- Download our Moving to Sydney Guide (PDF)
Expats looking for accommodation in Sydney will find that the process is fairly straightforward, 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 universities and Sydney’s 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 offer more space and usually gardens, making them popular with families.
Found all over Sydney, rowhouses share walls with neighbouring houses on either side. For those who want more space than an apartment can offer but can't quite afford a freestanding house, rowhouses are 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 broaden possibilities.
Listings of available properties can be found on online property portals, estate agency websites and in newspapers.
In most cases, agents will be responsible for showing the property to applicants and handling the application process. Group viewings are the norm and take place at set times. If the property is well priced or in a desirable location, expats should expect to be viewing it with up to a dozen other people.
Accommodation is usually snatched up fast, so being strategic about the timing of viewings can be useful, as fewer attendees mean less immediate competition. There will often be several showings scheduled for a particular property, and weekday viewings are less busy than those on weekends.
Renting accommodation in Sydney
Making an application
Apart from references and income checks, the national '100-point test' must be passed for an 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 add up to at least 100.
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.
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 is typically equivalent to between four and 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 submitted at the end of each month or, in some cases, each fortnight. Expats should note that property in Sydney is often listed with a weekly price. 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. In the scorching summer months, houses with air conditioning will usually experience a spike in electricity costs.
►Read the Areas and Suburbs of Sydney page to get an insight into the city's various neighbourhoods
"Sydney is expensive, there is no getting away from that. That said, public transport is affordable, so if you’re on a strict budget I'd suggest living somewhere close to a train line in the west of the city." Read about British expat Libby's life in Sydney.
Are you an expat living in Sydney?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Sydney. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
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