Advice on moving to Melbourne
December 4, 2009 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I just got a research fellowship in Melbourne and am moving there in mid February- hooray! Now I need to find an apartment. Complications: I don’t know a soul there and I currently live in the United States.

Aside from craigslist, where can I find apartment listings? I’m looking for something cheap (less than $1000/month, ideally $700-800- it that even feasible?) and close to the north part of the city where I’ll be working. I’ve been to Melbourne once and really liked the Fitzroy neighborhood- what other areas of the city should I consider? I would prefer to live alone but would be fine with roommates if I can’t find an affordable studio or 1-bedroom. I’m 32, though, so the days of me sharing a flat with a bunch of uni students are long gone. Would like to move in Feb 15th or March 1st.

I’ll also need to acquire some furniture- I know that there is an IKEA, anywhere else I should look? And lastly, I play soccer- does anyone know of any women’s or co-ed leagues/clubs in the area? I figure that would be a good way to start making some friends (in addition to organizing a metafilter meet-up).
posted by emd3737 to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
It exists, and expat Americans use it, but Craigslist is otherwise pretty much irrelevant in property rental markets outside the North America. Gumtree is the equivalent in the UK, Australia, etc.

Gumtree was not such a big site when I lived in Australia. My experience of the rental market in Sydney was a few years ago, so things may have changed as the internet has become more important, and I think NSW property is unusually crazy, but I found it very difficult to find a place without housemates/flatmates (not "roommates" in Australia) without going through letting agencies. I figured out who the local ones were by looking for listings on Real Estate, and then checking their websites and picking up the phone. If you're willing to share then Housemates and Flatmates are probably the places to try after Gumtree.
posted by caek at 12:13 PM on December 4, 2009

The defacto site for finding properties in AUS is I didn't live in Melbourne, so I can't advise you any further in that regard. I will mention that Australians typically list rent by the week, not by month as is the rule in the US.

You may want to find temporary accommodation first, either a hotel, or corporate apartment, and then look for a craigslist sublet if you can. It will do you good to be able to live somewhere a few months as you get to know the area and then find something more permanent. I speak from experience in this regard.
posted by qwip at 12:14 PM on December 4, 2009 has a pretty good selection from my (old) experience. once you arrive the age or the herald sun are the local newspapers with saturday morning real estate lift outs. also there are some shops that allow people to put up signs in their windows. readings on lygon street in carlton, and friends of the earth on smith street in fitzroy are two that immediately spring to mind. (you may want to avoid friends of the earth if you don't want to live with kinda obsessive vegans.)

$700-800 is feasible for living in a nice place with housemates, but will get you a kinda shitty studio in fitzroy.

as well as fitzroy you might want to look at the adjoining neighbourhoods - collingwood (cheaper), carlton (more expensive), north fitzroy (so so), east melbourne (also so so). is best for room mates. you have to pay a fee (maybe around $25 from recollection, but it's only if they actually match you up with someone) and it's been the best way to find random housemates from my previous experience. i used it moving to sydney too.
posted by skauskas at 12:17 PM on December 4, 2009

Ah, yes, that's right, I used Domain, not Real Estate.

The other Craigslist-like site is Cracker, which I remember was a big deal when I was there, but seems to have lost a lot of traffic since then.

(Might have been a good idea to post this question a bit later in the Australian day, by the way!)
posted by caek at 12:20 PM on December 4, 2009

Did you see this question from yesterday about somebody looking for a flatmate in Melbourne?
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:27 PM on December 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks everyone- Gumtree, Domain, and the flatmatefinder look like great places to start looking. Oh, and I did see that AskMe and left a contact- would be funny if it worked out!

And yes, I definitely should have timed this question to appear on a Friday afternoon Australia time, rather than US time. I've got a lot to get used to, including using terms like "flat" and "housemate." :)

As for Melbourne-specific info, keep it coming!
posted by emd3737 at 1:18 PM on December 4, 2009

Having recently moved from PA to Alaska (granted, not as far) and having had to bail on the apartment we had arranged to rent from afar because it turned out to be really sketchy, here's my advice:

If there is any way you can swing staying some place temporary for a week or two while you look for an apartment, I would advise you to. THere are a lot of crappy apartments in the world, and many of them come with alluring descriptions/websites/photos.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:19 PM on December 4, 2009

The Back of Chapel Hostel and Collingwood Accommodation are decent hostels that would allow long-term stay while you're scoping out a place. Collingwood Accommodation is in, of course, Collingwood. Back of Chapel is a bit south in Prahran (also great) and right across from National Institute of Circus Arts. I also like Balaclava and Richmond. (I lived and worked in Melbourne for a few months in 2008.)

Coffee shop postings for roommates seem pretty widespread in those neighborhoods, too.

Really envious of you! Melbourne is one of my favorite cities. Fantastic architecture, good shopping and live music, and great public transit (although they bitch about it all the time).
posted by lunalaguna at 1:45 PM on December 4, 2009

MeFi mail me when it is getting closer to your arrival if you want a temporary place on arrival. We have two spare bedrooms and although we don't want an ongoing housemate, a temporary one would be fun. But would depend on timing. We are in the north of the city (4-5km from Fitzroy, I guess). The university may also have temporary arrival housing available. This is all assuming you are at University of Melbourne or RMIT. If you are going to Monash, living in Fitzroy would be madness. If you are going to La Trobe, Fitzroy is fine.

In terms of finding something, I agree that has been my best resource for finding random housemates. has also been ok. For something on your own, and are much of a much-ness. You might want to look at what a tenancy application looks like, to make sure you bring all the right paperwork with you - there is an example here (PDF).

I think you will have trouble finding something for $700-800 by yourself in any of the very inner city areas (even $1000/month is probably quite a limiting budget). You will need to weigh up the options of living by yourself in a studio, living with others in the inner city, or going a bit further out to get something affordable by yourself (5-7km should reduce costs). In addition to those places suggested above, Brunswick is further beyond Fitzroy, but has a greater selection of cheap accommodation. Northcote is turning into the new Fitzroy - lots more shops opening, galleries, plus it already has bars, live music venues, art deco cinema, lots of bike riders. But it would be a tram or bike ride to the university, rather than walking distance. North Melbourne is a convenient location to the city (CBD = central business district) and has an increasing cafe life.

Gumtree is also good for finding furniture if you can arrange pickup (there are always ads for 'man with a van' as well) - often good deals from people going overseas who want to get rid of all their stuff. The 'op shops' (opportunity shops = charity thrift shops) also have furniture - the Salvation Army in Abbotsford has heaps of furniture, for example. Prices will usually be better than Ikea for furniture of better quality. You might like this thread on cheap Melbourne shopping (all sorts of things).
posted by AnnaRat at 2:05 PM on December 4, 2009

i have no idea what websites to use - when i moved there in 2004 i just set up in a hostel for a bit and hunted my first few days there. i got a cell phone, poked around at universities and bookshops and whatnot to look up listings that were hanging, then called and interviewed with folks. within two days i had a place in a converted firehouse in North Melbourne. good neighborhood, near the market so that was nice.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 3:26 PM on December 4, 2009

You don't have to be a student to join Melbourne Uni Soccer Club - I know a few girls who now play there, you wouldn't be too old. I can probably get an email address for you to get in touch with, and preseason will be gearing up over Feb/March, perfect time to join :)
posted by jacalata at 7:09 PM on December 4, 2009

Get in touch with the Melbourne University Graduate Students Association - they will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know. It's run by students for students and will have full-time staff members as well whose job it is to tell you exactly what to do.

You could also get in touch with the International Students Organisation - they too can give you all sorts of useful advice.

BTW - I am assuming you are going to Melbourne University, but fear not, Monash, RMIT, VUT et al all have similar organisations.
posted by awfurby at 12:58 AM on December 5, 2009

Response by poster: To clarify, my position is at the Royal Children's Hospital but I do beleve that they are affiliated with Melbourne Uni, so I'll definitely contact them, although I'm not a grad student anymore.
posted by emd3737 at 9:23 AM on December 5, 2009

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