Perth, Australia

Bhutanese in Perth warn of a growing housing and job crisis

With the rush of Bhutanese and other international students entering Perth, Australia, they are being forced to pay exorbitant rents due to the rental crisis in the state. Students are sharing rooms and even paying 1000 AUD per week for apartments. In the past, the same apartment would cost just half the price.

A maximum number of students choose Perth among the other cities in Australia because of the affordable living standards and jobs. However, with time, the situation is turning the other way round. They are not only facing a housing crisis at the moment, but the jobs are also drying up.

Karma, who has been in Perth for about a month, said that she has been putting up with one of her friends, given the housing issue.

She said, “Houses are available but due to documentation and being a new comer, it is difficult for us get a house. Even if we get one, we do not get it at a convenient location which is near the work station and university. Distance is another issue here.”

The newcomers have to drive for an hour or more to get to their work places, causing much inconvenience for those who can’t drive, she said, adding that it is very difficult to get used to the public transportation, as they have to change multiple trains and buses to get to work.

Many students share rooms with other international students, which is not so convenient and takes much adjustment, given the different cultures. 

In addition, she said, “Jobs are available, but the requirement is different, which makes it difficult to find jobs. I have applied in various agencies but I did not get a single call in a month. For now, I just got one casual job. I am surviving on this.”

Lhaki said that having to show the source of income to rent a house is an issue. Moreover, just to see one house, they would have dozens of people coming to see the house. Everything has become so competitive now.

She further said that looking for house in Perth is like going to an auction, wherein whoever bids to pay the highest rent would get the house.

“I am staying with my relatives for now, which is uncomfortable for me as well for them. The rules are different here, whereby no extra people are allowed to stay beyond the limit. An agent comes in for surprise inspections, and if caught then people will be fined. This is why life has become difficult here. Housing has become one major issue,” she added.

Zamin shared that due to the housing shortage in Perth, people have now started scamming each other. She is a victim of such a scam, whereby out of desperation she had booked an apartment without crosschecking the details. She was made to pay an advance of half payment, but later she realized that no such apartment was available, and that she was scammed.

She said, “People post houses online, but when we call them to check out the house they would give excuses and those are scammers as well. We have to be careful. I have been trying for look for an apartment for more than a month now and I did not get one.”

Wangmo said that in the past they would get a house easily and the rent was also affordable, however, given the housing crisis, the landlords have doubled the house rent and for an apartment they will have to pay 900 AUD per week.

She said that there is a line of 40 to 50 people to view a single house. The situation is particularly difficult for a new comer. She has been in Perth for a year now, and gets many calls from fellow Bhutanese asking for accommodation until the time they can secure an apartment of their own.

“In a three bedroom apartment, we are 7 which makes it difficult for us to adjust to put more people. Moreover, it has become difficult to get jobs unlike in the past, whereby now, it is difficult to get two times shift in a week. The time limit has been set for students,” she added.

Likewise, many others have shared their grievances over the issue. Some shared that they are on the verge of slipping into a depression given the crisis in the city. They went there with a hope to make good money, but the reality is putting them into a difficult situation.  

Some said that there were incidents of Bhutanese sleeping in the car garage and in their cars as well.

There are also instances of Bhutanese either poorly trained or unfamiliar with traffic rules in Australia getting into accidents.

The Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Canberra already sounded the alarm about the housing crisis on 3rd March 2023 but it fell on deaf ears as students still rushed in hopes of a better life.

In the past a few Bhutanese in Australia who came on social media to share the ground realities were criticized by Bhutanese in Bhutan wanting to come there saying these were attempts to demotivate them.

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