Rental crisis leaves overseas students struggling to find a home

Andrea Orquiza, 21, from the Philippines is renting a room in shared accommodation with other SCU students after she struggled to find an apartment. Photo:Tertius Pickard
Southern Cross University student Andrea Orquiza has experienced the fallout of tightening vacancy rates on the Gold Coast first hand.
Like many overseas students, Miss Orquiza, 21, from the Philippines, came to the Gold Coast to study after falling in love with the area on a university scouting trip.
“It was across from the beach and for someone who doesn’t really travel much, I just felt that it was going to be like a second home,” she said.
Recent data shows overseas searches for rental properties in Australia rose 71 per cent last month with the Gold Coast being the No.1 searched for location.
Miss Orquiza moved to Coolangatta in July 2019 and landed a easily found a rental apartment close to a friend in Coolangatta Rd, but she returned home a year later when Covid forced extended university lockdowns.
Andrea Orquiza returned to the Gold Coast to finish her degree but found finding accommodation difficult, particularly being a student. Photo:Tertius Pickard
When Covid restrictions lifted this year, Miss Orquiza moved back to the Gold Coast to finish her accounting degree on campus, and while finding a part-time job was easy, she said finding a place to rent had proved far more difficult.
“It was so much tougher to find somewhere to rent than the first time I arrived,” she said.
“I looked for months, submitting many applications, but it was hard, particularly because I am a student. There were always 100 other applicants that looked more reliable than me.
“My mother is financing my rent, and even though I had bank statements and proof that I could pay, it didn’t seem to make any difference.”
After a costly stay in an Airbnb, Miss Orquiza turned to the university for help and managed to find a room to rent through its internal website UniStays.
Miss Orquiza said she was drawn to Coolangatta and Southern Cross University for its proximity to the beach and its ‘homely’ feel. Picture: Jessica Lamb
“The university was a big help and offered me options with foster families and other types of accommodation, which I hadn’t really considered,” she said.
“I am now in a share house with other students, but I am happy to stay there for now, as rents are so expensive. At $300 to $400 a week for one bedroom, being able to afford a place on my own is not really an option.”
Miss Orquiza said had she not found the share house, she would have been forced to return to the Philippines.
“I came back because I am so close to my graduation and I wanted to experience the Gold Coast even more,” she said. “For any student thinking of coming to study here, my advice would be don’t be picky.
“The Gold Coast is a beautiful place to live but it is expensive. I didn’t think I would live in shared accommodation, but it has allowed me to meet some amazing people and it offers a great support network.”

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