How to find a houseshare in a hurry

Picking the right room and housemates is a big decision. In an ideal world you’d take your time before making the call.

However, sometimes you have to relocate pretty fast – usually for a new job. Sometimes employers expect you to be ready to work in a matter of days…so how do you find the perfect houseshare without panicking about the looming deadline?

We know this can all feel daunting, especially if you haven’t gone through the process before. Even the most chilled out person can become sweaty-palmed at the thought of finding a new place to live in a short amount of time. Sure, you’re desperate to find a base, but you also want to make sure you’re living with the right people in somewhere that feels like home. What if your new housemates don’t appreciate your Game of Thrones addiction? What if they only leave their room for a takeaway delivery?

And breathe. Finding the right houseshare in a rush isn’t actually mission impossible, and with a bit of insider knowledge it can be a breeze. So how do you get started?

Create a ‘room wanted’ ad

Need a room? Looking through search results and contacting advertisers is one way to do it, but setting up a ‘room wanted’ ad can make the process even faster. It’s really easy to do – just add a photo and a few lines about yourself, and watch potential housemates come flooding to you with rooms to offer. Don’t just take our word for it though – 53% of users said they wouldn’t reply to someone who contacted them without a ‘room wanted’ ad or profile. That’s a LOT of missed contacts. Set yours up here.

Go to a SpeedFlatmating event

Next up, book your place at a SpeedFlatmating event. We hold these every week in London (Angel, Clapham, Shoreditch, Covent Garden) and Manchester. You’ll meet loads of potential housemates offering rooms in one night, saving precious time – and you’ll be in a relaxed, social and safe setting.

The events have a mix of people – people looking for a room (like you), those searching for a new housemate to join them and those who want to find group of people to start a brand new tenancy with, called ‘Buddy up’ (click here to find out more).

So if you’re looking in Manchester or London check out one of our upcoming events and reserve your spot here.

Seize the chance to LiveRentFree

And then there’s the ULTIMATE way to ease your rental woes: not having to pay rent at all. Imagine going rent free for a month (or year!) – that blissful easy living, with a wad of cash to spend on whatever you like… Sounds like the dream, right? Well we can make it happen for you with our LiveRentFree competitions.

There’s a draw EVERY month (to cover one winner’s rent for a month) and a bigger annual competition that pays one winner’s rent for a whole year!

As you can see, there’s plenty you can do to find the right place in a short amount of time, so don’t panic! However if you have any other questions please head over to our website or get in touch with our Customer Service team who’ll be be happy to help.

8 things you NEED to know before you rent

If you’re about to rent for the first time there are a few things that might trip you up and a couple of misconceptions people have, especially about sharing. Thankfully, we’ve been there (and been tripped up by them ourselves) so can pass on some nuggets of hard-earned wisdom.

Here are our top tips.

1) 1 month’s rent and 4 weeks’ rent are not the same thing

This one catches pretty much everyone out at some point, yet it’s obvious once you know. Here’s how it works.

Let’s say your weekly rent is £150. If you multiply it by 4 you get £600. So that’s a month’s rent, right? Wrong.

There are 52 weeks in a year (£150 x 52 = £7,800)

…and there are 12 months in a year (£7,800 / 12 = £650)

…so there’s a £50 difference. Still with us? Good – that’s £600 extra a year (or an extra month’s rent based on the original dodgy calculation).

2) And your rent won’t necessarily include bills

Again, it might seem obvious…but if the advert doesn’t state that your rent price will include bills, don’t make any assumptions.

Generally moving into a flatshare with existing renters means you get to sidestep all of those boring admin tasks, like setting up bills and working out the monthly amount everyone owes – so you should be able to take over the lease and chip in what’s needed every month to cover the gas, electricity and water. Make sure you ask about average monthly bill costs when viewing the property, if this info wasn’t included in the room ad.

But if you’re taking on a new property in a group you’ll probably be fully responsible for setting up all the bills accounts. Soz. Although a tedious task, it’s worth shopping around various suppliers to get the best deal and keep the costs down for everyone in your flatshare. Sites like moneysupermarket and comparethemarket can do the job for you in a few clicks.

3) Not all flatshares have a living room

Yep, you read that right. When we asked over 10,000 flatsharers whether their property had a living room, we discovered that one in four of them don’t.

Now, that may be because the landlord turned the living room into a bedroom to squeeze more rent out of the property, or it might mean the tenants chose to use the living room as another bedroom so they pay less rent each.

Either way, don’t just presume. If you don’t see one, ask.

4) You don’t need to have a ready-made group of friends to share with

In fact, when we asked flatsharers who made the best flatmates, the most popular answer was ‘someone you don’t already know’. Living with friends can be great, but it can also be a real pain. Adding the burden of sorting out bills and arguing over whose turn it is to clean the toilet to your friendship might just push it over the edge.

As they say, live with a stranger and you might gain a friend, live with a friend and you might lose one*.

*OK, we don’t know who they are (or if they actually say this), but it’s true.

5) You don’t have to sign a 12 month lease

People new to renting tend to think you have to sign up for a year to move in somewhere. It’s true that 12 months is still the most common lease length, but there are other options. The majority of rooms you’ll see advertised in London, for example, are advertised by the existing tenants – often replacing someone who’s moving out. If there’s less than 12 months to go on their lease, then you’re not committing to a full year.

Even if you do sign for a year, most leases have a 6 month break clause in them.

6) And you might need to butter a parent up to act as a guarantor for you

If this is the first time you’ve EVER rented before, your landlord/agent will naturally be a little wary and will probably require some references so they can make sure you are who you say you are, you’re in a position to pay the rent every month, and you’re going to be a respectful and pleasant tenant (i.e. you’re not going to trash their property, or hold all-night neighbour-disturbing raves etc…).

If you’ve already started working life, the HR team at your work can sort a reference out for you. But if you’re just going into your first employment after graduation, your landlord might want a little more reassurance – and that’s where guarantors come in.

So what is it? Essentially, a guarantor is someone who will cover the cost of your rent if you fail to do so in any given month (i.e. you’re jobless and just don’t have the money). This gives your landlord an extra layer of reassurance that they’re going to get your rent for the duration of your tenancy, even if you can’t personally pay it. Generally a parent or close family member is the best person for the job, so ask them nicely because it’s a lot of money. And it goes without saying that regardless of having a guarantor in place, you should still be able to pay your own rent every month anyway.

7) You won’t get your deposit back till after you’ve moved out…

It might feel like a long time till you’re moving again – largely because you haven’t even found your first place yet! But when you hand over your deposit, it’s worth knowing you probably won’t get it back in time to use as the deposit for your next flat.

It’s one of the things that winds people up most about renting, but it’s a fact of life so be prepared and have a back-up plan for your next deposit.

8) …and there are some things you can do to make sure you get the full amount

There’s nothing more soul destroying than moving out of a property and losing half of your deposit in the process – usually because your landlord might charge you for leaving the property in a worse condition than when you moved in (broken furniture, marks on walls etc).

Don’t panic, though, because there are things you can do at the start of the tenancy to avoid getting saddled with hefty charges when you leave. Take photos before you’ve all moved your stuff in, so you have an accurate record of exactly what condition the property was in when you took it on – these might come in handy at the end of your tenancy if your landlord flags any damage. That said, your landlord shouldn’t charge you for anything that is considered to be reasonable wear and tear. It’s totally unrealistic to expect a tenant to keep EVERYTHING in pristine condition when they have to live in a property for a long period of time, after all!

Make sure everyone in your flatshare pays their rent on time every month too. It might sound obvious, but if one of your flatmates doesn’t pay their rent and you’re in a shared tenancy agreement, this amount could be docked from your deposit when you leave.

Now you’ve got the basic info you need, how about finding that flatshare? With over 90,000 room and flatmate ads on SpareRoom, there’s bound to be one that suits you.

Here’s why you shouldn’t move home after you graduate…

The allure of your mum’s Sunday roast… the cheap/non-existent rent… after graduation, there’s a LOT of temptation to ditch your new-found freedom and retreat back to comfy nest of your childhood home.

But once the post-exam wind-down is over and it’s time to think about careers and real life again, that safe haven with your parents can be tough – especially after those blissful uni years full of freedom.

So here’s the reasons why you shouldn’t move home after uni. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…

Expectation: I’ll get snapped up for work RIGHT AWAY so I won’t even have to be at home much anyway.

Reality: Unless you’ve devoted hours of your final year to applying for every graduate scheme you can, it’s unlikely you’re going to waltz out of uni and straight into that dream job. Soz. Which means you’re also going to be at home a lot more than you’d bargained for, probably with a parent hovering at close range to ask how many jobs you’ve applied for today/if you’re planning on changing out of your PJs at any point. NOT the duvet-day dream you’d hoped for. You’ll also probably be a lot further away from the big city and its career opportunities, which means missing out on roles because you can’t get to interviews quickly.

Expectation: It might be a nice opportunity for us all to bond again, like when I was a teenager!

Reality: Sure, spending extra time with your family is nice. But so is being able to come and go without telling anyone, staying out as late as you want without the fear of waking someone up at 3am, and not being told off for snacking just before dinner. In truth, your life has changed A LOT in the last three years, and your new experience of being an independent adult might make for a really difficult adjustment when you move back in (and your parents still treat you like you’re 17).

Expectation: I’m gonna be ROLLING in disposable cash to do whatever I like, because as if my parents will charge me any rent…

Reality: If you’re very lucky, your parents might be happy for you to live at home for free – but that sense of guilt will soon catch up with you, my friend. Your parents will probably get pretty annoyed if you doss around all day and treat their place like your own personal hotel and will expect some compensation – which means someone’s bound to be nagging you to do chores, do your own washing, and make your own dinner. A far cry from those lovely uni days of being able to let laundry accumulate for two weeks, eat at any hour of the day, and dodge the cleaning for as long as humanly (and hygienically) possible.

Sure, you might save some money. But you’ll be missing out on spending that money in all manner of memory-making, fun ways with your friends: the rooftop yoga, tasting menus at fancy restaurants, and the spontaneous post-work drinks and dancing. They’re probably not going to feel the same while you’re watching them via Instagram.

Expectation: Okay, it might be a bit of a drag but I’ll get to see my friends at the weekends. Which makes it all worth it, right?

Reality: A lot of your friends might come back straight after uni, but they’re bound to slowly start moving away once they get jobs lined up. Soon they’ll be all settled in to their swanky new city flatshares, drinking espresso martinis on a Thursday night with all their new work friends while you’re left with a bad case of FOMO on the way back to your parents’ house, waiting for the signal failure just outside Watford to be fixed. Sorry, the truth hurts. Oh, and have you checked out how much peak hour trains cost these days?

Not to mention that on those rare times you do get to stay in London, you end up having to dutifully succumb to the discomfort of a friend’s sofa/floor/broken blow-up mattress yet again. Sigh.

Expectation: The food is going to be AMAZING.

Reality: Fair enough. You’ve upgraded from a fridge filled with mouldy baked beans, gone-off milk and Sainsbury’s basics vodka. Go and enjoy that smorgasbord of fine fruit, an endless supply of bacon and some deluxe cheeses (with M&S crackers). We won’t take this one away from you.

However, if you can do without the sourdough sandwiches and want to avoid a life of missed career opportunities, parental rows and lost freedom, why not try flatsharing? We’ve got over 90,000 rooms and flatmates waiting. Find yours, and be free!

Why you SHOULDN’T move to London after you graduate

So, you’ve graduated. Jump right in to the best summer of your LIFE, celebrating, reconnecting with old friends back home and blowing off some serious post-exam steam. And then what?

The super-organised amongst you will have some sort of postgraduate job scheme in the bag, and we salute you. Go forth and enjoy that steady employment.

But the rest of you will probably find yourselves in an inevitable state of panic: what do I do? Where do I do it? And how do I even go about all of this adulting stuff?!

First of all, breathe. Then listen. Because we’ve got a mega bombshell that might just change everything: you don’t have to move to London. You can go other places, earn a better salary and get a cheaper pint. Let’s talk about where.

1. Liverpool

Famous for the Beatles, two Premiership football teams and a whole load of Scouse culture – Liverpool is a buzzy choice for the next chapter of adult life. Stunning architecture (cathedral included) meets plenty of green parks, and the craft beer scene is one of the UK’s most thriving. Career-wise, Liverpool is diverse – with the biggest opportunities available in transport, creative, digital and business services, as well as life sciences and bio-manufacturing enterprises. Essentially, a broad economy – and that’s without all those jobs at Liverpool F.C…

What will I get?
Pints for £2.90 (they’re £4.50 in London). It’s a small price to pay from your £33,967 average annual grad salary, even after you’ve spent £367 every month on a room – you’ll have £1,734 left to do as you please.

2. Reading

Often unfairly dismissed as just a London commuter town, Reading is actually a bit of a gem – with a rich history and plenty to do. It’s a great place to be if you’re after a job in IT, and you’re only a 30-min train away from London and its plethora of grad opportunities – and that’s before 2018’s Crossrail  launch that will get you to office hotspots like Farringdon, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf even faster. In your downtime you can enjoy the lovely stretch of riverside, the Henley Regatta, great shopping and the annual (and epic) Reading Festival.

What will I get?
A room for £551 a month which a tiny chunk of your £30,225 annual salary. Leaving you plenty of pennies every month (£1,366 to be precise) for those £3.65 pints.

3. Bristol

Bristol pretty much does it all, and is a thriving site for industries from construction, trade and transportation to professional scientific and technical jobs, human health and social work roles. It’s also been named in the Sunday Times as the best place to live in the UK in 2017, so you’ve got plenty of bragging rights. Famed for Banksy, Brunel, its lively DnB scene and for inventing Ribena, Bristol is a pretty waterside city with plenty to do – giant shopping centres, a vibrant nightlife, great culture and an epic annual hot air balloon festival (to name but a few).

What will I get?
A room for £478, which will come from your £27,102 average annual salary. You’ll have £1,285 left after rent each month, so those £3.80 Bristolian pints are hardly a push for you either.

4. Nottingham

Nottingham is famed for its role in the legend of Robin Hood. It’s also home to a large contemporary art gallery (Nottingham Contemporary), a multitude of exciting live music venues, tons of vintage stores and even a deer-filled park and an ACTUAL CASTLE. Once you’ve nailed your dream job in one of the top law firms or brands (Boots, Capital One, Experian etc), you can regale your friends with plenty of fun anecdotes about Notts: did you know the MRI scanner was invented here? And Supermarket Sweep was once produced here? Po from the Tellytubbies is a famous city alumnus…

What will I get?
A tidy £25,750 annual grad salary to spend on a meagre £384 rent and £3.23 pints. And a smug feeling that you’ve still got £1,313 left to play with every month after rent.

5. Birmingham

You know, one of the recently voted top 10 places to live in the UK and the most populated UK city outside of London. There’s a thriving nightlife, AMAZING curry, Cadbury World, a giant shopping mall and a Sea Life centre where you can see real life sharks. If you want to sample Birmingham’s real history, there’s 114 miles of navigable canals to stroll along, i.e. it’s basically the UK’s answer to Venice. With big career opportunities in manufacturing, engineering and digital, financial and business services (amongst many others) there’s plenty of reasons persuading you to be more Brummie.

What will I get?
£404 rent for a start, which will hardly damage your £26,046 salary – you’ll still have £1,307 in your pocket every month after rent. And there’s pints for £3.50.

6. Leeds

The third biggest city in the UK, and the capital of Yorkshire – Leeds is an inspiring place, a mere stone’s throw from the beautiful rolling landscapes of the Yorkshire countryside. If you’re planning on staying central you won’t be disappointed either, with endless opportunity for shopping and eating, and an exciting nightlife in the Northern Quarter. There’s also the annual Leeds Festival to look forward to… When it comes to jobs, you’re best placed for roles in education, law, public admin and agriculture. And you’re never far from a mean Yorkshire pudding either.

What will I get?
A comfortable £24,800 grad salary, £386 rent and £1,241 left each month to put towards £3.50 pints. And maybe a Northern accent.

Wherever you end up living, make sure you end up in the right flatshare. We’ve got over 95,000 rooms on SpareRoom, making finding great new flatmates and the ideal home in your new stomping ground as straightforward as possible.