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02 September, 2015
Making the move to a new country is a daunting enough task on its own. Add in the need to find a great flat in a new city and in a neighborhood that is completely unknown to you and the challenge increases.
An expat new to the area will, of course, not know enough about the area to be able to choose which suburb or neighborhood of a city will be right for them to purchase property in. That is why so many people choose to start their new lives in Australia by first renting a flat.
Over time, when you come to know the ins and outs of your new home, you'll be better equipped to choose a more permanent home, if that's what you want.
It will be good for you to know the different distinctions that Australians use to describe their various properties, in case the terms differ from what you are used to.
Aussie's may refer to their homes as either flats or houses. A house is pretty self-explanatory... they tend to be somewhat larger than flats and normally feature some sort of outdoor space. A flat may be more familiar to you by the term apartment or condo. A one-room flat is also known as a studio.
Units are also flats, but typically larger. They might even feature split levels like some houses.
If you have the time, it would be well worth it for you to visit each one of the neighborhoods that you are considering. This will give you a 'feel' for what it might be like to live there. Get out and walk around. Visit the shops and find out where the schools are located (if you have children).
Consider any commute times if you already have a job lined up. Google maps can also help you with this step. If you don't have the time to visit every potential neighborhood, take advantage of the street view option to get a look around. Calculate commute times using the directions box on the map.
By doing this, you should be able to come up with a short list of desired neighborhoods -- no more than three or four. This will give you a way to pare down your choices from the listings of available rentals.
Make sure that wherever you decide to move, there will be a space to park your car. Parking can be costly in certain areas. If you don't plan to have a car, you'll want to consider locations where public transportation is readily available.
While newspapers always list rental properties, some urban markets can move quickly. In which case, searching online can be more convenient. You will also be able to dial in the search results to your specifications: how many bedrooms you would like, and what type of budget you are working with, for example. A service like Gumtree.com.au will likely yield the best results.
Once you locate a suitable flat, you will want to get in touch with an agent to arrange to view the property. Keeping in mind how fast the markets can move, don't be afraid to call early. If you are connected with their voicemail, leave a message with your contact information. But don't leave it there. Send them an email and follow up with another phone call if you don't hear back within a reasonable amount of time.
In some countries, you can rent a flat sight unseen, but in Australia agents are required to have the tenants view the property first. This means that you may be able to view flats during one of the many open viewings -- or open houses -- that agents hold.
It is a good idea in the faster markets to show up prepared to submit all the necessary applications right away. Bring any paperwork that you might need. This will help your chances of securing a great flat in a competitive environment.
The Expat Briefing brand is owned and operated by Wolters Kluwer TAA Limited.