This is a guest post from Ana Gusso. Ana works in Education Marketing focusing on international students and has assisted countless people to pursue their dreams overseas.
Ana has graciously agreed to write about one of the most commonly asked questions I get from students moving to Sydney for school. “Where can I afford to live in Sydney on a limited budget?” She has include some great tips for finding accommodations, one being Homestays, something I never heard of before.
Without further adieu, here’s Ana…
A New Life Overseas
The decision to start a new life overseas demands courage and lots of planning. It can feel a bit daunting sometimes but don’t give up. Remember that every new beginning is difficult: learning the language, finding a job, a place to live, new friends…
It is common to feel unprepared for the challenge but we are here to help and, once everything starts making more sense, you will see that it will be worth it!
Once you make up your mind and your objectives are all in place for a great experience in Australia, it is time to organize your new life abroad.
Finding a place to stay where you feel comfortable and that gives you the chance to interact with new people is crucial for a good experience overseas.
You will need to organize somewhere to stay before you go, but do not make long-term commitments beforehand. You will meet people and change your mind once you are already there.
From my experience, students who struggle a bit with the language, generally stay in homestay (when you stay with a family) or shared accommodations (your school or agency rents a spot in a room for you) for the first month and, only after that, they feel confident enough to go and find a place for themselves.
Staying in Homestays
Staying in homestays will assist you to get used to the new culture quicker. Homestay packages generally include 2 meals during the week: breakfast and dinner, and 3 meals on the weekends, but this can vary among homestay companies.
Families will most likely live in the suburbs and not in the city center. Homestay accommodations are generally located about 45 min away from the school. In my opinion, homestays are the safest options to get you going at the beginning. However, it will be a bit more costly. For example, the weekly fee to stay with a family registered with the Australian Homestay Network (AHN) ranges from $250 to $300, depending of the package chosen (number of meals).
When choosing the homestay option, keep in mind that living with another family is different than living with your own. I have heard all sorts of complaints from students staying in homestays. You have to be ready to accommodate yourself to the new culture. The food might be different but that it doesn’t mean it will be bad.
Also, be ready to live with an Australian family with duo citizenship. Many Australians come from overseas and become Aussies after leaving in the country for a few years. Sydney is the most international city of Australia so get used to the idea of spending a month with an Australian family with a strong international background.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, consider staying in a shared accommodation where the price will change according to the room types.
Renting a single room for just yourself will always be more expensive but, if you are willing to share, you will definitely cut costs. Share accommodation companies such as Cozzy Stay, have the option to share the room with one or 2 others. Prices will range from AU$180 for a triple room to AU$320 for a single room.
Sharing the room is also a great way to make friends (I made one of my best friends in Australia by sharing a triple room for a while).
Searching for Accommodations in Sydney Online
For those more confident with moving abroad and who are more fluent in English, online searches can also be an efficient way to find an affordable place to live. You can check the classified pages in the local newspaper online or get information on what is available through a real state agency.
Bear in mind that renting a house through a real state agency is more complicated than renting a spot in a house, as the agency will request that you provide proof of income and references. In Sydney, renting a house is particular complicated and the competition is hard. Being overseas makes this task even more difficult. I suggest you find a room first and then, when the time is right, try to rent a place for yourself.
There are many websites that list classified ads for shared accommodations as well as property rentals. To make it simpler for you, I recommend the following two websites: Gum Tree and Easy Roommate. Both will give you a better understanding of accommodation availability and cost of living in Australia but, you will need to know English to communicate with possible flatmates.
If you are traveling for a short period of time, the “couchsurfing” website might be an interesting option for you. The concept, which is based on hospitality exchange, is simple.
You have the chance to stay at locals’ houses for free and also to host people from all over the world in your house. Couchsurfing is not only a way to travel on a budget but also a great opportunity to make new friends and learn about different cultures.
Many educational institutions also have partnerships with homestays and share accommodation agencies. If you are a student, learn about the student service department at your college and pay attention to the bulletin boards: many students post available spots in their houses on these.
About the Author: Ana suffers from wanderlust and fails constantly to find the cure for it. Her international adventures stretch over several regions in Asia, Australasia, South and North America, Europe, and Subcontinent.
Currently obsessed by the Middle East and African markets, Ana believes that all one needs to be able to travel is a desire to do so. Check more about her wonders at www.firsttimeforeigner.com. You can also find Ana on Twitter, @Gusso_Ana.