With rents in Sydney reaching unprecedentedly a high level in the post-epidemic, international students have their own ways to deal with.
For Qi Xiao, who is studying at the University of New South Wales, the final semester became more difficult.
Due to a new policy in China, he had to return Sydney to complete the rest of his studies.
Unexpectedly, the biggest one for him was hunting for an apartment.
Over the past year, it has been common of most properties in the capital city to see greater rent increases. Nearly three quarters of properties have seen rents rise in the past year, higher than the pre-pandemic rate of about a quarter of annual increase
“I came here in March this year. Initially, I wanted to find a place near the University of Sydney as it would have been convenient for my studies. ”
” However, I quickly realized that the rental prices in that area were simply unaffordable for me…Some apartments left near the school went up to $700 AUD per week.”
He said he could not afford such high rents. He started to widen his choices and looked for living places in Wolli Creek, Chatswood or even some more distant areas, but they were also expensive.
“…Living further away means my commuting costs go up as well, because I have to go to school three days a week and that works out to be the same cost as living around the university. ”
In the end, he had no choice but to seek the help from other people. Fortunately, his friend gave him a hand. This reliable friend who had been lived in Sydney for a long time happened to have a house for rent in Burwood and was willing to give him a friendly rental price.
He ended up living in the master bedroom of the two-bedroom apartment for A$450 AUD per week.
“In Burwood, where rents were going up to A$500/week, I am really happy to get a living place at that lower price,” he said.
However, Shulin, who lives in the North Sydney, was not as lucky as Qi Xiao.
She is a student from the University of Sydney. She came here in February and stayed in a hotel for almost a month before finding a suitable place.
“Hotels are very expensive and not a permanent solution. ”
“It is close to the upcoming semester at the University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney, and many international students come for the houses, with some even bidding illegally to get a place.”
She ended up renting in North Sydney under protest, which is far away from the university. Despite this, she was still worried about the high cost of living.
Shulin seeked help from university’s financial support scheme and provided evidence of her hardship in Sydney. The financial support team eventually granted her a $250 supermarket voucher.
“I provided bank statements from the past month and submitted a personal statement to the university to prove my hardship. In about ten days, he sent me the activation link. ”
“This supermarket voucher can be used for any purchase at Woolies and I often use it to buy some necessities, which has somewhat reduced the stress in my life. ”
In Sydney, such situations are the norm. Renting a house has become a big challenge in the life of international students. According to the March 2023 Rental Report provided by Domain, Sydney has the highest rents of any capital city. By March 2023, house rents have increased by 1.5% year-on-year and 10% year-on-year.
Rebecca, an agent working for a real estate company in Sydney, said that rents in Sydney are determined by market supply and demand. And there was a huge difference between the pre- and post-epidemic, with rents rising for a time in the last two years due to the influx of international students, slowly returning to pre-epidemic levels.
“During the epidemic, rents hit rock bottom because the borders weren’t open, and no one was coming to Australia. Even a studio in a good location for 300 AUD was waiting to be rented out.”
“International students are very clever and some even save on inspection costs by viewing houses and apartment. Some international students who haven’t arrived in Sydney yet will pay for professional inspectors to do the viewing for them. ”
As Rebecca says, the market is determined by supply and demand. When many international students noticed how difficult it is to rent a house, those who did not want to come to Australia early but wanted to rent a house in advance gave rise to an invisible career called ‘apartment inspection agent’. Bwa is a person that saw the business opportunity in this rental market.
She inspected at an average of 2 apartments for international student a day. But in February this year, it was sometimes up to 4 a day.
“My customers are mainly Chinese students, and due to China’s distance learning ban, there will be a large demand.”
“Inspecting house for international students is a hard work and I need to look very professional to compete with other inspectors.”
She discussed with the international students before inspecting a place to understand their needs, such as property type, expected price and location, etc. The inspecting process is video communicated with the customer throughout and a detailed feedback is written afterwards.
“This job is sometimes very tiring when there are too many international students. ”
Rebecca says that initially international students would go for houses by bidding, but now the NSW government does not allow bidding for houses, which has led to her peers starting to quote inflated prices and then giving international students room to haggle.
But in any case, international students can protect their legal rights. Information is so important for international students who are new to NSW, and here are websites where we can find a lot of information and solutions about renting in NSW.
Qi Xiao says he has recently joined a number of online rental groups where people will often share information about housing.
“…There are all kinds of people in this group, like landlords, agents, and people who want to sublet their apartment. When someone puts out information about suitable places, people in need will contact him. ”
“I think networking and reaching out to friends or someone who might have available place could be a solution… International students always help each other, they share resources and information they have, and finding a place will be relatively much easier.”