Moving out? The options:
So you’re leaving the nest to start living life on your own terms? First things first – where are you moving out to? Depending on your individual situation, there are usually different options (if you’re keen to house-share, for example, will you move into an established house or get some people together to rent a place?) with pluses and minuses for each.
Join an established share house
This is often cheaper than setting up a house from scratch – you usually just pay for your room, agreed costs (bills, food or whatever) and probably some bond. Firstly, always, always, always make sure you or someone you trust physically checks the house out to make sure it exists! Next, check out my tips to get the right housemates for you, including what to ask and look for when you meet up with anyone. Finally, trust your intuition. If it feels wrong, it’s wrong for you. Look for somewhere else.
Avoiding birds of prey…tips to avoid scams
- DON’T use money transfers (e.g. Western Union) as they can’t be traced and so are often used for scams.
- Don’t pay upfront for anything – and ALWAYS see the house before you pay (you might see pics of a real house online but it mightn’t belong to the person who’s trying to rent it to you).
- ALWAYS check the house out in person (or send someone you trust) and meet whoever is letting it to you.
- Don’t go to check out a house alone, and/or make sure you always interview potential flatmates together with someone else.
- Does it look too good to be true (too cheap, five-star, slick pics)? It probably is – be suspicious and check it out carefully.
- Is the landlord based overseas? Steer clear if you can’t see the room as a lot of scams are based in other countries.
- Don’t be pushed into anything you’re not comfortable with. Be assertive. Ask questions. Otherwise say “no” and find another room.
- Be choosy with online house-share sites. Look for ones which have clear safety advice for users, and policies to prosecute scammers.
- Don’t sign anything you don’t fully understand.
Set up a shared house
Flatting with some friends lets you pool all of your appliances and furniture, plus share the overall expenses – this cuts down the amount you have to pay out for initial costs like bond and rent-in-advance, fees for utilities, etc. While it can be loads of fun to share a house, check out the info on getting along with housemates before you rush in (especially if you’re already friends with each other, or you’re planning to move in with your partner). Remember, that most conflict is avoidable if you’re prepared. Usually, what seem like big problems often blow up from tiny issues that you can solve easily with some planning and compromise.
Live-in college life is paradise for some, hell for others; some people love the structure, traditions and friendships, others hate it. Obviously, if you live on campus many of your costs will be fixed, and you won’t be able to choose your flatmates, but you can certainly learn how to make the best of things.
If you find you’re struggling with things and feeling down, get help early and/or make an appointment with the counsellor or your local doctor to discuss your worries before things get out of hand.
Rent a bedsit, granny flat or studio apartment
These are low cost options that give you your own space – not much of it though, usually a combined bed/living room with attached bathroom (or a shared bathroom for a bedsit). Again, make sure to physically check it out, get the paperwork sorted carefully so you understand it, and do your sums before you sign on the dotted line. If you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to handle living entirely on your own, try to sign up for a shorter lease so you have the option of looking at sharing a house with people later on.
Pay to board in a home or boarding house
Boarding is often cheap, and probably easier, since you won’t need much furniture, or to set up connections and manage all the bills. Make sure you ask questions about what’s included for the price, get your arrangement in writing (including any ongoing costs) and get receipts. If you’re paying for things like food, ask for details and, if possible, ask other tenants about their experiences (e.g. have they starved on mouldy toast, say, or enjoyed plenty of fresh food?).
Find links to information about tenants’ rights, plus information about workers’ and young people’s rights in my useful websites section, including how to get help and legal advice if you need it.
Board in exchange for work (e.g. nanny, housekeeper, carer)
Free rent AND getting paid! Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But be aware, you’ll probably work hard for it. Plus there are potential problems – you probably aren’t covered by award rates or other job entitlements (e.g. sick leave, holiday pay) and protections (e.g. insurance).
- If you’ll be taking on a caring role like a nanny or helping with an elderly person, you’ll need insurance. This is essential unless you can afford thousands of dollars if something goes wrong or you have an accident.
- Get your arrangement in writing, both your working hours and what you’re expected to do – that way, you’re less likely to find your days off disappearing.
- Your employer should pay a percentage of your pay to tax and a super fund, for example, even if they pay you in cash.
- Look up your rights. Young people are sometimes exploited for low pay or even sexually harassed, especially in isolated locations. Of course, if you’re scared or need urgent help, call the police or emergency services straight away.