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Living out of home without the drama

Carly McKenna

Policy & Deal Hunter Expert

Spreading your wings and leaving the nest

Moving out of home is a big step. While it may not be something on your radar given the current lockdown, there are some important considerations when it’s time to take the plunge. Even without considering COVID-19, moving out of home can be a daunting exercise. How will you know if it’s the right time to leave? What kinds of costs can you expect? And should you move in with friends or chance it with a stranger?

There’s a lot to consider – but don’t worry, we’ve got your back! We’ll help you figure out:

  • How to find your dream house (and housemates)
  • How to make living out of home easier (without blowing the budget on UberEats)
  • How to keep your new housemates on side

The right time to fly

When it comes to moving out, the ‘right’ time will be different for everyone. Some people start looking to leave before they get their first pay check, while others are happy to wait it out if it means they can save for a deposit on their own place. I knew it was the right time for me because I was tired of spending hours commuting to and from uni – and after a few years of this, even my dad had conceded (no small victory!).

If you’re considering leaving the nest, make sure you ask yourself:

‘Can I afford it?'

Living out of home comes with all sorts of ongoing expenses like rent, bills and utilities. You’ll also need to have enough money for a bond (usually 4 weeks’ rent) and at least 2 weeks’ rent (to be paid in advance). And that’s just to secure a place! Don’t forget the costs of hiring a moving truck, getting the internet connected and buying any furniture you may need.

Pro tip: Creating a realistic budget will help you work out what your expenses are and how much you can afford to spend. If your current income doesn’t cover your expenses (without you having to sacrifice your social life), you might want to wait until you’ve got more cash coming in.

'Who will I live with?'

Sure, you promised your best mate that you would move out together one day. But would they really make a good housemate? Asking a slacker mate to pitch in with the cleaning every night may put some strain on the friendship – and not asking can make for an unpleasant living situation. Trust me!

Pro tip: When considering moving out with a friend, try travelling with them first. If you can’t survive a few weeks away together, it may be better to save the friendship and look at other housemate options like Flatmate Finders (we’ll get to this).

Living with friends:

Tips for leaving the nest and flying high

Finding the dream house

Once you’ve decided to make the move, the next step is finding your dream house (and housemates). We’ve rounded up some useful services to make things easier for you.

  • Flatmate Finders – If you’ve decided to look beyond your social circle for like-minded housemates (like I did when I first moved out of home), Flatmate Finders is your best bet. It’s free to sign up for the first few weeks and the site will prompt you to specify your preferences before it matches you with others. It’s pretty much the Tinder of house hunting.

Pro tip: There are plenty of Facebook groups that advertise share houses, and these can work for a lot of people. However, we recommend Flatmate Finders because it allows you to filter out incompatible housemates who don’t match your preferences. This means you won’t have to wait until you move in to find out that your new housemate is a smoker with a cat (dealbreakers that they didn’t mention in their Facebook post).

  • Domain / realestate.com.au – If you’ve already got your housemates and are just looking for a place to call your own, Domain and Real Estate are your go-to websites. These sites let you search for properties across real estate agents, filter listings by price/area, book inspection times and submit rental applications.

Pro tip: You’ll need to upload all of your supporting documents with an online rental application, so make sure you have these saved before you go to an inspection. This includes scanned copies of your licence, bank statements, payslips and rental references. Having your application ready to go straight after the inspection will put you ahead of the rest.

Moving in

  • GoGet - If you’re a minimalist millennial looking to move your bed, your threads and a few boxes, you won’t need a crew of professional removalists. Hire a van through GoGet, round up some mates and do it yourselves. You can hire the van for the whole day or book it in for just a few hours at a low hourly rate (which may give you a little extra motivation to get the job done quickly). 

Settling in

Once you’re in your new place, you may notice that the fridge is getting empty, the cupboard isn’t re-stocking itself and the bathroom is starting to look a little worse for wear. Here are a few services that can make living out of home a little easier (without asking your parents for help):

  • Everyday grocery delivery: Coles Online / Woolworths Online

Do your shopping from the couch and avoid having to drag bags of groceries home on the bus. You can choose the delivery time and have the household groceries delivered to the bench top faster than you can say 'thanks Mum!'

  • Organic produce delivery: Out Of Our Own Backyard (OOOOBY)

If you’re looking for an easy and more ethical option than the big supermarkets, OOBY delivers mixed boxes of organic fruit and vegetables straight to your door with no delivery charge – and with the knowledge that you’re supporting local producers.

  • Household cleaning: Helpling

If you don’t want to spend your weekends scrubbing the toilet and mopping the floors, hiring a professional cleaner may be the solution. Helpling lets you choose a trusted professional cleaner in your area who can come in and get the job done from $35 an hour - and remember, they’re cleaning a lot more in that hour than you would be!

Keeping your housemates on side

You’ve found the perfect place, you’ve moved everything in and you like your new housemates. How can you keep things running smoothly and avoid a dramatic Big Brother-style eviction?

  • Set house rules – who will pay bills and who will pay rent? Will you have a cleaning roster? And what’s the situation with groceries – is the olive oil communal? There are no right or wrong rules. The main thing is that you’re all on the same page early on so that you can avoid disagreements down the track.
  • Consider the social stuff – some housemates will be looking for a new best friend, while others will just be looking for somebody to pay the rent. Be considerate of your housemates, respect their boundaries and make sure that you have a chat with them before you invite all your Facebook friends over for a housewarming party.
  • Double check the dinner plan – if you didn’t cover this when you set down the house rules, make sure you discuss your meal preferences. You may be up for house dinners every night, but your housemates may prefer to keep their food separate – especially if they’re on different diets or schedules.

Pro tip: If the preference is for everybody to cook their own meals, cook in bigger batches (think curries, soups and pastas) and learn to love your leftovers. You’ll save a heap - and with food already in the fridge, you’ll avoid the temptation to order from UberEats.

  • Communicate before issues escalate – if a housemate’s habits are getting on your nerves, have a chat to them early on before it gets out of hand. Be clear and direct, but keep it respectful.

It’s time to go... (for us)

Like we said, there’s a lot to consider when leaving the nest - but take our advice and you should be flying high (without any major housemate crashes). 

Stay tuned for upcoming topics or check out or other useful articles here. We’ve got plenty more gold to help you make the leap from top student to top professional!

Got feedback? We’d love to hear from you! Shoot us an email at [email protected]

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this topic is general in nature only and does not constitute personal advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs.