The first thing to be aware of, is that housing in Sydney can be expensive. You typically pay every other week, and if you need space be prepared to pay for it. I looked at many bachelor apartments (here referred to as studios) which had no space for a fridge or oven in the kitchen, and otherwise was effectively enough room for a bed for as much as $400 a week. That said, I wound up getting a place only slightly more a week with much larger space that included dishwasher, oven, and laundry. The key is be prepared to look at as many places in a day as you can, and be prepared to fill out your forms and submit them on the spot. Unlike in Toronto, when you view an apartment here it will most likely be shown by a real estate agent at a half hour scheduled time with about 15-20 other people. The best deals seems to come when you find a landlord that cuts out the middle man and skips the real estate agent. The best tools I found for house hunting were realestate.com.au and domain.com.au. To counter the expensive rent (at least for us foreigners on long term visas) you will be eligible for the Living Away From Home Allowance. Now while more than one of the ads I responded to on GumTree for apartments appeared to be scams, it can be a great place to find used crap. The 106cm LG TV I got for $300 for example. On the note of ads, one thing that I find a little confusing is the way phone numbers are listed. I’m used to the North American way. All numbers are (xxx) xxx-xxxx. In Sydney however, it seems that there is a different format that is expected between the listing of mobiles and landlines despite the fact that they both have the same number of digits. Lets say you’re listing your landline for someone, the format for this would be: 02 xxxx xxxx. Conversely, a listing for a mobile phone would be: 04xx xxx xxx.
Now that I’m started on small silly things, lets mention that the city is filled with wandering spiders and large flying roaches, yet there are no screens on any of the windows. “Get used to the roaches.” I’ve been told, “When Summer hits, they just fly into your apartment”. It seems to me that they’d have much more difficulty “just” flying into my apartment if there were screens on the window to keep them out. That said, Summer hasn’t hit yet, and from what I understand the missing screens are meant to improve the ability to channel the wind through one’s unit to help cool it off. Maybe I’ll happily trade roaches for a good strong breeze when it’s 40° on Christmas Day. Also be aware that your neighbours will most likely leave their shoes in the hallway. And that sandals are known as thongs. And that raisens are known as sultanas.
When looking to get your phone and or internet (naked DSL is certainly an option) hooked up, be aware that it will most likely take a while. There are a couple of folk I work with who have been in the country a few weeks longer than me, and are still trying to get their interwebs weaved into a working state. I was luck in that it only took a month and three technician visits to get it working. The last technician that visited told me that while my Main Distribution Frame (MDF) is not even close to the worst he’s seen, but I should be considered lucky that he didn’t do the the same as the previous technicians and simply leave since it was unsafe to work on it. You see, the “box” portion of the MDF was non-existent. The wires were just kind of poking out of the wall in the emergency exit stairwell, precariously placed over the stairs themselves so that the way to get at them was by climbing onto the mysterious stairwell mattress and leaning over the precipice. Now that my internet is working however, I am getting roughly 8 times the download speed that I had in Toronto. This means that my lag during Left4Dead is roughly identical on North American servers, and practically non-existent on Australian servers.