Security comes in all shapes and sizes. Having a roommate can bring peace of mind to some people through financial security, building security or just having the company of others.
Of course, a roommate is not the right choice for every person. We all have different values, points of views and lifestyle choices to take into account when making the decision between going solo or having a roommate.
What might be a great arrangement for people you know, may not be such a great choice for you, so when you are making a decision about having a roommate, make sure you carefully consider what you want and need. Opening your home to someone, or, on the flip side, living alone, is a big decision and can have stressful repercussions if you ignore your intuition.
The first question to ask is: What do I need a house-mate for?
A: To save money.
Expenses can get ugly if you are living solo. Especially with some of the housing prices in NSW going through the roof at the moment. Having a housemate helps ease the burden considerably, contributing to rent/mortgage, power, water, gas, sometimes even food.
If you are getting set up in a new place for the first time it can really help if you move in with people who already have all the electrical and white goods on hand. Purchasing a washing machine, fridge and TV can put a big dent in your savings, although you can get around this with a store credit loan. Most chains offer interest-free repayments with reasonable time frames.
B: The area you want to live in is too expensive.
There are a lot of amazing suburbs that offer phenomenal lifestyle, great views or maybe they are close to work, parklands or beaches. Usually, places that have everything are really highly priced.
If you can split the costs with a housemate who has similar lifestyle cravings as you, you can get access to accommodation in areas that would normally be out of your budget. You also have a buddy to enjoy visiting cafés and restaurants with.
C: You’d love some company.
Love interests can be messy, so can pets. Yes they keep you company but you’d rather something more independent with no strings attached.
The right housemate can mean you have company when you need it and you can tuck up in your room alone when you feel like some privacy.
For those who work late, it’s nice to come home to company, even if you don’t have a conversation. Maybe you are one of those people who doesn’t like cooking for one or eating alone. A housemate is a great way to share space and have that feeling of constant friendship. Just be sure you are very clear on what you want and how you live so that you can correctly match to the right housemate.
D: You are never home
You travel for work, you spend most of your time at your partner’s house or with your friends.
When you come home the place is dusty, stale, and your plants are droopy.
A housemate gives added security. Most break-ins occur when people are out of the house, having someone around creates more security, keeps your house fresh and helps the place feel like home.
If you are away from home a lot then paying full price for a fully furnished home doesn’t make a lot of sense.
What to be careful of:
Fights or tension can erupt if one party feels they are not getting a fair deal. Who has the bigger bedroom, the carport, who watches TV until 1am or invites friends over without notice.
Splitting the bills 50-50 is the standard procedure, and it works, as long as things go smoothly and people use roughly 50% of the facilities. Set some ground rules before your agreement about what happens in the cases where amenity bills are in excess of usual daily use or use of the home is not split down the middle.
Getting left in the lurch. If someone moves out suddenly you are left with the whole bill, one that you may not be able to pay. It’s essential that if you are sharing you have both names on the lease so that both parties are bound by law to adhere to contracts and lease terms.
Your personality needs to be taken into account. Not a people person? That’s okay. Introverts might not do very well in a shared home environment. If you use your alone time to recharge you might find the noise, mess and disruption of another person coming and going too stressful. If you feel unsafe or nervous around people then a housemate is possibly not going to help. Start by joining groups you are interested in, and meeting people socially where you can get away after a few hours. Once you gain confidence there you can look for a roommate.
If you are an introvert and really want a roommate, go for someone who works a lot or is prone to staying at their partner’s or going to the beach house. You can also stipulate that you’d prefer a quiet housemate and look for someone who has similar interests to you as a way of knowing if you’d like a similar way or life.
If you are a bit of a control freak having a housemate might cause serious stress. Unless they are happy with having a detailed schedule drawn up, it’s unlikely that a co-living arrangement will be a happy one. Be upfront about your likes and dislikes, they have a right to know what they are getting into.
Before you make a decision about sharing your living space for financial security, consider the cost to your mental health and lifestyle.