Four weeks out from my start date of a new job in Canberra I began the process of applying for rental properties in the nation's capital. Plenty of time to get sorted, I thought. Wrong.
Trying to secure an apartment for a single professional in Canberra is more difficult than one would think - even with exceptional references and letters from former landlords.
At one point I asked a property manager, who welcomed me with a smile at inspection number nine, how I could increase the chances of getting an application approved. Her answer - it's hard when you're on your own.
The need for applicants to inspect the property in person, and not send someone on their behalf, only added to the chaos.
I spent two days driving from suburb to suburb to attend more than 15 inspections. I returned home to Ulladulla and waited. Surely it was enough to win a landlord's selection, despite there being crowds of people at each property.
Nope. No luck, and I couldn't possibly take another day off work as I rushed to finish projects before I left my job to embark on life in Canberra. Time was running out.
Like I am sure many people have done, I turned to a friend in the capital to attend more inspections on my behalf. At last, I was approved and managed to move in with two days to spare before day one of a new job.
I know I'm not alone, applying for rental properties in several Canberra suburbs for months to no avail is the reality faced by many people trying to rent in the city.
You only have to look at Facebook groups set up for people to room share or find homes together to realise its a big issue.
Several posts a day begin with "desperately need a place to live in the next week", or "urgently seeking a room", before they go on to explain the hours they've spent trawling Allhomes and applying to real estate agents.
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God help you if you are picky with the area you want to live, or if you are bringing your furry friend along with you.
Some people are so desperate they are offering more than the property's listing price in an effort to secure a roof over their head. As if renting wasn't expensive enough in Canberra - among the country's highest.
I moved from Ulladulla where I rented a two bedroom home with ocean views and utilities included for $290 a week. I now rent a one bedroom apartment for $390 a week with no inclusions.
Previously, I lived in a new, large five bedroom home in Bowral. Three of us shared rent of $560 - the price you would pay to rent a much smaller house in Canberra. Admittedly they aren't cities, but the rental market is still tight in these towns.
Canberra's asking rents for houses remain sky-high at a median $560 a week, overtaking Sydney ($540) earlier this year to be the most expensive city to rent a house in Australia. Units are not far behind at $465 a week on average in Canberra, according to the latest Domain Rental Report.
Median rents are even higher in the Inner North, at a median of $620 per week for houses and $480 for units. In Belconnen, the cost is lower at $510 for houses and $410 for units.
The question I'm sure many people are asking is why is renting in Canberra harder and more expensive than anywhere else, especially Sydney? And will the ACT government's affordable rental initiatives make it easier to secure a rental?
Or will the law just make the rental market tighter as landlords sell up or resort to the likes of Airbnb for short-term weekend rentals that let them take control.
I feel sorry for those starting their rental search in the early months of the year, when students and public servant graduates are moving into the capital en masse.
- Emily Barton is a producer at The Canberra Times.