Moving to Sydney
An Insider’s Guide to Living in Syndey
This Sydney relocation guide is designed with the intention of helping expats and business travellers to settle into Sydney. This guide explores all the practical issues that those new to the city may face when moving to Sydney, answering questions that many have asked before. The e-book is published one chapter at a time and here you will find the first chapter: Accommodation in Sydney.
In this chapter, we will outline the minutia of the rental market in Sydney, in addition to offering countless pieces of practical knowledge for those looking to move to Sydney.
A Guide for the Bold and Brave
This guide has been designed to help prospective residents of Sydney understand the nuances of the Sydney apartment rental. Regardless of whether you’ve already selected a moving date or whether you’re still weighing up options, this eBook will navigate you through the need to know knowledge pertaining to the Sydney property market.
The Sydney property market has recently entered a period of price falls. Well publicised as one of the most expensive places to live in the world, Sydney’s property market has been no exception and house prices have been rising until recently. For the first time in many years, property prices are dropping in Sydney, so if ever there was a time to anticipate a move to the city, it might well be now. Especially if you’re considering staying there long term and potentially buying. If you’re renting, there’s still great competition - as with any city - but follow our guide to make the most of your search and stay several steps ahead of the game.
1.1 Need vs Want
When looking for a new home, you may typically have an image of what it looks like in your mind: does the property have a garden? Do you need space for children? Will the landlord accept pets? How close is the property to public transport? Is the property a commutable distance from work?
Soon, one will arrive at a list of negotiables and non-negotiables: the needs and the wants. Once you have arrived at these deal-breakers, the number of potential properties available will become significantly smaller and much easier to navigate.
As with all major cities, Sydney’s rental market can be a fierce one. Despite plenty of new property being built, it is still very much in demand and like yourself, people are constantly pouring into Sydney. Your rent therefore, may cost you up to 40% of your salary. We recommend that you register with instant email alerts from property rental sites like domain.com.au to stay connected to the latest happenings. Furthermore, we suggest that you call rather than email to declare interest. Most people moving house in Sydney use an agent, so ensure you get yourself a good one and keep up the communication with them. Be clear on your budget and your requirements from the off-set.
It’s great to write a letter specific to each agent - perhaps even before you arrive in Sydney. Tell them your visa status, your arrival date, employment status and exactly what you’re looking for. It’s good to be specific. Emails for these agents are usually listed at the bottom of properties on Domain.com.au.
Be aware that you may go to view a property in Sydney and find that you’re outbid on rental price there and then by others also viewing the property. This may happen to you another twenty times because great rentals are so hard to come by. The best way to deal with this is to be incredibly well prepared. Can you afford to give some rent up front? Consider this. Also, do you have all the correct paperwork in order? Regardless of the country of your previous tenancies, have a reference prepared. A Sydney landlord may also want to see a copy of your Visa or even your employment contract.
Moreover, the landlord will require proof of your identity in the form of your passport. It’s also good to supply your immigration status, employment status and credit history. Having the aforementioned documentation prepared renders your prospective offer on a property more attractive.
Here’s a list of exactly what you may be asked to present to your estate agent or landlord, it would be wise to prepare all of this documentation before approaching them!
- Birth Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Tertiary Education Student ID card
- Mortgage documents
- Letter from employer (current or, sometimes accepted, within last 2 years)
- ATM card, credit card, bank book, bank statement from Australian bank
- Medicare Card (For those moving from the UK)
- International driver’s licence
- Marriage certificate
A typical Sydney lease can be up to twelve months but there is a lot of flexibility with this in Sydney. Be aware that the city is known for its unstable rental market - so be clear with your agent and landlord on how long you will be required to or can stay in your apartment.
|Castlereagh Street Apartments, Sydney||Bourke Street Residences, Sydney|
Furnished vs Unfurnished
An important issue to consider before moving into a new property is whether a property is furnished or unfurnished. This decision is entirely at the landlord’s discretion. Naturally, such a decision is likely to influence your decision, be it the idea of waiting for your furniture to arrive or having to visit the local store to purchase new furniture. Most Sydney apartments include little in the way of moveable items. Appliances like kettle and toasters aren’t always a prerequisite or guaranteed.
If you’re unsure about what is or isn’t included in the property, don’t be afraid to ask. The more questions you have answers to, the more comfortable you will be when signing a contract.
1.2 Where to Look
Sydney is a beautiful city that benefits from great temperatures in summer, with some change in the seasons come winter, as well as a fast-paced city feel with all the pros of living in a metropolitan hub. Think refined dining, plenty of shopping centres, world-class hotels, beautiful verdant parks and impressive entertainment. There’s so much going on here that you’re spoiled for choice in terms of looking for the perfect neighbourhood.
Sydney will definitely spoil you for choice in terms of great neighbourhoods to live in, but the below is an indication on what you might pay to live in each of the city’s areas.
We recommend using our Area Guides as a means of exploring what Sydney has to offer, too.
The city is split into 5 main areas, with beaches, bars, cafes, restaurants and parks to enjoy across the five zones, depending on what you want.
- Eastern Suburbs
- Northern Beaches
- The City
- Sutherland Shire
- Inner West
Agents & Landlords
For the most part, every landlord will have an agent to deal with their house rental. In a competitive rental market of short stay leases (sometimes only up to 3 weeks!) it doesn’t benefit the landlord not to list with an agent. This means that you will almost always need to deal with an agent when looking for a place to rent of your own in Sydney. This may be slightly different should you want to live in a shared home, because there are many Facebook groups that exist for house shares however you tend to be better protected going through an agent.
Online Search Tools
Countless websites offer impartial letting advice on properties across Sydney. The most well known is domain.com.au.
1.3 Need to Know
A tenancy agreement is a contractual document between tenant and landlord, typically overseen by an agent. The tenancy agreement outlines the requirements of both tenant and landlord. Every reputable landlord will provide a tenancy agreement for both parties to sign. It is crucial to diligently read through this document and challenge any grey areas as it is legally binding.
Typically, the contents of a tenancy agreement include:
- Confirmation of money the tenant must pay per month.
- Confirmation of the date which money must be paid to the landlord.
- Conditions around late payments and missed payments.
- The agreed length of tenancy - be aware this might not be defined in Sydney as tenancies can be terminated much sooner that the international standard of 12 months.
- The amount charged for a security deposit.
- A set of rules and regulations to which the tenant must abide by or otherwise face eviction.
Before securing the property of your dreams, you must be financially prepared to commit to the property.
Although there are no universal rental commission rates imposed across the industry, agencies will usually charge admin fees to find your property and finally seal the deal. The agent’s fee can vary and may depend on the cost per month of your rental property so be aware and ask right at the beginning of your engagement with them to avoid any nasty surprises.
The above is what generally happens but this isn’t law in Sydney and common practice may vary across agents. The best thing to do in this instance is be prepared to pay an agency fee on top of your deposit to your landlord and the first month’s rent and ask any agent you deal with in advance. As always, it pays to shop around.
It’s obviously always best to check with your landlord and property agent first to see what is covered by your rent but usually, it is your responsibility to cover the utility bills in Sydney. This includes water (Either Sydney Water or Hunter Water), gas, electricity (The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal can advise on best options here for you) as well as your internet and telephone bills. It’s also worth discussing parking permits and if your parking is free / requires an additional parking permit fee.
In some areas, properties have substantial communal areas that require additional maintenance fees. These will be stipulated in the contract.
You landlord should be responsible for looking after:
- Washing machine
- Basic kitchen equipment
1.4 Good to Know
Transporting your dearest possessions to Sydney by yourself can be a struggle. However, countless companies are dedicated to transporting your possessions to your new home. Search tools like Bestglobalmovers.com will provide various no obligation quotes based on your needs. We recommend that you shop around for the best quote before committing. Request quotes from around three months before you plan to travel and don’t be afraid to negotiate. Remember to check the insurance requirements of all removal companies before committing to them.
- International Storage & Haulage-how much will it cost to escort your closest possessions to Sydney.
- Consider the total sum of your monthly outgoings; include rent, utilities, internet, council tax and maintenance costs.
- When will you rent be reviewed?
- Is it possible to extend your tenancy after it finishes?
- Is there room to negotiate the price of your rent?
- Have you been given a copy of the tenancy agreement?
- Is your security deposit protected by the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme?
- Will the property be furnished or unfurnished?