Flatting in NZ : The Highs and Lows

An intrinsic part of New Zealand culture is flatting. Most adults opt for sharing their space with flatmates at some point in their lives. Commonly that is just out of school, in the ‘uni days’ or during the tertiary or post-school years. But many also choose to share their space with flatmates for a longer period, to save money or to continue with a great social environment. Shopless looks at the highs and lows of flatting in New Zealand. And why choosing to live with others is a staple part of the New Zealand lifestyle. 

Why do kiwis choose to go flatting? 

Most New Zealanders choose to go flatting for two reasons 1. As a cost saving venture and 2. To experience flatting. Often kiwis get to the end of high school and choose to leave their family home. With this comes the search for accommodation. This same experience of searching for accommodation options is also encountered by immigrants to New Zealand. There are many places and ways to live in New Zealand, including boarding houses, units, homestays, renting town houses, units and apartments. However time and time again kiwis choose flatting as the number one option of accomodation.

The reason many kiwis choose to go flatting the cost saving opportunity. Sharing a flat with others means that you are paying for the same weekly rent as if one person or a family were living in the house. But you utilize all of the rooms in the house, with occupants that pay a sum towards the rent. In some areas, particularly where flatting is the normal situation i.e., student zones such as Dunedin. The price of the flat may be higher than an ordinary rental to meet the demand of the area, but if all of the rooms are filled as an individual you should still be paying less. With the cost of living continuing to have an impact on New Zealanders lives, being a part of a flat and reducing your housing costs is an option that is appealing for many.

The Flatting Experience

The experience of flatting is also a major pull factor, particularly for younger property hunters, but also those that enjoy living with others. University-aged occupants enjoy the flatting life based on the social aspect. Young kiwis often organize social events with their flatmates, connect with others by inviting groups to their flat for social experiences and in general experience a more fluid living environment. Some in the student zones are known to have parties to make the most of the flatting lifestyle. 

This flatting experience unfortunately often is seen by others in the negative light. As younger occupants may have more of a dissociation with those around them, and cleanliness. Such as in recent months the supposed disregard of COVID rules by Dunedin flatties. However the majority of young flatmates are considerate with others, many taking extra precautions for their flatmates. In a space that is difficult to prevent the spread of a virus.  

What are the pros and cons of flatting in NZ?

There are many great attributes to flatting including building friendships, gaining financial knowledge and being independent. For many flatting is a time where you develop great connections, have fond memories and have a lot of freedom. Many people choose to flat for longer as it works out economically better for them in saving towards a house. Others choose to buy a home and have flatmates in the home in order to help pay off the mortgage. Some friends choose to buy a home together as flatmates. 

There are also many unusual or negative experiences of those that choose to flat. Standard issues may include cleanliness, equally divided tasks and not a good fit for the flatmates. Some have an unbearable experience with one or multiple flatmates as in this article “An open letter to the worst flatmate I’ve ever had”. Because of this many seasoned flatmates are more diligent about who they choose to flat with. Including vetting the flatmates based on the culture of the flat. 

For every person there are pros and cons to going flatting. Some are more fortunate than others in their choices due to urgency or timing that they need to go flatting. If you are thinking about flatting, it is important to do your due dillencene when making your decision. Assuming you have the time to choose both the home that you live in and the people you live with. 

Shopless has given you a glimpse into the New Zealand flatting experience. And why New Zealanders often choose to go flatting rather than stay with family, living alone or staying in large group accommodation. If you are looking for a flat, a flatmate, or a rental home to share with your flatmates make sure to take a look at our rental and real estate section, here.