Eight tips to finding and joining the perfect share house
When it comes to finding a share home choosing the right place is just as important as choosing a place with the right people.
Although amenities, bedroom size and bathroom type are important for comfort, ultimately, it’s 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.
1. Set your budget
First things first, is to work out your budget.
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 to pay, 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.
Be realistic and don’t overstretch yourself, there’s nothing worse than over-committing and realising a few weeks down later that you can’t actually afford both food and rent.
2. Choose an area you’d like to live
This should always be based on your budget first and lifestyle second.
Although 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. Start with your preferred suburb, then add around four more suburbs with similar qualities and prices that you would also consider.
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.
3. Create an online profile
Almost every shared home listing site will have the option for you to create a personal advertisement for yourself. 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. If you think creating a listing about yourself is strange and not required, ask yourself, “Would I enquire on or organise an inspection for a property that I couldn’t see a full listing for first”. Our statistics show those with a person listing will receive a reply from a property lister around x% of the time versus x for those without.
4. Get messaging
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 at all costs simply sending a message to a lister asking if their room is still available or asking questions that have been answered in their advert.
5. Organise the inspection ASAP.
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 lister 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, you never know.
**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. **
6. First impressions count.
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 and apply a few sprays of cologne or perfume too. Unless you’re going 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.
7. Take your time and ask the right questions.
If you take one thing away from this it should be, don’t rush your inspection. This is more than likely your one and only time to get to know people you may soon be living with, so make it count.
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.
8. Got the place? Great! Put it in writing.
If you’ve been accepted by the home, make sure you get the details in writing. The ideal situation is if you get added to the lease or enter a tenancy agreement. This won’t always be possible, so it at the very least use our Flatmate Agreement which will cover all the finer details such as rent, bills, room details and house rules.
If you have all the details in writing up front, you’ll have 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.