I'm from Amsterdam and here it's very common for expats to get active assistance from real estate agents who will select rental properties based on your requirements/preferences and then take you for an afternoon/day to view these properties. Do they also do this in Melbourne? And if so, can anyone recommend me some agencies?

If not, what expectations should I have regarding the time it will take me to find a rental? I was thinking to arrive in Melbourne 10 days before having my first working day at my new job, thinking that would be enough to find an apartment and get settled. Am I being unrealistic here?

  • Note as per the help center, asking for recommendations is off-topic. Also, so is questions on stuff that equally affects locals, like say, looking for an apartment. However, as some aspects of this differ for an expat, I'll address this in an answer.
    – Mark Mayo
    Oct 12, 2015 at 5:33

3 Answers 3


Finding an apartment on its own doesn't justify this being an expat question, but since I've done this myself AND know there are some expat issues with doing so, I'll address those.

It takes time. Many agents will just add you to their email lists for listings. There might be some who will take you around, but most just run open homes and deal with the paperwork (in my experience). In Australia, open homes are often on a Saturday morning, and the agents just won't let you see it another time. So now you have 5 you want to see between 10am and 12pm, which isn't possible as they're all over the city, so you pick and choose say two. Then you get there and find one is under offer, and basically the whole process is painful.

However, this applies to locals too. What differs for expats is the application forms. You're expected to provide recent addresses, sometimes references, and history of your former tenancies. This gets tricky as you have no local history for them to verify with, and many are reluctant to call overseas to check references. However, respectable agencies should do this, it's just a concern with say, independent owners.

You also are expected to provide what is referred to as 100 points of ID. Usually a passport and Aussie driver's license gets you pretty far, but other aspects of this include bank statements, previous utility bills in Australia, and so on. A letter from your company proving your employment, as well as your salary (contract will suffice) is invaluable in meeting these requirements, as is getting a bank account ASAP (you can walk into CBA and walk out an hour later with a bank account).

When I moved to Melbourne from Vancouver, it took me 2-3 weeks to find a shared place that I wanted, and even then, it wasn't available for a couple of weeks. So even if you find the place you want, it might not be ready for you immediately.


TL;DR: Sorry, expecting to find an apartment in 10 days is completely unrealistic.

First, the background: in Australia, it's illegal for a real estate agent to take a commission from a tenant, they make all their money from the landlord. Second, Australian laws are structured so that it's very difficult for a landlord to kick out a tenant once they've moved in. In practice, these two combine to mean it's really difficult to find places to live, especially when you're from outside Australia and have no local credit history.

  1. In Australia, real estate agents will not take you around, they get commission only for their own agency's properties and in fact they generally have insurance that prevents anybody else getting in their car. So it's your job to schedule viewings and transport, which is greatly complicated by the facts that viewings last 15 minutes max (yes, seriously) and are all scheduled on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.

  2. There is a species of specialized real estate agent called a "relocation consultant" who can advise you about the merits of various areas and can take you around to see sample properties. You're generally looking at $1000 and up, up and away to hire one though!

  3. So let's say you find a nice place and want to rent it -- but that's only the first step. You'll then have to submit a "rental application", where you disclose everything about yourself (salary, finances, bank records, ID, ...) and hand it over to the agent, who will immediately move your application to the bottom of the pile because you're a foreigner with no credit history, no local references and (presumably) no permanent residence status in Australia, but will still take a number of days to tell you "No".

I don't mean to be discouraging, but them's the breaks and you need to be prepared for this. When we moved to Melbourne, it took us a full month of searching to find a decent place (and we seriously lucked out, since we got the first place we applied for... although in retrospect we realized that was because we were paying way over the market rate!). Our second move from Melbourne to Sydney was even worse, it took us 6 weeks to find a tolerable place.

The good news is that if you're single, you can find flat shares/subleases that shortcut all this bureaucracy pretty easily, because you're not renting directly. So I'd advise to you find one of these and use it to get your bearings while you search for a "real" place to live.


No, they dont. They take applications, money, etc..., but they dont contact people seeking to be tenants.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.