Tackling the Australian Rental Market

I have a new unhealthy internet obsession.

It’s not looking at cats, though. That internet obsession has plagued me for years.

Jared and I are officially looking for a place to rent in Newcastle. Preferably a bright, modern 2-bedroom near the beach and Darby Street with a secure parking space, but we’ll consider our options.

So I do what I always do when we need something; I turn to the internet. No joke, I check three different websites at least 5 times a day to see if anything new has become available. This is especially sad because the three websites always have the exact same properties advertised, so all I’m doing is wasting time while pretending I’m the star of my own version of House Hunters International.

Seriously, how did I ever do things without the internet?

Even as I type this I’m battling a powerful compulsion to check Domain, Realestate.com.au, and Property.com.au. I checked them all ten minutes ago.

In these early stages, I’ve learned a few quirks about the Australian rental market.

Weekly Rent

“Awesome,” I thought at first. “$500 a month for this sweet apartment!” After closer inspection, I realized my mistake – prices are listed weekly, not monthly. Ouch.

Short-term Leases

Leases are given in 6- or 12-month increments. Perfect for people like us who want an apartment with a little flexibility, since we aren’t likely to stay in Newcastle forever.

No 1-on-1 Showing Appointments

This one is killing me. I’ve got my eye on a 2-bedroom in Merewether that appeared on the websites this week. When I called the real estate office to set up an appointment, she told me that the inspection hadn’t been scheduled yet.

“Can I see it before the inspection?”

“No,” she said.

Just, ‘no,’ end of story. In Australia, the leasing agent schedules an open inspection, which lasts for about six minutes at an extremely inconvenient time, and that’s your only chance to see the property. It’s you and about 93 other people, all vying for the same property.

I’m signed up to receive a text notification when the inspection is scheduled, but obviously I’m still checking the websites repeatedly to see if info has appeared there first. I’m bracing myself for the sense of panic I’ll feel when we decide we want a property and are surrounded by hordes of other people who want it, too.  (*BREAKING NEWS* I just checked the website and an inspection has been set for Saturday afternoon. Cue hyperventilation.)

Unfurnished Apartments

Since we’re just wrapping up a long stint of nomadic life, Jared and I don’t have a lot of furniture. Okay, we don’t have any furniture. That’s not really a problem, because we’ll be able to borrow some extras from his parents, but what if we couldn’t? Our odds would shrink even more, because furnished properties are like gold in Australia.

That goes for furniture and white goods – renters need to supply their own refrigerators and washing machines. I remember bringing in a washing machine into a rental property in college, but as for the fridge, there was always one magically there, waiting to be stocked.

I have to remind myself that eventually, we will find a place. And until then we’re really lucky, because there are much worse places to be than here in his parents’ comfortable house. But now that we’ve made the decision to stay in one country for a while, I’m itching for total independence.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are a couple of websites calling my name.

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  1. Ha! Far too true! And there’s nothing like the wonderful hospitality of your partner’s parents that makes you yearn for independence, odd as it is. Best of luck!

  2. I bet you’re craving the day when you’re settled and have your visa. Is it easier to get a flat share? I definitely don’t want to have to buy my own washing machine!! 🙂

    1. For sure! Being settled never looked so appealing. I think a flat share is much easier to come by, so don’t worry! Gumtree is pretty good for that, I think. Plus you can usually avoid dealing with agencies, which is a big plus.

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