Doors open to new residents
As agents we’ve often thought it ironic how home-buyers tell us they’re after a place with a sense of community, where neighbours know their name, somewhere to feel they are included and “belong”. Whole housing estates and apartment buildings are marketed for this appeal. Yet once people move in to their dwellings they often install privacy fencing, black-out curtains and wait til after dark to take out the rubbish, lest they should bump into those loud-music-playing inconsiderates. (Admit it, you have!) Aussies would even prefer bikies living next door to a “nosy nanna”, according to a www.realestate.com.au survey!
With many of us struggling to share it won’t surprise you that recent stats show most Australian households have lots of spare bedrooms. Lots and lots of them. According to the ABS 78% of homes have at least one spare bedroom. A generation or two ago it was commonplace for widows and others to have a “lodger” or boarder living in. There was an acceptance that the extra income offset any inconvenience of hosting them, and in an era when for example women weren’t as accepted in the workplace, this was a handy solution. Male lodgers also took care of the ‘male’ jobs around the home, like lawn-mowing…
For those happy to share their homes there’s a massive market on offer in Brisbane’s inner city today. Largely driven by the international student boom and a critical housing shortage some home owners are earning up to $200 per week per student, providing little more than a modest room and amenities. Many of our Universities and TAFE’s run home-stay schemes to match owners and room-seekers. The ABS says a massive 98% of couple households have spare bedrooms so this housing ‘supply’ can be turned on pretty quickly. Instead of filling the empty nest with Chihuahuas and poodles this gives home owners the option of some human company (and money).
And the feedback from home owners we’ve talked to? For the most part these are positive experiences with great friendships made. One couple told us they’d travelled to visit former lodgers in their home countries. Another said their children kept in touch with previous home-stayers on Skype, and were hoping to study in that country after school. Maybe we need to put our distrust of strangers aside a little. Our homes are still getting bigger, we want the 42″ plasma today and we don’t want to live in the ‘burbs. So putting a lodger into the room at the end of the hallway might be a happy compromise.