Now that you’ve decided where you are going to study in Australia, there are a few other things that you have to start doing to prepare for your time there. One of the most important things that you have to take care of is making sure that you have somewhere to live. We’re going to look at some of the options that you will have for accommodations and how you can start looking.
Some people make the mistake of thinking that they can come to the country and find somewhere to live quickly. This could actually get very expensive, because you would have to stay in a hostel or a hotel for an extended period of time. Even if there is a weekly rate, it could add up quickly if you don’t find somewhere suitable to live in a reasonable amount of time. It’s much better to make sure that you either have a rental set up or a temporary arrangement situated before you arrive in Australia.
That being said, the institution that you are studying at may offer on-campus housing as a long-term or short-term option for their international students. Many institutions have housing available, especially for those who are studying abroad during their undergraduate career. Even if you are an international student who is pursuing postgraduate studies, the university may have options available for you to explore. Either way, you should always go to the university first before exploring any other options; even if they don’t offer on-campus housing, they may have a list of options for you to explore that you won’t have access to from any other source.
Before you start looking for accommodations, make sure to make a list of things that you want out of your apartment. If you don’t set these restrictions in place before you start looking for a rental, you may end up setting yourself up for disappointment because you can’t afford that apartment that you really like or it’s too far away from the university that you are attending. Here is a short list of some of the things that you should be taking into consideration when looking at a rental.
- Cost: The cost of your rental will vary by type, location (city, state, sometimes street) and what sorts of amenities are included with the rental. Before you even start looking, you want to know how much you’re willing to pay per month including any of your extra bills. There’s a lot of difference between a one-bedroom apartment for $400 with no amenities included and one that is $525 with heat, internet, and water/sewer/trash included. Just because the price looks good, you need to look at it in context of everything else that you are spending. Set yourself a lower limit, an “ideal,” and an upper limit so that you can look for rentals within that range.
- Location: How close or far away are the rentals from where you are going to school? If it’s too far, you’ll want to include any transportation costs into your calculations. It may also make your commute more stressful. The closer the rental is to your university, the better it is for you. You also want to make sure that other important places, like the grocery store or a doctor’s office, are within a decent distance as well. Within walking or biking distance is good to consider, especially because you may not have a vehicle to use while in Australia. If you can, give yourself a certain radius to try and stay within during your apartment search. Like with cost, give yourself a minimum, an ideal, and an upper limit so that you can share that with those you are speaking to during the apartment hunting process.
- Furnishing: This is very important to consider as an international student. Is the rental you are looking at furnished? Furnished apartments sometimes cost more per month, but they are also saving you money on what you would have to purchase for the apartment. On top of that, you won’t have to worry about selling or giving away the furniture when you leave. Of course, you may want it to be unfurnished because you have ways of obtaining inexpensive furniture – either way, it’s up to you.
- Whatever else you can think of. If we haven’t covered it above and it has come to your mind, then make sure you write down those requirements as well. This could include whether or not you can have a pet, what floor of the building that your rental is on, and a preference for a tub over a shower. Nothing is too petty; just make sure you distinguish the things that you need over the things that you want.
If you are looking to sign a contract for a rental, make sure that the rental you are looking at is the best option for you. If you have friends that are studying abroad with you or you have friends in the country, you may be able to make the overall price less because of splitting the cost of the rental. You may also be able to get particular discounts based on being an international student. Make sure that you get the best deal for your money so that you can stay comfortable while studying in Australia.
Sometimes, your best bet is to look for a real estate agency or two in the area or city that you are studying in. They may have rentals available for you to check out, and they may be able to work with you on the price and other important factors related to a rental. If you are looking for somewhere to live while studying in Australia, there are a couple of websites that you should definitely check out during the process. Rent Find and Rent Australia are both great websites to check out if you’re looking for an apartment or home to rent.
Another interesting option that you may find in Australia is called homestay. Homestay means that you will be living with an Australian family, in their home. Sometimes these families have a spare room or even an apartment-type area for an international student to reside during their time in the country. Many times, you will have amenities, cleaning, and meals included in a homestay program. Everyone who offers homestay to international students have to go through several types of screening (including accommodation inspection)
Homestay is a great way to cut your costs and make some new connections in the country. If you are considering doing homestay, there are two organizations that you can go through. The Australian Homestay Network (AHN) covers homestay throughout the country. If you are attending university in Sydney, you can also check out the Homestay Network, which specializes in homestay for those attending school in Sydney.
Now that you have an idea of the options that you have for accommodations in Australia, it’s time for you to start looking! The Department of Immigration and Citizenship also has a great guide for you to check out about settling in Australia. You can also contact the international students office at your university; they may have information that you won’t be able to find on the web. There are tons of resources out there that you can utilize for your academic adventure to Australia. Good luck on your apartment search!