University students urged to look at room sharing: Easyroommate Australia

In what appears to be another sign that rental affordability may be spanning out of control, university students are increasingly looking towards room sharing as an option.

Easyroommate Australia's manager, Sebastiaan Ram, is recommending room sharing as a cheaper and friendlier alternative to the pressure of living alone.

"One of the hardest things about leaving home for the first time is getting used to the extra costs - especially for those not lucky enough  to have qualified for a scholarship or government subsidies," Ram said.

With accommodation costs being one of the major expenses for a student, many will go to extreme lengths to stay on budget.

Property Observer decided to put this to the test. Heading to online listings through realestateVIEW and, it appears that in the heavily student dominated and centrally located suburb of Ultimo in Sydney, one bedroom apartments can span anywhere from $800 for a modern-looking unit with a study, to $357 per week for a 'furnished loft' (the latter includes utilities). RP Data notes Ultimo's median price on a unit is $255,000, while the median asking rent is $550.

After going through the sign up process on Easyroommate, which asks you for your mobile number, email address and so on, and says that they will confirm these details, it shows accommodation from $140 to $450 per week for house sharing. The $140 option is to share a room in a townhouse (utilities included) with an unspecified number of people, while the $450 per week option is for your own room in a three bedroom unit (covers bills, cleaner, foxtel and wifi), in a Meriton apartment complex with a gym and other amenities.

There is another $140 per week per person share room situation, which looks to have four girls in just one room. The cheapest free to contact house share (not room share) with own room is $295 per night and fully furnished. The most expensive room-share situation is $220 for a "Girl or gay guy to share master" with ensuite.

According to the Australasian Survey of Student Engagement, the average Australasian university student sees 67% working off campus, with most reporting six to 15 hours of paid work per week.
International students, by law, can only work a restricted number of hours per week.

In 2013, Universities Australia surveyed almost12,000 full-time undergrad and postgrad students and found that two-thirds were living below the poverty line, with 10% reporting they had an annual income below $10,000, and 40.3% noting theirs at $10,000 to $19,000.

Ram said that investors will rarely allow students to make major changes to their property, and suggested students undertake the following to make their accommodation feel more like a home:

1.       Often in a rented house painting of walls is not permitted, so why not bring your personality to your room with the use of art and posters. There are a number of ways to hang up art pieces without damaging walls such as white-tack

2.       Brighten up your space with the use of lamps lanterns or even statement lights. Extra lighting can give spaces a warmer and homelier feel.

3.       Bring the outside in with the use of potted plants, Succulents and cactuses have a calming effect, and are extremely easy to look after.

4.       Think of the floor as the fifth wall and accessorise it with bright, cheap rugs. They are easy to find and are a fantastic way to bring colour into a room. If you are moving out they are also an easy thing to pack up and take with you.

5.       It is quick and easy to change soft furnishings, use a nice throw to bring some colour to a bland sofa and pillows can also help. It is also extremely  easy to make curtains, you can then choose fabrics, colours and patterns that are personal to you, and bring your personality into your new home.

Source: Easyroommate

Not surprisingly, Australian students are most likely to stay at home to study where there is the option.

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke

Jennifer Duke was a property writer at Property Observer

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