For Varun Nair, Canberra's expensive and competitive rental market has been a constant source of stress since he arrived in Australia in 2017.
Mr Nair, 24, has been knocked back by landlords, spent numerous nights on friend's couches and bounced around to different properties as he struggled to find stable and affordable accommodation while completing his studies.
"Being a student, and having no source of income, the cost of rent is always at the back of your mind," said Mr Nair, who is about to start the final semester of his masters of engineering in renewable energy at Australian National University.
According to Domain’s State of the Market Rental Report for the December quarter, Canberra's average rental price for units has increased to $495, up 8.1 per cent from the 12 months prior.
Average rent for houses in the capital rose to $560 a week, surpassing Sydney as the highest in the nation, according to Domain's report.
Mr Nair recently moved into a three-bedroom apartment in Reid, where the tenants split a weekly rental bill of more than $600.
As well as cost, he said the high demand for rental properties in the nation's capital made it difficult to break into the market.
The Indian national said he unsuccessfully applied for about 20 rental properties after he landed in Canberra, before a family friend in Tuggeranong spared him a bed as he searched for a more permanent home.
"I would take the bus each day, and I was spending about an hour on the commute," he said. "I started taking a duffel bag, and I would stay at friend's places in the city for two or three days at a time."
Mr Nair said he resorted to inspecting "some pretty seedy places", prior to finding a bed at one of the University of Canberra's student lodges.
He rented in O'Connor, before eventually finding his current home in Reid.