Tuesday, January 12, 2016

6 Tips for Renting an Apartment in Sydney, Australia

When I arrived in Australia in August, the first order of business was finding a place to live. At the time, Jules was renting a small three-bedroom house with two roommates in Newtown. Wooed by the prospect of cheap rent and a great location, we briefly considered staying in his place—but within days it became clear that we were living on top of one of another. There was no question; we needed more space.

We knew that house-hunting wasn’t going to be easy, though. As two self-employed freelancers, we’re not exactly the ideal tenants on paper. So we somewhat lucked out when we found the perfect house on the edge of Marrickville, after only going to a handful of open houses. Sure, as soon as you walked in, there was the overwhelming smell of mould. Yeah, part of the kitchen counter was covered in duct tape. And yes, it is directly under the flight path—but that’s just a fact of living when it comes to living in Sydney’s Inner West. None of that mattered; to us, it was perfect.

We applied and crossed our fingers that the mould wouldn’t be an issue (it hasn’t been; turns out all the house needed was some fresh paint, open windows and a bit of sunshine) and within two weeks we were in our new place.

Although it was actually pretty easy to find our flat in Sydney, there were a couple of things that might surprise newcomers.

Here are the 6 things that you need to know about renting an apartment in Sydney:

1. Don’t bother asking whether the house has a history of pests. 

While bedbugs are a worthwhile consideration in Toronto, it didn't take long for me to realize that critters of all varieties are a fact of life in Australia. They’re in every house.

However, if you are worried that there’s a full-out cockroach infestation, check the cupboards for evidence. Their waste looks like coffee grounds and can be way larger than you expect—much like the bugs themselves.

2. Your proximity to transit may be more important than you think.

Okay, so I know that saying "consider proximity to transit" may seem obvious. But as a Torontonian, I barely ever used transit during the frost-free months, instead relying on my bicycle. Given that it doesn't snow in Sydney, I thought doing the same in Australia would be a no-brainer. After all, the Inner West is only a short distance from the "CBD" ("Central Business District" or downtown core). What use would I possible have for the train?

As it turns out, in Sydney I am primarily a transit user. Here, the streets are hilly and winding. I’d have to have a death wish to cycle on major direct thoroughfares into the CBD. This means that every time I hop on my bike, my journey is a little longer, a little sweatier and a little more convoluted. There is no such thing as from point A to point B here. . .unless you’re on the train.

Choose your location accordingly. Sometimes distance to the train is more important than distance to the beach.

Our strange little house. We're working on the weed situation.

3. Rent is paid weekly. 

The Good News: No more first-of-the-month frantic move-in dates. Since rent is paid weekly, you can also find a place to live for any time of the month; not just the 1st or the 15th.

The Bad News: This means that all those great listings you’ve found for what you thought was $600/month? They're actually more than $2400/month.

The Good News? No need to write monthly cheques! You'll get gouged weekly directly from your bank account.

More Bad News: Unlike Ontario, where landlords can only increase the rent by two per cent per year, in New South Wales they can raise it by however much they fucking feel like. (No, really. Profanity fully warranted.)

4. Get to know your rental agent.

From viewing the property, to signing the lease, to any issues that come up on site, you’ll likely deal with a real estate agent, not the landlord. And since your rent can be arbitrarily raised to any amount at the end of your fixed term lease, you might want to get cozy with your agent.

A word of caution: While I was initially thrilled about the prospect of no longer having to deal with a seedy landlord or property manager, I’ve since learned that in worst-case scenarios, rental agents are essentially middlemen whose only purpose is seemingly to inflate rent with their presence. And while rental agents will sell you on the property, keep in mind that they work for the landlord—not for the tenant. They do not have your best interests in mind.

The duct tape isn't that bad, right?

5. You may not be a home-owner, but you're about to be a major appliance owner.

Unlike in most North American cities, where major appliances come standard with rentals (presumably because they’re heavy and impossible to move), you’ll need to purchase your own fridge  and washer. Luckily, because people are constantly moving, there’s an ample supply of second-hand appliances.

You can find used appliances listed on Gumtree (more on that below), but I’d recommend buying from a retailer who offers a warranty. (Nothing is worse than warm beer on Christmas Eve, which was a situation we experienced just a couple of weeks ago.) Make sure to buy the fridge before your move-in date and arrange delivery so that you can put food away as soon as you arrive.

6. When it comes to furnishing your house, Gumtree is where it’s at. 

In Toronto, you knew you were talking to a genuine Torontonian when they exclusively sold their old furniture on Craigslist. (Residents of the bedroom communities in southern Ontario swear by the inferior Kijiji.) Sydneysiders though, rely on Gumtree.

We also love street treats (seriously; there's some great stuff that just gets discarded on council clean-up days) and the Bower for used furniture.

1 comment:

  1. If you are looking for something more on a long-term basis, you could put some items into self storage and that would increase your options for space since you would save space with your things in another safe and secure location!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...