When it comes to moving to a new city, there’s a lot to consider, including whether sharing a flat with someone is a good option. The reality is that unless you’re independent, know the language or some people in the city, and have a big monthly budget, living alone can be very overwhelming and lonely. Thankfully, there're many benefits of living with others, even if it means living with roommates at 30 or finding out who your roommates are after moving in!
For instance, it’s much easier to find a shared housing in expat cities like Berlin or Barcelona because a lot of the housing made available to international students or professionals is set up for sharing due to the highly competitive housing market.
Want to know more? Find out the other major benefits of living with flatmates in your new home-away-from-home.
Arguably the biggest benefit of shared accommodation is that it can be much more friendly on the wallet as whatever you’ll be paying will be split 2, 3 or maybe even 4 ways. Here’re some ways that having a roommate saves you money:
Rent- Rent is by far the biggest expense per month for most people. Based on our rent indexes and cost of living guides, we’re certain that sharing a room is much cheaper than getting a studio or apartment by yourself. For instance, the average cost of renting a room instead of an apartment is 152% cheaper in Amsterdam, 250% cheaper in Barcelona, 104% cheaper in Milan, and 77% cheaper in Munich.
Deposits- When you sign the rental contract, you’ll need to put down a deposit, which is typically one month’s rent. When you’re renting a room, you pay a much smaller deposit as the deposit equals the rent of the room and not of the entire apartment.
Remember to include everyone that will be staying in your co-living space on the rental agreement as this way everyone is held responsible and liable.”
Utilities- Some rental agreements may include the utilities and others will require you to be responsible for all utilities. The necessities include electricity, gas, water, and internet. Sure, more people means more usage. But when the cost is split between all housemates, it’ll be lower than if you had to pay for it yourself.
You may also opt to have shared subscriptions to Netflix or Spotify family accounts as this reduces the cost per person further.
Household Necessities- Some household items can easily be shared because of how important they are. Think about items such as cleaning supplies, toiletries, cooking supplies, etc. And if you don’t want to share certain things to save some money, let them know clearly!
Food- There’ll be times when you eat your meals at home. If you’re trying to stick to a tight budget, this is also going to be the most economical way to dine, especially if you’re splitting the cost of the meal ingredients. Stick to shopping at discount grocery stores and fresh markets, and you’ll save even more!
Furniture and Decor- Depending on your lease agreement, your shared accommodation may or may not come furnished. If you’ll need to buy your furniture, flea markets and secondhand stores are great places to look and you can split the price with your roommates. You can then resell it to incoming international students once it’s time to leave.
Unless you already know a few people in your new city, chances are that you’re going to want to start making new friends as soon as possible. A fantastic way to do this is to live with roommates!
The great news is that there’re several forums on Facebook where you can look for listings or connect with others who might be interested in finding roommates. Alternatively, you can search for accommodation on a trusted housing platform that will protect your deposit and show you listings from verified landlords. Such platforms also remove the hassle of finding other roommates as each room is rented out individually.
Once you’ve moved in, not only will you’ve immediate friends in your flatmates but you’ll also be introduced to their circle of friends. Before you know it, you’ll be hosting your parties and you’ll have a brand-new support system in your new home. Forget about feeling homesick!
Many expats like the idea of relocating to another country alone because it’s a wonderful way to step outside of your comfort zone and embrace new things and new people. How cool would it be to experience this without even walking out your front door?
When you decide to share housing with flatmates, it’s unlikely that you’ll all be hailing from the same country. You’ll be exposed to one or more cultures and getting to know one another, as well as learning to appreciate your different backgrounds and cultures can be a big part of the fun!
Learning about someone else’s culture and, in turn, discussing your own can make you realize things about yourself that you’d never have thought of before. This is why intermingling with people from different cultures can be one of the most rewarding benefits of the expat experience.
When you share details about your lifestyle, it can be surprising to learn that someone who lives on the other side of the planet likes your favourite dessert or the same type of music. The more you discuss how your cultures are the same, and how they differ, the easier it is to bond as friends and become even better flatmates. These’re the kind of relationships that can last for decades!
It doesn’t matter if you’re sharing a flat with someone for the first time or for the fourth time, there’s always something new to learn! It can be as simple as learning a better way to make pasta, how to change the lightbulb, or how often to wash your bedsheets. Other times, you’ll learn things that nobody prepared you for, such as how to file a police report if you’ve had a break-in. And even if you make mistakes along the way, you can at least take solace in the fact that you’ll have your roommate to go through with this.
Ultimately, every little experience and mistake along the way will make you self-confident and self-reliant. You’ll be prepared for any challenge that comes your way.
Let’s be realistic, there’s no guarantee that you’ll hit it off with your roommate(s) off the bat or that you’ll always have a grand time together. Even the best of roommates such as Leonard and Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory” or Monic and Rachel from “Friends” had some hiccups at some point.
It’s possible that you’ve completely different personalities, preferences, and schedules. In such situations, you’ll need to learn how to compromise, speak up when necessary, and come to an agreement about how you can cohabitate peacefully. The more different types of people you live with, the more perceptive and understanding you’ll become of why people act or think the way they do.
Of course, if things are really not working out, you could move out when your contract ends. But more often than not, you’ll learn how to deal with disagreements and uncomfortable situations and become a more flexible and understanding person.
Probably one of the worst things about living alone is knowing that all of the responsibilities rest on your shoulders. Think running errands, figuring out the tax system, or having to clean the apartment even when you’re dead tired.
Having roommates means that you can split up the household chores to make sure that everything gets done. Many people sharing housing decide to rotate the duties so that the same person isn’t always stuck cleaning the bathroom. Making a calendar and putting it on the fridge is a nice way to keep everyone on the same page — literally.
Ultimately, the best thing about having roommates is knowing that you always have someone who can support you, help you make decisions and listen to anything you need to talk over, even at 2 a.m. They’re also there if you need someone to take care of you when you’re sick, to make you feel safe at night, let out the spider that you’re scared of, or water your plants when you’re on a holiday. Talk about convenience!
These roommates will essentially step in and serve as your “out-of-town” family, which will give you the support that you’ll need to be successful!
Living with flatmates in shared accommodation can be one grand adventure. Be sure to embrace it and make enough memories and friends to last a lifetime! And if you ever find yourself thinking “but what about personal space, freedom, and personal preference?”, know that you’ll still have freedom and space in your own rooms and you can always set ground rules with your roommates so everyone’s requests are respected. Good luck and enjoy the experience!
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