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The Complete Guide to House Sharing in South Africa

By · April 5, 2024
The Complete Guide to House Sharing in South Africa

Looking for your next home, but don’t want to rent alone? Well, you aren’t the only one.

In today's challenging economic climate, finding affordable housing in South Africa can be a daunting task. As rental prices continue to rise, many are turning to alternative living arrangements such as house shares or flat shares.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what house share entails, the pros and cons of this arrangement and provide practical tips on how to find house shares in South Africa.

What is a House Share?

A house share, also known as co-living, is when you share a property with multiple people. Each person typically has their own bedroom, sharing common areas such as the kitchen, living room and bathrooms.

Sharing the space with other people also comes with sharing the cost of rent and utilities, making it a more affordable housing option compared to renting a place on your own. It can also be called a flat share if you’re sharing an apartment instead of a house.

House shares come in various forms — you and your friends could decide to get a place together or you can join a pre-existing house share with strangers.

While house sharing used to be a popular choice for mostly students and young professionals trying to save some money on their tight budgets, with the cost of living on the rise, house sharing is becoming normalised for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Pros and Cons of a House Share

While most people go through at least one house-sharing experience and have a great time, it’s not for everyone.

House sharing is so popular due to the many advantages that come with it. But it also comes with its fair share of sacrifices that might not make it worth it for some people.

To help you decide if a house share is right for you, here’s a complete breakdown of the pros and cons of living in a house share.

Pros of Living in a House Share

  1. Affordability: By splitting rent and utilities, like electricity, water and WIFI, among housemates, you can enjoy a significantly lower housing expense compared to renting a property alone.

  2. Shared responsibilities: Sharing the space means sharing the responsibilities, like cleaning, maintenance and household chores, so that you don’t have to maintain the space all on your own.

  3. Social opportunities: When you’re living with other people, you can never be lonely — whether it’s cooking dinner together, watching a movie or bonding over shared interests. You can even expand your social circle by getting to know your housemates’ friends.

  4. Flexibility: House shares typically offer more flexibility in terms of lease agreements. With shorter lease terms and less stringent rental criteria, you can have the freedom to adapt your living arrangements to your changing circumstances.

Cons of Living in a House Share

  1. Lack of privacy: One of the drawbacks of house sharing is the potential lack of privacy. Sharing living spaces with multiple individuals means sacrificing some level of privacy, especially in common areas such as the bathroom, kitchen and living room.

  2. Potential conflict: Living with housemates inevitably involves navigating complex dynamics and resolving conflicts. Differences in lifestyle, cleanliness standards and noise tolerance can lead to disagreements if not addressed appropriately.

  3. Limited control: You have limited control over certain aspects of your living environment, such as decor, cleanliness and household rules, forcing you to compromise with your housemates and learn how to live together.

  4. Compatibility issues: Finding compatible housemates can be challenging, and mismatches in personalities, habits and lifestyles can lead to tension and potential conflict which can create an unpleasant living environment.

How Do I Find a Good House Share?

How to Find Good House Share in South AfricaChoosing the right house and roommates can make or break your house-share experience. So while it may be tempting to try to snatch up the first available room you find, if you want your house share to be a pleasant experience, it’s essential to take careful consideration into choosing your house share.

Here are our top tips to help you find the perfect house share for you and your needs:

1. Define your Priorities

Before beginning your search, take some time to reflect on what matters most to you in a living arrangement. Consider factors such as:

  • Location

  • Budget

  • Amenities

  • Size

  • Number of housemates

  • Type of property

  • Furnished or unfurnished

  • Preferred gender of housemates

  • Sharing with strangers or people you know

Having a clear understanding of your priorities will guide your search and help you narrow down your options.

2. Communicate Expectations

When reaching out to potential landlords or housemates, be upfront about your expectations regarding cleanliness, noise levels, shared responsibilities and any specific preferences you may have.

Open communication from the outset can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure a harmonious living environment.

3. Consider Compatibility

Compatibility with your potential housemates is crucial for a positive house-share experience. Take the time to get to know your prospective housemates, either through in-person meetings or video calls, to gauge whether your lifestyles, habits and personalities are compatible.

For example, if you don’t like living with smokers, then it’s important to ensure that the potential housemates are non-smokers.

If you and your potential roommates have shared interests, even better! This can help you to connect and even progress from housemates to good friends.

4. Assess the Property

Pro Tip: Never commit to renting a property without viewing the place first.

It’s very important to visit the property in person to get a sense of the condition, size, layout and suitability for your needs. If you aren’t able to view it in person because you’re planning a long-distance move, then at least request a virtual tour.

During your viewing, pay attention to factors such as:

  • Cleanliness

  • Maintenance

  • The furniture you’d need to bring

  • Security measures

  • Availability of amenities such as laundry facilities, parking and outdoor space

  • Atmosphere of the neighbourhood

  • Pets and pests

Ensure that the property meets your standards and provides a safe and comfortable living environment.

5. Clarify the Financial Arrangements

Discuss financial arrangements with your potential housemates or landlord to ensure transparency and fairness.

Clarify how rent, utilities and other expenses will be divided, as well as any additional costs or contributions required for shared items or services.

Make sure that all of the added costs still fit within your budget. You can also assess whether the current housemates have an effective system for sharing the costs equally, using apps like Splitwise, Splid and Divvy.

6. Seek Out References

If possible, ask for references from previous tenants or housemates to gain insight into their experiences living on the property or with the landlord.

The best references are mutual friends, so see if you know anyone in common. This will not only give you an indication of your compatibility but you can also ask your mutual friend for insight on your potential housemates and whether they think you will all get along.

7. Be Flexible (But Not Too Flexible)

While it's important to have clear preferences and priorities, be open to compromise and flexibility during your search. You may not find a house share that meets all of your criteria perfectly, but by prioritising your must-haves and being willing to compromise on less essential factors, you can increase your chances of finding a suitable living arrangement.

With that being said, you only want to bend so far. As soon as the arrangement starts encroaching on your hard boundaries, it’s time to move on and continue the search.

8. Trust Your Instincts

Ultimately, trust your instincts when evaluating potential house shares. If something doesn't feel right or if you have reservations about a particular property or housemate, don't ignore those feelings.

It's essential to feel comfortable and confident in your living arrangement, so don't hesitate to explore other options until you find the right fit.

Where to Find House Shares in South Africa

Now that you’re fully equipped to start your search, here are the top places to look to find your perfect house share in South Africa.

1. Online Platforms

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With the rise in popularity of house sharing, there are now a variety of online platforms designed to help you find a house share the quick and easy way. These are the top online platforms to check out:

2. Social Media

Social media is a great tool to connect with others looking for their next housemate.

You should really take advantage of Facebook groups. Just search on Facebook “[area] rentals,” and you’ll find a Facebook group full of posts of people advertising their available rooms. It’s also a great place to advertise yourself so that people looking for a housemate can reach out to you.

3. Word of Mouth

Probably the most reliable way to find a successful house share is through word of mouth.

So tap into your personal network and spread the word that you're looking for a house share. Friends, family, colleagues or classmates may know of available rooms or be seeking housemates themselves.

You can also reach out to your social circles by posting on social media, whether it’s your Facebook feed or Instagram story, asking if anyone knows of any house-share opportunity.

4. Student Accommodation Services

If you're a student, check with your university’s accommodation services for listings of student-friendly house shares or flat shares.

Private residences, like Campus Key, often include a kind of house-sharing dormitory with other students.

Additionally, most South African universities will have an informal Instagram page where students often advertise available student accommodation.

Looking for an Affordable Moving Service Near You?

Once you’ve found the best house share for you and your budget, it’s time to get packing and hire the best movers for you and your budget.

And the quickest way to find trusted movers in South Africa is with Wise Move! Through Wise Move’s moving company platform, you can connect with the most trusted and affordable moving services near you.

After all your house share hunting, you can let the top movers come to you by just posting one moving request on Wise Move’s platform where you can compare quotes and reviews to choose the perfect mover for you and your budget.

Get your quote from Wise Move for your next big move to your house share!

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