- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Australia Guide (PDF)
Since Australia is such an overwhelmingly popular expat destination, those wishing to live within a closely knit expat community will almost certainly be able to do so. However, Australian society is also famously friendly and welcoming – and so expats have no need to worry if their dream rental is located in a predominantly Australian neighbourhood.
Home security will not be a major issue for expats relocating to Australia. Although minor break-ins do occur in some neighbourhoods, more often than not, the installation of a simple alarm system should be enough to deter potential robbers. Time and again, expats report that they feel safe in their homes, no matter where they happen to live in Australia.
Types of accommodation in Australia
Expats moving to Australia will find plenty of housing options available to them, from furnished or unfurnished apartments to houses, studios and luxury apartments.
The standard of accommodation in Australia varies from area to area, and between types of accommodation, but is generally excellent. It is not at all uncommon for houses in Australia to boast family-friendly features such as garages, big gardens and swimming pools. Newer, more upmarket houses will probably be equipped with air conditioning, although ceiling fans are far more common. Indoor heating is very rare since it would be completely redundant for most of the year.
Finding accommodation in Australia
Expats relocating on a short-term basis will probably opt to rent property in Australia. This process is reasonably straightforward, although expats might find – at least during the initial stages – that they are required to do most of the legwork themselves. Internet searches and newspaper advertisements are probably the most fruitful avenues in this regard. When searching, note that prices are often quoted as per week rather than per month. Rent is then paid either every two weeks or every four weeks.
Viewings are held by estate agents, and are scheduled for specific timeslots. Expats should ensure they are there early so as not to miss the short window of time in which the property is open for viewing. Weekday viewings during working hours tend to have fewer attendees than weekend viewings. If possible, expats should opt for weekday viewings to get a jump on the competition.
Renting accommodation in Australia
Making an application
The rental market in Australia moves fast, leaving little time to deliberate or prepare documents. Applications are looked at on a first-come, first-served basis. For this reason, we advise expats to have all necessary documents ready ahead of time. That way, when the ideal home pops up, house hunters can put in their application right away.
Documentation requirements are stringent and are determined by a country-wide system known as the 100-point identification check. This process is used for everything from applying for a drivers' licence to opening a local bank account.
Various types of identification documents are assigned a specific number of points. Primary proof-of-identity documents (such as a passport, visa or Australian residency status certificate) earn more points than secondary proof-of-identity documents (such a health insurance card or local bankcard).
The typical lease length in Australia is six or 12 months, although leases can sometimes be shorter or longer if an arrangement is made with the landlord.
A deposit (or "bond") of four to six weeks' rent must be paid when signing a lease. This deposit protects against any damage beyond normal wear and tear caused by the tenant during their stay. At the end of the lease, costs for any damages are deducted before the deposit is returned to the tenant.
In most cases, all utilities are paid separately by the tenant – this includes electricity, water, gas and internet. Some landlords cover the cost of water but this varies so be sure to check.
Buying property in Australia
Many expats choose to buy property in Australia. The ease with which expats can obtain a mortgage approval in Australia depends on several factors, the most significant of which are the type of visa they are on, and their credit rating.
House prices in Australia – especially for those who have negotiated themselves a generous expat salary package – are usually affordable. However, expats should be aware that the Australian property market can move fast and furiously, and that thorough research should be undertaken before embarking on the adventure of finding a new home.
"Housing, in my experience, is of a high standard and very comfortable, although many flats are of an older style." Read more of Katie's interview about expat life in Australia.
"Houses here are incredible. You can choose older properties that need work, rundown properties on large plots that are ripe for knocking down and rebuilding, or you can buy a smaller plot from a development and have a builder put a house up for you. Whatever you’re looking for, you can find it here." For more, read Karen's expat interview about living in Australia.
Are you an expat living in Australia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Australia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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