They measure by the size of the boxes. So essentially what they do is pick up your boxes, and measure how much space it will take up in the container at their warehouse. So I shipped 3 boxes and a guitar. The 3 boxes were about 3 ft x 3ft x 3ft (one was 3ft x 3ft x 4ft), and that came to 21 cubic feet according to them. from what I understand, they will quote you a bit 'high', but only charge the actual space your stuff takes up. (I'm not sure if that answered your question).
I tried to find a place before I got here, but it was pretty much impossible. I should explain how it works here first. Apartments don't have 'landlords' in the same sense as Canada. The real estate agencies are the landlords. So you don't go with a specific agency, you go with which apartment you want. The best site for looking for apartments is realestate com au. There is also domain com au, but I found realestate com au to be much better.
The first thing I did was figure out which area I wanted to live in. This website: localvoices realestate com au helped and I have friends who live here and provided some guidance as well. Personally, I wanted to be relatively close to downtown Melbourne (they call it ‘CBD’ – central business district), and I wanted to be close to the water, so I choose Port Melbourne, St. Kilda, Southbank (Southbank is not close to the beach, but looked nice and was ranked pretty high).
Then I started my search on realestate com au of options in each those areas to get an idea of what I can get within my budget.
The other thing is that they show rent ‘per week’, but rent is paid ‘per month’. To accurately determine the monthly rent cost, take the rent per week divide it by 7 to get the rent per day. Then multiply that by 365 days to get the annual rent, and then divide it by 12 to get the monthly rent (weird, I know).
About a month before I arrived, I started emailing the agents for each of the properties I liked, so at least they have my name and some information about me and understand my situation (some emailed me their application forms). The application process is pretty intense…comparable to a job interview. So these are the thing that I found most helpful:
• have 3 personal/work references available – non-family members (most ask for 2, but have 3 just in case)
• a reference letter from your previous landlord in Canada
• most recent bank statement
• photocopy of your passport and driver’s license
• write up a summary about yourself (i.e. what brings you to Melbourne, the job that you have in Melbourne, expected income, etc.)
• Money for a bond payment – this is a security deposit for the place (similar to first/last rent), but you get the bond amount back at the end of your lease, assuming nothing has been severely damaged in the place
• Most places do not come with a fridge (another weird thing), so you’ll need to buy one
It is about 10-15% more expensive here than Canada (including the exchange rate), so I found out that furnishing your own place is costly, however, there is an IKEA here. Also, there is Furniture Spot and Fantastic Furniture, which are similar to IKEA and reasonably priced. Nicer furniture places are located at South Wharf, the Direct Factory Outlet (DFO). They have places like Snooze (for mattresses/bed) and Freedom (couches, tables, chairs, dining set, etc.) I tend to go to the DFO a lot.
I spent my first Saturday checking out places (I’m here for work, my company relocated me, so I was working during the week and only had weekends to check apartments). I started in one area and checked out about 6 places, and picked up an application for each place I liked. My first mistake was waiting a few days to fill out the application and sending it in. By the time, I sent it in, the places were already taken. The next weekend, I did the same thing in a different area, got the application forms and filled them out that day and sent them in (along with a copy of my passport, reference letter from my previous landlord, bank statement, etc.). Then I got a response the next day that I got the place. I had to go to the real estate agency and pay the bond (with a bank cheque) and sign all the paperwork within the next week.
Which reminds me, you’ll need to set up a bank account here. NAB is really good; you can set one up before you arrive. If you’re transferring money from your Canadian account on a regular basis, I use Canadian Forex, but my co-worker is using Tranzfers (which is the same thing). The only difference is that Tranzfers seems to give a better rate than Canadian Forex.
If you’re looking for a place with someone that is looking for a roommate, you can check out melbourne.gumtree com au
I hope this helps.