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Housing

New migrants will not only need to find a suitable property for their needs but they will also need to choose the right area or suburb to live in. For this reason, most migrants prefer renting property in Australia before they buy; a choice that works best for trying on different areas and suburbs for size.

Types of properties in Australia

In Australia properties are either referred to as flat, unit, apartment, house, townhouse and duplex.

A House is separated from other houses (or other buildings or structures) by space to allow access on all sides (at least 1/2 a metre). It usually has a backyard that is fenced and a driveway and garden in front.

Duplex: A duplex is most simply defined as being a single housing structure that is divided into two separate residences with a shared wall between the two houses on a large piece of land. Each residence or home has its own entry, own driveway, own garden.

Townhouses are generally found in complexes and include dwellings with their own private grounds and no dwelling above or below. A key feature of these houses is that they are attached in some structural way to one or more houses.

Flat, unit or apartment includes units or apartments that are self-contained. These dwellings do not have their own private grounds and usually share a common entrance foyer or stairwell and usually is 2 story or more. Flats with just one room are called studios.

Renting

If you are thinking about renting, learn about tips and support available to help find the right place. There are a few tips and guidelines that can make finding a new home in Australia considerably easier.

Step 1: Learn the local lingo

The first step to renting property in Australia is to get a handle on the local lingo that residents and agents use to describe their humble homes or magnificent mansions. Make yourself familiar with types of properties in Australia by reading the first section of this page.

Step 2: Location, location, location

Next, migrants will want to choose which areas they would possibly want to live in. An easy way to kick start this process is to visit a few neighbourhoods and stroll around to get a feel for the area.

The city centre of each city and the suburbs around it are usually the most expensive places to live. The further you go away from the city the cheaper the rental properties will be.

In Australia, a trend in all of the main cities is to live as close to the centre as possible. This is as a result of increasing traffic conditions and the time taken to commute. Inner-city suburbs are being revitalised and renovations abound. City apartments are also in big demand, however many families choose to live in suburbs within 10-20km of the city.

Part of finding the perfect location is knowing what kind of commute one can expect from home to the workplace or to the children's school. Pay a visit to our page of Cost of Living and go to transport websites of the city you intend to live so you can predict travel time, proximity and fees from your house to your workplace or school.

Those planning to use a car will then need to make sure that they have somewhere to park it. This is often a factor that Migrants overlook, but in reality it can lead to high costs and an even more hectic headache if not addressed appropriately.

Check facilities and services available in areas where you may like to rent, including: schoold, shopping centres, supermarkets, transport, etc.

Step 3: Start searching

There are many ways to find a place to rent in the private market, including:

Step 4: Dealing with agents

Once a suitable property has been found that meets the requirements, it's time to arrange a viewing.

Find out who's managing the property, and in the case that it's an agency - which happens more often than not, it's a good idea to find out the name of the individual agent managing the property and ask for them directly by name. The managing agent is the one most likely to be able to answer questions and start the application process.

It's important to note that in Australia it's illegal for an agent to rent a property without the tenant having viewed it first. Some agents hold opening viewings or open houses, where anyone can view.

When you are applying for a property to rent, you may be competing with many other people also interested in the same place. Landlords and agents will decide whether your application will be approved. To give yourself the best chance of success it’s important to make a good impression with the landlord/agent. Try to make good impression by:

  • dress neatly—as if you are going for a job interview
  • be on time or early for appointments and inspections
  • go alone or take only your partner/co-tenants to appointments and inspections and give the landlord/agent your full attention
  • respect the property that you are visiting
  • introduce yourself and answer questions politely
  • have a list of any questions you want to ask about the property
  • make sure to provide all the required documents with your applications so that the landlord/agent doesn’t have to contact you for more information.

When applying for a rental property, the landlord/agent will check your references to see your tenancy history (If you have always been on time in paying your rents, etc). Since you are new to Australia and cannot provide a reference, you may offer the agent a few months rent in advance in addition for the bond they usually asked for.

Step 5: Putting in an application for a property

Real estate Agents can take more than one application, so Migrants should make sure when submitting that they include all the correct information. This can often be the difference between securing a property and losing out to someone else who's better prepared.

Typical applications require:

  • Proof of identity (passport/ birth certificate/ drivers license)
  • Proof of income, bank statements for the last three months
  • Previous rental agreements
  • References - one of the most important parts of the application; including the applicant's current employer and, possibly, a previous landlord

In some cases, Migrants might be asked to put down a deposit with their application. This will be returned if they do not get the property. Once references have been checked by the real estate agent, the whole application will go to the owner of the property for final approval.

It's illegal for agents to favour one application over another except in the order of receiving them, or in the instance of someone offering more rent.

Step 6: Signing the lease and moving in

When renting property in Australia, there's no standard for how much rent has to be paid in advance. However, when coming to sign the lease and to pay the first fortnight/month's rent, the new tenant will also need to pay a bond, usually for the amount of a month to six weeks' rent.

To get more information for renting, selling or buying a property in Australia, please click here.

Buying

Buying your first home after migration is both exciting and nerve-wracking. It is a major decision that takes planning and research, and careful budgeting.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • A substantial deposit - The bigger the better when you're saving for a home. A deposit of 20% of the purchase price plus enough to cover costs is a good goal.
  • A regular savings habit - A history of regular savings in your bank account and a solid track record of employment will make it easier for you to get a home loan.
  • Pre-approval for a loan - Compare a few different loans before you decide. Ask your lender for a key facts sheet on each home loan so you can compare more easily. Once you choose the loan and have been pre-approved you'll know what the repayments will be and how much you can afford to spend on a property.
  • Some additional savings - These will act as a buffer if interest rates rise and your repayments increase. Alternatively choose a loan that allows extra repayments so you can build a buffer early on.

The Barefoot Investor, Scott Pape, gives his tips on buying a home. He explains:

  • How much deposit you should have
  • The best place to save for your deposit
  • Whether now is a good time to buy

Buying, selling or renting property in each State or Territory

To have information on everything from tips for homebuyers and grants available to information for tenants in each state and territory please click here.

Some useful links to buy or rent a house in Australia

Real Estate
Domain
Gumtree
Reiq
Australia.gov.au
Budget planner
Mortgage calculator