If moving to Australia permanently, consider renting in an area where you may eventually want to (and be able to afford to) purchase a property so you can "try before you buy".
A local area orientation is useful to familiarise yourself with various parts of the city and get practical local advice on living in those suburbs.
Carefully consider your budget, ease of commute to work, public transport options for the whole family, location of quality schools and what areas best suit your lifestyle preferences.
Once you have decided to move to Australia and have determined which city you will be settling in, the next step is to decide which suburb to live in. Looking at available properties on the internet and examining Google Maps does make the process easier than it used to be. However, pinpointing the suburbs best suited to your individual situation is still not an easy one.
Making the right decision is tricky without talking to locals and doing some significant research. This is Habitat Relocations’ bread and butter and having successfully worked with many new arrivals to Brisbane to find the right area and property to call their new home, we are well placed to provide you with all the local advice you need to make an informed, confident decision and to start life in Brisbane on the right foot.
Most people rent when they first move to Australia and this is usually a good idea. It allows you to make sure you like an area before you buy and to get the know the city better before you are ready to commit to a long term mortgage. So before looking for a rental, the first question to answer is: what can you realistically afford?
You will find most properties listed on realestate.com.au and domain.com.au. You can filter your using multiple factors such as suburbs, property type, property size and cost. Note that rent is stated as a weekly amount in Australia, not monthly, so ensure that this is taken into account when budgeting. You will also need to budget for utilities and possibly water consumption costs. It is critical to inspect properties (or have someone inspect them on your behalf) as, in many instances, online photos are not necessarily representative of the state of the property in real life.
If you are moving to Australia permanently and one day you hope to buy property, we recommend that you find a property to rent in an area that you can afford to buy, especially if you have a family. Once you move in to an area, you start to build your new life there through school, sports, making new friends and settling in to familiar surroundings. If you start renting in an expensive area and then need to move to buy in a more affordable area you risk uprooting children, increasing your transport times to school, sports and other extra curricular activities. You may even lose touch with friends that are too busy to travel far afield to keep in touch. Rents generally follow house prices (rental yields per annum being roughly 3-4% of house value), so more sought after areas are generally more expensive to rent in as well as to buy.
However, if you want to start life in Brisbane in a more expensive area closer to the city and to be closer to the action, CBD and so on, that is fine too, but if it is not an area you can afford to buy then hopefully if and when that time comes you will be ready to discover new parts of the city.
If you are arriving in Australia with a job then you will know your work location and this makes narrowing down potential suburbs easier. Commuting can be a time consuming exercise, so most people try to live as close to work as they can afford. It is helpful to consider transportation costs if you comparing areas close and further away from your work. Public transport costs, parking and tolls can add up and may make renting in a more expensive area closer to your work a viable option.
If you or, maybe your partner, do not have work lined up then at least consider the likely areas you might work (CBD, outer city areas, industrial areas, near major hospitals / universities etc). You may want to consider areas that have good public transport connections and are close to major highways and arterial roads.
Parking in the CBD in most Australian cities is extremely expensive, and many commuters use public transport to travel to CBD based offices. If this is your situation, ensure that you are familiar with the best public transport options. Consider the walk to the bus / train and if you need to make any connections. If you want to avoid connections look at properties within walking distance to train stations or on direct bus routes to your work location. Check commuting times and routes on city public transport websites (e.g. Translink for Brisbane).
If you are driving to work check driving times in peak hour (use Google Maps) or consider commuting to work outside peak hours if possible,. Also, remember to take into account any tolls and parking costs.
School / University
If you have children, schooling is likely to be top of mind when choosing an area to live.
Many government (public) primary schools have good reputations but finding an appropriate government high school can be more difficult. Many of the government schools have strict catchment areas, so it is imperative to find a house in that specific area in order to be accepted into the school. Not to mention, living closer to school means less travel time to school, friends and extracurricular activities. The more children you have, the more important this will be!
However, it also important to be aware that sometimes rents can be more expensive in highly sought after school catchments and the market can be more competitive.
Many children in late primary school and high school take public transport to and from school, so it is important to check that the area you choose to live in has public transport routes that are simple (as direct as possible) and safe.
Lifestyle and Local Facilities
Think about how you live your life and what you are hoping to achieve with the move to Australia. Do you want to be close to parks, bike tracks, green space and outdoor activities? Are you more interested in being closer to the city or suburban village areas surrounded by restaurants, cafes and interesting shops? Are you looking for a beach vibe, a more relaxed pace?
You should also consider what facilities will be important to you and your family. Where are the closest major shops, where will you buy your groceries, were is the doctor, dentist, where are local playgrounds, dog parks, public swimming pools etc. Do you like shopping at farmer’s markets? Do you prefer to walk or drive to all or some of these things? See where these facilities are located in the areas you are considering and if they are an acceptable distance away from shortlisted properties.
It is critical to have a good look at these areas once you arrive to get a true feel for these locations. They can be very different in real life to what you might expect from looking at map on a computer screen. This is why a local area orientation is an invaluable way to familiarise yourself with parts of the city you are interested in and save you time shortlisting appropriate areas prior to commencing a home search.
Above all, enjoy the exploration of your chosen city. Talk to locals but also keep in mind that they will probably all tell you that the area they live is the great, many often have a bias over one side of the river / harbour and may have limited knowledge of what it is like to live in other parts of the city. What appeals to a local, may not be what will work for someone new to the city and you may have different interests and requirements. Habitat Relocations know what has worked for new arrivals to Brisbane in varying circumstances and can give you unbiased advice on what might work best in your individual situation. If you are moving to Brisbane, do contact us.