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How to find housemates

By George Hadgelias

Share houses not only help make rent more affordable but often they help kickstart lifelong friendships. In Australia, sharing a house is so commonplace it’s almost a rite of passage into the rental market. But with different personalities, expectations and cleaning habits there will always be ups and downs and finding the right housemates to begin with can be hard.

Finding the right housemate takes time. While many great friendships have been formed in share houses, at the beginning you should look for someone who is respectful and dependable and can pay their way.

Here are some things to look for when searching for the ideal flatmates:

  • Solid employment history – It’s crucial that your housemate can pull their own weight financially as they will be responsible for part of the monthly rental payment.
  • Past share house experience – Someone who has lived in a shared home before knows what’s expected of them in terms of household contributions, being social and sharing the house in general.
  • Similarities – Whether it be similar personalities, interests or lifestyle, you are going to get along better with someone you match with, so look for commonalities.
  • Respectfulness – Living peacefully in a share house is about being considerate. This includes being nice and friendly but also respecting other people’s work schedules and personal space.

Screening a potential housemate is essential regardless of whether they are a stranger or if you know them through a friend.

A quick conversation can help identify early on whether you may butt heads or if your lifestyles match.

Here are some questions you should ask before letting someone move in:

  • What do you do for work?
  • Can you afford the rent?
  • Do you like to share food and bills or keep costs separate?
  • What are your cleaning habits?
  • How do you like to spend your weekends?
  • Do you have a partner?
  • Do you like having friends over a lot?
  • Do you smoke/drink alcohol?
  • Where did you live before and are you still friends with your old housemates?
  • Are you an early riser or a night owl?
  • Do you have a pet?
  • Will you be working from home?
  • What are you looking for in a share house or flatmate?
  • Are you looking for a place long or short term?

Divvying up costs can be one of the most contentious issues you encounter in a share house.

Sitting down and having a plan early will help ensure everyone is on the same page, and hopefully help avoid fights down the track.

To make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to paying bills, here are some common ways households share the burden.

Splitting rent

  • The equal split – Everyone pays the same amount regardless of how much space they use.
  • The calculation method – Work out the percentage of space each person occupies in terms of their room size and then split the rent accordingly.
  • Negotiation – Sit down and nut out a deal that all housemates agree to then record the agreement in writing. Figure out how much each person will pay and who will be responsible for collecting the money and handling the final payment.

Splitting the food bill and utilities

When it comes to household bills including food, gas, electricity and WiFi, splitting the cost can be tricky, especially if housemates have certain dietary requirements and different lifestyles.

It can be a huge point of contention if one person takes more than they can contribute, so finding a fair arrangement is essential.

Here are some common approaches to general household bills.

  • Buy your own – Allot your space in the cupboards and fridge. Buy whatever you like and don’t eat any of your flatmate’s food. Each housemate can also get their own WiFi and split utility bills equally. The upside is less fighting over bills. The downside is it’s more expensive and less sharing and therefore less opportunities to bond.
  • Shared plate – This is when you buy groceries for the household and split the bill. This can work really well, but you need to be accepting of other people’s food likes and dislikes. You will need to set a budget and need to figure out how to share the grocery shopping duties, as it can cause tension if the weekly shop falls to one person. When it comes to utilities, these will also be split equally.
  • The kitty – This is where you generally buy your own food but contribute to a main fund that buys the staples. This includes milk, bread and dishwashing detergent.

Sharing apps

Made specifically for share houses, there are several different apps that allow you to upload bills, split them and then track who has paid their share.

These include: easyshare, Splitr, Splitwise and Finch and can be used for rent, utilities and grocery bills.

Click here to read more

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