Shared households are popular with students because they can provide an opportunity for an independent lifestyle in a shared environment. They are generally also the cheapest housing option.
People in a share household usually lease their property from a real estate agent or landlord. The properties range in size and condition and are organised around the house rules set by the members of the share house. Each person has their own bedroom to furnish, whilst the bathroom, kitchen and living room are 'common areas' for everyone.
Generally, share households share the cost of rent and bills. The purchase of food and cooking arrangements vary from household to household. Some operate communally by everyone contributing to the purchase of food and groceries. Other households operate on an individual basis with an additional shared fund (often called a 'kitty') for items such as toilet paper and washing detergent.
If you move into a room in an existing, established share house, you could potentially be moving in with strangers and this can be a great way to meet new people. Alternatively, you can create your own share house by organising a group of friends or acquaintances to rent a vacant property with you.
It is much cheaper to move into an established household as you don’t have to organise reconnection of services and there will usually be furniture and crockery already there. All you may need to provide is your bedroom furniture and some food.
Finding a suitable vacancy in an established share house may take time. If you are considering living in a share house, think about the type of house and social situation you prefer.
When is a share house not a share house?
When it’s a rooming house. Many people often confuse a rooming house for share house accommodation. It is important to understand the difference as there are strict minimum standards and guidelines that a rooming house must adhere to including fire safety, bonds and registrations.
How to find and organise it
Rooms in share houses are usually advertised online, through the Housing Online Noticeboard and on real estate websites. On some websites, you can place a wanted ad to try and match your needs to what others may have available.
It is difficult to arrange a room in an established share house from a distance. You really need to be in Melbourne to inspect properties and meet potential housemates to see if you will get along.
Housing Online Noticeboard
Our Housing Online Noticeboard provides listings of share house vacancies as well as vacant properties which are available to offered and currently enrolled students. You can also advertise on the Housing Online Noticeboard
- Housing Online Noticeboard.
- Flat Mate Finders
- realestate.com.au (share accommodation list)
Share house noticeboards
There are useful noticeboards at the following locations:
- Union House, Ground Floor (Parkville campus)
- Readings Bookstore, 309 Lygon Street, Carlton (notices in the laneway window are changed every Thursday evening);
Many faculties and departments also have noticeboards for student use.
Living with other people
Choosing a house and housemates
The people you live with largely influence the atmosphere in your home. It's important to remember this when deciding who will be suitable to live with and whether you will get along well as housemates. Keep in mind that being great friends may not necessarily make great housemates. Think about who you would like to live with.
Think about what type of household you’d like to live in:
- Communal where you share cooking, cleaning etc
- Independent where you do your own food shopping and cooking.
- Do you want a quiet studious house or a busy social house?
- Would you like to share with one other person or several others?
- Are you and your future housemates 'house trained' (i.e. do you know how to cook, clean, do laundry, pay bills, pay rent etc)?
Make sure you are clear about what kind of household you want to live in and that you talk about this with your prospective housemates.
Viewing a room and meeting the household
Finding a house or apartment and housemates that suit you and your lifestyle can require work and good judgement. Make a list of all the places you think might be suitable then give them all a call, firstly to see if the room is still available and then to arrange a time to view the property and meet the household.
Use the phone effectively to minimise your run-around time. This initial phone call is a good opportunity to see if it is going to be worth visiting the household for an interview. Ask about the room, the location and how many people live at the house. Find out as much as you can about how the household runs and think about whether this would be a good fit for your lifestyle.
If you like what you hear, then a house interview is the time to find out if it’s the home you’ve been looking for so remember to also inspect the property thoroughly as well as the housemates. It is crucial to know what kind of living arrangements suit you best and be sure of the kind of people you want to live with. Remember, the household will be trying to work out if you will fit in as well, so the decision-making process works both ways.
Finally, be honest.
Questions to ask
Think about all the questions you have to ask and the information you require from the other share house tenants. Here is an example of things you can include in your own checklist:
- Communal or independent living?
- Real estate agent's/landlord's name
- Is your bedroom noisy?
- Contact telephone number
- Type of lease – fixed or periodic?
- Length of lease?
- Workers or students there?
- Monthly bond and rent amount?
- Does the property have storage?
- Furnished or unfurnished?
- Place to park your bike?
- Close to public transport?
- Are utilities mainly gas or electric?
- Size and placing of room
- Good light in the house?
- What date is it available?
- Are there appliances already there?
- Good security?
- Pets allowed?
Starting a share house tenancy
See information in the Tenancy advice section about
- Joining a share house
- Types of share house agreements
- Your rights and responsibilities
- When things go wrong
- Leaving a share house