Last updated on November 27th, 2018
When I finalised the date to move to Australia for the first time, I had many sleepless nights thinking about where to stay for the first few months. First of all, I hadn’t visited Australia before. Secondly, I didn’t have any relatives or family friends living there.
Landing in a foreign country without any shelter can be anybody’s nightmare. If not planned well, this can very well turn into reality. Thankfully, things are not so difficult as they seem. With little efforts and the right information, you can easily find a place to stay in Australia.
What Is Initial Accommodation?
Initial or temporary accommodation is nothing but a temporary place to stay for the first few weeks to few months. Depending on your situation, you may have to move from one place to the other. For example, let’s say you found a flat share in Melbourne. However, after a couple of months, you got a job offer from Sydney. Since you will be new in Sydney, you will have to again start the process of finding initial accommodation.
The duration of initial accommodation varies from person to person. In my case, I stayed with AirBnb for a week before moving to a shared flat for a few months. If you are moving with family, you may want to stay in a budget hotel/AirBnb for a couple of weeks before finalising the rental house. Usually, listings on sites such as Flatmates.com.au also stipulate minimum stay which is usually around 3-4 months. I would say use your judgement and give yourself adequate time to adjust to the new life. Don’t add to your worries just to save some bucks.
Top 7 Sources To Search Initial Accommodation In Australia
There is a number of options when it comes to finding a place to stay. In fact, you can do most of the research back home and narrow your scope down to one or two favourite places before actually landing in Australia. That way you won’t have to race against time or compromise on the less desirable house. Here are the best seven sources to find initial accommodation in Australia.
1. Budget Hotels
As with any other country, you can find plenty of budget hotels to stay especially around CBD. You can use services such as hotelscombined, expedia or hotels.com to find cheap hotels around your preferred location. If you search well and timing is good, you may sometimes find a very good deal which can be way cheaper than even a flat share.
This is one of my most favourite options when you need short-term accommodation on a low budget. AirBnb combines the hospitality of a hotel, the comfort of a home and still keeps it affordable. It is an ideal option if you want a place only for a few weeks.
It works like a paying guest accommodation where the host will share a room or a number of rooms in his house to the guest for rent. You can get plenty of choices, especially around CBD ranging from 30$ to 300$ per day or more depending on the city.
Generally, AirBnb accommodation has more amenities compared to a hotel. For example, a typical AirBnb accommodation may have a kitchen, washer/dryer, cable TV, internet, heating/cooling, Spa, Gym and so on. Sometimes hosts can also provide you with breakfast or provide you kitchen utensils if you don’t have them.
Here are Few useful tips to find a good deal on AirBnb:
- look at the reviews and ratings for the accommodation and host. If you see many negative reviews or cancellations, move on.
- Check what is the minimum stay. Shorter the better.
- Don’t make a mistake of booking AirBnb only for few days. First of all, you may not be able to extend the booking later on if somebody already booked it. Secondly, you won’t have enough time to search and move to a long-term accommodation.
- Check the service fees, weekly discount and cleaning fee. They are something like hidden charges, though not really hidden. Sometimes you may find a deal which looks excellent on the face value. However, when you combine these charges, it may prove costlier than a budget hotel.
- Check out promotional coupons such as referral discount, first stay discount etc.
This is another good option if you are looking for shared accommodation. With flatmates, you can filter listings based on rent, city, room type, amenities and so on. Nearly all listings require minimum stay duration which usually ranges from 1 week to few months. Generally, these listings require a bond deposit worth a few weeks of rent.
If you register yourself, you can see the contact details of the people who are looking for roommates and talk to them. This is a very reliable option if you are looking to stay for a few months as it costs less than a rental house. Plus, it can be really uplifting to have someone to talk to, given the lonely state of mind of the new migrants. Secondly, you can get a lot of useful information about the specifics of living in Australia and your roommate can even help you with your initial hiccups in getting things done.
I stumbled upon this site accidentally while desperately searching for a shared flat. Incidentally, it turned out to be pretty good and I got my first sharing flat in Australia through this site. Contrary to its name, this site is not limited to just Indian roommates.
Registration is free, however, there is some fee if you want to contact the person who posted the ad. However, in my case, a registered member contacted me directly when I viewed his listing. So it’s enough to register and browse the listings, but don’t go for paid services unless you are absolutely out of options.
Another useful source to find cheap accommodation is to look for listings on Gumtree or Craiglist. These two sites are similar to Sulekha.com in India. As these sites are not limited to real estate only, you may find them a bit cluttered compared to dedicated real estate portals. However, you can occasionally find some pretty good deals here, provided you are not pressed for time.
6. Property Rental Sites
If you are moving with family and already finalised the suburb, you may want to check property rental sites such as Domain, RealEstate, Rent.com.au, Property.com.au etc. These sites give you a lot of options to find a perfect match. However, this option is not much use unless you are in Australia. As a property agent usually need you to inspect the property before applying, you need to be present in Australia. However, by taking a peek at what’s available on the property market, these sites can give you a good estimate about how much budget you need before coming to Australia.
As a smooth transition, I would advise staying for a few weeks on a temporary accommodation such as AirBnb before moving to the rentals. It will give you much needed time to inspect the property, apply and complete the lease formalities. Just so you know, Realestate.com.au also features room sharing options which can be a good alternative to flatmates.com.au.
7. Facebook Property Listings
This is the least reliable option of all. In my experience, many Facebook listings are either fraud or fake. Don’t rely on them unless you know they are from a trusted source such as your friend. Definitely, don’t pay anything unless you see the property yourself. It’s a good idea to get the contact details of the host and insist on inspecting the property before making any financial commitment.
Apart from the above options, if you have a friend or relatives living in Australia they can help you with accommodation for the initial few weeks. Also, you can find many PG accommodations where a family rents a room for a small amount. Usually, these deals can be very cheap and beneficial to both the parties.
The Curious Case of Facebook Property Scams
When I was searching for initial accommodation before coming to Australia, I subscribed to a number of Australian property rental groups on Facebook. Just like any other excited migrant, I was hoping to crack a good deal and secure a room for myself. Unfortunately, the experience was far from better.
After looking at a few listings, I finally found a good deal. It was a fully furnished 2 bedroom flat in North Melbourne with all the amenities and the cost was $1400 per month for the whole flat. Plus rent included all the bills. It was quite close to the CBD and deal looked unbelievably good.
So I contacted the guy who posted the ad and slowly he let the “proverbial cat” came out of the bag.
Apparently, this guy was in London but he wanted to rent his apartment in Melbourne. He assured me that he will prepare a lease document which I can sign. I will then have to make the full payment, after which he will give me a security code which I can show in FedEx office to get the keys to the flat.
However, when I asked to inspect the property before making the payment, he wasn’t willing to cooperate. That’s when the things started to look suspicious. To prove his genuineness, he even mailed me his passport copy and certificate of occupancy. However, that didn’t do it for me. How can I pay such a huge sum on the basis of a bunch of photographs?
It was only later that I came to know about such scams when reading about them online. These scammers are really very sophisticated and present themselves as genuine people by providing photos of real properties. To make people believe that they are genuine, they even send copies of stolen passports and certificates as it happened to me. But once you do the payment, they will vanish like a ship in the Bermuda triangle. Apparently, I was very lucky to have escaped such an elaborate scam.
Here are a few important tips to steer clear of Facebook property scammers:
- ALWAYS, I repeat, always physically inspect the property before making any payment. If it is not possible for you to do it, ask your friend or colleague or relative in Australia to do it on your behalf.
- Check the genuineness of the Facebook profile who advertised the property. Check profile photo. Do an online search for that name and see if the photo matches what is on the profile. See how many friends they got and do they look to be fake profiles too. Look at their posts. See what groups they are part of. Most often you can easily identify a fake profile if you closely looked at their activities.
- If a person says he wants to rent his flat but can’t show you as he is overseas, stop right there. You may possibly be dealing with a scammer.
- Don’t fall for the tricks like passport copies or overseas phone number provided by the scammer. Insist on personally meeting him at the property he has advertised.
Now you have the basic information about finding initial accommodation in Australia. In the next instalment, I will tell you about the things to look for when searching for a shared accommodation. Till then stay safe and start packing!