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First three months in Melbourne


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Hello all,


I'm taking this opportunity to write up a report on our first three months in Melbourne. We emigrated from the UK and Malaysia as a de facto couple. I am sponsored by a company on a 457.


When our visas were granted I flew out the following week and started working two days later. This of course made it harder to find accommodation, of which this first part is about.




Finding a place is time-consuming and frustrating. Be aware of that.



We were looking for a 1 bedroom apartment, or decent studio, around Richmond, Collingwood, South Yarra, City Centre kind of areas.


We started by viewing whatever we thought looked good on various websites. But time after time, once I went to view them, I was disappointed. I'm pretty sure I complained about it in a post a couple of months back if you want to know more. But basically, photos are heavily doctored, so they no longer represent what they are meant to be showing. What looked clean, bright and spacious in a photo, 95% of the time ended up being dirty, gloomy and cramped. If what looked good in photos was rubbish in reality, I hated to think what a not-so-good place would be like.


Because of this I ended up switching my criteria as my partner was joining me and they would likely be spending a lot of time at home, I started looking for modern new-build apartments with more facilities and generally more pleasant. I visited half a dozen or so new blocks, often multiple apartments in the same new block. These were often not more expensive than the run-down places, so I thought this was the way to go. Many were seriously small though, one new building seemed to be full of what I considered bonzai apartments. I think they were about 30 m2 area. Anyway, I started to apply for pretty much every one I went to see, which is where the next obstacles awaited.



I found the whole process of dealing with estate agents mostly very frustrating.


As a prospective tenant, I felt I didn't even appear on their radar, or worse, which seemed weird and not right. A lot of them plain ignored me. I was always polite and writing emails saying I was interested in an apartment. I would send emails, messages, leave voice mail messages asking to see a place or for feedback on an application etc. Very rarely would I hear back.


The norm is to hold 'inspection times', and everyone goes around at the same time. So everyone also applies at the same time. I think there are numerous posts here on this topic, but we were in the new immigrants with no rental history category. Over time I added more and more info to my applications- bank statements, savings statements, birth certificates, job offer letters (current and even previous employer), driving licences, passports, etc etc, offered to pay a few months rental upfront, but still nothing. Then I wrote the equivalent of a cover letter, introducing myself and my partner, who we were, where we came from, what we did for work and our clean and tidy nature. Then my employer also wrote a letter saying they would guarantee the rental if necessary, and still nothing, until eventually we got lucky several applications later. It felt like Christmas.


We probably viewed about 30 places overall. Where we ended up is in fact one of the better ones I have viewed, and a reasonable size, being about 60m2 including decent balcony. Once we had confirmation the landlord had accepted it was still another few weeks before we coud move in.


The agency we are with are good sometimes, though they appeared semi invisible in the earlier stages.


Moving in


Even moving in was more frustrating than it could have been. We had to reserve a 'move-in appointment'. We weren't even told of this in advance, so when we were told about it, I phoned up and was told all spaces were taken for the next 10 days. It was hard to arrange an appointment coinciding with time off, deliveries from Ikea etc.. In the end, I don't even think so called move in slots were necessary as even at our slot, the building seemed 90% vacant still. Everything seems to be overly complicated and far more time-consuming for everyone than it needs to be.


We managed to move in and have the essentials into our new apartment in the nick of time just before Christmas : )


Living here


To be honest, we both find many people not as welcoming as we expected. We always say Hi to people we pass coming and going down the corridors and in the communal areas. About half the time we are ignored, which surprises me for some reason.


We would like to get out and be more social, but we are still looking for work for my other half. It's very hard. We've tried continuing with her previous career, and in spite of a few interviews and a second interview, it hasn't worked out. Like estate agencies, companies don't seem to care or have the courtesy to acknowledge applcications even when one goes through so much effort and preparation in applying.


Then we tried volunteering, but it dindn't cover the original reason for doing it which was to meet and get to know some local people. It was also to get some local job experience but it was just too dull and solitary and the time was better spent applying and planning for other jobs.


Now we are trying to find her work as a coffee barista. Did a training course and an RSA course, but still no luck. All demand experience so far, though still applying. It's early for this plan, and we'll start reaching out to look farther afield.


It's frustrating for her, though we know there are many other people in the same situaton. We are also considering our own business plans, but these are long term things and right now she just wants to work.


I also think we should try harder to be more social and join some group or club or something that interests us. Having moved aboad before, I know it takes a long time to settle in and make friends.





The members on this forum have been super helpful to us, so I hope this feedback is of interest to others out there who may soon be going through similar things.


Thanks :)

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Guest The Pom Queen

What a lovely update thank you so much for taking the time to write it.

I totally agree with you on the rental process in Melbourne it is so stupid. There are so many properties and people wanting them why do they have to make you jump through hoops. Agents do treat you like second class citizens it's because there is such a high demand for properties they don't need to chase you.

I am so sorry to hear your partner is struggling where is she looking? What does she want to do? As you say most want experience but if they don't give you experience you are in a catch twenty two. As she asked if she could volunteer at a soup kitchen or the Samaritans.

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This is a brilliant and detailed update on your first few months in Mel, thank you for this.

I am surprised to hear the problems you had with your flat/house hunt as my brother and my friend had a completely different experience. I think the key difference is you had a job and had to start work while hunting for a place, which isnt easy at all. My friend took just a week to get a studio in the CBD and he wasn't working, although I dont think he really cared about how big the flat was. I agree that flats tend to be a lot smaller and different from the pictures they actually put online.

My brother took about 2 weeks to find a place in Sydney, but again not a big issue and they are in the CBD as well.


Our flat hunt will be very similar to yours because we will look for a decent sized flat close to the CBD and will arrive on 189s with no jobs in hand, so I am expecting a lot of rejects and unanswered calls/emails before we get a decent place to rent.


All the best ahead and hope your partner finds a good job soon, enjoy the good life!



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Great honest appraisal of what its like to settle in Melbourne. I am ashamed to say our real estate people think they are professional but they are not. Half of them could not give a hoot. They whole system needs a good overhaul. There are some good agents but in my experience few and far between and usually on the outskirts of the city. Its a joke what tenants have to put up with, cleaning carpets, spraying for pets, what does rent cover. Remember tax is claimed for costs with the unit. Funny how the tenant has to pay the expenses.


Just had to moan because I have watched people really struggle over the years to get rentals. You are lucky you do not have dog or children haha.


Anyway you have set it out for people and hopefully your information will make it easier for those that follow.

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Hi and thank you for the replies to my post! I wasn't sure how well it would go down if at all, but I know I appreciated reading honest stories when I was approaching all this before, so I'm glad you liked reading it.


Pom Queen, you mention in Melbourne it is this stupid, do you mean to say in other cities it is not this system? I have been assuming the whole country would be the same as it is here.


Our original plan had been for me to arrive at least one week in advance of starting work, but the visa process was taking longer than the company expected and they were urgently needing extra help. We moved into a second temporary accommodation for 3 weeks before we got into our own place. Inconvenient moving our luggage, but we had a nice view on the 50th floor :)


As for my partner, she was in advertising and media before, but the main hurdles appear to have been not having local market knowledge/ experience, and nobody willing to give her a chance even at a lower, entry level or support role. She worked in a charity shop for a few days. We were hoping/ expecting her to be out front where she could interact with other people and customers, but instead but she was out back where everyone was silent and working in their own spot independently and minding their own business.


Also dozens of general admin roles applied for but not heard back from any of them, even though she has a lot of experience in an office analyzing and making reports, client meetings, presentations, you name it.


Now she's been doing some training as a coffee barista, to try and open up more options, ie, getting some certificates and doing the RSA course also. We've even bought a home espresso machine so she can practise :) While not the same as doing it in a commercial business and doesn't count as experience, it's better than nothing and she's concentrating on coffee art to make that a useful skill to potential employers.


Now we're even considering a career change so we can work together on a freelance basis one day (I'm already in a creative field though full-time employed), where she is not dependent on having to work in an office under somebody else. She happens to be of a creative and inspirational mind too and I know there is potential for that. We would start her on a course studying now, but we need to both work to pay for it as it isn't cheap.


She's great at cooking and loves to bake, and if I wasn't already her partner I'd hire her to cook for me anyday :)


Anyway, point to all this being, we're trying everything we can, with eyes forward!



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