“What’s this one on for then guys?”
A man passing the group of us couples loitering outside a property for lease in Darlinghurst stopped to ask me more.
“$625 a week” I said.
“Rooms? Parking?” he asked.
“2 bed, 1 bath, 1 car.” I reeled off the details scribbled in my notebook.
“That’s great!” he said. We knew, that’s why we were there. “I might take a look myself.”
And that’s how competitive renting a house in Sydney is. Unlike London where you tend to arrange a private viewing with the current tenant, agents in Sydney hold 15 minute open inspections of properties once they have been vacated. All interested parties gather at the same time, jostling for space to see the size of the closet and quality of the light fittings, eyeing each other up to see whose application is more likely to be accepted.
For that’s another thing they do differently here. On inspection days often it is not the property being judged but you. Sydney rental properties are in such high demand that the agents can pick who they think will be the best tenants. I see one make notes on me: ‘London. Trench coat,’ she wrote. I wasn’t sure if that was going to go in my favour or not.
When we landed in Sydney last Friday (yes it’s only been a week!) I scanned realestate.com.au for open inspections in the Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, and Paddington areas, which we had decided on a previous visit suited our style best (all halfway between city and beach, heaps of cafes and an Islington in London-like feel). I lined up an ambitious 8 properties and we whizzed around them all, sometimes bumping into the same agents and the same prospective tenants. The period properties I so desired were a little too vintage on the inside, some coming with a little damp thrown in or hideous strip lighting like the 2 bed bargain in Darlinghurst. The gentleman who had spontaneously joined us on that inspection also decided it wasn’t for him.
“You guys need to act fast when you find one you like,” he told us. “Have your application forms filled out already and send them in the same day. You’ll need personal and professional references, ideally from Oz, as well as records of employment contracts, payslips, utility bills….”
“Look,” he continued, “I rent out a lot of properties myself. Here’s my card. If you need a reference or any help at all just drop me a line.”
I eyed him suspiciously. I even stealthily checked my handbag to make sure we hadn’t just been robbed (10 years in London will do that to you) but it turns out he was just a helpful passerby. We consequently emailed him and he sent us yet more house hunting tips although sadly none of the places he owned were available at the moment.
“That’s Australia babe,” said my Aussie boyf who wasn’t as staggered by this random act of kindness as I was.
As the week wore on we widened our search. I gave up my dream of a Surry Hills Georgian terrace (for now) and started to see the attraction of shiny new builds. I managed to snag a private viewing of a property in Waterloo (just south of Surry Hills and nearer the airport) on Wednesday and we loved it. Wearing my most professional specs I started to explain a little of our situation to the agent so he was prepped for when our application came through. Having arrived 4 days prior we were a little short on the documents people usually submit for the 100 point ID check and pages full of history and references. The agent, thankfully, seemed to like us and gave us some tips for alternative documents that might work.
We went to town collating and scanning work references, landlord references, old utility bills, copies of passports, debit cards, personal referees and submitted the application form the following night.
In the meantime we also viewed and submitted an application for an alternative property in Surry Hills, just to hedge our bets, although on inspection day we found out someone had applied for the property before viewing it just based on the info online!
But yesterday afternoon we got the call. Our application on the Waterloo pad had been approved. We had to put down 1 week’s rent to take it off the market, we sign the lease on Monday and will get the keys next Saturday. Hurrah.
It’s a modern open plan apartment with a study big enough for two and a balcony large enough for 6 seater dining, potted plats and a giant BBQ. The complex comes with parking and has a communal lap pool (where I can work off all of those cakes!) We’re temptingly close to trendy brunch spots like Grounds of Alexandria and Bread & Circus and I can’t wait to move in.
Only thing is Aussie rental properties come completely empty. Our shopping list for the weekend looks a little like this:
Fridge/freezer, washing machine, bed, sofa, TV, dining table, coffee table, lamps, cushions, candles, artwork….
You get the idea!
For more information on moving to Sydney check out this Sydney Moving Guide I recently discovered.
Missed the big news? Check out I’ve Moved To The Land Down Under!