During my four months in Sydney I quickly got tired of life in a hostel. The people were ever-changing and there was absolutely no privacy, or a clean shower for that matter. This made me look for a shared apartment in the CBD. The flash life of a Sydneysider was a tad too expensive for me, but I found a way to live within my budget.
Gumtree.com.au if full of ads for shared apartments. I’m not going to lie, you have to be lucky. I did one week of intense searching for and visiting apartments. I quickly found out that the promises made in ads are mostly bogus. I visited flats that were so full of people that they built little walls in the living room so people could sleep there.
Adjust your expectations. If you want something cheaper than or for the same price as a hostel, you are looking in the $150 per week range. For this you will not get your own room in the CBD, perhaps in the suburbs with a bit of luck. Then again, sharing a room isn’t so bad. I ended up finding a place with two rooms, one for boys and one for girls. Each room had four people in it. I paid less than in the hostel, shared with fewer people, made friends and had a place to unpack my bags.
When visiting a flat, ask whatever comes to mind. Often the landlord will take you around the apartment, but if the housemates are there, ask them about the place. By talking to them you’ll also find out if these are people you really want to live with. Besides that, ask if you can see the facilities like the gym or pool. Another thing is the keys. Make sure you get your own set of keys. My landlady conveniently forgot to tell me I wouldn’t have my own key. To get into the building I had to wait for someone to open the doors and sneak in. Then I could open the mailbox where we hid the shared key for the elevator. To go to the gym and pool we also needed the shared key. I made it work, but I always felt like a criminal in my own place.
Sharing a room in a shared flat is a good way to save some extra money. Often internet and bills are included in the weekly rent. Sometimes you even have a gym in the building. All in all this will save you heaps. Be critical. Don’t take the first thing you see and only take a bed if you feel good about the place. After a long day at work, it is really good to come home, watch some TV and hang out with housemates.