All of us have shared a house at one point in our lives – usually the family home. However, once you reach adulthood and start to live your own life, sharing a house with others becomes a great solution for a whole rage of reasons. It’s a particularly common practise with students, but also useful for single people who prefer not to live alone, single parents who can reduce costs and help each other with raising the kids, or for newly divorced or separated people, who find themselves in transition between being part of a couple and the mystery of their new future.
1. Share and share alike
There are plenty of advantages to renting a home with others. Not only can you reduce your own month to month expenses, but the daily grind of running a household is also shared – from shopping to cleaning, taking out the rubbish to paying the bills. The greatest benefit though is sharing the expenses. Rent alone can be a killer on a single person’s budget, but if it can be split a few ways between others, it gives you room to breathe. Add to that the relief also provided by only having to pay a portion of the utility bills, the internet bill and the groceries, and before you know it you are actually living like a normal human being!
2. Moving in together
Navigating how to get all of those things paid though can be complex, when a mix of different personalities, expectations and budgets come together. There are important discussions to be had to ensure everybody is being treated fairly and each housemate can enjoy the benefits of the arrangement equally. If you are moving into an already established house, make sure you ask questions at the interview about how the household is currently run. Who is responsible for the task of paying the bills? Is everything split evenly, or is there a breakdown based on who has or uses more? Does everybody have individual tasks around the house, or are chores such as cleaning and gardening outsourced, meaning there will be extra expenses to cover those services? All of these questions will give you a good sense of how efficiently the house is run and how much will realistically be going out of your pocket every month.
3. Finding the balance
Every household has its own unique mix of people and creating a blissful home environment depends on everybody’s contribution. A household of vegans who love to do yoga and burn incense will not have the same needs as a household of 2 single dads with 5 kids between them. Similarly, a share house of inner-city young professionals will have a whole different set of expenses to a group of students, or elderly pensioners. If you are all starting a new share house together, you are in a great position to begin by finding something within everyone’s budget, as well as making decisions about who does what jobs and which ones you can afford to outsource.
4. Get out your tape measure
The first thing you will need to do is divide up the rent. In various European countries, rent is charged per square metre, and this can be useful in a large house where everybody has different sized rooms, or uses of space. If you and a partner share a room the size of an apartment, on the upper level of a double fronted terrace, with an ensuite, walk in robes and a balcony (great score by the way), then obviously you will pay more rent than the person living in the equivalent of a cupboard under the stairs (we’re looking at you Harry Potter). If you are a single parent with two kids, sharing with another parent with 3 kids, then it would be expected they would pay slightly more, assuming they are paying for more bedroom space. Work out the percentage of the property each person will be occupying and/or using and divide the rent accordingly. If the house or apartment has a simple layout, with similarly sized rooms and one shared bathroom then an even split works in everyone’s favour.
5. There are always solutions
The very best way to keep everyone happy is for nobody to do anything. In the wonderful new share economy that we live in, there are very few things that can’t be outsourced. You may be too busy, too overwhelmed or just not physically capable of doing some tasks – or simply want to avoid the drama. Less opportunities for conflict due to unmet expectations makes for a much happier household. If a cleaner is booked and doesn’t turn up, it’s the cleaner’s fault - not the person you have to cook dinner for that night, because it’s your turn. If the gardener is mowing the lawn but leaving the clippings and weeds behind, a phone call will resolve it, rather than an awkward and defensive house meeting.
6. There’s an app for that
Companies like Airtasker can help you with cleaning, washing, gardening, home maintenance and more. Shebah drivers can pick the kids up from school and Woolworths or Coles online can help you with the groceries. Discussions about who has more time to do the shopping and what everybody wants can also be easily resolved with a household login to a supermarket. Create a household shopping list that everybody can login to, add to and agree to, then arrange for someone to pick it up or even better – get it delivered. Ah the joys of modern living – where you can argue about who’s doing the shopping for days, or just pay a few dollars each and it’s delivered right onto your kitchen bench.
7. What’s the bottom line?
If you are going to seeing people in their underwear (oh you will I promise), then you can discuss their personal finances on some level. Once everybody knows how much rent they are paying and what their share of utilities bills will be, the more specific conversations around groceries, Pay TV and outsourcing can happen. If one housemate can’t afford to contribute to the cleaning, maybe their role can be to do part of the cleaning instead – reducing the cleaning bill for everyone else, yet still enabling them to contribute in some way. Similarly, if someone is cash rich but time poor, they may choose to outsource their specific task, while others contribute the equivalent as agreed towards other tasks. Each housemate will inevitably have a different number that is their final monthly budget, but the idea is that everyone’s number works for them, but also reflects a fair and agreed-upon contribution to the home. The best thing about share house living is that everyone can enjoy a lifestyle they couldn’t necessarily afford by living alone, along with the fun and camaraderie that comes with having people to share that time of your life with.