Get the app
Get the app

Download Ubomi

Signing takes up 2 minutes. Scan the QR code to send the app to your phone.

Or head to the app store

Why a Flatmate Won't Solve Australia's Housing Crisis

Why a Flatmate Won’t Solve Australia’s Housing Crisis

In Australia, finding a flatmate has become a popular solution for individuals looking to share the cost of renting a property. However, while sharing a rental property can offer financial benefits and companionship, it is important to understand when having a flatmate is a suitable option. And why it alone cannot address the underlying issues of the housing crisis.

In this article, we will explore the reasons why people opt for flatmates, the potential drawbacks, and discuss alternative approaches to tackling Australia’s housing crisis.

Housing Crisis in Australia

While finding flatmates can provide short-term relief for individuals seeking affordable housing, it is not a comprehensive solution to Australia’s housing crisis. Here’s why.

Limited Impact on Housing Affordability

The housing crisis is driven by various factors, including limited housing supply, increasing property prices, and stagnant wage growth. While sharing a rental property can help individuals cope with high housing costs, it does not address the fundamental issue of inadequate affordable housing options.

Imbalance in Rental Market

Relying on flatmates to afford rental properties can create an imbalance in the rental market. Landlords may exploit the demand for shared housing by charging higher rents for larger properties, making it less accessible for those who cannot or do not wish to share accommodation.

Unsustainable Housing Model

Australia needs sustainable long-term solutions to tackle the housing crisis, including increasing the supply of affordable housing, addressing zoning and planning regulations, and supporting initiatives for affordable homeownership. These measures require government intervention and policy changes to create a more equitable and accessible housing market.

The doubts on flatmates being a solution to the current housing crisis came to light in a recent Senate Estimates hearing. RBA Governor Phillip Lowe stated that to at least help lower rental prices, Australians should open their properties to roommates or stay over with their parents. 

“As rents go up, people decide not to move out of home, or you don’t have that home office, you get a flatmate. Higher prices do lead people to economise on housing …. Kids don’t move out of home because the rent is too expensive, so you decide to get a flatmate or a housemate because that’s the price mechanism at work,” he stressed.

However, it didn’t take long for people to call him out on his remarks, with many people claiming that Lowe should walk the talk by accepting some flatmates of his own.

Having a Flatmate

Having a flatmate can have both pros and cons. Here are some potential advantages and disadvantages to consider.


  • Financial relief. One of the primary reasons individuals consider finding a flatmate is to alleviate the financial burden of renting a property. Sharing rent and utilities can significantly reduce monthly expenses, making it more affordable to live in desirable locations or save for other financial goals.
  • Companionship and social connection. Living with a flatmate can provide companionship and create a sense of community. It offers opportunities for social interaction, shared activities, and support, particularly for those who may be new to an area or seeking a more sociable living environment.
  • Increased living space and amenities. By sharing a rental property, individuals can gain access to larger living spaces and shared amenities that may not have been affordable or practical on their own. This can enhance their overall quality of life and provide access to desirable features such as gyms, pools, or outdoor areas.

Drawbacks and Considerations

  • Compatibility and lifestyle differences. Living with a flatmate requires compatibility and the ability to navigate potential lifestyle differences. Conflicts can arise from varying schedules, cleanliness standards, noise preferences, or differing expectations around shared spaces. It is important to thoroughly vet potential flatmates and establish clear communication and boundaries.
  • Privacy and personal space. Sharing a living space means sacrificing some degree of privacy and personal space. Individuals should consider whether they are comfortable with this arrangement and whether they can adapt to a more communal living environment.
  • Potential financial risks. While sharing rent can be financially beneficial, it is crucial to consider the potential risks. If a flatmate fails to pay their share of the rent or damages the property, it can lead to financial and legal complications. Establishing clear agreements, such as a written lease or roommate agreement, can help mitigate these risks.

Alternative Approaches to Address the Housing Crisis

To address the housing crisis effectively, the following approaches should be considered.

Increased Investment in Affordable Housing

Governments and organisations should prioritise investment in the construction and preservation of affordable housing options. This includes the development of social and community housing projects to provide stable and affordable housing for individuals and families in need.

Rent Control and Tenant Protections

Implementing rent control measures and strengthening tenant protections can help stabilise rental prices and provide greater security for tenants. This can prevent excessive rent increases and ensure that individuals have access to affordable housing options without relying solely on finding flatmates.

Incentivising Landlords to Provide Affordable Housing

Governments can offer incentives, such as tax breaks or subsidies, to landlords who provide affordable housing units. This encourages property owners to participate in affordable housing initiatives and increases the availability of affordable rental properties.

Urban Planning and Zoning Reforms

Reviewing and revising urban planning and zoning regulations can support the development of diverse housing options, including affordable housing. This involves promoting mixed-use developments, encouraging infill development, and reducing barriers to building affordable housing units.

Public-Private Partnerships

Collaboration between the public and private sectors can play a crucial role in addressing the housing crisis. Public-private partnerships can leverage resources, expertise, and funding to develop affordable housing projects and create sustainable solutions.

Support for First-Time Homebuyers

Assisting first-time homebuyers with initiatives such as down payment assistance programs, low-interest loans, or shared equity schemes can help individuals transition from renting to homeownership. This reduces the demand for rental properties and eases the pressure on the rental market.

Education and Financial Literacy

Promoting financial literacy and educating individuals about responsible financial management, including budgeting and saving for homeownership, can empower them to achieve their housing goals and make informed decisions about their living arrangements.

Finding a flatmate can provide temporary relief from the financial burden of renting a property and offer social benefits. However, it is essential to recognise that relying solely on flatmates is not a solution to Australia’s housing crisis.

Addressing the housing crisis requires comprehensive approaches. Implementing these strategies can work towards creating a more equitable and accessible housing market that benefits all Australians.

If you liked our “Why a Flatmate Won’t Solve Australia’s Housing Crisis” and find it useful, check our blogs regularly for more information and to get updates on UBOMI’s money planner app.

DISCLAIMER:  This article is for informational purposes only and is solely the opinion of the author. UBOMI has no relationships with any company or individual mentioned in the article.