House hunting. Its not easy as it sounds!

So you’ve managed to get admission in one of the many universities in Australia and you’re now ready to cram you’re entire life into a few suitcases and come here. First and foremost, you need a place to live. Regardless of what part of the world you’re coming from, its going to be a LONG flight. Nothing about Australia is close to anything else so you will undoubtedly be tired and want a hot shower and a few hours of sleep.

There are a lot of resources that one can use to find a place to live. Obviously not everything will be within budget or have everything one needs or wants. As an international student, it is next to impossible to rent an entire apartment by yourself because the setup cost will leave you with nothing.

I haven’t covered renting your own flat as without a rental history, it is very hard for international students to be able to do that especially upon arrival. Maybe after half a year to a year later but not immediately.

You can find a list of links to look for houses in the sidebar.

Before you move on, here are a few things to consider before you begin looking for a place:

What’s your budget? What are your minimum and maximum limits?
Distance from your suburb to your university
Frequency of trains/buses from your suburb to your university (Do trains/buses go there after 11 PM)
Does the rent include bills?
Is there a grocery store like Woolworths, Coles or ALDI in the suburb?
How far is the house from the train station?

Shared Accommodation is the most financially feasible path to take for international students simply because its cheaper, provides them the option of interacting with other people and creating their own social circle. It also introduces them to different cultures which is never a bad thing.

Shared Room

As the name suggests, this means you will be sharing a room with at least one other person and at most 3-4 people at times. Of course, the more people in a hroom, the cheaper the rent. You can expect to pay anywhere between $100-120/person/room depending on what area you’re living in.

This is a very popular form of accommodation for those choosing to live in the Sydney CBD area as no one person can afford the rent in the city. Yes they’re that high and its just not fair!

roomshare2

Sometimes the rent will include the bills and internet. Bills include electricity and/or gas, water and internet, other times the rent will be excluding and it will be mentioned in the advert.

roomshare1

Flatshare / Houseshare

Flat share is where you will be sharing a flat/house with other people. Some people offer individual rooms with slightly higher rent while others offer limited number of people in a room, usually 2 people per room or if you’re lucky your own room.

These places usually have the room furnished with a single bed, a study table and a wardrobe which is all one really needs. Because international students tend to move around a lot, it is impractical to buy a bed and a study table. I would recommend investing in a good mattress though. One can  get a decent mattress for anywhere between $250-400. This may seem high now but trust me, you’ll thank me later.

flatshare2

When its a flatshare or houseshare, people usually offer a fixed price per week which includes everything. Some nice folks even have Foxtel (Satellite TV) at home which gives you something to watch if you have your own TV. (Most places DO NOT have Foxtel included.)

flatshare1

Homestay

Homestay is where a student is placed with a family in their home and the family provides the student with the basic necessities and integration into the Australian culture. The family helps the student integrate into the society, provides a room, adequate study space and meals.

The student in turn pays a fixed weekly rate like anywhere else except there are no extra bills and he/she has the comfort of living at home. Homestay is not easy to get and there is an entire application process and its best to apply through a service that offers to place students in homestay as they have qualified families who they have made sure will be able to cater to the basic needs of the students.

Obviously the student is expected to act accordingly, be responsible and follow the rules set by the host family. If you like your freedom and aren’t really fussed about integrating into a new culture, then homestay might not be what you are looking for.

University Accomodation

All the big universities have student housing on campus which students can rent out. These are recommended for those students who want to live on-campus and pay a premium rate for living close to their university and with other students. These university villages have small shared rooms to entire apartments with individual rooms. Universities like Charles Sturt, University of Sydney, Macquaire Univeristy, University of New South Wales, University of Western Sydney all have these villages for students.

Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive overview. If you have more specific questions, post them in the comments and I will try and answer them.

ISLA and Me

city_of_sydney

At any given time there are a few hundred thousand international students in Australia which makes them a large portion of the society. There are various support programs for students offered by universities and councils to make their stay in Sydney a good one by providing them opportunities to be a part of the Australian community and promote events to other international students.

I was selected for the ISLA program for the City of Sydney where I am  volunteering and working with the City of Sydney on events. The program is open to international students living, studying, working and/or visiting Sydney, and offers free training opportunities to enhance an international student’s communication skills, which become transferable to future careers.

I’ve met some very interesting people from all walks of life and around the world with varied level of interests, expertise and academic backgrounds and universities across Sydney. I’ve attended some training sessions where I’ve learned quite a lot about how things are done and all the various factors that need to be considered. The experience is also extremely valuable in terms of work experience.

The ISLA Program will provide training, mentoring and practical experience to leaders in the international student community with the aims of:

  • Increasing and improving engagement between the City of Sydney and the international education sector
  • Helping international students to better integrate and engage with the City of Sydney community
  • Building the capacity of international student organisations to deliver community events that engage with the greater community.