Tuesday, 13 March 2012

A - Z of Australia - H is for Housing

Since salaries and cost of living is higher in Australia than in Europe, housing here can be quite pricey, and every time there is a mining boom, property prices seem to go up as well...

After 3 months in a furnished rented apartment paid for by the company that sponsored my husband, we moved into our "renovators dream".  For about 1 month we had searched for our dream home by going to various "open homes" on the weekends ranging from units to houses, old and new in various suburbs South of the River* but we had a maximum amount we could spend, as we had to put down 20% deposit, due to our type of visa, and of course that restricted our choice, as we hadn´t yet sold our house in Portugal, so we had limited funds.

Perth was in the middle of a boom, so everything seemed quite expensive to us, and all we could afford to buy was a used property, which meant the house would not have all the mod cons of the ones in the newly built areas, one advantage was it was just 7min by car to my husband´s work and 15min to my work.
Now that our house is "almost" fully renovated (by us), I think I quite like where I live, not too far from the city centre, close to work, walking distance to a Primary and High school, 5min drive to a shopping centre, a bus stop in the street behind, train station 7min away by car...

Prices vary of course depending on the suburbs, the further from the city or from the sea or river, the cheapest it is of course. But with over 500 suburbs, from "Two Rocks" in the top north to about 140km down to the southern town of "Mandurah" to chose from, it´s no mean feat deciding where to live.

*South of the river - refers to all suburbs south of the River Swan that flows in front of the city. People here always distinguish between living South or North of the River. The Northern suburbs are newer (apart from the ones surrounding the city), and the southern suburbs have older properties with bigger blocks of land, except for the new suburbs popping up further away.
From the southern suburbs it´s easier to get away to the South of WA where a lot of the most popular holiday spots are, and it´s closer to the airport if you happen to have a FIFO (fly in fly out) job.
The northern suburbs have better beaches. As far as I am concerned I find the infrastructure and transport more abundant in the southern suburbs, but I could be wrong!
The Hills, the area to the right of the Perth airport has some lovely farming type communities, with big blocks, lovely views and lots of green areas and fresh air.
Surrounding the rivers Swan and Canning are a lot of the most exclusive suburbs with beautiful mansions or pricey smaller townhouses or units. You pay of course for the views and for the proximity to the city centre.

In the weekend newspapers you get a section with Properties for sale in each suburb and also the times you can visit the various "open homes", land for sale, various property developers advertise their homes and home plans to choose from, etc. Visiting the new estates popping up everywhere is also a good idea when looking for property, as generally it´s cheaper to buy land and build to your taste, than it is to buy an established older home. The only advantage of an older home is that the size of the land is generally bigger and you usually already have an established garden that can be quite expensive to set up as Perth is built on sand, so you have to put down plenty of good soil to start up a garden.

View of one of the newer suburbs with a man-made lake
The show houses are fully furnished and with inviting small outdoor areas
An entrance to one of the new open homes
Various show houses built by the various property developers
According to REIWA (Real estate institute of Western Australia), in December 2011, the median house price in the Perth metropolitan area, was $465,000, which was up by $5000 from the September quarter, while units and apartments had increased by $2000 to a median price of $395,000. A typical block of land costs around $240,000.
The number of days needed to sell a property had fallen by 4 days to an average of 77 days.
As for rentals, in the metropolitan area the median price was $420 per week, while for apartments, units or townhouses the price was $380 per week.
The above Reiwa link has some interesting calculators so you can see how much you can afford to borrow and what property taxes you have to pay, like stamp duty, etc.

Of course if money is no problem you can always buy a luxury 290sqm, 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom, double garage, river front apartment right next to Kings Park Botanic gardens and within walking distance to the city centre for $2,950,000.

Crawley apartment - isn´t the river view just amazing?  (photo from Reiwa)
Or what about the $10,86 million just paid for an yet unbuilt luxury penthouse apartment, (as per The Weekend West newspaper March 10, 2012) on the Esplanade in South Perth (also right across the river), with 400sqm living space and 100sqm balcony, 3 car garage and infinity pool,  in a four level building with just 1 apartment per floor.
Now that is luxury!

If you happen to be moving to Perth or anywhere in Australia, my advice would be to probably rent for a few months, look around, visit a lot of suburbs, choose somewhere close to your work if possible, close to good schools if you have kids, close to public transport is also a good idea, and of course choose according to your wallet, as you will be paying it off for quite a few years...
If you rent, you are subject to rental inspections every 3 months, just to make sure you are looking after the property, but you get previous notification of the visit.

As for the quality of the houses, I find them not to be as well constructed or as high quality as the ones in Germany or Portugal (this is in my experience from where I lived, South African houses are also not of a high standard of construction). Maybe when you pay above a certain amount you might get better quality, such as double glazed windows, solid wooden doors, better finishes, etc. Or at least I would expect so!

My street


  1. This was really interesting and I am very jealous as Perth looks lovely!

  2. Sorry Sami, I need an "I am here" on that lovely big map! I read the post twice and still can't work out where you live.

    While I'm being a pest, are those pizzas or stripey cakes in your sidebar?

  3. I'm just imagining myself in one of those show homes. Very nice!

  4. I had no idea property was sooo expensive in Australia!

  5. Lindsay - yes Perth is quite a beautiful city.
    Jo - I live in Parkwood, south of the river between Leach and Roe Highway (in red).A little bit to the left of that green line that is the Kwinana Highway running from north to south. The stripey thing is neither a pizza nor a cake, it´s Rice Pudding (Arroz doce) with the brown stripes being cinnamon. LOL
    Julie - I would also love to live in one of those show houses, I lose myself looking at houses, the decor is always so appealing (that´s the point I think), my husband refuses to go with me, as I just want to go and see all of them.
    Anonymous - yes, it can be expensive to buy a house, I suppose the salaries are also higher than the average European salary, but still...

  6. You're right Sami, we do always seem to divide between South and North of the river. I'm North and whenever I come over to visit relatives on the other side of the river it feel really weird. It's just what you're used to I guess. I'm literally five minutes from Sorrento Quay, 5 minutes from the Freeway and the train station. Five minutes to Whitfords Shopping Centre and 20 to Karrynup, so am pretty content with that. Oh it's just so fantastic to have a little bit of cooler weather, although it's still a bit humid, did you get such extreme weather in Portugal?

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  8. You live in a lovely place Grace.
    I have a friend in Ocean Reef, still a bit further north than you, and when we visit it´s a whole day affair, as it´s so far to go...
    No, it doesn´t get this hot in Portugal, although in some places like Alentejo (southern Portugal)it can get hot. In winter it´s also colder than in Perth, and I lived 80km from the highest mountain where it snowed!

  9. You really should try and get to Hyde Park and have a walk around Sami, I think the whole family would love it. There's so many different birds and the huge old trees are fabulous!

  10. This would be very useful to someone who was moving to Australia! I wish I'd had something like this when we moved to CT!

  11. Thanks Grace, I will certainly head to Hyde Park one of these weekends for a picnic.
    Hi Lovely light - yes I also wish I knew more about housing before moving. I´m trying to post about stuff future residents might want to know about Australia.

  12. That was such an interesting post. We moved from Adelaide (where housing is reasonable) to Perth and as my husband was working in Rockingham we chose Mandurah. We found a lovely unit in Port Mandurah on the canals and we thought we would live there while we save for our own home - we could never afford to live there. The tiny 2 bedroom apartment we lived in sold for almost 900k. This was back in 2008 - hopefully things have settled down a bit since then!

  13. Hi Sharon: Mandurah is still quite expensive, any housing by the water is! You are right, when I visited Adelaide I noticed how much cheaper life is there in general, not just housing. Even water front properties aren´t as expensive, but they aren´t as pretty either as the ones in Perth.


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