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Melbourne has been listed as the most liveable city in the world for seven years in a row by The Economist. The great quality of life in the city has had many thinking about putting down roots. And the good news is that Kiwis can easily rent and buy property here.

The rights and rules for buying or renting property on either side of the Tasman are similar. Kiwis looking for urban property in Australia don’t even need FIRB (Foreign Investment Review Board) approval. Schemes like the First Home Owner’s Scheme and Kiwisaver make this process even easier. This article is a brief guide how you can rent or buy a great place in Melbourne.

If you’re thinking of buying in Melbourne, consider:

Properties vs. apartments: Choosing between an apartment and an independent home depends on your needs and plans for the future. Just remember to do your due diligence on the property and the area it is located in. An apartment’s value is often tied to its age and neighbourhood. If a newer apartment complex comes up close-by or the neighbourhood becomes unfavourable, apartments tend to lose value much faster than standalone properties. In Melbourne, the median house value as of Jan 2019 stood at AU $882,082.

Buying a property: The actual process for buying a property is quite straightforward. Generally, you put down 5-10% of the price and take a mortgage against that.  Most properties are sold via auction so you need either be there yourself or get someone to bid for you in person. Australian banks will still check your credit rating so pay off your debts and fines. You can see where you stand by checking with credit rating providers. Banks may charge more interest because you’re not an Australian citizen so check at more than one place to get the best rate.

Schemes: First time homeowners should check whether they can use their Kiwisaver deposit. If you’re eligible for First Home Owners Scheme, that could also help out financially.  If you have a Special Condition Visa (SCV), this can exempt you from certain taxes. Speak to an accountant to understand these details so you can put together the best deal possible.

Taxes: Taxes in Australia and New Zealand that you may have to pay include Stamp Duty which is a percentage of the price you pay, Capital Gains Tax, the Brightline Test and Non-Resident Withholding Tax (NRWT). These do vary from state to state and Kiwis are exempt to some of them so you should check local regulations to understand what you’re in for.

Buyer advocates: Is there an easier way to buy a home? Yes. Buyer advocates are local professionals who can make things much easier for you. These professionals only buy properties and don’t sell, so it is in their interest to help you get the best property and at the best price. Since they know the local market, they can show you the kind of places you’d prefer and help you negotiate the price. Their fee is decided beforehand (generally 1.5% of the price) and they can save you a whole lot of trouble.

It is recommended that you also consult a lawyer and an accountant so you have the full picture before you put down the money on a home. This way you’re not in for any nasty surprises.

If you’re thinking of renting in Melbourne

Renters are no longer just students in pokey apartments but also include families and well-paid professionals who expect landlords to maintain properties to a certain standard. According to the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, the private rental sector had 2.1 million households in 2016. This is a 38% increase from 1996. So, the rental market is quite competitive and you should have all your documents as well as your finances prepared in advance so you can snap up a place you like straight away.

Documents: Once you zero in on a few places you’d like to live, you will have to send in a tenancy application. Besides your bank statement (last three months), you will also need a reference from your previous landlord and his/her contact information. You will also need to show proof that the bond for your previous rental was repaid in full (and if not, an explanation as to why).

You need to show 100 points worth of identification documents. There is a list you can choose from including your passport/birth certificate, driver’s licence, proof of ID card or another government card. In case you don’t have any of these, there are other options you can produce like rent receipts and payslips.

Bond and advance: The standard bond amount that renters have to pay is 2-4 weeks. This amount is paid into an agency (like the RTBA) and when you leave, you get this bond back minus the cost for any damages as discussed at the beginning. Many landlords also ask for an advance on 2-4 weeks of rent. And if you’re moving in with a pet, it may cost you a little more.

Renters’ rights and laws:  There are laws to protect renters rights. This includes things like the landlord maintaining the property to a decent standard, capping rental increases and expectations about timely repairs. In Victoria, your rent can be increased once every six months provided that your landlord gives you 60-day notice period. Australia also maintains a National Tenancy Database and your landlord can list you as a problematic tenant if you break your tenancy agreement or if your rent arrears exceed the amount of the bond. For more advice and information look the website of the Tenants Union of Victoria.

Sublet your rental: You must talk about subletting or getting flatmates with your landlord. For a legal sublet, your landlord will need to give you a written letter of consent. He/she can only withhold consent if the number of tenants you propose exceeds local planning laws or violates the tenancy agreement. They can also deny you subletting if one of the subtenants you propose is listed on the National Tenancy Database as problematic.

Some landlords may ask for an amount to be paid for a letter of consent (this can’t be an exorbitant amount). Your rent cannot be raised just because you chose to have flatmates. However, you will be completely responsible for the subtenant and will need to submit documents to prove that he or she can pay rent.

Choosing the best neighbourhood in Melbourne

You can choose between living in the suburbs and living right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city. Rent is much lower in the suburbs, away from the central business district. The best way to find your neighbourhood is to pin point where you’re working and look at the public transport network in the area. If schools are important to you, take that into account as well and look for homes in close proximity to the places that are important to you whether that’s restaurants, parks or shopping centres.

St. Kilda West and Port Melbourne are all short drives away from the CBD, have access to schools and parks while offering you homes with striking architecture. These are popular areas for buying properties. Brunswick East is an inner-Melbourne suburb which saw a 46% rise in rentals between March 2017 and 2018 (standalone houses). Kew, only 6 km from CBD, saw a 43.4% rise in rental volumes in the same time frame. This area also has a number of standalone houses.  Albert Park is great for renters and buyers, it has freestanding houses for which the lease volumes went up by 36.1% during March ’17 &’18.

Whether you’re looking to rent or buy, you may not find the right place immediately. So consider short-term and economical places to stay like motels or Airbnbs while you look. This isn’t a process you want to rush as you’re going to have to live with the result (literally). While consulting with attorneys and accountants now may seem expensive, this can save you a lot of expense in the long run.

Moving to Melbourne from NZ? Give us a call

If you are planning to move to Melbourne, give a us a call. You’ve got enough to worry about without having to arrange moving your car, possessions and pets too. We’ll take care of that, so you don’t have to.

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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:

Free In-Home Consultation:

If you are moving the majority of your household items, one of our experienced moving consultants will visit your home to establish your specific packing requirements and any unique moving needs.

Let Ausmove make your move to Australia easy and stress-free.

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