One of the biggest challenges we’ve realized and encountered regarding Melbourne (and Australia as a whole) is how expensive it is – namely, real estate. Will and I have always been blessed to stay in small towns/cities here in the U.S., where the cost of living was always been very affordable. Melbourne, on the other hand, is on par with cities like New York and San Francisco. We are only looking to rent at this moment in time, so this post won’t be as applicable to buying property in Aus (which I’ve heard is a whole interesting process in itself. think: auction)
This is kind of a funny story, but when Will and I first started looking at apartments in Australia, we were shocked to see that apartments were $500 or $600 (and they weren’t closets!) …that is until we noticed the little “p/w” written next to it… aka, per week. Talk about culture shock! In the U.S., obviously everything is priced monthly, where you only have to fret about paying every first of the month. This is sure to be interesting! We’ve reached out to a few leasing agencies, and they’ve sent us applications. Most of the information on these applications are fairly standard – name, leasing history, info about your job, salary, etc. I’ve seen some apps that have allowed tenants to opt for paying on a monthly basis, rather than a weekly basis (wouldn’t everyone want to do that?!) — could you imagine having to pay rent every week? It’s so foreign to us. Although, I’m sure there are plenty of Australian expats in the U.S. who are totally befuddled by the concept of monthly rent.
It’s been a relatively easy process for us so far to get in touch with the real estate agents, albeit the time difference in our back-and-forth correspondence. All of them have been really nice and helpful! However, we highly recommend actually completing the process in Melbourne, as opposed to trying to complete it abroad, unless you have family or friends there. There are two main reasons: property goes FAST and you have to be there for inspections. Through our searching, we’ve “saved” several properties to our favorites list, but when we’ve revisited them a few weeks later, those places have disappeared! We’ve both read and heard that property there does not sit on the market long, so if you like something, you better act FAST. Melbourne is a fast growing city, so although there are always a lot of options, they don’t stick around for very long. Inspections is another part of the process we weren’t familiar with. In Australia, you have to either 1) schedule an appointment to come see the property or 2) come by at allotted times by the agent/company. The inspection process is important, because it covers both your back and the agency’s. It gives you an opportunity to come look at the property and you like it, you must sign off saying that you accept the property as is. We found one apartment we really liked, and it was available in mid-July, but the agent asked if we knew anyone who could come by for an inspection, or else we had to sign off saying we’re taking it as is. We found that way too risky, especially when you’re just basing what you like about the place from pictures.
Thankfully, Will’s employer will be taking care of us for the first month, so we will have a few weeks to be able to get out there and get to inspect properties and finally meet with an agent ourselves! It’ll be like our own version of “House Hunters International” :) We’ll keep you updated of our findings and our eventual pick!