Searching for an apartment in Melbourne turned out to be much more stressful than we thought it would be. Because we were searching for a furnished place, our options were already super limited. On top of that, we stuck to the southeastern suburbs, as close to the beach as possible. A tough market, to say the least.

Maybe because we’re near the beach, or in a big party area, but apparently there are a lot of folks who don’t need kitchens? I guess a lot of people can get by and not need anything other than a microwave and mini-fridge? While we decided that we wanted to pare down to a studio, we definitely wanted a real kitchen. Regular-sized fridge, regular oven, real countertops: the trifecta!

Some of the contenders…

IMG_2022

Inland Deluxe Block

Price: A$350/week

Neighborhood: East St Kilda

Stats: 1 bedroom, full bath/kitchen

Travel: 30m walk/15m bike ride to beach

This was the very first apartment we looked at. We knew it was farther out than we wanted, but the building had a pool, barbecue, and tennis courts. The kitchen was very nice,

Why We Axed It

The bedroom didn’t have a solid door and there wasn’t a washing machine, so that, combined with the location, made this a quick no.

IMG_2125

Eco Chic Apartment 

Price: A$470/week

Neighborhood: Albert Park

Stats: 2 bedroom, full bath/kitchen

Travel: <10 walk/<5m bike ride to both beach and lake

Albert Park was the neighborhood I picked out when I first looked at a map of Melbourne. A and I loved that it was super close to the center of the city, and was nestled between the beaches on the bay on one side and a huge lake and park. After a bit of research, we learned that it was one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Melbourne, and it was full of big houses and families. Not exactly our scene, so we quietly crossed it off the list. But, we were getting pretty desperate when we came across the listing, and it was an apartment in our budget in a nice neighborhood, so we decided to check it out.

The apartment was gorgeous, and had a beautiful kitchen, and even an espresso machine! It was in a small apartment block, which was very eco-conscious, with a lovely garden, BBQ and patio furniture that we would be able to use. This was the absolute top of what we wanted to spend, but because it was two bedrooms, we wouldn’t need to find an office for Alan.

Why We Axed It

Two major reasons: A wanted to leave the house to go to work. After 4+ years of working out of our home, he spent 2 weeks in August working in a shared office space in Brooklyn and fell in love with leaving work at an office when he came home. After the inspection, we walked over to the Albert Park shopping centre and explored our potential new neighborhood. And it felt exactly like Westport or Greenwich, Connecticut. Which is the equivalent of our own personal hell and was the final nail in the coffin for me.

IMG_2008Marina View Studio

Price: A$450/week

Neighborhood: St Kilda

Stats: 1 small room, with “full” kitchen and separate bath

Travel: <10 walk/<5m bike ride to both beach and lake

This place was A’s dream come true. As close to the water as you can get, it was a screaming deal at only $450/week because the owner was planning on tearing down the building and redeveloping it in the next year, so it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime deal. I loved the parquet flooring, sky high ceiling,

Why We Axed It

For me, it was all about the management staff and kitchen. It was a different person each time we talked to someone about viewing the property. They made us wait outside for 15 minutes after our scheduled appointment, the price changed 4 times, and their office was literally next door to our apartment in the house. I knew that we would not be able to escape their flakiness. And to them, a microwave-sized convection oven is the equivalent of a “full kitchen.” The woman we spoke to the most assured us we could cook anything in it, but I had my doubts.

This one was the hardest to turn down,  but we finally decided that the idea of living right on the water was what we fell in love with, and the reality of this apartment wouldn’t let us live the dream. It was directly in front of the Marina, which is fine, but that means there’s no view of the actual water! So essentially the view was of the front yard, then the main road, then a bunch of boats. It was a beautiful old converted house, but that meant thin glass in the windows, and also super loud traffic. It was also super tiny!

And the winner…

tennysonst
Botanical Garden Studio

Price: A$350/week

Neighborhood: Elwood

Stats: 1 room, with full kitchen and separate bath

Travel: 15 walk/ 7m bike ride to beach; 10 minute walk to Acland Street

A large and airy studio with two large windows on either end and flooded with light, it’s got all-tile and bamboo curtains, a separate dining area (as opposed to a tiny table with two chairs shoved into a corner), full kitchen (with more usable counter space than I’ve ever had as an adult!) We bought a giant 5×5 Ikea cube shelf to divide the living space and the bedrooms space, which has worked out beautifully. There aren’t any closets, which mean I am forced to look at my mess and can’t hide it behind closed doors, so it’s actually kept me tidier.

st kilda botanical gardenLiterally a stone’s throw from the St Kilda Botanical Gardens, our apartment is technically in Elwood, but is about 25 feet from the St Kilda border. This works to our advantage because just by going over that border by a few houses, it was much cheaper. It’s also at the back of the complex, and it’s a bit run-down on the exterior, but we were lucky in getting the nicest apartment. It had the bathroom renovated last year and we’re getting a new fridge soon, so I’m pretty happy with our set-up. And this view is about a 5 minutes away.

IMG_2227

One of the best parts of furnished apartments here is that they will usually include the bills. Not all of the places we saw included bills, but the four above did. It made it much easier to compare when things like utilities weren’t an issue. Although, to be fair, none of the properties have heating or air-conditioning, so that wouldn’t have been the most difficult thing to do, if needed.

You may have noticed I quoted the prices by the week. That’s one of the weirdest things about Australian real estate that’s leftover from yesteryear. It would be fine, but since pretty much everyone actually pays their rent monthly, it makes for some fun math. You basically have to multiply the weekly price by 52 (weeks/year), then divide by 12 (months/year) to get a monthly rent. So our $350/week translates to A$1516.66. And that’s the actual amount we’re expected to pay. No rounding up or down!