May 14, 2018
Issue 5 2018

Unqualified guide to flat hunting

You might be reading this and thinking, “It’s May - surely no one is still flat hunting?” Well, kind reader, you would be incorrect. Many people are still on the grind and have been since January with no luck, thanks to a classic, “too many people, not enough rentals” situation that has plagued Wellington and other centres since last year. Or maybe you’re from Wellington and looking to fly the nest for the first time - or, in my case, the third time because I keep having to move back home after breaking up with a partner I live with (is this #relatable? I hope so). Or it could be that you’re already in a flat but you’ve decided you can’t hack it in a mouldy hole anymore or perhaps your flatmates have revealed themselves to be awful racists or simply inconsiderate slobs. Either way, you’re looking for some new digs like me and need a bit of help. I’m perhaps not the most qualified (I’ve only just landed myself a flat after months of searching) and I’m only offering my limited knowledge in finding an established flat (finding a new house with a group of mates is a whole other story) but take these tips with you and hopefully, young caterpillar, you will be able to wriggle your way into your ideal flat!

Narrow down your search

Before you do anything, think about what it is that you’re looking for. What suburbs are you open to living in? How much can you pay for rent? Do you want a new flat family or are you a homebody that just wants to reside with people who will leave you alone? We all have different living expectations and it’s totally cool to know who you are and what you want from a flat. If you’ve never been flatting before, don’t sweat it. We all start somewhere. Have a chat to some older mates, family members, (or even me if you want) and get some advice from seasoned flatters about what to look for in a flat. We’re all different but here are some of my main requirements for a flat: relatively warm and sunny, not about to turn into a mushroom from mould overload, cool and social people who are down to hang out, somewhere cheap/free to park my car, and a room that can at least fit my bed and have floor space for activities. Anything else is just a bonus or something I can compromise on, so you should have a little list like that too for absolute must-haves in a flat. If you’ve already been around the block with flatting, then learn from what worked for you and what didn’t in the past. Soon you’ll come up with a big picture in your head of the kind of place you want to live in!

Start the hunt on Facebook

Your first port of call for flat hunting in Wellington is Facebook. Sure, TradeMe is good too, but it can be pretty annoying to browse on a phone, plus Facebook is a great way to vet if you have any mutual friends with the person looking for a flatmate. Public groups like Vic Deals and Flatmates Wanted are two of the best resources for finding a potential flat. Vic Deals boasts around 107,000 group members, which means you have a wide pool of people in one spot - but it is also not exclusively a flatmate/flat hunting group, so you’ll really need to utilise the search bar with keywords. Flatmates Wanted, on the other hand, is a smaller group but is just for people looking for a flatmate or a flat. This is where I personally have had the most luck in my past flat hunting endeavours. When you find a flat you love, click the little dots in the top right corner and SAVE the post! This will help you keep track of all the places you’re interested in and when it comes to viewing the flat, you won’t be fumbling around trying to locate screenshots or, worse, have no information at all to go off.

Dazzle your potential future flatmates

So, you’ve found a flat you love, either on Facebook or TradeMe, and you’re ready to send a message, a text, an email, a letter via carrier pigeon, whatever! Keep in mind that this person could have received ten messages today already about their flat listing. Sending a generic, “hey I’m interested in a viewing for the flat you posted” won’t do you any favours - and why would someone reply to that? It sounds boring as fuck! Instead, you need to make them want you. Introduce yourself, tell them what you do, what you’re interested in, and give them a reason to want to live with you. Are you a mad cook? Do you have a car that can be used for supermarket trips or expeditions to Kmart? Or are you simply a nice and chill person and won’t cause any stupid flat drama? Everyone has something to offer, you’ve just gotta sell them on what makes you such a gem to live with. Be yourself, though, and don’t spin any yarns about how you’re super neat and will scrub the bathroom clean everyday if you know for a fact that you will do no such thing. When you go to a flat viewing, it’s so normal to be nervous but remember to speak up and show them a bit of your personality. It’s only awkward if you make it awkward! For safety and support, it can also be a good idea to take a friend with you. And ask PLENTY of questions. This will be your future home, after all, so it pays to know how chores get done and how expenses are shared.

So go forward and spread those wings! Figure out what it is you’re looking for, start hunting, and dazzle your future potential flatmates at those viewings. Keep hustling until something works, and don’t take anything personally! If they don’t want you, then it just means it wasn’t the right fit and you probably dodged a bullet. And if you do land a flat, you’ll know who to thank.