Bhutanese students in Australia facing rental accommodation crisis

The influx of international students in Australia is resulting in an accommodation crisis in the country. And it’s the same for Bhutanese students and their families who are also struggling to find a home. They say the problem is only growing with the increasing numbers adding to the competition and resulting in rising house rents.

Rooms packed with people, even the living room and kitchen used as bedrooms, this is a typical scene of a Bhutanese home nowadays in Australia.

Since one requires a stable job to get a house on rent, newcomers normally seek shelter at a friend or relative’s home.

But finding a house in Aussieland has become harder than ever and as a result, Bhutanese homes in Australia are getting crammed trying to accommodate other families.

“When I got here, I stayed with one of my schoolmates for about a month. Then his relatives came and I slept in his living room. After the house became full of his relatives who came here, I moved to another friend’s house. There I stayed in his kitchen for ten days. Then, his cousins got here and the house became crowded,” said Tshering Dorji, who is currently in Perth. “Right now, I am sharing a house with an Indian guy and it’s been exactly a month.”

Another Bhutanese in Perth, Dechen Tshering, said that with the number of incoming Bhutanese “increasing every day and also due to the reopening of China’s border, Chinese students are coming in as well. For just one apartment, about sixty to seventy people gathered to check it, so it is very difficult to get a house.” He says it has been about four months since he got here but he is still living with a relative. “From my observation, I have seen a minimum people of eight or nine living together.”

Situations have become so dire that they say some are even spending nights in cars. According to the Association of Bhutanese in Perth, even if you find an empty house, the rents have become quite high.

“As per my experience, the rentals in Perth have increased by at least 150 to 200 dollars a week when comparing it to the pre-COVID period. Bhutanese are not able to find houses because as soon as they reach here, they need a job to find a house and there’s a lot of demand for the houses because there are a lot of migrants moving to Perth,” said Sonam Tenzin (PhD), the president of the Association of Bhutanese in Perth.

Local media reported that rents in Perth hit a record high in February and that 20,000 housing units were needed to ease the crisis.

The situation is the same in some of the other Australian cities as well. BBS talked to a few Bhutanese students in Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane who shared the same stories.

According to media reports, China’s reopening has resulted in an accommodation crisis for international students.

The Royal Bhutanese Embassy in Australia also issued a notification today on the housing shortage and stated the return of international students and increasing migration to Australia after the Covid pandemic was one of the main reasons. Migration to cities like Perth from other Australian states and other territories and not enough rental properties were the other major reasons. The Embassy also advised Bhutanese students to make housing arrangements before travelling.

Kinzang Lhadon

Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen

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