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You’re moving to Australia and need a place to stay- but all you really need is one room, not a whole house. What’s the best way to find an awesome flat with awesome flatmates?

The renting market in Australia is more competitive than in New Zealand, so read the below advice and be prepared to act quickly when you find the flat of your dreams.

Flatting in Australia is the same as in NZ- find a place you like in an area you want to live in, make some judgement calls about the people in the flat, and then move in. Every flat is different- and make sure you’re on the same page in terms of housework, socialising, privacy, noise levels and cooking.

Consider a temporary home first

Rather than rush in to a more permanent situation, consider a short-term place for a while. Places like AirBnB, backpackers and motels can offer some pretty competitive rates for longer term rentals. This gives you a secure base while you scout around to figure out where you want to live and then find the perfect flat. If you rush the process you may end up in a suburb you don’t like or with less-than-ideal house mates.

Figure out where you want to live

The answer to this question isn’t quite as simple as when you lived in NZ. Inner-city places are expensive, suburbs are massive and can vary in quality, and you’ll need to think about how you get around too.

You’ll already know which city you want to live in, and hopefully you’ll know where you’ll be working. Look at a map and do some rough calculations- are you near a train or bus route? Or do you have a car, in which case you’ll need to get an idea of how far you are happy to travel to work each day. 10 minutes? 30? An hour?

What amenities are important to you? If you’re a surfer, you’ll want to be close to the coast, if you love the nightlife then being in the CBD, a stones throw from the action, will be perfect. If you need a bit of space then you might want to look at the outskirts of town.

Ask locals questions, especially if they are in the same age bracket as you. Where do they live? What’s good or not-so-good about it?

Go to the suburb you like and check it out in person. Does it have everything you need? Are there cafes and bars, places to go shopping, and what’s the vibe like? Although flatting is more transient than buying a home, you don’t want to be doing this process again in a few months, so do your research thoroughly.

Once you’ve established the parts of town you’re looking in, you can start finding a flat.

How much is reasonable rent?

Depending on where you are in Australia, rents vary hugely. For one room, the average rent (in 2018) for cities are:

City

Price per week

Adelaide

$170

Bondi Beach

$370

Brisbane

$200

Canberra

$204

Cairns

$180

Darwin

$230

Gold Coast

$209

Hobart

$171

Melbourne

$220

Perth

$192

Surfers Paradise

$235

Sydney

$300

The price you pay will depend on the suburb, what’s included in the price (water? Power? Wifi?) and what kind of place you want to live in. In the CBD of many cities, apartments are a great option for convenience, but they can be more expensive. If you find a slightly older apartment building, it will be cheaper.

You’ll also note that beach-side living is considerably more expensive that suburbs. However this is a lifestyle choice and if you love surfing (or just lying on the beach getting a tan), then cost will just be something you factor in when looking for a flat.

Wording in the ads is important. ‘Flat’ or ‘unit’ generally refers to an apartment. A house is the traditional stand-alone house, often with a garden.

Search for a flat

If you want to wear out your feet, head to the place you want to live. Check out noticeboards in the local café, bookshop, laundromat and supermarket- anywhere there is a community noticeboard.

If you’d rather wear out your fingers, there are plenty of websites that list people looking for flatmates. All of these sites have people looking for flatmates, so get searching!

Things to note

As well as searching for a flatmate, trying looking for a ‘room-mate’ or for ‘flat shares’. The terminology is different, the scenario the same.

There are also a new breed of flatters out there- older people who are looking to have some company, or for whatever reason have different financial needs than others of their generation. Just like flatting with 18 year olds is prone to challenges around housework and cooking regimes, flatting with older people may present difficulties too. It’s up to you and how you feel about the people you’re sharing the home with.

The legal stuff

Every state has different rules, so be prepared to have to do some homework for specifics. In general though, there are a set of rules that must legally be followed.

Agreement type: Are you going to be there on a Residential Tenancy Agreement or a common law agreement? It’s recommended you formalise the situation so that everyone understands what is required. You can download agreements for each state from various sites:

You’ll likely need some paperwork too; proof of ID (passport/ drivers licence), proof of income such as payslip or the last three months of bank statements, and previous rental agreements- even better, a glowing reference from a previous landlord. The market is competitive in Australia, so it’s a good idea to have all of this information collated and ready to go before you start looking for a place to live.

Discuss the details with your new flatties:

  • How much is rent?
  • Who pays the bills and how are they split? As a Kiwi moving to Aussie, you’ll struggle to get utilities in your name as the companies require proof of address. This means the bills will all be in your flatmate’s name.
  • How long is the tenancy for and how can it be ended? Is there a notice period?
  • What are the house rules?
  • Bond (see below)
  • Do you need to pay a deposit to hold the room?
  • Is the room furnished? Do you need to provide any furniture for the flat?

Grab their names and mobile phone numbers so communication is easy. If there’s a group chat somewhere, get added to it.

In Australia, it is illegal to sublet a room without the landlord’s permission. Make sure there is proof that the landlord has provided his agreement.

Rent

Rent is agreed upon between you, the other tenants, and the landlord. It’s common that couples or people with the larger room with attached ensuite may end up paying more than just an equal split, but this is entirely up to your flatmates.

The landlord will have discussed when they expect payment, if monthly, weekly, or fortnightly. At this point, you need to ascertain how you’ll pay the rent. Is it directly into the landlord’s bank account? Or is it through another tenant? Is there a ‘flat bank account’? If you pay by cash, make sure you get a written receipt every time.

In Australia, there are agencies that act as third parties for rent payment. They collect the rent and then distribute it to the landlord. This incurs an extra fee so this situation is best avoided if possible. In most Australian states, there is a law saying that at least one method of paying rent not incur extra fees, so check it out if you’re unsure.

Bond

There are rules in Australia governing bond. Generally, the bond amount is between two to four weeks of rent. The same as in NZ, once the bond is collected, there needs to be an acknowledgement given by way of receipt. Then, fill in a bond lodgement form and then sent to the bond lodgement authority for that state within ten days of receiving it.  It is not to be held by a flatmate or the landlord. Then, when the tenancy is over, the bond will be returned to you in full, or less payments for overdue rent/ damage to the home.

You may be required to pay extra bond if you intend to keep pets in the house but this will have to be negotiated separately with the landlord/ other tenants.

A word of warning

Choose your flatmates well. Everyone named on a lease is jointly liable for rent and damage- regardless of who didn’t pay on time or which flatmate made the hole in the wall.

Being kind and reaching compromises is how to have a successful flatmate relationship. While one person seems to do all of the cooking, someone else will clean more, while someone else will be the person who always buys the beers. As long as you strike a balance between all flatmates, it will likely be a good situation.

Choose your flatmates wisely

Age, gender, smoking and drinking habits, weird hobbies and interests all affect how live-able someone will be. If you’re a busy person with loads of things to do, having a flattie who stays at home quietly all day and then is clingy when you arrive home won’t work. But if you are both quiet introverts who enjoy occasional human contact, it will be a great relationship.

Enjoy the flat-hunting process and find the perfect place, in the perfect suburb, with awesome flatmates! Aussies are generally an easy-going bunch, and Kiwi’s are close cousins unless we are talking about underarm bowling or pavlova- enjoy your new home over the Tasman (and best not mention that pavlova originated in New Zealand and that Marmite is vastly superior to Vegemite in your application).

Shipping things to Aussie? We can help

Even though you might not be shipping over a full house lot, give us a call to chat about the options. We offer partial container loads so you can move your household goods to Australia if needed - and at a cheaper rate than a full container load. Also, if you need to ship your car or pet over, we can help. With over 25 years experience shipping Kiwis over the ditch, you know we have the best deals and all the knowledge needed to make the process stress-free for you.

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Should you wish to add or remove any items, we will adjust our fixed quote accordingly. Hence, no nasty surprises at the end of the move process.

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Free In-Home Consultation:

If you are moving the majority of your household items from New Zealand to Australia, one of Ausmoves experienced relocation consultants will visit your home to establish your specific packing requirements and any unique moving needs. Learn more about moving to Australia from NZ.

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