“Balcony rent for $300/week in Sydney”: International students are facing chanllenges due to rent hikes in Sydney

Students are forced to move to a more distant area?

The rental shortage is putting pressure on tenants. Peter Rae. Sydney Morning Herald.

Story background

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, more than 260,000 Chinese international students studying in Australian universities before 2019, the outbreak of Covid-19, and brought over 13 billion dollar incomes. The number had a significant decrease during the epidemic period due to travel restrictions. However, after the Chinese government’s announcement of a ban on online classes, there were estimated 40,000 Chinese students returning to Australia.

Due to the recently rent hikes in Sydney, it is becoming more and more challenging for Chinese international students to find a room at an acceptable price. According to Domain Rent Report in 2023, the average rental cost in Sydney has increased 24%, and reached $620/week compared to 2022.

Domain annual report that shows rental increase
Domain Annual Repoert in March, 2023

It has been reported that people are renting out balcony for $300/week in Sydney CBD area. Therefore for international students, if their budgets were not high enough, it could be notably challenging for them to find room that is not too far from the schools. In addition, even if international students are willing to pay a higher price, their disposable budget will be affected, which may lead to a significant reduction in their quality of life.

Topic, genre and angle

The feature story will focus on the challenges that international students face in aspects of renting accommodations in Sydney due to the recent rent hikes in Sydney. In addition to high rental prices, budget, area of residence, affordability, commuting time and quality of life will be decisive factors as well. I will explore and present the most popular suburbs for international students, and the rental costs in those areas. I will conduct interviews with international students who are facing the challenge, in aspects of their experiences and feelings. I will also interview rental agents including mine, to further understand the rental market and their opinions on this crisis.

Targeted audiences and publication

This feature story will be published on Sydney Morning Herald and Junkee because these two publishers had plenty of reports about rent hikes and international students. Sydney Morning Herald is one of the major newspaper agencies in Australia with high popularity, by publishing on Sydney Morning Herald, this feature story will attract more attention from audiences. Junkee is a news website, its targeted demographic is 18-29 years old audiences, young people might face the challenge themselves even if they were not international students, because their budget might not be hight enough as well. The targeted audiences for this feature story are the international students, tenants, house owners and agents. These groups are both involved in the rent hikes directly, and they will be interested in the story.

Sources of information

  1. Domain (data)
  2. Sydney Morning Herald (news report)
  3. au.com (news report)
  4. Abc.net.au (news report)


  1. International students, those who experienced rent hikes or faced the challenges such as insufficient budget, decline in living standard because of the rise of rental cost or forced to live in a suburb far from school.
  2. Agents, the prices they offer, situations under the rent hikes

Multimedia, hypertext and interactivity

  1. I will insert images that demonstrate the challenge currently for international students (students carrying luggage, their helplessness and etc.) and video/audio of the interview (if the interviewee authorized).
  2. Hyperlinks will be used in this story to further provide relevant information such as data of rental cost and average cost in different areas, so that audiences will receive more detailed information.
  3. I will enable the comment fundtion under the story, so that audiences will have a chance to express their thoughts on this story or the crisis.


  1. Hey Yuwei,

    Interesting idea for your story. I think your pitch opens with a really strong hook: imagine paying $300 a week to live on a balcony. It paints a very scary picture of current circumstances.

    However, the rest of your pitch seems to talk about the rental crisis more generally. There is a lot of content being published on this topic, even on this blog alone, so I would have a think about how to make this angle stand out a bit more.

    Some suggestions include:
    – Interview the person who posted the listing for the balcony apartment. Perhaps another angle is the weirdest places people are renting in Sydney – I think that there are some good stories out there like this one that would make it a quirkier, more interesting story.
    – Find some international students that have been forced to go back to their home country or live in dire circumstances. Contrast their experiences to some more positive ones and include those specific examples in your pitch. I would suggest joining some of the rental groups on Facebook – you can post and ask if anyone has some stories they’re willing to share
    – Hinge the feature on a conflict or a human story, this will help you keep the focus and not just talk generally about international students and the rental crisis

    Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions


    • Hi Elliot,

      Thanks for your suggestions, I really appreciate them. I love your idea of the weirdest places people are renting in Sydney, that is definitely a good point to be focused on. I saw some reports saying that more than ten people are living in a one-bedroom apartment, and yeah, that is gonna be really attractive for both international students and also Australian local tenants.

      I really appreciate your suggestions and hope you get high marks, haha!


  2. Hi Yuwei,

    As an international student who recently had to find a place to live in the current market, I found your idea extremely relatable. Indeed, my landlord had crazy offers for her home from her (like paying six months in advance), and they were all from international students desperate to find a place. I like the way you’re thinking about approaching the topic. Talking with internationals and agents will give you an excellent perspective, and some interesting stories might arise.

    Think about writing your story as the article “40,000 Chinese students returning to Australia” as it includes the first person, and it makes the story much more catchy.

    I don’t know if you will be down to, but you should try and go to some of the weird places they are renting and write about first-hand how those places look like and how the landlords sell them.

    Good luck with your assignment!

    All the best,

    Paula Hernandez

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