Finding accommodation in Australia

4Renting an apartment or a room
Table of contents :
Accommodation options for your first nights in Australia
Hostels and “working hostels
Renting an apartment or a room
Vandwelling, or living in your vehicle
Free room and board with WWOOF, HelpX or WorkAway

Renting an apartment or a room

Most WHV holders who settle down for a few months or even the whole year usually rent an apartment or a room in a shared house.

Renting in Australia is fairly straightforward with less red tape than in many countries. For instance, you don’t need a guarantor—but beware, you’ll be promptly evicted if you miss a payment.

Note that rent is quoted weekly in the ads, because it’s usually paid weekly or biweekly (except in Victoria where it tends to be paid monthly). By law, in a few states, you can’t be asked for more than two weeks’ rent in advance, unless there’s a written agreement between the landlord and the tenant.

Rent can be paid cash (make sure you get a receipt) or by direct debit (which is easier to track).

Renting vs. sharing a house vs sharing a bedroom

Most WHV holders don’t rent a whole apartment but a room in a shared house, which is a much cheaper option. In many smaller cities, houses can be quite big and you probably don’t need that much room, and in large cities, living with roommates is the best way to keep costs down.

Renting a room is also easier on many levels because it implies fewer responsibilities:

  • You don’t have to sign a long six-month or 12-month lease
  • You don’t have to buy furniture
  • You don’t have to take care of many apartment maintenance tasks

Although many rental laws apply in all states and territories, each one of them has its own set of tenant-landlord rules, so make sure you get information relevant to where you live:

Living with roommates is commonplace in Australia, especially given that even in big cities like Melbourne or Sydney, the typical property is a multi-bedroom house with a backyard. Like hostel life, house sharing is a way to keep costs down and meet people from all over the world, but you will get more privacy and it’s cheaper in the long term.

Those who really want to stretch their budget may even share a bedroom in a shared house. The rent won’t be exactly twice as cheap (like in hotels, a double room shared with friends or perfect strangers is usually a bit more expensive than a single room) but the rent will be lower. Most of the time, people who share a room only use it to sleep and relax, although if your roommate has a completely different schedule, you may be able to enjoy a bit more privacy.

Types of rental agreements

Tenancy agreement: You’re the only person on the lease and you sign a fixed-term rental agreement—after that, it can roll over to a periodic-term agreement (i.e. month-to-month lease). You’re responsible for taking care of the property and for rent payment. The rental property may be furnished or not.

Co-tenancy (also called “joint tenancy”): Each tenant signs the lease and all tenants are equally responsible for paying rent and taking care of the property. A tenant may generally transfer the lease to a new tenant as long as the landlord doesn’t object. The rental property may be furnished or not.

Subletting (also called “sub-tenancy”): In this type arrangement, someone rents the property and, in turn, rents out part or all of it to another person or people. The person or people named on the lease are the “head tenants” and those renting from them are “subtenants.” If you’re subletting, make sure that the head tenant has written permission from the landlord, otherwise, you may be served a notice to vacate the property. The rental property may be furnished or not.

Holiday letting: This type of agreement is popular in several Australian states. You usually rent an entire furnished property for a three-month term maximum.

Rooming houses (also called “boarding houses”): A rooming house is a building where one or more rooms are available to rent, and three to five people in total (depending on the state/territory) can occupy those rooms. The house is usually furnished and residents share bathrooms, kitchens, laundry and other common areas. Most of the time, rooming houses must be declared as such to the relevant housing authority and a number of requirements must be met, such as minimum room size, fire alarms, equipment, etc. Sharing a bedroom is also an option, as explained above. You won’t get to choose your roommates but the lease you will sign is usually very flexible, without a minimum fixed-term lease. The minimum notice you give as an occupant can be only 28 days (four weeks), but note that notice to end your lease is also pretty short. Different rules apply to rooming house leases, which are considered differently from typical lease agreements.

Fixed-term agreement vs. periodic-term agreement
A fixed-term tenancy only lasts for a set amount of time, e.g. one year, six months, etc. The amount of time must be specified on the tenancy agreement. Once the lease is over, you can sign another fixed-term tenancy or roll into a periodic-term tenancy (which is a more flexible option, usually only one month’s notice is required). An official document is filled (bond form) and the money is deposited in an approved “bond trust” managed by each state government or approved financial institutions.

A periodic tenancy is one that continues until either the tenant or the landlord gives written notice to end it.

Rental bonds and rent in advance

You shouldn’t be asked for a guarantor but for a bond, which is financial protection for the landlord in case there’s a breach of the lease agreement. The bond amount is specified in the lease document and the maximum varies from state to state, but the equivalent of four weeks’ rent is common practice. Your rental bond will be released at the end of your tenancy, where you may receive a full refund (or a partial one in case of damages).

At the start of the tenancy, you may also be asked to pay one month’s or two weeks’ rent in advance, depending on the type of lease agreement.

State or territory Typical amount of the bond Maximum rent in advance
New South Wales 4 weeks’ rent 2 weeks
Victoria 4 weeks’ rent (when rent is less than $350/week) 2 weeks (when rent is paid weekly less than $350/week)
Western Australia 4 weeks’ rent (when rent is less than $1200/week)
Queensland 4 weeks’ rent (when rent is less than $700/week) 1 month for fixed-term agreements / 2 weeks for periodic-term agreements and boarding house leases
South Australia 4 weeks’ rent (when rent is less than $250/week) or 6 weeks’ rent (when rent is more than $250/week) 2 weeks
Northern Territory 4 weeks’ rent One rental payment period*
Tasmania 4 weeks’ rent One rental payment period (e.g. one week)

*For instance, if you pay rent weekly, the rental payment period is one week, if you pay rent biweekly, it’s two weeks.

Where can I find a shared house or a shared bedroom?

Browse the following specialized websites for ads:

Facebook groups are also a great way to find local and current opportunities. You may want to start with the following:








Don’t hesitate to ask around and spread the word that you’re looking for a room, even before leaving Australia. Friends and relatives may know someone Down Under!

Finally, you can also consider using a real estate agent. Landlords hire them to find tenants for their rental property and usually pay them the equivalent of two weeks’ rent. The service is free to you, as a tenant. However, the rent may be slighter higher to cover the cost of using a real estate agent, and the lease offered may be harder to break (because presumably, the landlord doesn’t want to pay a real estate agent over and over again to find a new tenant).

When should I start looking for a place?

It depends on your plans, but if you know you’re going to settle down in a specific city as soon as you arrive, you can start browsing ads to get a feel for the market. However, we don’t recommend committing and signing a lease from abroad—there are many rental scams, you could lose the money you send or end up in a place that looks nothing like the ad pictures.

A few months or weeks before the trip, check out the ads online or in Facebook group to help you budget for accommodation. Don’t contact landlords and potential roommates—who usually want to fill the vacancy as soon as possible—but gather info on the rental market and the various neighbourhoods you may enjoy as a future resident.

A few days before flying to Australia, you can contact landlords and arrange to visit the property. Again, if you’re asked for a deposit before seeing the place, run away—it’s probably a scam.

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Cofondatrice de, j'ai fait 2 PVT, au Canada et en Australie. Deux expériences incroyables ! Je vous retrouve régulièrement sur nos comptes Insta et Tiktok @pvtistes avec plein d'infos utiles !
Cofounder of I went to Canada and Australia on Working Holiday aventures. It was amazing!

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