International travel is back after two boring years which means sublet chaos is peaking in Melbourne this winter. It seems almost every inner-city dweller is fleeing the Big Grey for a long-awaited Euro summer and Instagram stories and sharehousing pages on Facebook are absolutely packed with ads for short-term sublets rn.
But with migration and international arrival rates still low and Melbourne generally pretty glum this time of year, is anyone actually filling these spare rooms?
Despite the memes, it seems demand for sharehouse rooms on a short-term basis is in fact steadily returning.
“I was expecting it to be super hard to find someone and it hasn’t been too bad. It’s definitely not as easy as usual though,” Melbourne resident Krista Lyle told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
Lyle will fly the coop in July for two months and hopes to get someone into her inner-north sharehouse to cover her portion of the rent while she’s gone.
Ahead of her departure she’s advertised her room on Instagram and on the Fairy Floss Real Estate Facebook page (Melbourne’s main platform for finding housemates or a room in a sharehouse). Lyle hasn’t found someone yet but was surprised to receive messages of interest from 10 people.
“I have sublet a room in Melbourne winter before and I assumed it would be harder this time,” she said.
“Everyone, not just Melbourne people, would prefer to be in Euro summer rather than our winter especially after years of COVID lockdowns.”
“[But] sublets are back 10,000 per cent”.
View this post on Instagram
PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke to 10 Melbourne residents who had advertised winter sublets of one to two months in sharehouses on Fairy Floss Real Estate and six had filled their rooms with ease.
The average number of applicants per room was six. The most expressions of interest received was 17.
Five of the six successfully subleased rooms were filled by people travelling interstate for work or international students.
Australia’s borders reopened to international students late in 2021 and to all travellers on February 21 and the number of short-term arrivals has increased by about 100,000 per month since.
But we are still well behind pre-pandemic levels. There were 80.7 per cent fewer short-term arrivals in March 2022 than in March 2019.
So with so few travellers in the country, why is there still demand for sublets?
Well, it could have something to do with Australia’s rental crisis.
Rental properties and sharehouses in Australia are experiencing record demand and as housing prices and the cost of living surge. More people are being locked into the rental market longterm which leads to more competition.
For a room in Sydney’s Redfern you’ll be up against 19 others per room, according to Flatmates.com.au. In Melbourne’s Fitzroy that ratio is 51 people per one room.
This demand and the inflated cost of living could see international students and even Australian residents consider — or be forced into — cheaper sublet options as a legitimate accommodation option over permanent expensive leases.
But as more travellers return one thing that’s for sure is we all must unfortunately face the reality of smelly subletters coming in and out of our sharehouses again from now on.