08 May 2008

How to find a house to rent for six people

I received the following email yesterday:

Hi, my name is S. B. I saw the blog and understand that you have some knowledge about renting houses just walking distance from the Caulfield campus? I am going over at the end of June 2008 and I am in need of a big house. There are at least 6 of us. Is it possible if you could kindly provide any information to us regarding any house with 5 or more rooms available? We prefer taking the whole house. Your help would be much appreciated.

From Michelle:
Its good to hear you're getting organised early, by getting together a group who will live together. Its more difficult to actually rent a house before you get here, and you should be careful to thoroughly inspect any house before renting it. Beware that some of the rental accommodation in Melbourne is not very well maintained.

If you are sure that you want to live within walking distance of Caulfield campus, you will have only a limited number of houses available to rent. You will have many more accommodation options if you are prepared to take a train or tram, or cycle to the University. I have to admit the transport would be expensive, at $28 for a week if you confine yourself to "Zone 1", but rents can be cheaper a little further from the city centre. Rents for a 4 bedroom house within walking distance of the campus in Caulfield and Malvern are advertised as high as $1000 per month, but search more widely down the train line in Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale or Oakleigh and you could find a house like this one for only $450 per week.

One thing many students do to reduce costs is share a room, and there are a few houses and flats set up for high density student living (for example, see this ad on Looking through the rental advertisements on and I can see that there are very few houses for rent with more than 4 bedrooms. To fit 5 people, you may have to rent a 3 or 4 bedroom house, and convert a living room or garage to living space, or share bedrooms. Many 3 or 4 bedroom houses will have a large living room (with chairs, TV etc) which some people convert to 2 bedrooms.

While you can contact advertisers on websites like and before you arrive, I don't think you will get very far. My suggestion is that one or two of you arrive a couple of weeks early to find a house for the rest of you to live.

I hope this advice proves useful.


Rachel said...

Can you talk a little about the rental shortage in Melbourne? I'm a Canadian coming to Melbourne to do teacher's college and I have heard that finding a one bedroom apartment in the inner suburbs is very hard to do. Any tips? How long would it take to find an apartment? Thanks alot!

Michelle said...

Indeed it will be difficult to find a one bedroom apartment in the inner suburbs. The REIV says vacancy rates within 4km of the CBD are only 0.3% at the moment. You would be better off looking for something in the 4-10 km range from the CBD, with a vacancy rate of 1.6%. It is impossible to say how long it will take to find a 1 bedroom flat. The minimum time would be one week, but you could take a month or more if you are not prepared to compromise a little, or hassle the rental agents!
If you are coming over on your own I suggest trying other alternatives as well, for example on campus acommodation, or sharing a flat or house. I've got a list of sharing websites elsewhere in this blog.

Michelle said...

According to friends of mine who live in city and docklands apartment blocks, these places are full of empty apartments. Meanwhile, advertised vacancy rates are extremely low and rents rising. A new initiative called "speed renting" has just appeared, which aims to match leaseholders with flatmates. Apparently young female leaseholders are finding the service especially useful to vet potential tenants before letting them into their houses.

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