Finding the right fit. Image: svetikid Source: Getty.
While amenities, bedroom size and bathroom type are important for comfort, it’s ultimately the people you share it with who will make or break the experience.
It’s all too common for a shared experience to go awry because of incompatible personalities, schedules or habits. To help you through the process of finding a new place, we’ve put together eight tips for finding that perfect place.
First things first is to work out what you can afford.
Start with your weekly net pay and deduct amounts for rent, bills, food and entertainment. Unless you’re already living out of home, you may not know exactly how much bills will cost so it’s better over budget than under. To save you from living pay cheque to pay cheque, ensure you have a healthy chunk left over once everything has been deducted. If not, adjust until you come to an amount that you’re comfortable with, having a buffer in your budget will help with unexpected costs— like a big night out.
Be realistic and don’t overstretch yourself, there’s nothing worse than over-committing and realising a few weeks later that you can’t actually afford both rent and food.
Where you want to live should be based on your budget first and lifestyle second.
While, it would be nice to live in a brand new pad close to work or in some hipster haunt, it may not be realistic or possible for you yet. Start with your preferred suburb, then add around four more suburbs with similar average room rents and qualities. Don’t limit yourself to just one suburb.
When choosing an area, think about your commute to work and distance from family or friends. Living in the sticks may save you big wads on rent, but the time (and money) spent commuting may not be worth it.
To check average room rents in a suburb and also what’s around it see our Cheaper Suburb Finder.
Every good flatmate listing site will have the option for you to create a room wanted advertisement about yourself. These listings not only allow you to increase your chances of finding a home, but they also save you time describing yourself to potential homes.
In your profile give a brief outline about yourself including interests, employment or education and what you’re looking for in a home. If you’ve lived with flatmates before, be sure to mention it.
First impressions count, so make sure your first enquiry is effective.
To make life easier, draft a standard introduction and then tailor it for each listing. The introduction should be about yourself, your employment, when you need the room, and anything else that might make you stand out from the crowd. Perks from your job, cooking skills or pets can win big brownie points, so be sure to leverage these. Finally, ask when you can inspect the property and suggest times that would be suitable for you.
Avoid simply sending a message to a listing owner asking if their room is still available or asking questions that have been answered in their advert.
The best share listings won’t last long, so don’t delay when it comes to inspections.
If you’ve already requested one in your enquiry you should get a response from the listing owner with possible dates and times for inspections. Remember to remain flexible with inspections, expecting the householder to work around your schedule will undoubtedly leave you down the list of their candidates. Try to take the earliest slot they have.
Don’t hold out thinking “something better will come along”, there is no harm in taking an hour to attend an inspection.
Inspections are a must and you should never agree to or pay for a property you have not inspected in person. If you’re interstate or overseas, request a Skype inspection of the property.
Although these people may see you in your pyjamas or less at some point, first impressions still matter when it comes to your inspection. Be sure to dress respectably—unless you’re coming straight from work, suits or corporate wear won’t be necessary.
Do your best to arrive early so you’re knocking on the door on time. If you’re running late or can’t make it be sure to text or call your contact.
If you take one thing away from this article it should be, don’t rush your inspection. This is most likely your one and only time to get to know people you may soon be living with.
Once you’ve checked out the place and made sure everything is in order, turn your attention to the flatmates. Have a few questions lined up about who they are, what they do, interests and even what time they start their days (particularly if you’re sharing a bathroom).
Similarly, you should expect the flatmates to throw some questions your way, if not, ask them if there is anything they would like to know about you.
Following the inspection ask for a rough timeline as to when the chosen applicant will be notified.
If you’ve been accepted by the home, make sure you get the details in writing. Ideally getting added to the lease or entering a tenancy agreement would be preferred.
This may not always be possible, however, so it at the very least use a Flatmate Agreement to put into writing the finer details such as rent, bills, room details and house rules.
Having all the details in writing up front will give you a reference point should there be any confusion or conflict down the line.
Tip Didn’t get the room? Not to worry. Ensure you keep your options open and don’t turn down an inspection until you’ve confirmed a room somewhere else.