First-Hand Guide: Renting in Sydney, Australia

Our corporate apartment. Thanks ThoughtWorks!

One of our first priorities after arriving was finding a place to live. ThoughtWorks kindly subsidized a corporate apartment for our first month but, given the duration of our stay here, we needed to find a place of our own. We were warned prior to arriving that this would be a challenge, but we weren’t entirely prepared for what it actually entailed.

Sydney and its nearby suburbs have a notoriously low rental vacancy rate, currently 1.5%. By comparison, the rental vacancy rate in the U.S. is 6.2%, the lowest level since 2008. As you can imagine, it’s a landlord’s market here in Sydney, so trying to find a place takes a lot of work.

Houses by Coogee Beach

So what does this actually mean? Well, rental units are obviously still available and come on the market regularly, there’s just a lot more competition for the better places. This became apparent when we showed up for our first inspection and saw 10 other groups of people waiting to see the same place. Inspections are essentially open houses and are normally scheduled for a 15-30 minute period on Saturdays. Since most people will plan to visit as many units as possible, we often would see the same groups at 2 or 3 different places.

Many of the people who attend an inspection will submit an application, so visiting a variety of places and locations is a must. We originally considered living by the beach but ultimately decided to live in the city. Units in high-rises tended to have more predictable layouts and within walking distance to everything we need, including multiple modes of public transportation. Also, finding a house was primarily my job, so looking in the city was easier than trekking out to the beach 🙂

Our new apartment!

As you might expect, renting a place quickly becomes a numbers game… the more applications you submit, the more likely it is that you’ll be the one picked by the landlord. However, we found that some real estate agents, usually the smaller ones, were willing to schedule private inspections during the week in addition to the public inspections on the weekend. This turned out to be very helpful, since, if you schedule an inspection early in the week and submit an application on the spot, it’s likely to be reviewed by the landlord before the public inspection hits. Assuming you look like a reasonable tenant, you have a much better chance of getting the place.

In the end, that’s what worked for us. We found a few places we liked via open inspections. We weren’t selected for one of the places we applied to and another was already taken between the time we saw the place (Saturday) and the time we turned in our application (Monday). However, one of the places we found through a small real estate agent and viewed on a Tuesday was ours a few days later.

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One Response
  1. Joseph Speckman says:

    Hi

    Myself and two friends are moving to Sydney in October for three months and we have no idea about the cost of living in Australia. We are used to paying no more than £100 a week each in the UK (We all currently live with parents and the only rent we have ever paid was at uni, where we had a student loan!) and we would like to know what is a reasonable figure for somewhere reasonable to live, with the plan of getting a job while in Australia.

    Also, if there are any particular areas or estate agents you would suggest (I have heard a lot about coogee)

    thank you

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