The Sydney rental market can be expensive at the best of times – but when you’re a university student needing to relocate to the big smoke in order to attend your weekly on campus lectures, it can be near impossible to find something affordable located within a close proximity to your campus.
Cue the search for a bedroom in a share house. But even with the support of your new roommates to pay the bills, the cost of living out of home for the first time as well as the rules and regulations of tenancies in NSW can come as a shock to many.
Here are some tips to surviving your first year out of home, all whilst studying and navigating a new city.
So, you’re not from around here?
Sydney is such a big place. If you didn’t grow up anywhere within an hour of Sydney, a trip to Sydney can be overwhelming for those who are used to a more suburban or rural setting. Driving in Sydney can even feel quite daunting for people who aren’t familiar with the CBD, and if you need to park your car, it gets expensive navigating your way around the place.
Sydney has a central CBD, where you will find a couple of the major universities are located, including University of Sydney and UTS. Depending on which university you’re enrolled in, you might choose not to rent in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, and look further afield such as the trendy inner west. UNSW is located in Randwick, so the eastern suburbs of Sydney or even south Sydney might be a better place to start your property search.
The public transport system in Sydney is excellent, with train lines running from all directions, making a commute to university far more achievable, and within the CBD there is a light rail option as well as an extensive bus network, so be sure not to discount other areas of Sydney such as the lower North Shore and south-western suburbs.
What do I need to do for my first tenancy?
If you have found a few places that look interesting, it’s time to ask the occupants of the property some questions. Firstly, they will need permission from their real estate agent/landlord to sub-let a bedroom in the home. Does the agent know that you will possibly be moving into the property? Do you need to sign a lease or have your name added to the current lease agreement?
Also be sure to ask how long the lease agreement is. In NSW, all tenancies commence on a Fixed Term agreement which could be anywhere between 12 weeks and one year. Either way the occupants should be able to tell you when the lease is due to expire. The reason this is important is because when you are on a fixed term lease, you are expected to rent the property until the end of the fixed term agreement.
When the agreement date comes to an end, your lease agreement rolls into a periodic agreement. A fixed term agreement requires 21 days written notice to end the agreement, and you will need to check the terms of the lease to see what kind of penalties apply. Typically there is a break lease fee involved in exiting a fixed term lease early. Periodic agreements are easier to end and only require the 21 days written notice.
It’s important to establish how the bond will work with your roommates, as the bond is a security payment that stays in a trust account with the Bond Board. If you are commencing a share house rental agreement, your roommates may ask you to cover a portion of the bond which you can then claim back at the completion of your tenancy. You need to ensure that the property is handed back in the same condition as when the tenancy began – it needs to be professionally cleaned and in some circumstances carpets will need steam cleaning. You need to ensure there are no outstanding bills such as rental arrears or invoices, as these can be recovered from the bond at the end of the tenancy if left unpaid.
How much does it cost to rent in Sydney?
Recent reports indicate that living in Sydney is one of the most expensive places to rent as of May 2021. The leasing data indicates that Sydney rentals are fetching above the national average, with apartments typically leasing for around $470 per week, and houses for $600 per week. Depending on the number of bedrooms in a house, it could work out to be more cost effective to rent a share house with 3-4 bedrooms. However, your water usage and electricity bills may be higher than that of an apartment so ask the occupants what the average water and electricity bills look like on top of the cost of renting the room.
The cost of living
There are lots of expenses you will have to consider when you’re living out of home. Most tenants will be charged for water usage in their rental property, so you will need to budget for a little bit of an extra cost on top of your rental payments.
Electricity and Internet are connected by the occupants of the property, so check with your new roommates how much they chip in for these expenses.
You will also need to budget for your food and entertainment, and if you drive a car – you’ll need to keep an eye on those street parking signs in Sydney because a parking ticket can really hurt the best of us when we see one on our windscreen.
Your textbooks for uni will also creep up on you like a silent killer – you need them, but boy do they see you coming! Each semester you can expect to have to fork out a few hundred dollars for new text books. Ouch!
A great way to earn an income while you’re studying is to offer tutoring services to younger students. A Team Tuition is a Sydney tutoring company that works with university students, offering part time roles to university level students. Being a tutor is a flexible way to earn an income whilst studying, not to mention it looks great on your resume.
Contributor: Hayden McEvoy is a former world-class athlete who developed the “A Team” method of tutoring. Bringing together Olympic coaches, child psychologists and leading educators, Hayden’s model has been transforming grades, and attitudes, for over a decade.