so I've been looking online at apartments in sydney, melbourne, cairns, surfers paradise...all the big places. anyway I noticed they mention something about inspection. What are the steps once I find a few places I am interested in? I need help.
are you renting apartment or just looking for shared accommodation?
If you are looking for apartment for yourself than:
after you ispect a place and you like it you need to fill in application form. inspection times are usually specified in the online advertisement and that's pretty mich the only time you get a chance to see a place. Application form will include information about your job, rental history etc. This is what's used by real estate agents to select who get the apartment. In practice only a few first people who submit application have got any chance of getting that place. Agent would usually call your employer to verify that you have income to pay for rent, they will also call agent with whom you rent in the past to check if you are a kind of person who pays on time etc. Once you get aproved you need to pay deposit (usualy 3 weeks of rent) + rent for first 2 weeks.
In most cases minimum renatl period is 6 months, but most agents would insist on 12 months
Just on the last point - here in Perth you're normally stuck with a 6 month lease even if you want a 12 month lease - I don't know if it's different elsewhere in the country right now. In a booming housing market they like to keep the leases short because they'll want to be able to up the rent in six months and they can only do that when the lease has expired. If the market's slow or properties hard to fill it might go the other way.
Also, on the issue of inspection - that post's absolutely right insofar as there is normally a viewing before getting a place, but from your post I 'm wondering if you're maybe reading about rent inspections once you get a place, which is something they do here. Your landlord/agency will come around a few weeks after you've moved in, and periodically thereafter (normally every 3 months) to carry out a property inspection and make sure you haven't trashed the place - they're a serious inconvenience if you're not a super-tidy person because you'll have to get the place cleaned up for it. That said, noting you're from the US, you should find relatively few hoops to jump through to get a place organised by comparison - there isn't the same kind of in depth credit check and no SSN requested, which removes a lot of hurdles that would be problematic to a traveller.