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Suggestions for Moving to Melbourne

Melbourne Docklands area, taken from the terra...

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Now that I’ve been here just over a month, I decided to write down a few of the suggestions that I had about relocating to Melbourne while it is still relatively fresh in my head.


Step 0. Take out Aussie $$ via ATMs from your US $$ accounts.

Step 1. Get an Aussie bank account. It’s dead simple, just do it. Walk into a bank and do it.

Step 2. Get a mobile (cell) phone. For some reason, it seemed to me that everyone in Australia will conduct interactions via phone calls and not via email almost on pain of death. Perhaps it was just the specific things that I was trying to complete, but it seemed that no one wanted to email. This lead to a number of phone-tag back-and-forths, including one situation where a real estate agent and I called and missed each other 7 times over a span of about a week.


If you are looking to rent: I recommend going with www.domain.com.au and www.realestate.com.au websites. The process for finding an apartment is roughly as follows. Before you are allowed to apply for an apartment you have to physically inspect the apartment. The real estate agent posts a time on one of the websites I listed above that everyone interested in an apartment needs to arrive. They will advertise a place and say: on 17/09 12:30-1PM (remember they do the date day/month/year) — you need to show up at 12:30, maybe even earlier. They don’t usually stay the whole time. Also, the walkthroughs were fairly quick in my experience. When you show up, they will write your name and mobile phone number.

If you are looking for house shares try: melbourne.gumtree.com.au and swinburne.studystays.com.au.

Also, the addresses are listed like this: “343/57-59 Main Street” means: Apartment Number 343, Street Address 57 through 59. Don’t ask me, it just means you can show up at 57, or 59 and you’re at the same place either way.

The rent is listed as $/week — but you normally pay per month. (And it can be 4 or 4 1/3 times the weekly amount listed, so clarify w/ renter).


I applied to a number of places. Here is what I did and some suggestions.

If I noticed that a certain real estate company is representing a number of apartments that I am interested in looking at, I filled out their application with information that would be the same each application: the references, my name, my contact info, etc. I then made a “master copy” that I made photocopies. This allowed me to quickly fill out their application for several places with the same real estate agency.

Rent application credentials.

  • 1 page cv/resume; if you have a phd make sure you write: Dr. Jonathan Whitmore and in general during this application process, put Dr. wherever you can (or PhD student if that’s what you are, don’t lie). You are trying to be as impressive as can be.
  • Clear photocopies of as many forms of ID that you can find: passports, drivers licenses, staff ID cards, etc.
  • Include your letter of offer for employment
  • Include work visa (mine was the email printout from the Aussie government saying the terms).

Make a number of copies of your credentials so that you can easily fill out the application and attach your credential packet. I recommend filling out the applications for each of the apartments that you are going to look at before you go. This allows you to hand the entire filled out application packet if you are interested applying for the place.

Some final thoughts: weekends are busy and usually have many people looking at once. You have a better shot with during the week ones (less people seeing/applying means your odds are slightly better). Be friendly with the real estate agents. Finally, try to email/call and schedule a private showing during the week — these worked out the best for me.

Good luck!

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