Moving to Australia with a working holiday visa puts people in a somewhat weird position. You’re visiting places for longer than most travelers, often working and living, so you don’t really want to spend that amount of time in a hostel and it be a senseless waste of money to spend it on a hotel. Yet, most will only spend between six months to a year living a destination, making it hard to find a company that will lease you a private place for that short a contract.
This was the predicament Ric and I found ourselves in when we reached Melbourne in November 2010. I only had about three months left on my visa, so there were few real estate companies that wanted to work with us, but we were a new couple at that point and wanted our privacy, which wouldn’t happen in a hostel.
It was actually the day I arrived, a few weeks after Ric, that we actually found out about Jackson Apartments. The Melbourne rental agency focuses on short-term apartment seekers. In fact, they prefer them. I saw their ad in a backpacker magazine, but through internet searches for similar terms I couldn’t find them anywhere. The company ended up being perfect for our situation and you might find they are for you as well. Here is a round-up of our experience with the company.
As with most cities Ric and I arrive in, we had to act pretty fast in finding a place in Melbourne as our money was very low and we knew any place we wanted to rent would require a deposit. With a bit of pressure on us and a pretty wide range of choices, we literally moved into our new place the same day we went searching for apartments with the agency.
I have to say I was a little bit worried about the introduction process as we had to pay our deposit in cash $AUD500 as well as a week’s rent $AUD360, but we really didn’t have a choice. Luckily, it ended up working out. They were really good with paperwork and moved us in our new pad on the same day. They showed us at least four different properties during our hunt, taking us to them by car and were really friendly.
We stayed in two different apartments during our two and a half months with Jackson. The first was in St. Kilda and it didn’t quite work out as we were a bit too noisy for our neighbors. It was somewhat of an retiree complex. But the company didn’t blame us or hassle us, just recommended a new location and even came to pick up us and all our things on moving day. The second place we stayed was a million times better. Our three-bedroom apartment was fully-furnished and located right on Chapel Street in Windsor, which is full of bars, cafes and shopping. We had a deck, parking and we were right next door to this really cool Scandinavian clothing store that made their own beach in the back alley way.
Between Ric and I, it costs $AUD360 per week for a fully-furnished room in a three-bedroom apartment. Now I’ll be honest and say that you can find cheaper if you’re willing to sign at least a six-month contact for a place in Melbourne, but we didn’t have that luxury. I’d say for our own private room in a really good location, we paid the same as it costs in Melbourne for two bunk beds per week in a six or eight person dorm. For this reason, I thought the apartment was worth it.
Everyone we talked to or worked with during our stay was really laid back and genuine. We didn’t have any problems. In fact, I felt like they really tried to make sure we were in the right place. A true testament to them being good people is that I needed information recently, three years later, for partner visas for Ric and I and they went above and beyond in providing it, asking for nothing in return.
It’s hit or miss with the apartments and rooms you’ll find. Don’t expect anything glamorous and some of the places are older and a bit shabby as there are a lot of older places in Melbourne. But the apartments are clean and if you have any complaints about things they’ll work on helping with it. We got very lucky with our second place. It had been refurbished not too long before we arrived.
I stayed in a million different places in Australia: hostels, trailers, bus stations, tents, friend’s couches and rooms that just happened to open somewhere by chance. Ric and I had only been seeing each other for about two months when we arrived in Melbourne and I didn’t want to go through that time with him in a hostel, but we had very little other choice. We tried to find a room with people on Gumtree, but even there they wanted people who were going to stay in the city longer. We had to move fast, so Jackson Apartments was actually the best possible solution for us. Not to add sentiment, but we had our first apartment together with them and I feel very lucky that they made it a good experience.
I highly recommend them to couples or even just friends traveling in pairs who are only staying in Melbourne for a short period, but want somethings a bit more private.