OzTREKK Ambassadors: Top 5 Tips for House Hunting in Australia!

11 March 2020

Hey, everyone! My name is Gabrielle and I’m a second-year medical student at the University of Western Australia. I’m from a small town in Ontario, Canada, but I’m currently living in Perth, WA, Australia!

Since this is a housing information blog, I’ll tell you guys a bit about my living situation and why it works for me.

Top 5 Tips for House Hunting in Australia

I’m currently living a short bus ride from both UWA campuses, which is super convenient for me because before I begin on the wards, I have lectures on both the main campus and the medical campus (Nedlands) here at UWA. I’m also living with four other girls! Two of them are other OzTREKKers (in third-year medicine and third-year dentistry respectively), and our other two housemates are Australian medical students at another Perth university.

This has probably been my favorite housing arrangement to date; the diversity of our household gives us all the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends! Even when you’re with the same wonderful people in your cohort all day, every day, it can be nice to meet more people in the community outside of your year or program.

university of western australia
Me (on the left), with Phyllis, my roommate

Just keep in mind that what works for me may not be what works for everyone, so definitely tailor your arrangement to your comfort and social preferences! Thanks for reading, and enjoy the blog! ☺

One of the most nerve-wracking aspects of moving across the world is finding the right place to live. Some common questions I’ve gotten from incoming students are

  • Where should I look?
  • Do I need housemates?
  • Which areas should I avoid?
  • How much should I expect to pay?
  • How do I get started?

Here are five (hopefully) helpful tips ‘n’ tricks for finding the perfect digs in your new city!

1. Location
Location is arguably the most important ingredient to house hunting. On a day-to-day basis, things like grocery shopping, going to the library, and even going to the beach can be laborious and difficult if you’re far away, or don’t have easy access to public transport. If you don’t mind copping a longer commute by living in a suburb that’s a bit farther from campus, the prices for housing units that are not in student-populated neighbourhoods may be significantly lower. If you choose a unit that’s farther away, no sweat! Just make sure the following things are accessible relatively easily by public transport:

  • University / libraries
  • Grocery stores
  • Social venues (central business districts, etc.)
  • 24-hour convenience stores

At the same time, if you can find a location that makes your commute shorter (and thereby makes your life way easier), I would recommend trying it out, at last while you’re still adjusting to the move. Personally, I made the decision to live in residence in my first year at UWA Medical School, because it was extremely conveniently located with respect to the university campuses. It was nice to not have to worry about bus schedules or how to get home—I could just walk!

2. Housemates
Another great thing about housing is that housing arrangements can be a great way to meet people! Whether it’s through living with new people (which OzTREKK is great for—many people live with other OzTREKKers, myself included), or meeting new people through your housemates, socializing with people in the comfort of your own home is always a plus.

If you’re looking for housemates, you can always try

  • the OzTREKK Facebook group;
  • your program / cohort Facebook group.

If you’re a bit more of a lone wolf, that’s also entirely okay! Living on your own is completely doable. For your first year, you may even want to live in residence/college! There is an abundance of options to choose from.

3. Safety
On a grimmer note, it’s important to be aware of the type of area you’re moving into! As a bit of a worry wart, I like to do my research on the area. If you’re already in the city (for example, crashing in an Airbnb while you scope out the units), ask either people in the area or people from the city. Usually word of mouth from your peers can be a bit more reliable than websites, but checking out all resources never hurts!

4. Price & Payment
The housing prices vary across Australia, based on size, suburb, housemates, and a multitude of other factors. Depending on where you’re from, the housing may surprise you as lower or higher than anticipated! (For me, it was waaay higher.) My housemate is from Melbourne and she is certain that the housing in Western Australia is way cheaper than in Melbourne; the unit that we are currently living in would cost at least twice as much if we were out east.

There are pros and cons to living in every city, but having a realistic idea of the average cost of living is definitely helpful. Also, rent is listed and collected by the week, not by the month!

5. Applying for Housing
Here in Western Australia, something that threw me initially was the protocol that comes with applying for a house or apartment. Depending on the property you’re hoping to rent, you may have to

  • attend an open house or meet the realtor;
  • fill out an application (which includes personal references, preferably from other housing/landlords you’ve had);
  • place a deposit or bond to cover potential damages.

It’d all be in the fine print and any reputable landlord wouldn’t dream of trying anything shady, but I found this to be a bit different than in Canada, where usually you’d meet the landlord for a bit of an interview and to see the place, then wait to hear if you’ve been selected. (In my experience, asking for deposits was also a bit less common.)

There we have it! Hopefully this short blurb has been informative. If you’ve got any questions about housing (or even more specifically, housing in Perth), feel free to contact me on my Instagram (@gabbynicolaa) and I’d love to help you out!

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Gab xx

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