Perth, Australia

Bhutanese heading to Australia face a housing crunch and rising rents

The Facebook page of the Association of Bhutanese in Perth Incorporated (ABPI) with around 8,900 members is a good place to go to to get a pulse of what is happening in the largest Bhutanese settlement in Australia.

The posts from members are usually about social events, job openings, business openings, arrivals of Lams and celebrities from Bhutan and other announcements.

It is also a place where Bhutanese in need of information and help will usually get a positive response.

However, the page these days is flooded with desperate pleas mainly by Bhutanese coming from Bhutan to Perth enquiring about houses or rooms and offer to share and even pay rents, but most of these posts are meeting with radio silence.

Even relatives are close to bursting capacity as they take in who they can leaving little or no space for new entrants.

Bhutanese going to Australia and particularly Perth are headed into a major housing crunch where it has become difficult to get houses, apartments or even rooms and the rent is shooting up.

The Bhutanese Ambassador in Australia Sonam Tobgay said there there is a housing shortage not only in Perth, but all over Australia due to the pandemic period when new units could not be built.

The Ambassador said that while talking to some officials in Perth he heard that many Australians from other parts of Australia are moving to Perth and Western Australia as it managed the lockdowns and pandemic better and there are more opportunities there.

He said this has meant lower availability of housing and it is getting very expensive in terms of rent.

The former ABPI President Tshewang Rinzin said with the pandemic ending a lot of Australians who were staying in New South Wales, Eastern States and even Bangkok and Bali and were flying in and out are relocating back to Western Australia.

Given the housing crunch due to pandemic the Australian central and state governments gave AUD 45,000 each to people to build houses or renovate old ones, but not much could happen due to the shortage of construction materials.

Tshewang said he himself started a construction in 2020 but due the pandemic it is still stuck at the slab level due to supply chain issues as Australia has to import most of its construction materials.

He said that the shortage of housing in Perth is not caused by Bhutanese as the numbers are very limited compared to others. Tshewang said there has also been a surge of international students coming back or coming in.

He said due to higher demand than supply the price of rents are going up.

Tshewang remembers paying AUD 210 per week for a two-bedroom unit 4 to 5 years ago but the same unit is now AUD 300 plus.

There are also many units going for around AUD 350 and also 400 even.

Given the situation Tshewang said Bhutanese students coming here should first have a chat with their relatives and friends and also seek help from their first point of contact like their agents who also bear some responsibility.

He said students can also seek help from their University while other can contact ABPI and even the embassy.

A Bhutanese in Australia said even if you have money getting a house in Australia is not like in Thimphu. He said if you are a new arrival you will either have to show enough bank balance to meet rent or have a referral from somebody who is established.

Tshewang advised that people should contact registered real estate agents who can help and people can also go for home opening inspections where you get a form and fill it up to apply for a rental unit.

He said there are also a host of websites where people can look for vacancies.

Tshewang said that the housing crunch should ease out over time as more supply hits the market as there was a similar crunch in 2013 due to the mining boom but the situation improved over time.

The Bhutanese got in touch with the current ABPI General Secretary and sent questions to get information on the housing crunch, the rents being charged, how Bhutanese can prepare and how ABPI can help, but there was no response forthcoming from the association.

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One comment

  1. Thank you for bringing attention to the reality on the ground. We Bhutanese have a tendency to copy each other’s success without thinking it through (i.e. overcapacity of footsals, hotels). It’s not all roses in Australia.

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