Starting a new life in Australia, part 4

by Chris Lang on March 1, 2009

Moving home in a car full of boxesI’m back to continue my “Life in Australia” series. I owe you a story about my second round of house hunting, which (surprisingly!) turned out to be tougher than the first one because housing affordability was very low.

Our price range was $230 – $260 a week and we just couldn’t find anything livable for that price, all the vacant rentals were just snapped before our eyes. The fact that we had a dog didn’t make things any easier – it limited us to houses with a large back yard (all the units were out of the question) and we had to pray for a landlord who didn’t mind pets.

Although I have started to search for a house 3 months before the end of my current lease, the time was quickly passing and I just couldn’t find a rental that would agree to have us as tenants. I was applying for 2-3 houses every weekend and all of the agents were rejecting my applications.

Starting to feel a little bit desperate I resorted to several techniques to try and enhance my chances. Suspecting that they were deciding on “first come, first served” bases I started to arrive to inspection with all the necessary documents photocopied so that I only had to fill out the application and then I could submit it on the spot. That didn’t help me one bit and my applications were unsuccessful again and again.

Then I started to offer references from the previous agent to prove that my dog is house trained, well behaved, quiet and won’t be a problem. Again, no luck, and a few more houses were rented to other people.

Out of desperation I started to offer more than the advertised rent. For example, if a house was advertised for $250 a week, I would call the agent and offer $260. I was confident that this technique will work, and was very disappointed when it didn’t.

There were only a couple of weeks left till the end of my current lease when I finally realized that I need to adjust the price range or I will end up living under a bridge. I compromised on the price and on the quality of the house and finally we were able to rent an old house in a poor condition for $280 a week. On top of everything else we had to pay a higher bond because of the dog to cover possible damage to the property.

The house wasn’t so great, but the location was – very close to the tram, and yet in a quiet street, close to the shops, to the market, to cafes and restaurants, walking distance from a shopping centre. Thanks to that we didn’t need to buy a second car, so paying a higher rent was worth it. Let alone the car, the time itself that I saved because of the proximity of the amenities would justify the extra $20 a week.

Moving home this time was more complicated – we had some heavy white goods that wouldn’t fit into our SUV. Being very creative, my partner has bribed his apprentice at work with a six-pack of VB (a popular beer in Victoria) and borrowed his ute (small pick-up truck). This time instead of 2 suitcases we had 2 car-loads of stuff – amazing how much a person accumulates in as little as 6 months!

And here is the bit you were waiting for. Going through this whole ordeal I was learning so much about how the real estate world in Australia works that I just couldn’t help wondering: am I the only one who doesn’t get this system? Am I the only one who needs a vocabulary to read the darn real estate ads? One morning I was riding in a tram on my way to work and decided to document my real estate journey, from a clueless beginner to a confident consumer. This is how was born. I have chosen the name “Home I Own” because it is the Australian dream, to own a home. I too was dreaming about owning a home and was willing to work very hard to achieve it. For every single step I’ve made in that direction, there is a post right here, in

To be continued, come back to read the next part and find out how we bought a house during our second year in Australia.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mohammad February 2, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Your “Life in Australia” series are so appealing that I read them all in an hour!
Thank you indeed for sharing your invaluable experiences with others.


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