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Finding a Flatmate in NZ

Sean Wang - Saturday, March 03, 2012

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Flat sharing is popular among both young and older homeowners who are after some extra money to help pay the mortgage, cover bills or make some extra disposable income.

With interest rates on the up and up and the increasing cost of living, some people are turning to finding a flatmate. The challenge, of course, is choosing a good flatmate that will best suit your lifestyle.

First of all, you need to decide what you want from a flatmate, apart from the obviously financial benefits. For example, if you are new to the area, you may see finding a flatmate as a way to creating a new social circle. In that case, you'll be looking for someone who shares similar interests and is open to going out on the odd night. On the other hand, you may already have a wide circle of friends in the area and just want someone to share expenses, in which case the age and interests of your flatmate are irrelevant.

Secondly, work out whether your lifestyles will be compatible. For example, if you have to be up early in the morning for work and don't like to go to bed after 10pm, you won't enjoy living with someone who works until late and gets home around midnight with half the local pub in tow...or vice versa!

Different people have differing standards of hygiene and one person's ‘clean' may be another's...well...‘filthy'. Be honest with yourself about how tidy you are and choose a flatmate who is similar. It's no fun for anyone if you hate mess and your flatmate is happy to leave dishes in the sink for a few days. On the other hand, if you choose a perfectionist for a flatmate and you are fairly laid back about the odd coffee cup in the sink, you may find that you're the one being nagged!

Choosing someone you are attracted to as a flatmate could also signal trouble. Invite them out for a drink instead. Then, if it doesn't work out, you won't be stuck living with them!

Set some clear house rules, regulations and expectations (whether written or unwritten) … and make sure you spell these out plainly to prospective flatmates. That way, if they don't like any of the rules on the list or are unsure they can stick to them all, it's probably better that they don't move in - for your, as well as their, sake.

Finally, here are 10 basic questions you can ask prospective flatmates to get the decision process going:

  1. What's your position on cleaning?
  2. What about washing up?
  3. How do you think the food shopping should be organised?
  4. What about cooking?
  5. Do you like pets (if applicable)?
  6. How long do you tend to spend in the bathroom in the morning (if only one bathroom available)?
  7. How do you think the phone bill should be divided?
  8. Are you planning to have friends round regularly?
  9. What about girl/boyfriends? Will they be staying over?
  10. Describe yourself in three words.

These should really help to get the ball rolling. Good luck and happy flatmate hunting!