Melbourne is Australia’s fastest-growing city, and the cost of real estate and limited availability of accommodation reflects this.
In the first week of March 2010, home sales in Melbourne shattered all previous records by topping out over $1 billion in a single weekend. Unfortunately, for those looking to buy, the trend shows no signs of slowing. Nearly 2000 people relocate to Melbourne each week, all needing a place to live. With the lack of available land for new developments, and the common desire to live close to the city center, home and property prices in and around Melbourne will continue to rise.
Melbourne’s eclectic mix of older architecture and newer, ultra-modern homes and apartment blocks offer a range of living options. Whether you choose a sky-high, glass-walled apartment in a new building with city views, or a ground-level brick attached terrace house, there is a wide variety of distinct housing, and distinct suburbs in which to live.
Within the Central Business District (CBD) most of the housing available is in large, newer apartments, or renovated industrial spaces that have been subdivided and refurbished into luxury flats. If you are looking to buy, there is no lack of city homes on the market that could be yours, provided you have the means to afford them. If looking to rent within the city, be prepared for high density, high prices, and high competition. Due to a lack of affordable inner-city rentals, available units or homes are sometimes only open for inspection for 15 minutes, in which time the real estate agents showing them can expect to receive over 50 applications.
Moving outwards from the city you will find the inner suburbs. Density here is lower, and detached and semi-detached homes are available more affordably. However, the competition to find a rental can be just as fierce as in the city, especially before a new university term. As the many universities around Melbourne attract a large number of foreign students, housing can grow more scarce with the influx of new students before the start of the term.
Finding a rental or home to buy before arriving in Melbourne can be extremely difficult and in many cases impossible. Given the speed at which available rental properties fill and the common practice of auctioning homes for sale, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to secure long-term accommodation before your arrival. As many real estate agents and property managers require the individuals who will occupy the residence to sign a lease personally, the use of an agent or representative is not advised.
For an ex-pat who is new to the city, there are a number of options available to you for accommodation upon arrival. If possible, staying with friends or family until you can secure long-term accommodation is a practical option. Baring that, there are long-stay options that are more affordable than several weeks in a hotel. Serviced apartments (furnished multi-room suites that include kitchens, and serviced by housekeeping staff) are available throughout the city and inner suburbs for weekly costs that are generally less expensive than a hotel room, but more expensive than the cost of renting a similar property.