Cost of Going Flatting
Watching the new TV programme called “Renters” the other day got me reminiscing about the long-gone uni days and the joys and un-joys of flatting.
Flatting can be a great social experience with the added benefits of more independence, but often it comes with expenses that not everyone expects to have to budget for – not just students, but also working professionals.
Once you have inspected and secured the property you like and can afford, you will need a rather big chunk of money to pay the bond, rent in advance and the letting fee (if applies). Legally, the landlord can ask tenants for up to 4 weeks’ rent as bond and up to 2 weeks’ rent. The letting fee is often 1 weeks’ rent + GST and may apply if you use a real estate agent or property manager. Depending on how much the rent is and how many of you are going to flat together, the total amount will vary but can often end up being quite a substantial sum. (The Citizens Advice Bureau recommends having a flat-sharing agreement which covers issues like payment of bond, rent and housekeeping. )
Keep in mind that most properties come unfurnished, which means you may need to budget for the first “big shop” which may include such necessities as a bed, a desk, linen, a fridge and a freezer, cutlery, an iron and a washing machine. Most of these things can be bought second-hand for just a fraction of the normal price – try TradeMe or your supermarket community notice board or local newspaper. Some appliances can also be hired.
Paying your share of the utility bills, such as power, water, Internet, SKY and content insurance should also be budgeted for. Sorted recommends having everyone’s names on the bills to avoid the risk of just one person being responsible for taking care of them. It may also be a good idea to set up a joint bank account which will be used for paying rent, bills and food shopping – if you want to share food. It’s also good to remember that living a cold, damp and draughty property might result in sky-high power bills and poor health (therefore, higher medical bills) – so it’s important to remember to check the property before signing the agreement.
Consider the proximity of the property to your place of work and take the transportation and parking costs into account – it may add up to a large amount.
And last but not the least, food can often end up costing more than people budget for. While flatting, it may be more convenient to buy staples like milk, butter, bread and spices together, but purchase everything else separately. Work out what you need to buy and how much it will cost you on a weekly or fortnightly basis, make a shopping list and don’t deviate from it. Shop on a full stomach and bring a calculator with you.