Securing Your Rental in Australia - Tips for Returning Expats

Welcome back to the land Down Under! If you're reading this, chances are you're a returning expat, eager to find a place to call home in Australia. But as you might have heard, the Australian rental market has become quite competitive. Don't fret; we've got you covered.

This guide will walk you through the steps and strategies to give you the best shot at securing your rental property when you repatriate to Australia.

Understanding the Australian Rental Market

First things first, let's get a lay of the land. The Australian rental market has seen a significant shift in recent times. With international borders reopening and the economy bouncing back, there's a surge in demand for rental properties. This high demand, coupled with limited stock, has created a tight market. But understanding this landscape is the first step in navigating it successfully.

As of August 2023, the national residential property rental vacancy rate has plummeted to a mere 1.2%. This means that out of all the rental properties available in Australia, only 1.2% are vacant and ready for tenants. To put this into perspective, the total number of rental vacancies Australia-wide decreased by 3,439 dwellings in just one month, bringing the count to 35,425 vacant and available rental properties. This paints a clear picture of the intensifying housing rental crisis in Australia.

Diving deeper into the data, nearly all capital cities recorded a decrease in vacancies. For instance, Sydney, Perth, and Canberra reported rental vacancy rates of 1.4%, 0.4%, and 1.9% respectively. Interestingly, while the rental vacancy rate in the Sydney CBD saw a slight reprieve in July 2023, it fell back to 4.6% in August. On the other hand, Melbourne CBD and Brisbane CBD experienced an uptick in their rental vacancy rates, standing at 5.2% and 1.8% respectively.

Regional areas weren't spared either. Most of them experienced decreases in rental vacancy rates. For example, the North Coast NSW saw its rate drop to 1.6%, and the Gold Coast Main also recorded a decrease, settling at 1.3%. However, some areas like the Blue Mountains remained steady at 1.5%.

Now, let's talk about rents. Over the past 30 days leading up to 12 September 2023, capital city asking rents rose by 0.2%, with a staggering 12-month rise of 16.1%. Breaking it down, house rents in capital cities increased by 0.4% with a 12-month surge of 14.9%, while unit rents remained steady over the past month but saw a significant 17.4% increase over the past year. To give you an idea of the current rates, the national median weekly asking rent for combined dwellings is $584.32, while in capital cities, it's a heftier $677.25.

Let’s get into the actual tips for preparing to find the right rental property for you in Australia.

Preparing Before Your Return

Before you even set foot back in Australia, there's homework to be done. Start by researching the rental market from wherever you are. Websites, forums, and local news sources can give you a sense of what to expect.

Consider reaching out to local real estate agents and property managers. They can provide insights into the areas with the most demand and where you might have a better chance. Plus, understanding the rental application process in Australia before you arrive can save you precious time and reduce stress.

Tips for Standing Out in a Competitive Market

Alright, let's dive into the meat of the matter. With so many people vying for limited properties, how do you make sure you're at the front of the line?

1.     Building a Strong Rental Application

  • Financial Statements: You know you're reliable, but how do you prove it? Start by providing comprehensive financial statements. These can include bank statements, salary slips, and even tax returns. They paint a picture of your financial stability, assuring landlords that you're a safe bet.
  • References: Remember that apartment you took great care of or that landlord you got along with famously? Now's the time to call in those favours. Gather references from previous landlords or property managers. A glowing reference can significantly tip the scales in your favour.
  • Essential Documents: Don't forget the basics. Ensure you have proof of income, identification, and any other necessary documents ready to go.
  • The Cover Letter: Think of this as your elevator pitch. A well-crafted cover letter can set you apart. Detail your intent, your history as a responsible tenant, and why you're keen on this particular property.

2.     Networking

It's not just about what you know, but also who you know. Reach out to any contacts you have in Australia. Personal recommendations or insider tips can sometimes lead to opportunities before they even hit the market.

3.     Flexibility is Key

In a tight market, being rigid can be a disadvantage. Consider looking in different suburbs or even different cities. Sometimes, being open to a variety of property types or sizes can open doors you hadn't considered.

4.     Quick Decision Making

In a market where properties get snapped up quickly, indecision can cost you. If you find a place that ticks most of your boxes, be prepared to make a decision swiftly. Ensure you have funds ready for an immediate deposit to lock in your choice.

5.     Financial Incentives for Landlords

  • Offering Above the Asking Price: It might sound drastic, but in some cases, offering a bit more than the listed price can make your application stand out. But weigh the pros and cons before taking this step. It’s important to review the rules in your state or territory to check what is allowed and acceptable here.
  • Higher Security Deposit: By offering a larger security deposit, you're signalling commitment and reducing the perceived risk for the landlord. Just ensure you're aware of the legal limits and conditions in your state.
  • Prepaying Rent: If your financial situation allows, consider prepaying a few months' rent. This gesture can be quite appealing to landlords. However, always ensure there's a written agreement detailing the terms of your prepayment.

The Property Inspection

Now, let's talk about inspections. They're your chance to make a lasting impression. Attend as many as you can and engage with property managers or landlords. Dress smartly, ask informed questions, and show genuine interest. Remember, it's not just about the property; it's also about building a rapport with the person who'll decide who gets it.

Your Rights as a Tenant

While it's essential to be proactive and flexible, it's equally crucial to know your rights. Familiarise yourself with the Residential Tenancies Act relevant to your state. This knowledge ensures you're treated fairly and can advocate for yourself if needed. There are also numerous resources and organisations dedicated to assisting tenants, so don't hesitate to seek advice if you're unsure.


Securing a rental in Australia's current market might feel like an uphill battle, but with preparation, flexibility, and determination, it's a battle you can win. Remember, every challenge presents an opportunity. By following these tips and staying informed, you'll be well on your way to finding a place to call home.


To Your Financial Success!

Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd - No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3

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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.

*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.

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