Thirty something girl, originally from Sydney but Brisbane is home now. Eats, drinks, socialises, watches art-house, studies the stars, and loves music. I'm a professional copywriter and editor. Hearts writing things.
Having lived a somewhat nomadic lifestyle through my 20s, I know all about the high and lows of shared accommodation and the art of moving. Some would argue that moving is the next best thing to a holiday. It's a new adventure which has the potential to mark an exciting new chapter in your life and free you from boring routine. So finding the best fit for you is really important.
Unless you previously know the person/people you'll be living with, you'll be spending a lot of time getting to know their quirky habits. As you'll be sharing your 'space' with this person/people on a daily basis it's not a decision to take lightly – but you can, and should, have some fun with it.
Here are some tips to help make the process of finding shared accommodation somewhat easier.
1). Write a wish list
Make a list of all your needs/wants for the new living arrangement. Consider things like whether you want to live in a secure apartment with lots of neighbours and a communal BBQ/pool area, or a spacious Queenslander with a big deck and backyard? Do you want your own bathroom or are you happy to share one? What weekly rent can you afford? (Remember to factor in additional costs for utility bills and things like internet etc.) How many housemates are you comfortable living with? (The more people in the house, the less private time you're likely to get.) Would you like mod cons such as air-conditioning, dishwasher, clothes dryer, built in wardrobe? Will you need off-street parking or secure parking if you move to a council zoned area, and how long will you likely need the accommodation for? Also shortlist a number of suburbs you'd like to live in as it's not always possible to find the ideal place in your ideal location.
You don't have to just limit your list to practical things. You might have some idea about the type of housemate you want to live with. Maybe you're an active person who eats healthily and prefers someone who leads a similar lifestyle.
Or maybe you're introverted and private and prefer living with someone who keeps to themselves a lot and gives you your space.
Or maybe you're into sustainable living and are looking for someone like-minded who's keen to help maintain the veggie patch and compost. On the other hand, some may find it easier to write a list of things they don't want… i.e. a shift worker who is noisy when they come home late, or someone who smokes and leaves their cigarette butts all over the garden. Articulating these things on paper will help you work out what you're looking for and what questions to ask when you call up in response to share ads.
2). Scour websites to find share accommodation
Two popular sites for finding share accommodation are Realestate.com and Gumtree. Realestate.com provides paid advertising and is popular with young professionals. However, many prefer to cast their net far and wide these days and will also post for free on online communities such as Gumtree.
If you're looking for share accommodation, searching these sites is free. Both sites contain photographs of available places and they also have some search functionality. At Realestate.com you can get very specific in your search by selecting certain criteria such as rental price, how many people in a house and what gender you prefer to live with.
3). Put the word out to friends and colleagues
When you ask around it's surprising how many people know someone who is either looking for a housemate or looking for a place to live. Put the word out through your social network by posting on Facebook. Work intranet sites are also a good place to post ads – though you might want to think twice if it would involve living with the person who sits in the cubicle next to you – that's even more time than a lot of married couples spend together. Enlisting others to help in your search can prove quite fruitful, as it has in my experience.
4). Spend some time getting to know your potential housemate
These days it isn't uncommon to spend a mere five minutes inspecting the home, then a further 30 minutes gas bagging with the potential new housemates. If you have time on your hands, I'd recommend sitting down for a beer, tea or cold drink (whatever's on offer) and getting to know them a little. Obviously you can't find out everything there is to know about someone in a brief meeting but in most cases you can establish whether you have similar lifestyles and interests and whether it might work out. And, if you realise you can't handle spending 10 minutes talking to them, let alone living with them… then better you know now rather than later, right?
While it's true that finding the right share accommodation can be daunting, especially when you're on deadlines to move, in my experience everything always works out even if it is at the 'eleventh hour'. I've been share house living for 16 years now and still enjoy it. So happy house hunting. Just visualise how good it's going to feel kicking back on your new balcony with a summer cocktail in hand, chatting with your new found friend.