Housing - find a place to live

Also see Beginning a Life in Australia (Chapter 7 – Housing)

One of the first things you will need to do when you move to Australia is to find appropriate accommodation in the city or town where you are planning to live. You will need to make a decision on whether you want to buy or rent a property. This section will give you information on housing in Australia, ways to find the right property for you and who to go to for help.

Renting

Many new arrivals to Australia rent or lease a property in the short term. There are many different options available for renting properties in Australia and you should find the one that works best for you. Renting is a more flexible option than buying a property. You can also find sharing options where you live with one or more persons.

Finding a property

When you are ready to start looking for somewhere to live, there are a variety of ways to find something that is suitable for your needs and price range.

  • Online property search engines can help you look at suburbs or price ranges, allowing you to input a specific set of parameters and investigate the market. The best search engine can vary from state to state, city to city, so be sure to use several.
  • Newspapers will often have property sections featuring advertisements for properties available to rent or buy.
  • Real estate agencies in your area can show you a range of properties they are trying to rent.

When you have identified a possible property, always attend an inspection of the property to ensure that you notice any flaws or damage before you move in. It also gives you a chance to look at the neighbouring properties and get to know the owner or real estate agent.

Rights and obligations

You will generally need to sign a lease with either the owner of the property or a real estate agent when renting. The lease will set out the contractual obligations of both parties. Ensure that you read and understand the lease before signing.

Advice and factsheets for each Australian state and territory are available from the links below. This information will help you with issues that may arise during your tenancy and are useful to read before you enter into a contract.

Buying

Buying a property is a big decision. In Australia, property is very expensive to purchase and will take several decades to pay off unless you have a substantial amount of savings. Most Australians purchase property through use of mortgages supplied by a bank, building society or mutual fund. The Money - managing your finances section of these pages provides more information and listings of the organisations that operate in Australia.

There are a range of factors to consider when buying property. Conducting research and getting advice from many different sources will better place you to make the right decision for you. Always think about your future when buying a property as what you need now (size, location, type of property etc.) may change over time. Finding properties to buy is the same process as finding properties to rent. You will almost always have to deal with a real estate agent during a purchase.

The MoneySmart guide to Buying a home gives you a breakdown of steps to take before you will be ready to buy. The site also includes a range of calculators, checklists and feature stories.

Australia has strict laws on foreign investment. You will need permission from the Foreign Investment Review Board to buy a house or land if you are not a permanent resident currently living in Australia.

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Help and assistance

Legal Assistance

You will need to engage the services of a lawyer in the purchase of a property. If you cannot afford to hire your own legal services, there are Legal Aid offices in each state and territory. They can assist you with legal advice.

See:

Public housing

State and territory governments provide some rental housing, called public housing, for people on low incomes. The rent is often a fixed part of your income. There is a very long waiting list for public housing. Emergency housing may be available in some cases of extreme need.

For more information about public housing in a particular state or territory see:

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