G. Lopez and his wife relocated back to Melbourne after living in Paris for almost two years. I’ve asked them if they can write down their experience so people like yourself who are moving here will have an idea of what you are up against.  

Read about their Melbourne rental house search experience below. 

What’s it like to flat hunt in Melbourne?

As a Frenchman moving back to Melbourne from Paris (a notoriously difficult rental market), I thought that all my housing problems were over…. To my surprise, the Melbourne rental market was not the walk in the park that I was expecting!

Over the past few weeks, my Australian wife and I have been trying to find a one bedroom flat with a budget of $400 AUD per week (excluding bills) in Melbourne.

This works out to be $20,800 per year, which is significant, but a reasonable amount for a one-bedroom apartment in Melbourne. Our requirements for the flat were quite simple: one bedroom, separate lounge area, bathroom and a parking spot in an inner city suburb. Having lived here 2 years before and being married to a local, I presumed finding a flat wouldn’t be too hard. But yet, it proved to be a task that even Chuck Norris would struggle with.

The frustrating flat hunting process was broken down into 4 struggles:

  1. Melbourne rental market has become super competitive.

It might have been the timing (it was in February which is just before the university year starts in Australia), but the inspection queues were almost as long as a queue to a Justin Bieber concert. One real estate agent confessed to receiving 46 applications for one of the apartments we inspected (we applied but were not successful). It’s now common practice that some people will offer significantly more than the advertised price or pay 6 months’ rent in advance to secure a place that they like.

  1. The open for inspection is short (but not sweet)

Inspections are set by the real estate agents and it’s a “rush in, rush out” kind of tour. The real estate agents will open the property, give you a form to apply and then go! – you’ve got 10-15 minutes to scour over the apartment, crowded up to your neck with other house-hunters.

  1. What you see is not what you get.

Often we would be lured in by the photos or descriptions in the online advertisements.  When you don’t have a detailed knowledge of Melbourne, you might not pick up that your dream apartment is actually next to a super loud bar or noisy tram line. “Close walk from the station” was actually 10 minutes (by car). “Cozy” is actually tiny. “Well-Maintained” means not renovated. And don’t get me started on “funky retro décor”.

  1. The admin side of it will kill your soul

Online searches, applications, inspections, emails, printing, scanning… and you don’t even have a place with internet yet. Even once you are successful in finding an apartment, you will need to fill in a lot of time-consuming paperwork and thoroughly inspect the property to fill out a condition report and then set up all of your utilities.

Let’s be honest – the real estate agent does not really care about you and you’ll constantly have to go back and forth to their office to drop off documents, bank cheques, pick up keys and other pesky admin matters.

To conclude, as a freshly scarred victim of the flat hunting trauma, I can certainly tell you that if you are looking for a flat in Melbourne, prepare yourself for a rollercoaster of emotions.

G. Lopez and T. Alexander eventually found their one bedroom apartment after inspecting over 15 apartments in 5 different suburbs. Because both of them were not working yet, it took them 12 days before they secured their apartment and another 5 days before they moved in.