Before you move
Do you really have to?
If living at home for the first weeks of uni is a possibility for you, we suggest delaying your plans to move out of home until you’ve experienced what university’s really like. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that you’ll probably be surprised by how much homework you’ll be doing each week outside of class, with readings and assignments taking up a lot of time outside of lectures and tutorials. This means you might have to adjust your work situation depending on how many shifts you can realistically do without messing up your chances of doing well at uni. The second part of waiting a few weeks before making the final leap towards moving out, is that you’ll be surprised how much of those readings and assignments you can get done on the train or bus to and from uni if you live a fair distance away. Sometimes your initial reasons to move out of home can change once you get a grip on what your university experience is really going to be like.
Budget before you even start looking
Whether you’re moving out right at the beginning of your uni experience, somewhere in the middle or plan to do it ages down the track, the first and most obvious thing to do is work out your budget before you even start looking for a place. Here’s a list to start you off considering what income you’re getting in the doors of your bank account, and what’s heading out:
Electricity and Water
Set up costs like pots and pans, a bed and linen
Travel allowances (public transport or petrol)
Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) which is a fee (approx. $140 per year of your degree) you pay your university which funds its Student Union, which, long story short, are usually in charge of running great services (like mental health, financial advice and subsidised food services) and most of the social events and clubs on campus
Uni textbooks and supplies
Okay, you’re ready to move
So let’s assume you’ve got your bags packed waiting at the door. How do you even begin working out which suburb to move to, what makes one place better than the other, and what the difference is between a rental and a sharehouse situation?
Renting vs. sharehousing
First, let’s work out the difference between rental and sharehouse.
• A rental is you, or you and a couple of friends looking for a place to all move in together, which will mean you and all of your friends’ names end up on the lease. That’s a legal obligation which isn’t too hard to wrap your head around, it just means you all agree to abide by the landlord’s rules, which include paying the rent when it’s due, not damaging the place, and agreeing to stay there for a certain amount of time.
• A sharehouse is a house or unit which already has people you probably won’t know living in there, who are looking for fill a vacancy that’s just turned up in their place. That means that the lease generally won’t be your problem, but you still get to inspect the property as you normally would and get to take stock of the people already living there.
In both instances, renting or sharing, tenants usually share bills for electricity, water and internet. What you choose is entirely up to you and your situation in terms of what you’re after, just be aware of moving in with flaky people who might decide to move out without any notice, leaving you paying extra bills until you find another tenant.
Where to move
This is where the Domain.com.au app is going to become your ultimate distraction, and your ultimate helper in the quest to move out. Trust me, once you’ve downloaded this app you won’t want to get off it, as you are perpetually in search of your ultimate dream home.
Download it on your phone here and start searching by suburb, price range, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’re after, whether you need a car parking space or what type of property you’re after. This will take all the hard work out of understanding what you’re after. You can look up where property are on the map, who to contact for more details, and when the inspection is.
But what exactly are you looking for?
Here are our best tips about what to look for in a property when moving out of home. The Domain.com.au app makes it easy to identify some of these things just from its info and photos:
• Built-in wardrobes: With these babies, you’re going to save a whole lot of cash by not having to purchase your own storage spaces. Definitely a plus.
• Internal laundry: Unless your mum is a fantasy wrapped in a rainbow, she is not going to be doing your laundry anymore. Having an internal laundry means saving a whole lot of cash in the long run by not going to the Laundromat every time you need a clean set of underwear.
• Near a supermarket: If you don’t own a car, you’re really going to need to live within walking distance of a supermarket, because hey, apparently we need to eat to live. If you answered no to the above question about an internal laundry, then you’ll also want to be close to a Laundromat. These things are essential, not optional.
• Secure: If you’re looking at a lower level apartment, it’s going to be important to check what the security situation is like, in terms of bars on windows or a secure locking door. You definitely don’t want to risk getting your stuff stolen.
• Air-conditioning/heating/windows: It’s time to start paying attention to nature when you move out, especially when it comes to how much sunlight you’re going to get. Just in case you missed the memo, the sun rises in the east. Look out for large windows, curtains, and cross-ventilation as good signs that you’ll be cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
• A pool is cool but will cost you a mule (not really true, we just wanted it to rhyme): Any apartment property with extra features like a communal gym or pool cost the landlord extra money called strata costs, which will mean the rent will be higher. Think about the essentials before you think about the extras.
• Public transport: If you’re not within walking distance of uni, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy enough to hop on a train or a bus. Check the distance between you and the nearest stop, as well as the timetables of those transport routes late at night and on weekends. You don’t want to have to be catching a taxi home every Saturday night.
• Street lights: This is one is particularly for the ladies, but mainly for anyone who values their safety. If you’ve fallen in love with a property, we suggest visiting the area at night too, so you can get a sense of how safe the walk home is in terms of street lighting and activity in the area.
• No photos does not equal dodgy property: Some property listings on real estate website occasionally have not photos. Can we dispel the myth here that they are all too horrible to reveal. Rather, it’s because the building or the tenants have not given the real estate permission to photograph their property. So don’t count these ones out just because you don’t know what they’re like!
The Domain.com.au app allows you to shortlist your absolute favourite properties in one simple motion, and trust me, you’ll end up looking at so many different places to live you’ll forget which is which. Once you’ve shortlisted your favourites, it’s inspection time.
You might think it weird that properties are only open for inspection for 15 minutes on a Saturday morning or Thursday afternoon, but real estate agents are busy people and don’t have time to open the door on properties you’re interested in when you’re interested in them. In other words, when you decide to start looking at properties, prepare yourself for one busy Saturday morning of racing from one property to another.
The usual process is that the real estate agent will let you in, you have a poke around (we suggest take photos on your phone and coming with a checklist of what you’re after), then if you’re interested, you take an application form and you and your future housemates all fill it in.
The general rule is ‘first-come, first-served’ if you tick all the boxes. By tick all the boxes, we mean proving that you have a reliable source of income, proof from a few references that you aren’t crazy and going to stop paying rent a day’s notice, and that you’re generally sensible people. After that, it really is ‘first-come, first-served’. So if you love a place, get your applications done and dusted the day of seeing a place.
If you’re applying for a few properties, you can usually just duplicate your applications, but you’ve got to have all your future housemates send in the application at the same time. Our suggestion is for one of you to be the application organiser, who has all your application bits and pieces on file, ready to be printed off, and all that’s needed is a signature.
Moving out Success! And other important messages
The Domain.com.au app has the ultimate moving out guide for you to use, and although you probably will only have a small van-full of stuff that actually needs to be ferried from one home to another, it’s a great guide to use a couple of weeks out from your move, from booking the moving van (or your parents), planning to redirect your mail, gathering the essentials for moving day and having them at the top of your pile of boxes, and backing up your computer.
Before and after the move
• If you’re needing to sign a lease, sit down with all your housemate and understand the responsibilities you’re undertaking. It’s a big step, and so it’s important to make sure you’re all on the same page. If one of you plans to move out before the lease is up, give your housemates ample time to find a replacement, so that they’re not stuck with your bills.
• Work out who, if any of you, can supply the electrical essentials: fridge, washing machine, vacuum cleaner, kettle, toaster, as well as all your cooking utensils. Then, decide whether you’d like to buy these items separately (could mean you get to take the fridge with you when you leave…could also mean you’re the one left without a fridge) or together. This decision really comes down to how long you’re all planning to live together.
• Work out how you’re going to pay communal bills, too. The best systems are ones that don’t rely on one person paying, and others paying that person back, because it’s just never going to work smoothly. Either sent up a joint bank account if you’re in for the long haul, where you can automatically program your own bank account to put money into it, or have a money jar system.
• Learn from mum exactly how to do the washing: separating colours from whites is one thing in theory, it’s another when you’re favourite white top turns pink. Learn from the best in the business.
• Last of all, work out how you’re going to share the responsibilities of cleaning, taking the garbage out, cooking and washing up if you’re all in it together, and consider having a shelf each in the pantry if you have some food you want to be just yours. Have a visible schedule so you can hold each other to your promises to help out.
With the Domain.com.au app, finding your new home will be a smooth process. All you have to do is enjoy the ride!