For migrants having their immigration papers for Australia approved represents a major turning point in their lives. It is an opportunity to start fresh and build a new life in one of the most progressive economies in the world. Once the euphoria of victory and success has set in, the focus now shifts to an issue that every Australian faces: Housing.

Housing is every Australian’s dream. In fact home ownership is “The Great Australian Dream”; it is more than just owning property, it is owning a piece of land of your own country.

Unfortunately, home ownership has become increasingly difficult for a number of reasons:

  • Market prices have been steadily rising since 2001
  • The gap between property prices and wage rates has been widening
  • Increasing population rate of Australia
  • The supply of available property has been dwindling

These factors have contributed to the steady increases in Australia’s property market. Add to that the steady inflows of foreign money from China and Hong Kong which have been pushing prices of properties to unprecedented heights.

In 2015, residential dwellings in Australia had a mean price of AUS$ 612,200 which reflected a 10.2% increase from 2014 prices. Sydney had the highest mean property price at AUS$ 780,900 while Tasmania had the lowest mean property price at AUS$ 321,100. Overall, Sydney ranks 7th in the world in terms of most expensive real estate property prices.

Thus, the idea of home ownership for migrants appears to be a daunting one. Many immigrants who come to Australia hoping to find greener pastures soon realize that finding work can be a challenging endeavor. While Australia continues to be on the lookout for skilled labor and professionals in the health care, legal and social services profession, the job market remains competitive.

It may be awhile before an immigrant starts to earn income that can sustain an individual lifestyle and longer if he or she has a family.

But everyone needs a bed to lay their head on and shelter from the nature’s unpredictable elements. What are the immigrant’s options for home ownership?

In the first place, you have to look for a real estate agent or property agent to help you find property. You should get this done before you migrate. You can check online for sources. Or perhaps ask your Migration Agent for assistance. Maybe he or she can refer you to a realtor he or she previously worked with.

When planning relocation to Australia, finding a place to stay will be a major concern and Migration Agents are aware of this.

  1. To lease property will be the most feasible option for migrants. Unlike property ownership, leasing is an outright expense that is payable every month.

A one – bedroom and three – bedroom apartment located in the city has an average rental price of AUS$ 1,812.75 and AUS$ 3,096.38 respectively. If you choose rental dwellings outside the city, the costs would be lower. AUS$ 1,311.47 for a one – bedroom apartment and AUS$ 1,997.36 for a three – bedroom apartment.

The minimum wage in Australia is AUS$15.96 per hour, the highest in the world. So if you work 7.5 hours per day, 22 days a month your gross salary would be equivalent to AUS$ 2,633.40. According to studies, on average minimum wage earners still net AUS$ 9.54 per hour after cost of living is deducted.

So rent remains a viable option for migrants. Even with savings and money in the bank, it will be better to put off investing in property until your stream on income is more secure.

  1. Public Housing. The federal and territorial governments of Australia sponsor public housing dwellings for migrants with tight or limited budgets. But the waiting line can be long.

There are emergency housing options which your Migration Agent can also help you with as he or she has contacts with local governments.

  1. Multi – Family Dwellings. Another option would be to share rent with another party or family of immigrants. Multi- Family dwellings have been increasing since 2011.

Case in point is Sydney where development in the inner and middle suburbs has been rising faster than the outer suburbs where single unit dwellings are more popular. Inner and middle suburbs prefer multi- family complexes and commercial developments.

In 1991, there were 12,500 multi-family homes in Sydney but in 2011, the number had risen to 40,000. Although it is not the Great Australian Dream, multi- family dwellings offers many benefits:

  • Bridges gap between property prices and average income.
  • Allows people another option to have a home.
  • Acts as a hedge versus economic uncertainty.
  • Have another party share in the cost of rent.

In fact, multi- family dwellings have been on the rise even in larger economies such as the United States.

  1. Home Purchase. If you do have the resources to buy a home, always contract the services of a Buyer’s Agent. A Buyer’s Agent is also a real estate agent but he or she works to protect the interest of the buyer.

A Buyer’s Agent can assist you in looking for property that meets your budget. He or she can help you negotiate during auctions which are good venues to find the best value properties.

If you plan to buy your property through a home loan program, contract the services of a Mortgage Broker who can assist you in finding the best packages given your financial capability.

The Reserve Bank of Australia or RBA has not raised its cash rate which remains at 2%. However many banks are tightening up on loan applications because of the widening gap between property prices and average wage rates.

In both instances, ask your Migration Agent for his or her recommendation. Remember, the Migration Agent is there to make sure you are at home in Australia.

As an immigrant in Australia, the first thing you need to do is get settled in. Your first home may not be your “Great Australian Dream” but in time and with hard work, one day you will be able to afford it.

Always remember that home is not where your head lies; it is wherever your heart is.