Flatting

Flatting is a big part of the life of a school leaver, whether you are studying or making your way in the world of work.

Moving into a flat is a major step in the experience of leaving home, so it is important that you go into the process with your eyes open. Here are a few thoughts and ideas that can make your move into a flat as simple and as enjoyable as it can be.

  • Finding A Flat

    University and polytechnics make finding a flat easier as there are often a significant number of flats that are already rented by students. Each institution has an accommodation office that’s a good place to start to get information and contacts. Dunedin in particular has a powerful flatting culture and there is a big concentration of these flats close to the university.</p>

    Other ways to track down a flat include checking out Trade Me, looking in your local newspaper and asking real estate agents what they have to rent. Another good idea is to advertise on student noticeboards, or to even ask older students who may be leaving their flat at the end of the year.

    If you’re looking on your own for a room to rent, start by checking notice boards at the university or polytechnic, or put your own notice up. Trade Me again can help, and so can social media. You never know what a message on Facebook might turn up for you.

    More good info:

    These eBooks have plenty of useful information about flatting, even if you are not a student

     

    Student’s Guide to Living in Auckland

    Massey First Time Flatter’s Guide

    Everything you need to know about flatting in Dunedin

    Flatmate wanted websites:

    http://www.nzflatmates.co.nz

     http://www.easyroommate.co.nz 

  • Choosing your flatmates

    Flatting can be a great way to meet new people or to really firm up your existing friendships. Moving into a flat with people you don’t know well (or even at all) helps you to meet people you may otherwise never have met.

    It pays to have things in common with your proposed flatmates, maybe study at university or polytech, or similar sorts and stages of work. This helps keep the flat together and working in a friendly way. If you have hooked up with new friends in a hostel, it makes sense to want to flat with them the following year.

    While living with friends may sound like a great idea, when you have to share the bathroom, do housework, cook and pay the bills, friendships can get strained. Being friends should make it easier to talk about things that need to be done at the flat, and like a lot of situations, honesty and openness will solve a lot of problems.

    Make your room your own sanctuary. It’s the one place in the house that is yours and only yours. Flatting requires some flexibility, some compassion, lots of sharing and lots of tolerance. When its good, flatting can be great.

    Flatmate wanted websites:

    http://www.nzflatmates.co.nz

    http://www.easyroommate.co.nz

  • How Much Does Flatting Cost

    The cost of flatting depends on where you are planning to live and on what kind of flat you are looking for. Auckland is the most expensive place to rent in New Zealand where rooms in flats close to the inner city can be over $200/week, while in other cities the cost could be closer to $130-$160 per bedroom/week.

    Rent is just the start of what it will cost you in a flat. You also need to add in:

    • Phone/internet charges say $10-15/week
    • Power/gas say $15/week, more in colder places
    • Food say $70/week, more if buying individually
    • Personal items, toiletries say $8-10/week
    • Contents and liability insurance  expect around $7/week
    • Transport  car or bus/train costs
    • Socialising and one-off stuff/saving - expect some unexpected costs

    Other expenses which need to be included in your budget are your personal entertainment costs, money for clothes, shoes etc, other personal items, snacks, textbooks, photocopying, medical expenses and trips home.

    Doesn’t take long to see that flatting is likely to cost you maybe $170-185 each week plus your rent. And that’s keeping it pretty lean.

    The good thing is that you will soon have an idea of most of these regular or fixed costs and so you can budget to be able to cover them when you need to.  

    There are lots of good sites that can show you how to calculate a weekly or monthly budget for you or for your flat.

  • Set-Up Costs

    Expect expenses up front when you first move into your flat, including:

    • Furniture: many flats are unfurnished so be prepared to buy items such as a bed, desk, couch, whiteware, cutlery and appliances.
    • Bond – Usually 4 weeks rent. You’ll get the bond payment refunded at the end of your tenancy, provided you leave the place in good condition. To help avoid hassles at the end of a tenancy, bonds are held by MBIE, not the landlord.
    • Connection fees: You may need to pay a bond and/or a connection fee to connect your power, phone and internet. 

  • In every flat you will need to pay:

     Rent – you may pay this weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on the terms of your lease. When you first rent a place you’ll need to pay two weeks’ rent in advance as well as a fee if you use an agent (letting fees are normally one week’s rent plus GST). A landlord can only ask for two weeks rent in advance.

    In university cities like Dunedin, you may have to take a full year rental even though you will only be in your university or study city for maybe 40 of the 52 weeks. This happens when landlords have a captive market like students and not much other demand for the properties. It is hard to get around this.

  • Who Pays For What?

    • The landlord pays local council taxes like rates.
    • You, the tenant, pay day-to-day running costs like electricity or gas.
    • Some homes have water meters, in which case tenants must also pay for the water they use.
    • Insurance: If you’re renting, the landlord is responsible for insuring the building. You are responsible for getting cover for your own possessions and liability for any damage they may cause to the property.  
    • When you are renting you will need to pay for all your services like power, gas, phone, internet and tv. These costs are usually split amongst the flatmates.  
    • Many people shop as a flat meaning costs are again shared, although some people prefer to cook individually. It’s important to work as much of this out as you can ahead of you moving into a flat.

  • Do You Have Rights As A Tenant?

    • Yes you do and there are also some other important legal elements you need to be aware of. To find out what rights and responsibilities you have as a tenant, check out the this guide to all things flatting from MBIE
    • If you are studying you are able to get advice, support and possibly even protection from your student association and from the accommodation services office at the institution you are enrolled at. If you have an issue with your flat or landlord, get advice from these groups.

  • Flatting Checklist

    • How much does it cost a month – can you afford it?
    • Can your flatmates afford it?
    • How are the bills going to be split? Does everyone pay equally?
    • Are you all going to share food, or buy and eat individually?
    • How are the basics like power and water going to be paid  
    • Draw up a cleaning roster so everyone knows what to clean...and when!

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