- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Sydney Guide (PDF)
Expats looking for accommodation in Sydney will find the search a fairly straightforward process, with many good residential areas to choose from in and around the city centre. For most expats, the final choice will depend on budget, proximity to schools and access to public transport.
Types of accommodation in Sydney
City living can be an attractive option for students or young professionals who prefer to be near the universities and vibrant nightlife. Most of the accommodation in these areas will be in the form of apartments.
The outer suburbs of Sydney are largely made up of freestanding houses, most of which come complete with large gardens. These are popular with families, who enjoy the extra space that living in the suburbs affords them.
Found all over Sydney, rowhouses are attached homes that share walls with neighbouring houses on either side. For those who want more space than apartment living can offer but can't quite afford a freestanding house, rowhouses can be a happy medium.
Finding accommodation in Sydney
Many properties in Sydney are managed through estate agents, but it's up to the individual whether they want to work directly with an agency or not. On the one hand, this may give access to properties before they go on the market, but on the other hand, doing the search independently may widen possibilities. Listings of available properties can be found in online property portals and estate-agency websites, which can be browsed freely without initially committing to that agency.
In most cases, agents will be responsible for showing the property to prospective applicants and handling the application process itself. Group viewings are the norm – these take place at set times, and if the property is well priced or in a desirable location, expats should expect to be viewing with up to a dozen other people.
Accommodation is usually swept up fast, so being strategic about the timing of viewings can be useful as fewer fellow viewers mean less immediate competition. There will often be several viewings scheduled for a particular property – where possible, expats should go to viewings held on weekdays during working hours as these tend to be less busy than weekend viewings.
Renting accommodation in Sydney
Making an application
Applications are considered in the order in which they were submitted, so timing is crucial. By law, discrimination of any kind is not permitted, so the first application that meets all requirements for references, documentation and affordability is accepted.
Apart from references and income checks, the national '100-point test' must be passed for the application to be considered. To pass the test, various forms of proof of identification must be submitted – each type of proof is allocated a particular number of points, and the combined submission points must be at least 100.
Leases and deposits
The typical lease length in Sydney is one year, although some agencies may offer shorter or longer periods depending on their internal policies and the needs of clients.
A deposit, or 'bond' as it is locally known, is payable upfront and typically equivalent to four to six weeks' worth of rent. Once the lease expires, the deposit is returned in full as long as there are no damages to the property beyond normal wear and tear.
Rent for accommodation in Sydney is payable monthly and is typically payable at the end of each month or, in some cases, each fortnight. Either way, property is often listed with a weekly price by convention. Expats from countries where the monthly rent is quoted on listings should keep this in mind, especially when they come across what appears to be an unusually good deal.
Utility bills are usually not included in the rental price and are the responsibility of the tenant to pay. In the scorching summer months, houses with air conditioning will usually experience a spike in electricity costs, so expats should make allowance for this.