Choosing Flatmates

Choosing Flatmates – 5 Essential Ingredients for University Students

female-university-flatmatesYou’ve finished the HSC, accepted your Uni offer and ready for independence! Whether you’re moving from the country or just a few suburbs away, there are 5 essential questions you should ask yourself before deciding to move into a share house. While these ingredients may not seem important now, in few months they may make the different to your success and/or happiness at University.  Used together with your “perfect flatmate recipe” you may just find that Uni is one of the best times in your life.

Let’s get started. Before agreeing to move into your chosen share house, you should ask yourself and check out the:

Rent and Expenses

Moving out and living away from home can be expensive. There’s not only the weekly rent to consider but also living, travel, food and entertainment expenses. You will also need to put money aside for books, Uni fees and bond. To help cover your expenses you may like to apply to receive the Youth Allowance and other payments from Centrelink. These payments together with a part time job help many students cover their minimum expenses. Our especially designed flatmate calculators can help you calculate whether you can cover the total expenses and bond for each share house that you are considering.

Lease

Signing a lease or agreement ties you legally and financially to your share house. For this reason, it’s important that you understand each clause in any agreement you sign and your rights and responsibilities.  Just remember you need to be aged 18 or over in order to sign any legal contract including a lease/tenancy agreement. Each state has its own tenancy laws but to make renting easier, some states have created a standard residential tenancy agreement. Below is further information about tenancy agreements and renting in each state:

New South Wales

Residential Tenancy Forms
Tenants NSW – Factsheet 15: Share Housing

Australian Capital Territory

Tenants’ Union ACT Inc. – Standard Lease Agreement in the ACT
Tenants’ Union ACT Inc. – Share Housing Booklet: Crowded House: A legal guide to share housing in the ACT

Victoria

Consumer Affairs Victoria – Signing the Lease – Residential Properties
Consumer Affairs Victoria – Sharing in a Tenancy Agreement

Queensland

Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority – General Tenancy Agreement (Form 18a)
Queensland Residential Tenancies Authority – Share Homes, Co-tenancies and Sub-letting

South Australia

Government of South Australia – Forms and Factsheet for Private Rental Tenancies
Government of South Australia – Lodging, Boarding and Sharing a Private Property

Western Australia

Western Australia Department of Commerce – Rental Agreements

Tasmania

Tasmanian Government Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading- Moving In, Tenancy and Entry Costs

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Consumer Affairs – The Lease (Residential Tenancy Agreement) In NT

Living Habits of Other Flatmates

Choosing flatmates that have similar living habits, interests and goals than you strongly influences your happiness. For example, if good grades and getting to bed early for classes the next day are important to you, a “study house” rather than a “party house” is more likely to be a better option. Asking the right questions during the flatmate interview can help you find out whether your potential housemates lead a similar lifestyle to you. Taking a look around the apartment or house during your interview can give you clues to what is important to your new potential flatmates.

Local Transport Links

At some point of time while at University you may need to attend lectures, tutorials or workshops/laboratories during the day as well as at night. For this reason, you should make sure that public or University transport is easily accessible and close to any share house that you may consider suitable. This is especially important if you don’t have a car or do not have the option of parking close the bus route or train/tram station. You’ll find the timetables for free University shuttle services to help you travel safely between campuses and home at night on your University’s website.

Local Amenities

Deciding how close you would like to live to the local shops is often influenced by the amount you can afford to pay for rent, your daily living habits (eg, how and when you shop) and how much you value peace and quietness. Living close by is convenient and is especially important when you don’t have access to a car or like to go out at night. Choosing flatmates close to local amenities lets you quickly pick up a few groceries or some takeaway on the way home or when the fridge is empty. It can also help you save on taxi fares when deciding to out to a local restaurant or club. Just keep in mind that the closer you live to the local shops, the higher your rent and noisier it is likely to be. For most people it’s a matter of finding the right balance of convenience and rental affordability. You can find this balance by making sure that the local amenities that are the most important to you are easily accessible and close to the share house on the top of your shortlist.

While choosing flatmates for the first time may come across as overwhelming, taking one step at a time can help you find the flatmates that are right for you. After all, it’s just the start of a new beginning and the next phase of your life.

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