Share house living – a sign of the times

posted in: Real estate stories | 1

With increasing demand for rental properties throughout Queensland, pressure is starting to build on rents. REIQ data shows the vacancy rate in Brisbane reduced to 1.7 per cent in March, from 2.3 per cent in December last year. Brisbane’s inner-city recorded a vacancy rate of 1.4 per cent, down from 1.9 per cent, over the same period.

With rents starting to rise, many would-be buyers are starting to do the maths on whether to rent or buy, and while the desire to own your home is the usually the number one objective, many also want to finally say goodbye to share house living.

Ah, anyone under a certain age, no doubt has many very interesting stories to tell about share house living. And the late 20th Century phenomena of living with friends, or indeed strangers, is perhaps the strongest indicator yet that finding somewhere affordable to live, which is also amongst all the action, has never been easy.

I first lived in share houses in 1990 and did so, on and off, for more than 15 years. Housemates – some are good and some are bad. And as with boyfriends, it can take quite a while before you realise you’re living with (or dating) a psycho.

But it never starts out that way. In the beginning, everyone is on their best behaviour. Everyone does the dishes when it is their turn; the bathroom is cleaned as per the egalitarian colour-coordinated schedule; and no one comes home drunk and decides to devour the rotisserie chicken in the fridge, meant for the next day’s picnic with your grandma. No, everything is civility personified.

Within a few months (if you’re lucky) however, the real personalities of your housemates start to “shine” through because as my brother says you can only be on your best behaviour for so long. The dishes start piling up, and you only wash what you used and nothing else. You may well keep to the aforementioned cleaning schedule, but others do not, so you wait for weeks and weeks while the bathroom gets more and more feral in the vain hope the next person on the list will eventually do it. Alas, this plan of attack rarely works and one night in a fit of pure, seething rage, you attack it with a gigantic bottle of Jif, slamming doors throughout the house as you do so.

I’ve lived in many fantastic share houses, and others so dysfunctional that it’s a miracle any of us made it out alive. I can count on one hand the number of people who have morphed from house mates to friends in my life, but perhaps that says more about me than about them.

Share house living is a rite of passage, and all grumbles aside, I wouldn’t take back those days for anything. Many years later, I now have a friend who I shared a house with at university once again living with me. Obviously times have changed since we last cohabited. The apartment is much nicer for one, and we no longer have to split a carton of wine when we feel like having a drink. I suppose the principal difference is that these days we live together because we want too, not because we have too, and I think in the end that makes all the difference.

By Nicola McDougall, Media and Communications Manager, REIQ

  1. Julia

    I loved the comparison between new flatmates and a new boyfriend. I can’t count how many times my poor character judging skills have led me astray in both departments! I now work for a new website sharemyflat.com
    Check it out, and get away from the creepy cat loving guy who says things like “Kitty kept me up purring all night last night” while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil!
    Julia