When looking for a place to rent, it helps to work out what you're looking for. Once that's sorted, you can think about where to go looking for what you want.
What are your options?
When you're working out what kind of place you want to rent, ask yourself a few questions. You probably won't find a place that's got everything you're looking for - you'll have to compromise a bit. Knowing what your ideal home would be can help you choose a place that's the best of what's available.
Here are some things to think about.
1. Private rental vs. assisted accommodation
The private rental market - renting from a real estate agent or a landlord - is a popular choice, but there are other options if you need help to be able to rent a place. Each of the options below has its own pros and cons.
- Student housing - Accommodation is often provided by tertiary institutions - check your uni or TAFE's website to find out what housing they offer
- Community housing - Housing managed by non-profit organisations, often to meet specific needs within the community (e.g., disability needs, Indigenous needs) - to find out what community housing is near you, check out the Community Housing Federation of Victoria
- Public housing - The Victorian Government offers help to individuals and families who need low-cost housing - find out more on the Department of Health and Human Services Public Housing page
You can also check out our Cheap accommodation pages for more information about help finding an affordable place to live.
2. What's your budget?
Paying rent is the main cost of renting, but it's not the only cost. It's important to be able to pay rent and still have enough for things like bills, food and transport costs.
There are some one-off costs associated with moving into a rental place. For example, when you move into a place, you also need to pay a bond, which is usually equal to one month's rent. You might also have to pay your first month's rent in advance.
If you don't already have a budget that tells you how much you're earning and how much you're spending, getting ready to start renting is a good time to put one together.
MoneySmart's Moving Out of Home section has advice about the costs of moving out, including tools you can use to create your own moving-out-of-home budget.
If you're on Youth Allowance, Newstart or another kind of Centrelink payment, you might be eligible for rent assistance, an additional payment to help people pay their rent.
You might also be eligible for the Victorian Government's Bond Loan Scheme, an interest-free loan you can use to pay your bond.
3. Where do you want to live?
Lots of factors are relevant to picking where you want to live, including:
- Where you work
- Where you study
- Where your friends and family live
- Your transport needs
- How much rent you can afford
- What kind of entertainment is close by
If you're sharehousing you'll also have to think about all of these things in relation to your housemates. You may not be able to get a place that meets all of your needs perfectly, so having a few locations in mind is a good idea. You might be happy to live somewhere not so close to work as long as it's got good public transport and it's close to uni.
Some locations are more expensive to rent in than others, so where you end up living will be partly determined by how much rent you can afford.
4. Who's going to live with you?
Sharing a house with other tenants can be cheap, practical and fun, but living by yourself can give you privacy and independence. Choosing one option or the other will probably depend on things like:
- Your personality
- The location you prefer
- What you're looking for from your house or flat
- How much rent you can afford to pay
If you're considering sharing, check out our Sharehousing section for more tips and advice.
5. House or flat?
Both houses and flats or apartments have advantages and disadvantages. It's worth considering both when you start looking.
Flats or apartments are smaller, but generally there are more of them available for rent. They're usually a bit cheaper than renting a house, but this can depend on where they are and whether you're sharing or not.
Houses are bigger, usually have a backyard or back courtyard, and usually fit more people, so are more suited to sharehousing.
6. What are you sleeping on?
Furniture costs money, so work out what kind of gear you have, what you need and what you can borrow from friends or family.
To find out more about what kind of gear you need when setting up a place, check out our Setting up Home page.
Where to look for places to rent
Now that you've got an idea of what you're looking for, where do you go looking for it? Here are a few suggestions.
There are heaps of real estate classifieds online. Lots of them let you search for what's available in your budget range, and compare different properties while you search.
You could search for rental properties on the big real estate websites, or try something different and check out the real estate sections of other online classifieds sites.
A quick search for things like "rental accommodation" should turn up enough sites to keep you busy.
There are also sites out there specialising in student or share accommodation. A quick search for "student sharehousing" or "housemates" should turn up a number of places to search for a room in an existing rental.
2. Real estate agents
Most real estate agencies list their available properties online, but some smaller agents might list their rentals in the window of their offices.
Searching through online listings is a good way to start, but it's worth visiting a few offices as well. Asking in person about properties is a good way to find out about things that might not yet have made it to the online listings.
You can use the Real Estate Institute of Victoria's search tool to find addresses and websites of agents in the area you want to rent.
3. Noticeboards & shop windows
Some people use public noticeboards and shop windows to let people know they're looking for tenants or housemates. Check out your local café, bookshop, post office or library to see if there's a noticeboard there.
If you're a uni or TAFE student there are bound to be noticeboards on campus - check out the student union building as a first port of call.
Don't forget that you can also use the noticeboards yourself - consider putting up a notice about yourself and how you're looking for somewhere to rent.
4. TAFE & university housing services
Most TAFEs and universities have student accommodation services. Check your uni or TAFE's website and search for "student accommodation", or find out where they are on campus and drop in.
Housing services should also have information about cheap accommodation for students. Check out our Student Accommodation page for further information.
5. Word of mouth
Let people know you're looking for a place. This could be an ideal opportunity to rent from someone you know, or to take over a lease or room from a friend who's moving on.
Remember, though, if you're going to post about your rental search online, make sure only people you trust get the message.
The real estate sections of local community publications can be a useful place to look for rental properties that might be overlooked by larger, online real estate listings. Find out if there's a local paper in the areas you're looking in and pick up a copy to see what kind of listings they have.
Don't be disappointed if the first few places you look at aren't what you're after, or if you don't get offered the house or room you applied for. You'll probably have to make a lot of applications before you find your new home. The important thing is to keep on trying until you succeed.
Don't jump at the first place you get offered, either. Make sure the place is right for you. Think about whether you can afford the rent, whether the place is in good enough condition, whether it's close enough to the things you need to get to regularly, and so on.
Be ready to move in
Be prepared to move quickly when a place does come up. Make sure you've got enough money to cover the bond (usually equal to a month's rent) plus a month's rent up front.
You might also have to pay connection costs for utilities like gas, electricity and internet, so make sure you've got that money ready too.
For more tips on budgeting to move into a new place, check out our "What's Your Budget?" section above.
Once you've found a place and you're ready to move in, it's time to sign that lease. For more about your rights when signing leases and what to watch out for, check out our Signing A Lease page.
Tenants Union of Victoria
Statewide resource for renters' rights. Includes fact sheets on tenancy law and contacts for local offices across Victoria.
Consumer Affairs Victoria - Renting
Fact sheets in multiple languages include making a decision to rent, payments, tenancy problems and bonds.
Find information about housing and housing assistance, including access to public housing and bond loans.
Real Estate Institute of Victoria (REIV) - Search for a Real Estate Agency
Many real estate agents have their own websites. The REIV site has an online tool for finding them.