Sharing a House or Flat in Zimbabwe

There is no denying it, things are tough in Zimbabwe. While most expenses continue to keep pace with inflation, incomes have hardly changed at all. A lot of people earn the same salary for months even as rental and utility prices continue to go up. One clever way to make sure you get to rent the home or flat of your dreams while not paying through the nose is to find someone to split the costs with.

Usually, that means finding a stranger to be a roommate with. One can find advertisements where people are looking for someone to share an apartment or house on various social media platforms - WhatsApp or Facebook groups are the most popular. Usually, the person who finds the property first gets to set the conditions/requirements of what they are looking for in a roommate. These conditions range from being pretty relaxed to pretty stringent. 


But is sharing a house with another adult or family a good idea? What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so? Is this something you should be looking at? What caveats do you need to bear in mind before you enter into such an arrangement? This article will help settle these questions.


The disadvantages of sharing a house or flat

Of course, it’s not all positive. There are some real drawbacks to sharing a house and flat. You need to be aware of what these are in order for you to judge for yourself if that’s something you want or not. First, let’s look at the negatives:


  1. The biggest drawback is that you might get a difficult roommate who doesn’t pay on time. This is the most common nightmare. It takes away the whole advantage of having a roommate/housemate in the first place. It might mean falling into debt as you are basically living in a flat or house you cannot afford.

  2. Some roommates can be quite strict or too noisy, neither are fun to live with. You can have someone always throwing parties in defiance of the lockdown or someone who is always complaining when your friends come over. Either of these would be a nightmare.

  3. Living together can be awful if you are too different, for example a very uptight person living with an outgoing extravert.

  4. You can end up living with a slob that never tidies anything up, or a neat freak who wants you to arrange items in the fridge alphabetically.

  5. Sharing a house or flat can be complex in legal terms especially if it starts as an informal arrangement where you just have a handshake agreement and there are disputes down the road.

  6. Living with someone can impinge on your freedoms and rights. You will end up having to make compromises such as not having people over or toning down your parties.

  7. Can lead to nasty fights and personality clashes if things go wrong.

  8. You can end up hanging out with the wrong people.



The advantages of sharing a flat or house

  1. The most obvious pro to sharing a house or flat with someone is the cost-saving involved. It’s the principal reason for going into such an arrangement. Let us say you find your dream house with the rooms you want but it comes with a cottage you do not want, having someone living in that cottage would be a pretty good way to save money while you are living in the house of your dreams. It would also be the same thing to you finding a two bedroomed flat when you were looking for a single bedroomed flat. You get the home you want and you get to save money. Who would be against that?

  2. You save on utilities too. Take for example internet service providers such as ZOL that charge a fixed fee for home WiFi packages. You can halve your internet costs by splitting it between the two of you. The same applies to DSTV which allows you to share the same package through Extra view.

  3. If the stars align, you can make a friend in the process. Most people are pretty particular when it comes to choosing a roommate. You may end up becoming life friends with the person whom you choose to be your roommate. This can be the difference between depression and being of sound mind during this lockdown.

  4. You can even divide chores between the two or more of you and make life easier for yourselves. 

  5. If you are both/all students it can help with studying, if you happen to be doing the same courses at college or university.

  6. Learn new languages and cultures - especially if the person with whom you live is from a different country/province/culture.

  7. You can learn and grow mentally. For example, if there are chores you were bad at you can learn from your roommate.

  8. A beneficial arrangement if you cannot live alone for some reason e.g. if you have a serious illness such as diabetes and need someone to constantly check up on you.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it gives you an indication of what benefits you may get if you share your house or flat with someone.

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