Renting sucks; Renting in Sydney sucks more

glennji | Apr 10, 2013 min read

I realised I haven’t actually blogged about a move to Sydney in any detail. Here goes:

I’m currently spending all my time in Sydney for work, while Dee and Jules stay at home in Canberra. They’ve driven over and stayed with me a couple of times, but it’s not really sustainable — we need to put Lucy somewhere, for example, and the last three times she’s stayed in the kennel she’s come back malnourished and often with an injury requiring a vet consult. It’s also easier for me to just be in a hotel, but it makes it hard for Jules to sleep when we’re all crammed in together. So not fun: our sleep suffers, my work suffers, our relationship suffers. So for the last few weeks I’ve just been coming on my own, and while I get a lot done it’s no fun leaving my family: video calls, while good, just are no substitute.

Dee is also looking at going back to work, and with her history (Deustchebank, JP Morgan) it makes sense for us to move to Sydney, where she’ll have a much wider market. And, of course, Canberra is a small place! We’re city people, I think — I go out at lunchtime and enjoy the crowds, the vibe, the noise, the excitement. It really does make a difference, an essential one, and there’s the added bonus that my “engineer brain” recognises the higher-efficiency of urban-vs-country living. So long as we can grow some veges and find a good organic supermarket!

Even if I end up working back in Canberra — a good chance — then at least I can stay in the corporate apartments there, set myself up with a little “bachelor’s pad”, and not worry about bringing clothes back and forth. And, really, it’s only a 30-50minute flight, so I could probably come home a little more often (with frequent flyer points if required) if I’m travelling light. Wins, all the way ’round.

Except that finding a house is hard. It sucks. Real estate agents suck. They’re lazy at the best of times, but the rental market at the moment is such that they literally don’t have to give you the time of day — there are only scheduled “open house” viewings, which you must attend if you want to apply (they take your name and phone; sometimes they even hand out the application forms only at the viewing). I’ve even heard stories of some agents running a “rental auction”, playing desperate renters off against each other to maximise the weekly rent!! Abhorrent.

So keep your fingers crossed for our latest find: a 3BR house that still has tenants in it, is managed privately (no agent!), at which “pets are welcome!”, for affordable-ish rent, 20 minutes on the bike to the city (and 26 on the bus, for lazy/rainy days), next to a park, with a backyard (but no offstreet parking), 2 bathrooms and airconditioning. And the owner may be willing to let me see the place before their open-house viewing on the weekend! In other words, everything we could possibly hope for.

But we’ve been disappointed before, so while you keep your fingers crossed, we’ll keep our expectations suitably low.

Let you know how we get on.