Choosing the right apartment in Sydney/anywhere

I can be a tad impulsive when it comes to making decisions like these. If like myself, you’ll eventually learn through trial and error. Or… you can just read this!

1. Stay in the city for at least 7 days before moving-in

  • Get to know the neighbourhoods. You’ll find out what areas appeal to you, where would be most convenient (ie. close to grocery stores, public transport) and the difference in rent between communities (by the beach: $$$).

 
2. Decide who you’d prefer to live with

  • My dearest female readers: men are the EASIEST to live with. Just look for a clean and reasonably-organized bunch.

 

3. The area

  • Is the place on a busy street or close to train tracks? Yes, I love my sleep.
  • Is there parking?
  • Where is the closest grocery store, post office and bank/ATM?
  • How far is access to public transportation?

 

4. Snoop around and get these questions answered

  • Is there air-conditioning?
  • Is there a washer AND dryer (during the summer you could pass with a simple clothes-line)?
  • What room would you be moving into and what does the mattress look like? No one likes bed bugs.
  • Have there been any cases of bed bugs in the last 2 years?
  • Would you be sharing a room? If so find out about your roommate. If they happen to be there then get a feel for what they’re like. Is their side of the room organized or a mess? Does he/she work? What are their working hours like (9-5, overnights etc.)?
  • Is there a security system in place and/or is there a lock to your bedroom?
  • How are household responsibilities shared?
  • Does the place itself look clean? You’re aiming for cockroach-free. 🙂
  • How many people share one bathroom?
  • Does the bathroom have a window and proper ventilation? Mold is NOT your friend.

 

5. Financials

  • Rent… obviously.
  • Is there a bond? How much?
  • How does the landlord insist on receiving rent (electronically, funds transfer etc.)?
  • Is there a contract? For how long?
  • How much notice is needed before moving out?

 

6. Your landlord

  • If you have the chance, ask one of your potential roommates what they think of the landlord. You’re looking for a landlord that is prompt on getting back to you and quick to address concerns you may have.

 

Anything you think I should add? Comment below and spare others the trial and error. 🙂

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NAB account, Aussie phone no., free WiFi and supermarkets

Today I opened a chequing account (transaction account) with the National Australian Bank (NAB). The branch is just a 5 min walk from the hostel and right across the street from Market City and Paddy’s (a flea market and large fruit market). The bank teller was most helpful and made opening the account a breeze. Gave him my ID (passport, license etc.) and I was set. I was told to pick up the bank card from the branch in 7 days. Your transaction account will automatically get you an attached savings account. The one I opened has an interest rate of 5%! The teller told me that rate’s an all-time low for Australia… usually it’s around 6.2%!

Ohhhh, my cell phone. So I arrived in Oz thinking that my cell phone was already unlocked. Negative. I bought a SIM for $2 and loaded it with $20 from Vodafone. They have stores located all over and their customer service is awesome. They also have a large branch right in Syndey’s Botany airport. Great for anyone who wanted to get that taken care of upon landing. You could also buy the SIM cards from any convenience store… they all sell them. I bought mine from a close by 7/11. The SIM comes with an instruction booklet that leads you through the simple registration process where you’re given a new number and PINs. And that’s when I found out my phone was locked. I threw in the new SIM and my phone prompted me to enter an unlock code… womp womp. I went to Market City and found a stand called ANT where they unlocked it for $40.

All McDonald’s locations (and many little coffee shops) have free WiFi… awesome considering the $3/hr I’d been paying to use the internet at the hostel. I Skyped with the fam for the first day today. It was hilarious! My parents have a tiny netbook with a built in camera, and somehow they managed to get all of them to fit their faces into the small screen… all of them (mom, pop, brother, grandmother, uncle). My 85-year old grandmother was amazed… she didn’t believe such technology existed. Hilarious. The people sitting around and behind me seemed to enjoy the entertaining conversation.

I’m pretty sure I walked around the same 3 streets—up and down—a good 5 times each. By the time I found Paddy’s it was closed. Mondays? Closed? Really? Means I’ll be getting some groceries bright and early tomorrow. (UPDATE: Mondays and Tuesdays!)

I’ve also been looking into a few low cost tours and interesting places to walk around. So far there are a few vintage stores I’m planning on checking out in Surry Hills, as well as taking a trip to Bondi Beach. An American sitting next to me on my flight to Denver mentioned there’s an awesome restaurant there called Iceberg’s, or something close to that name.

Do you guys know of any unique or random places I shouldn’t dare pass up? Let me know! 🙂

Where to look for apartments in Australia

In a previous post I mentioned that I’d be comfortable making a minimum of $1000/wk….. baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! It’s lookin’ like that minimum’s turning into a need-be guarantee.

You could get by making the bare minimum while travelling, but it looks like Sydney’s going to be a tad more expensive then originally planned.

I’ll be getting everything together when I arrive in my first week, but I figured now’s close enough (to my departure date) to check out a few listings for apartments. Here’s where I’ve been lookin’:

AirBnB is great site. You’ll find listings for hotels, hostels, vacation rentals and apartments with pictures, the property’s available amenities (Wi-Fi, kitchen, washer/dryer) and more. You also have the option of emailing the property owner directly to work out the exact dates you’d like to make a reservation, or for any other questions.

GumTree is equivalent to Canada/US’s Kijiji or Craigslist. Property owners are free to share as much or as little info as desired. You’ll need to poke around and ask a few questions. You’ll likely find more ads here (compared to AirBnB), which also means more to filter through. GumTree also gives you the option to search under specific headings, such as ‘couch surfing,’ ‘short term,’ ‘shared accommodation’ and more.

Realestate.com is specific to Australia. You’ll be able to filter your search by how many bedrooms, bathrooms, min./max. budget, car spaces etc. You can bank on this being a more established site as well. And for those looking to buy properties, you can search this site too!

A note of caution: Make sure you’ve seen the apartment and signed a legitimate contract with the property owner/manager. NEVER…. EVER agree to an apartment before seeing it or departing from home. There was an awesome looking apartment on AirBnB, and after talking to the contact, she informed me that she’d need a deposit, that she’s working in the UK and that she could mail the key over to me in Canada. Sorry… no dice there woman. Should’ve figured something was fishy… this was a 3-bedroom apartment, each room with an en-suite bath and cheap rent.

Any tips or something you’d like to add? Need not be Australia-specific. 🙂