The Perks Of Living In A Sharehouse

One winter I flew from Hong Kong all the way to the southern hemisphere without knowing anything but this: I can’t afford to live in a student hostel in Australia because it’s just so outrageously expensive (small ad, by the way, if you are looking for cheap on-campus accommodation, Hong Kong is the way to go. Can’t guarantee the price of drinks though).

Some background information – I was on an exchange programme in Melbourne for one semester. Unlike where I’m from, living on campus costs a FORTUNE. Paying nearly AUD$1000 a month for a single room is not the best way to spend my money when I want to, you know… EAT. After how jaw-dropping-expensive it was to have a room in campus, I started looking for all other possible alternatives. Off-campus accommodation, host family, student agency accommodation… you name it, I searched it. Luckily enough for me, one bright winter evening while I was searching the internet in my comfy comforter with a hot cocoa in my hands, I found it. I found the answer – sharehouses.

While my family tweaked their corners of the mouth when I announced my decision and most of my friends were skeptical of the idea, living in a sharehouse with three other completely new people was still one of the best things I can claim during my time studying overseas.

Shared rent, shared burden

While a house is definitely not a cheap option for students like us, breaking it into different shares certainly makes the whole thing easier. Take my house as an example, a brand new two-story house with just a 10 minute walk from campus for AUD$2781 per month. Since there were three other people living in it, we shared the rent according to the room size. I paid about AUD$700 per month, 300 bucks cheaper than a small single room on campus! Spend all that extra cash on groceries, dining out, travel, or just drinks! You can absolutely look for a bigger bargain with older houses. My friend who came from the States got her room with less than AUD$500 a month. Say whaaat?

Quadruple the rent, four times the fun

I’m not saying living on campus is boring, but it sometimes can definitely be lonely facing a small, empty dorm (okay, I’m saying it IS kind of boring. Not sorry). For every time a friend who lived on campus complained about being alone in ALL CAPS, I was busy winning over some particularly pointless discussions (“Who’s the hottest in Vikings?” “Pee in the shower, yay or nay?” The hard-hitting topics.) with three lovely human beings in the house, or just enjoying some of their delicious cooking. Imagine you are watching one particular scene in Game of Thrones, isn’t it far better to have someone screaming and cursing with you than to hide behind a cushion and murmuring “no no no no no no no noooooooo!” alone? If you neglect the relentless TV remote fighting tournament, or the occasional game of “I have to find a clean plate to put my breakfast on,” sharing a house with people has made me find fun in everything. My best memories were, in ascending order, housemates’ night-outs, family dinners, fighting our cat Lola for food, and the refreshing morning when one of my housemates and I, sleepily, walked out of our separate bedrooms at the same time, only to be widely woken up by his high pitch screaming as he dragged his T-shirt down to cover everything.

You won’t die (alone)

We’ve all been there, the moment when hunger and laziness decide to take over and mess with our lives. You probably won’t die if you’re living alone, but the process of dragging yourself out of the house to get groceries, or into the kitchen to turn on the stove might just be as torturous. Well – not when you’re living in a sharehouse, when the kitchen and refrigerator are shared amongst housemates! You can always share their food while they cook or their groceries when you’re too lazy to leave the house. Just don’t do it too often, and always return the favour or else your cause of death will not be starvation, but murder by housemates.

Our family dinner after 2 hours of butchering everything.

You’ve got family

Studying abroad means you’re away from everything you’re familiar with, and there’s nothing closer in your life than family. While you’re out meeting some new people, making new friends, and loading your mind with unforgettable memories, nothing can fill the hollow where family’s supposed to be. But they, my three lovely housemates, did. I remember when the house became a quarantine (we were all sick), we took care of each other. When Leif made soup, he made extra. When someone went through a brutal break-up, we had each other’s back. When someone had company over, we all knew what to do.

And most importantly, when you come home, there’s always someone to hear your day out.

Somewhere called home

Wait, did I just call it “home”? Trust me, it just slipped out of my mouth (um, fingers?). But you see, it’s imprinted in my heart already.

It’s scary to imagine living in a new country knowing no one in advance. Despite the excitement of new experiences and adventures, we need somewhere to feel safe, warm and accepted. During my six months in the country down under, I had little to no homesick. I had my home there.

Thank you Jonathan, Leif and Shivam for being the best housemates ever.

Best housemates ever.
Best housemates ever.

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Jenn L.

Jenn is a politics student from Hong Kong who has just returned from her exchange semester from China and Australia. She found her interest in travelling since her field trip to Inner Mongolia and took the courage to travel alone when she hit 18. She shares passion in ending poverty and believes in the power of individuals. And without fail, always forgets to drink her tea hot.

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