Choosing your accommodation

***La Trobe University has recently been alerted to an internet scam where students have secured properties over the internet, before arriving in Australia, by paying rent in advance to alleged landlords and never hearing about the property again. We advise all students not to hand over money or sign any kind of rental contract before physically sighting a property.  

Choosing your accommodation is an important step in your transition and we recommend that you start looking at your accommodation options as early as possible, particularly if you want to apply for on-campus accommodation. 

There are many things you should think about before making a decision. Please consider the following questions/suggestions when choosing a place to live.

Accommodation checklist

Location

  • Do you want to live on or off-campus? If living off-campus, do you wish to live closer to the University or the city?
  • Do you rely on public transport? If so, consider living on-campus or consider accommodation near the public transport routes.
  • Will you look for part time work? Think of where you will look for work and how you will get to your workplace.
  • Will you need to connect utilities? If you rent a whole vacant property off-campus or a University flat, you will need to do so.
  • Is the accommodation close to supermarkets or shopping centres?

Type of Accommodation

  • Can you afford to live alone or do you want to share with others?
  • If you are considering shared accommodation, whom do you want to live with? (males/females, student/working people, etc.)
  • Are you in a group of students? University flats and whole vacant properties off-campus might suit your needs.

Facilities

  • What kind of space are you looking for? The layout of the house/flat etc. is important, particularly if you are sharing with others.
  • Do you want to have your own room?
  • Do you need a quiet place for study, strong light for design drawings, access to a computer, an area to practice musical instruments?
  • Are you willing to share bathroom and kitchen facilities? If not, a one bedroom apartment off-campus may be your only option. These can prove expensive.
  • Do you want meals provided? If so, do you have any special dietary requirements, such as vegetarian, halal or kosher food?

Legal questions

  • How long do you require accommodation for? If it is for less than six months you will probably have difficulty gaining a lease on a whole vacant property. You may need to look for full board, a room in a family home or share accommodation.
  • Are you willing to sign a lease? If not, your options are limited to full board, rooms in family homes and some share accommodation.
  • If your name is on a utility bill (e.g. electricity, phone, gas) you are legally responsible for its payment. It is advisable to ensure all co-tenants share the responsibility and have their names on all the bills.

Costs

  • How much is the bond and rent in advance?
  • How much is the rent?
  • How much does it cost to connect the utilities such as electricity, gas and telephone?
  • Will you need furniture? 

When choosing accommodation, keep in mind the following helpful tips

  • All on-campus rooms are furnished, but most off-campus rooms are completely unfurnished. If you don't want to organise furniture, full board or a room in a family home may be your only options.
  • Share accommodation is a less expensive alternative. In share accommodation you usually move into an already established house. This often means living with people you don't know, which can be a little strange at first, but it is a great way to make new friends. Connection fees are already paid and the rest of the house is usually furnished.
  • When inquiring about shared households ask about things such as sharing of food and cooking, smoking, parties and noise, pets, small children, family and friends/partners.
  • In Melbourne, rent tends to be more expensive the closer you are to the University, and the city centre, but you can expect to pay between A$100-A$200 per week for a shared room in a house. See living costs for estimated annual costs.
  • Make sure there is an affordable form of heating for the cold winter months. Gas heating is generally the cheapest.
  • To find cheap furniture you can go to second hand shops or markets. Garage sales are listed in local newspapers and EG (Entertainment Guide in The Age newspaper on Saturdays), The Trading Post or look on notice boards around your campus for students selling furniture. First Fridays Furniture (FFF) is a program developed by EnviroSMART and the Maintenance department to recycle furniture within La Trobe University and the surrounding community. On the first Friday of every month the Waste Wise Shed is open to La Trobe staff and students between 4.30pm and 5.30pm to take any furniture for personal use.
  • It is highly recommended that you sign the lease even when you are sharing with your friends. If you run into difficulty with off-campus rental accommodation, you have little protection without a lease.
  • Standard leases, condition reports and other tenancy information are available at Tenants Union of Victoria.

Choosing your roommate 

The task of choosing a roommate needs to be taken very seriously. The person or persons with whom you decide to live can affect the quality and productiveness of your international student experience in Australia.

  • Do you and your roommates expect to share the costs of buying toilet paper, washing powder for clothes and dishes, cleaning supplies, etc. which is used by everyone?
  • What does the rental price cover? Does it include utilities, or are they split equally when the accounts are due? Who will pay them and how will you all know they have been paid? 
  • A small notebook which is signed by everyone who hands over their share of the costs and signed by the person the money is given to, is a good idea.
  • Do you and your roommates expect to share the costs of buying food and share in the preparation?
  • Do you have specific food needs (allergies, preparation needs)? If your needs are for halal and your roommates are not, can you agree on respecting and upholding each other’s needs?
  • What is the household arrangement?
  • How much privacy do you need? What hours do you and your roommate usually sleep, study or socialise?
  • Do you prefer to have a smoker or non-smoker as a roommate?
  • Clarify your stance on the use of alcohol and/or illicit substances.
  • What about overnight visitors?
  • When conflicts arise, how do you go about resolving them?
  • Please keep in mind that not everyone can be trusted! Follow your instincts and do not room with someone you do not trust.

For further information regarding housing options, please visit the Accommodation at La Trobe website.