Prior to our arrival in Melbourne, we didn’t contact anyone assuming that the two weeks residence in Malaysia Hall will give us ample time to negotiate what needed to be done to make this foreign place our new home.  Assuming that we can get on without any assistance, was a huge mistake.  We were lucky to meet other fellow Malaysians who are also residing in the hall.  Some of them have been in Melbourne for a while and two persons in particular, came to attend their convocation.  We received a lot of advice as well as tips on where or what to look out for when finding a place.  One fellow Sarawakian, Jabbar, was kind enough to extend our “plight” to the Penghulu of Kampung Victoria North, Dr. Zakuan Zaini Deris.

We were contacted by Johari the following day.  He is in the second year into his PhD at Uni Melbourne and he was the key person who really looked us through until we finally found our place.  We were truly thankful for all the help extended by the members of Kampung Vic North who involved directly and indirectly in our “quest” to locate a home.  Unlike the ties featured in Matthew Desmond’s article on “Disposable Ties” (2012), I reckon the ties developed amongst us are strong and one character of such ties is allowing us to get on, rather than to get by.

Finding a house to rent is not like going around Melbourne, locating a suitable home and then contacting the owner telling him/her that we intend to rent the house.  There are official procedures that need to be followed, purposely put in place to protect the interest of the owner and the tenant.  In general, these are the steps that we took in order to apply for the current place: (1) identify suitable houses online – we checked; (2) inspect the house – either follow the dates posted online (only open for 15 minutes, so don’t be late) or if the place is vacant, visit the real estate office and get the key to do the inspection (this involves $50 deposit per key, photo ID and we only have an hour to hold the keys); (3) submit application forms together with requested documents and wait for reply from the agent – this normally takes 2-3 working days if the agent is NOT on leave; (4) if the owner is happy to let the place to you, the next step is to go down to the office, sign agreement and give a month rental worth of bond to the agent (this is like a deposit) plus a month rental in advance.  There is no deposit for utilities.

We utilized to check out potential houses.  Source:

We utilized to check out potential houses. Source:

The inspection; I reckon is very crucial because you really need to know the location of the house and the state of the house.  You also want to check the utilities provided in the house (will be described in a separate entry).  Although there are images posted online, you would want to check them with your own eyes because images can be deceiving.  Johari helped us a lot during this vital stage by driving us around because getting between inspections can be very time consuming if we relied on public transport.

The rental here is quoted per week (yeah, I was shocked too because it is sooooOOOOOO much higher compared to Malaysia).  For our two bedroom unit, the lease per week is $260.  To get a month figure, the formula is ($260 x 4.3) which gives a total of $1130.  Therefore the amount that we had to cover upfront was $2260.  Wow, that is a lot of money when converted into Malaysian Ringgit!  Friends who visited our place commented that it is relatively cheap compared to what it (the rental market) is used to be.  I remember the housing market performance was rather discouraging when we arrived.  Perhaps, that was reason for the cheaper rental.  We were given a year contract – which may be renewed upon the expiry of the lease.  The possibility for renewal really depends on the owner’s or tenant’s discretion.

So, how many houses we inspected and applied before we heard from the current agent?  If I remember correctly, we submitted applications for 8 houses, and received 3 green lights in total – all in all it involved two weeks efforts.  We chose this unit because it is cheaper compared to the other two units ($295 and $300 respectively per week) although the other two units are just across Oak Park Railway Station.  Residing here implies that I need to travel a little bit to get to the train station.  Oftentimes in the evening, I’ll walk from the train station and it is slightly over 1km between there and home.  Alternatively, I’ll stop at Glenroy Railway Station and take a ride home on a bus – when I don’t feel like walking.  On certain occasions, I’ll call Deen when I feel like doing neither.  🙂

Part 2will be drafted soon.  See ya!

In fact, this was the first house we inspected... Thanks to Jo for locating the unit.

In fact, this was the first house we inspected… Thanks to Jo for locating the unit.