At this time of year, finding a good apartment or home unit to rent in Brisbane is not easy. In January and February, the demand for apartment rentals is high and many tenants are looking for a place to live.
In the best buildings, the existing tenants do not often leave, and when they do move out, the apartment is often snapped up quickly. For the better buildings, a large percentage of the apartments are occupied by the owner, and so are not rented out. Also, onsite managers often control the rental rolls, and don't often advertise on the usual property websites (as they don't need to do so). Some have their own website. Also, onsite managers may have a relationship with executive relocation services, and the better apartments may be provided to corporate tenants. For the mid-quality buildings, many apartments are furnished and rented on a short term basis, sometimes even overnight. Thus, there may be fewer than expected apartments available for rent.
The largest number of listings are located on RealEstate.com.au, but a number of onsite managers do not use this website. A newer website that has a number of rental listings is the REIQ website. CityApartmentSales is sometimes used by onsite managers to list apartments for rent. Also, try Central Apartments for rentals in Pradella buildings. Domain.com.au is used by real estate agents and private owners, and so may have properties listed that are not listed elsewhere.
At one time, a good specialist website for apartments was www.seqrents.com.au However, it seems that some buildings are not using this site anymore, or are not bothering to update their listing on this site. So, although useful, it is less useful.
You have to find out how each manager advertises his/her vacancy.
Generally, in my opinion, you want to avoid any buildings managed by Oaks, as they focus on short term hotel style rentals.
This website has a list of most city apartment buildings, with useful information and links about them. Also, try this customised search engine. And see www.apartmentreviews.com.au.
You can also look at prior posts on this blog regarding rentals.
If you want to live downtown, then I recommend the Admiralty Precinct. This comprises three first-tier buildings (Admiralty One, Admiralty Two and Admiralty Quays), plus River Place and Skyline (second tier). Recently opened just behind these buildings is Meriton's Soleil (in my opinion, lower quality).
Admiralty One is good value, and has some of the largest two bedroom apartments in Brisbane, and is a smaller building. It is direct river front - http://www.admiraltyone.com.au/
Admiralty Two also has good sized apartments, and the building has great facilities. http://www.admiraltytwo.com.au/
Admiralty Quays is newer, and has a great pool, but the apartments are smaller than the two Admiralty buildings listed above, and it is more expensive. http://www.admiraltyquays.com/
Nearby on the river in the city is River Place, and is likely to have availability as this is a large complex. Be careful of Storey Bridge noise. Great views. Great pool.
Soleil has only just opened. It is currently the tallest building in Brisbane. A large building with over 400 apartments, but a large nunber have not been sold. It has short term rentals. This link lists Soleil apartments for rent.
On Alice Street in the city, if you can get an apartment in Quay West, that is fantastic, as it has park and river views. About half the apartments in this building are hotel managed, so it is easy to get short term accommodation in Quay West, but difficult to find an apartment for a long term lease. All apartments are privately owned. Try to rent above level 7 for the better views.
For an inner city downtown building, Metro 21 is one of the better quality buildings. It has only 4 apartments per floor -- and tries to be more upmarket so is better than most downtown buildings that aim at students -- it seems to have better availability, and some of the two bedroom apartments have three bathrooms. The baloneys are large:
M on Mary has recently been taken over by new management, so it will be interesting to see what happens in this building. It was not high on my list previously, but that may change with the new management.
Parklands at Roma Street also has some good apartments.
I recommend Arbour on Grey at SouthBank: http://arbour.com.au/cms/welcome.html
Also, Saville (Mantra) at SouthBank is one of the nicest buildings if you get a river facing apartment. The apartments are level 8 and above. Below level 8 is a hotel. The best thing to do here is call to find out availability. Telephone 07 3305 2559
There is likely to be some availability in some of the riverside West End apartments. These include Waters Edge, Flow, Koko and Left Bank.
Some of the better apartments not on the river road include SL8 and Tempo.
In my view, all of the above West End apartments are too isolated.
Apartments in Suburbs
The suburbs that I recommend, due to location, transport and large number of better quality apartments, are Toowong, St Lucia, Taringa, Indooroopilly and possibly Milton and Hamilton. I don't recommend Chermside.
In Indooroopilly, there has been very little recent construction. Two of the newer, quality buildings Riva and Ciana.
Riva has apartments with great river views. It is a quiet building, with a pool, and is close to the train station and Indooroopilly Shopping Centre. It has good onsite managers, but apartments rarely become available here.
Ciana is a larger new complex, in a central location, with many large apartments. There is a pool and gym, plus a bowls club and restaurant!
One of the newest complex in the Toowong / Taringa area is Fresh. This complex has two pools, a gym and great gardens, and a large number of apartments are owned by super funds and thus are rentals. Try here.
Next door to Fresh is Encore, which is a relatively nice complex, with good pricing (but not as nice as Fresh, and some of the apartments are small). This complex flooded in January 2010.
St Lucia is harder to find quality -- there are few buildings with onsite managers. So you have to try local real estate agents. The best buildings are riverfront, and are expensive.
If you want an apartment complex that feels more suburban, then Parklands at Sherwood is a great choice. Many apartments have park/rural views, and there is a great pool and bbq area.
Nearby is Tennyson Reach, where you can get a large new apartment on the river. This is a new complex, but (apart from river views) not a great location. It was badly flooded. You can rent a high quality apartment at a reasonable price here, if you don't mind the location.