
  • 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!

Caravan Parks

Camping is one of the best ways to explore and experience a place. And this is especially true in a country like Australia! Plus, camping is the cheapest accommodation option, especially if your goal is to travel the country on the road. Camping and caravan parks or holiday parks are almost always equipped with hot showers, real toilets, a kitchen/barbecue area and very often a swimming pool.
If you have a van to sleep in or a caravan, you will only have to pay for the space to park and connect to electricity. If you are driving a car, you can stay in a tent or rent bungalows on site.

The +

  • In terms of price, count about $20 to $40 for two + electricity for a single pitch. Count between $70 and $80 for a small cabin with kitchenette, and more for larger accommodations. Australia has a large number of campsites, especially on the coasts.

The –

  • In summer and during school holidays, campsites are usually full well in advance.
  • Camping is not recommended all year round. It is best to camp in the north in winter (i.e. the dry season) and in the south in summer.

Hotels, Motels, Bed & Breakfast

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, expect to pay at least $150 per night in a hotel located in the city center.

If you are looking for accommodation offering the same kind of services, but on a lower budget, consider a motel (or motor inn). Motels are quite common in Australia, you will find them on the sides of the roads, often at the entrance or exit of cities, even small ones. Prices vary depending on the location and services, but count between $70 and 130 per night.

And if you plan to stay on a road trip, remember to book in advance. Distances are sometimes long between cities, and there are few hotels in somewhat isolated regions.

The +

The buildings are often recent and offer many services: necessary to prepare tea and coffee, refrigerator, TV, air conditioning, private bathroom.

The –

This is the most expensive temporary housing option.

Airbnb

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.

The +

You can benefit from an entire accommodation at the same price as a hotel.
It is also an opportunity to talk with your hosts and learn about local life, a good option especially when you just arrived in a new city.

The –

You need to know your dates in advance and you will not be able to extend your stay as you wish (with some exceptions) such as in a hostel for example.

Medium and long term accommodation

Flat shares

Flat shares are an easy and cheap way of living in Australia. The prices vary, an average would be something between $200 and $300 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.

The +

  • Being able to stay in the city center at an affordable price.
  • Meet new people, network.

The –

  • The lack of privacy.
  • There is the risk of not getting along with his roommate(s). In this case, prefer communication and if it really does not work, you can always leave the accommodation (2 weeks notice in general).

Beware !
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.

Student Housing

There is a special option for students, such as Urbanest or Unilodge. These are establishments that offer fully equipped rooms for students.

The +

These rooms are comfortable (air conditioning, TV, private bathroom, swimming pool, games rooms, gym, etc.).

The –

These are often very expensive solutions. Count minimum $350/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 $450 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.

Note that you can rent furnished or unfurnished accommodation. This is an important point depending on your situation and your budget. But buying furniture does not necessarily mean a big budget. Many opportunities are available on websites like Gumtree or the Facebook Marketplace. You can even find furniture on the streets!

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.

The +

It is the best solution to have your little home

The –

You will have to make a minimum commitment with the owner or the real estate agency who will have you sign a rental lease.
Watch out for scams on sites like Gumtree. Above all, do not pay anything in advance and before having the keys to an accommodation.

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Homestay

HelpX or Wwoofing

Very popular in Australia, with HelpX you work for accommodation (sometimes even free meals). You will be fed and provided with a bed without paying a cent. Registering on HelpX costs 20€, which allows you to access all host profiles and to be contacted by hosts. For more rural locations, head to Wwoofing, you will need to sign up to receive the list of hosts in Australia.

The +
  • You are housed, fed without spending a penny.
  • It is a great way to learn about the Australian way of life, improve your English, make friends but also discover new talents!

Au pair

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!

The +
  • Working as an Au Pair is definitely a good way to be immersed in a 100% Australian environment.
  • You do not pay rent, and receive a small additional salary for your services.
The –
  • Be careful, being welcomed into a family generally requires a minimum of 3 months of commitment
  • During that time you won’t have a say in your schedule. So, it’s not the perfect option for party people.

How to find accommodation in Australia?

Once you have decided what type of accommodation suits you best, it is time to focus on the research part. There are several options for you to find your next place to stay. Here are some of them:

Websites

The first thing to do is to grab your computer and scroll through the following websites:

Gumtree

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. Be aware of the scams and never pay a deposit or bond before seeing the accommodation and signing a document.

Flatmates

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!!

Facebook groups

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:

  • ID
  • 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.

Specialized websites

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.

Applying for a rental property: Guide

The application

If you want to rent an apartment or a house, you will first need to fill out a rental application. It is usually provided by the owner or the real estate agency when visiting the apartment. As everywhere else, a well-completed and quickly returned file will maximize your chances of getting the accommodation.

You will therefore have to fill in a form (application form) with your contact details and your situation and provide some attachments:

  • ID
  • Estimate of your income (tax return from the previous year or pay slips)
  • Your Visa
  • Proof of address (electricity bill, bank account)
  • References (professional, personal, former owners…)
  • If you have just arrived in Australia, and you do not yet have proof of income or residence, talk to the real estate agent, he will probably ask you for an employment contract or any other proof to ensure that you will be able to pay the rent.

Once you submit your application, the agent will check all the documents and will determine if you’re the best candidate for the property. 

Rent and Bond

The rent is generally paid by the week. Check if the charges are included in the advertised rental price and what they include. Before signing the lease, ask for clarification if it is not clear.

In Australia, there is no need for guarantors, nor to have an income x times proportional to the amount of the rent to be entitled to rent accommodation. However the agent will be calculating your affordability to make sure the property fall within your income range.

You will be asked to pay a rental bond which will be the equivalent of 2 to 4 weeks’ rent. Sometimes you will also have to pay the first two weeks of rent upfront. So plan in advance to have a budget for this.

Lease

Signing a lease is the first step before accessing your home. You can sign it with the real estate agency or directly with the owner. Generally, the lease has a duration between 6 months and a year and can often be renewed. Depending on your situation, do not be afraid to ask for the rental duration that suits you best.

At the end of your lease, check the conditions and notice periods if you wish to terminate or renew it. Very often, if your accommodation is managed by a property management, a reminder will be sent to you before the end of the lease.

If you want to leave your accommodation before the end of the lease, you are Breaking the lease. In this case, to limit the damage, you need to find a replacement.

Condition Report

When entering your accommodation, the owner or the real estate agent will give you an entry condition report. Check the document carefully and complete it if you notice any faults or malfunctions (electrical outlets, switches, door closures, air conditioning, etc.). If your accommodation is furnished, check the inventory of what is there and the operation of all household appliances, even if you do not use them.

When you leave the accommodation, this document will serve as a basis to assess whether nothing is missing and whether you return the apartment in good condition. Normal wear and tear of the accommodation and furniture will not be considered as damage.

If everything is in order, you will then receive a refund of your security bond within a few days, in whole or in part if damage has been observed.

Updated on 22/06/2022