Finding Accommodation In Sydney: Thinking Outside the Box

Claire Muller – University of Sydney, Australia 

Hey guys,

So, I wanted to talk to you guys about the evidently stressful topic of trying to find the right accommodation for your time abroad. When researching options, you could be lucky and find an absolute gem or be faced with your worst nightmare. However, by doing the right research and keeping an open mind, you could be surprised by the options out there.  I’m going to give you a few options that might be of interest to you, all depending on what your needs and expectations are. I’ll also include some pros and cons to spice things up a little.

  1. University Student Accommodation (Halls of Residences)

The 1st option is to live in University-owned student accommodation, such as Queen Mary Building (800 maximum capacity) or the many colleges located close-by to each other. They are usually within close distance to the campus, sometimes within ‘walking across the street’ distance. They offer catered and non-catered options, depending on whether you would prefer to cook for yourself or have meals cooked for you (#me). You are pretty much a guaranteed place to stay upon arriving in Australia and you get to meet other international and exchange students. However, the accommodation can be quite expensive for some, with prices ranging from $220pw at the Terraces (non-catered) to over $600pw for college residences (catered). Another issue to take into account is that most Australians do not live in halls of residences. They actually live at home and commute to university, because it is much cheaper. Therefore, you are likely to only meet Aussies in your lectures and tutorials.

Here are a few links to some of the options mentioned above: University Residences and Residential Colleges.

Queen Mary Building
Queen Mary Building (~5-10mins away from USYD)
  1. Independent Student Accommodation

The 2nd option is to live in a 3rd party-owned accommodation building, such as Urbanest, Iglu, and UniLodge. They are relatively close or at least within walking distance to the campus and there are many international and exchange students living there. Much like University Student Accommodation, you are guaranteed a place upon arriving and they offer catered and non-catered options. The probable issue with this option would be the price, as it can become quite expensive. For example, Urbanest offers a non-catered twin share studio for the price of $399pw per person as the cheapest option.  Similarly, to University accommodation, Australians are scarce here.

Here are a few links to look into the options mentioned above: Iglu, Urbanest & UniLodge.

Urbanest Glebe (~5-10mins away from USYD)
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UniLodge Broadway (~5-10mins away from USYD)
  1. Student Boarding Houses 

The 3rd option is to live in student boarding houses, such as Flo Harris Lodge or Arundel House. Surprisingly, there is a mixture of Aussies and International students living (most of these Aussies are from the countryside and are unable to do the commute to and fro from their hometown). In similar fashion to the previous two options, you are guaranteed a place upon arriving in Australia and they offer both catered and non-catered options. They are located either within walking distance to the campus or you would have to take public transport to get to campus. One issue that could be potentially problematic for some is that the boarding houses are directed by churches.

Note. I am currently residing at Flo Harris Lodge for my second semester (I was also here in Semester 1). Now, I wouldn’t call myself, in any case, religious and did not find any issues when it came to living here. I never felt obliged to take part in anything or doing anything I didn’t feel comfortable doing. Therefore, that aspect is definitely not something you should worry about. I am currently staying in a catered single room for about $325pw.

Here are a few links to look into if you are interested: Flo Harris Lodge, Arundel House, The Terraces.

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Flo Harris Lodge, Lewisham (~15-30mins away from USYD)
  1. House Hunting

The 4th option is to house hunt, either once you have arrived in Sydney or before arriving. By searching outside of the campus area, you will have more options to choose from compared to the previous options, and you could get a really cheap deal in a relatively good location. Whilst searching for a house, you will also likely meet other exchange students or international students who are in the same situations as you. In some cases, they can become your future flatmates. You are able to befriend new people much more easily than through the other options previously mentioned. However, if you start looking after arriving, it can be quite stressful trying to find something decent and at a decent price, whilst trying to find ‘decent’ flatmates. If you looked online and found a place, there is a possibility that the situations could become messy, because you haven’t met the housemates before.

Here are a few links to look into some of the options mentioned above: Flatmates, Rent, Property, Gumtree, House Hunting Tips.

  1. Being an Au Pair

The 5th and final option is to become an au pair to a family, living in Sydney. If you are thinking about going on a study abroad exchange and money is a bit tight or you are worried about money, becoming an au pair could be an option for you. You usually get a room or even a granny flat to yourself (rent free), with meals included. Some families can give you pocket money, which can range between $100 to more a week for helping out. Time could potentially be a problem for some because you are quite restricted to helping out the family and taking care of the kids. Most of the children are usually at an age, where they go to school or daycare, therefore, you will likely have to bring them and pick them up from school (8am and 3pm). This means that between that time period, you are free to go to university classes and visit the city. However, if you have classes after 3 or before 8 (highly unlikely), this option isn’t the best, because you will have to pick the children up.

Note. At the University of Sydney, you can change your tutorials timetable to suit you better, but lectures are fixed. Therefore, if you have to pick the kids up at 3, but you have a lecture, this could potentially be problematic.

Note (2.0). When looking for a family, make sure that they are not phony or liars who are trying to profit off of easy labor. I would recommend maybe going through an agency who can match you with a family if that worries you.

Here are a few links to some websites where you can find more information families or sign up to an agency: Au Pair World, Au Pair Australia, AIFS Au Pair.

So, these are the possible options that I came up with, if you guys have any other options, please share with others. I hope this helps you in some way when you are looking at your accommodation options.

See you soon,


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