Why creating a budget is important when looking for a roommate
Finding a great roommate starts with creating a detailed budget.
A student budget makes it easier to find the right shared accommodation
All types of accommodation in Cape Town, come at a substantial cost.
Whether you plan on staying in university accommodation, shared private accommodation, or student accommodation – you need a budget to find out what accommodation you can afford alongside your tuition fees.
We offer some great guidelines for tuition fees for major universities in South Africa and the cost of accommodation in our post: What can I expect to pay as a student living in Cape Town?
Having a budget helps you find the right roommate with a similar budget
When searching for roommates online (see our chapter: How to find roommates online), you’ll find that people will let you know their budget right off the bat in their profile.
This helps you easily check anyone off the list that falls above or way below your price range.
Having a detailed budget helps you plan shared expenses
When living with a roommate, it’s often easier to split groceries and cooking tasks.
With a limited sized kitchen, it’s often easier to create meals that you can both enjoy together.
Going halves on grocery hauls can save a lot of hassle, and money – so it’s important to know what your budget will allow for mealtimes before you start cooking with your roommate at home.
Of course, you will also split the basic costs for electricity and water, plus essentials like WiFi (if your accommodation doesn’t provide it already).
Have a look at how we created a budget to cover your fixed and variable costs.
How to create an awesome post to find a roommate
Creating a great post with the right information can make it far easier to find roommates.
A good post makes people take note of your offer and makes them more likely to follow up and apply.
It also allows you to let readers know exactly what you’re offering and any limitations right off the bat. This saves people time, and you won’t waste time replying to loads of queries.
Main points to include in your post
Make sure to mention all of these essentials, and make the assets of your house share or apartment selling points for potential roommates!
Summarise the costs for the essentials, such as deposits, the rental amount, and contributions required for water, wifi, electricity and cleaning.
Mention any costs your potential roommate might expect now or down the line.
It’s likely that you’re looking for a roommate in an area somewhere close to your university in Cape Town.
You may also need to find somewhere near public transport, if you don’t own a car and you might choose to position yourself nearby other amenities such as hospitals and gyms.
Let people know where you’re looking to live and you’ll save time on unhelpful replies.
The type of place you’re offering
Mention whether it’s an apartment, or house and whether they’ll be sharing with additional roommates.
If you are still looking for accommodation, have a look at our student accommodation options.
Let them know about anything great that included the property and sharing set up. In some instances this could be access to a lovely balcony and view, or a pool in the house or complex.
This is also the right place to include whether or not a parking spot is available. Parking is sought after in most parts of Cape Town, especially if it’s enclosed or underground. Let roommates know – it’s an easy advantage to give your ad!
This also may be relative to where the property is located, and what there is on offer nearby, such as parks, convenience stores, gyms, access to public transportation and so on.
Maybe it’s the fact that one of the costs, for Wi-Fi or water is included in the rental amount. Mention it! And make it one of your selling points.
A bit about you
They’ll be living with you. So you should describe a little bit about yourself.
Your interests, studies and personality are great to include as is mentioning what you’re looking for in a shared living situation.
This provides a window into you as a person, rather than just having access to the digital version. You may also find someone that has common interests and this is a great way to break the ice.
Extra points to include in your post
Pet Friendliness / Non-pet friendliness
Let your prospective new roommate know whether or not they’ll be able to bring a furry friend along. This could be a deal breaker, either for you or someone expecting to bring their pet along. Let them know in advance to avoid any inconvenience.
Smoking or non smoking
Remember to mention if you’re looking for someone who doesn’t smoke if you are not open to it. This can be an easy deal breaker, and getting this information across off the bat will save time and any hassles down the line.
Any other perks about living with you
Maybe it’s the fact that you’re an aspiring chef at culinary school, and they may enjoy a delicious meal every now and then (and maybe some awesome leftovers).
Or maybe you have a Netflix account which means you can have great movie nights when you both need to kick back and relax.
Writing your post
Keep it simple and conversational, but professional.
Your ad doesn’t have to be pages long, rather an ad consisting of a few short, well-formatted paragraphs will do the trick. Make sure it is well written, spell checked, and complemented by detailed pictures of your flat or house.
Have a look at some tips to write an intriguing advert for a roommate.
You need to keep the tone for the ad, fun, lighthearted, and exciting – while also factual and include the things that are important to you.
Your ad should show a bit of your personality, and appear inviting.
A good way to catch the attention of those looking for house shares online is a punchy headline. You can base the headline around the best selling points of the space.
This could be its low rental fee, it’s great location or access to a specific sought after amenity that will excite readers.
Try to not make your headline too long – but detailed enough to provide everything they need to know.
It’s also a nice idea to use a positive adjective about the apartment that appeals to the reader. Titles sometimes include sunny, spacious or modern to give you a feel for the space right off the bat.
3 Bedroom Sunny flat in Gardens, Cape Town (close to Gardens Center!)
Length and layout
Keep the ad detailed but not intensive, and long-winded.
Start with the size of the apartment, where it’s located, the costs, what’s included, and what isn’t.
Move on to mention any nearby amenities that add value to the location of the house or flat.
Now mention a little bit about the kind of roommate you’re looking for. In this case, you would be looking for someone else who’s a student, or if you’re already a few years into university, you might include asking for young professionals to apply.
Wrap up your post with an encouraging call-to-action, asking readers to get in touch via email, WhatsApp, or replying to the ad directly.
Taking the perfect pictures to advertise your place
This is a crucial aspect to any property post.
Even with all the amenities in the world, an apartment posting is unlikely to be given a second glance without pictures that capture the space in a great light – including evidence of some of the amazing amenities mentioned in your post.
It’s often overlooked by landlords, and it will harm the number of applications you can receive.
Take some high-quality pictures using your smartphone or borrow a friend’s camera to make sure you get all the right angles of your shared pad.
Find roommates online with websites & Facebook groups
There are a lot of ways to find roommates in Cape Town, but one of the easiest is using the internet. That being said, it’s not always easy to find the safest websites and groups to browse for a roommate.
We’ve helped you out with some great websites that will help you find roommates (and a place if you’re looking for one).
Websites to find roommates
Digsconnect connects tenants of private flats, residence accommodation, and other types of properties with students looking for accommodation at affordable rates in Cape Town.
It also connects students with other students, in their Find a Digsmate section.
Here, you’ll find a list of students in Cape Town seeking accommodation options.
You can browse their profiles and find out a little bit about your candidates, what they’re studying, and factors like their age, likes, and importantly – their budget!
To get started, create an account, and start searching for a friendly new roommate!
If you’re listing a student digs, and need extra roommates, you can add a listing on Digsconnect and check out the tips below that can help you craft an enticing listing entry.
TheRoomLink provides a platform for renters to find landlords and accommodation options. They also offer a search filter to find roommates!
Filter the results for your area by “Find a Renter” and you’ll come across profiles for people in your area looking for a place to rent in Cape Town. You can also specify whether you’re looking for a professional or student. You can also choose whether you’re looking for a student or young professional.
You can also use the site to list your place and find a roommate if you’ve found somewhere within your budget but haven’t found someone to share the rental.
Check out Roomlink and use some of the tips in our post to vet and arrange a meeting with your prospective roommates.
Roomster is another site that offers a platform for those seeking rooms, entire houses or apartments, roommates and landlords seeking tenants.
To start your search, visit the homepage and type in Cape Town.
Filter your search results using the “roommates” tab, and drag your cursor around the map of Cape Town to find potential roommates looking for flatshares in specific areas.
Click on their profiles to learn more about their age, interests, budget, and expected occupation date.
You can use all of this information to find an appropriate candidate, and reach out to them via message to arrange a time to chat and get to know them a little bit better.
Facebook groups to find roommates
Finding reliable Facebook groups can be a great way to find a digs with other students living in Cape Town.
Not every Facebook group will yield results, but looking for the ones that vet their users before joining or one that has great ratings and reviews.
To get you started we have two great suggestions below.
Huis huis is a Facebook group dedicated to helping students find accommodation in Cape Town CBD and Atlantic Seaboard.
Comb through the posts in the group and find prospective new roommates. Or post your own ad, and find out how to structure your post below.
You can message potential roommates directly, or comment on their posts.
Get in touch with the candidate to send them a link to your post so they can check out the specifics surrounding your living space, or start a casual chat!
I Know A Place is another group that works to help students find well-priced accommodation in South Africa.
There are plenty of posts concerning students looking for accommodation in the Mother City.
When you find someone that may be a good fit, you can leave your comment on their post to encourage them to get in contact with you.
You can also structure a post that focuses on what you’re looking for in a new roommate, including the budget, amenities included, plenty of inviting pictures and any other details.
With this method, you’re bound to receive a bunch of new enquiries for potential new roommates.
Do a casual background check
This is very important when searching for roommates online. You want to make sure that any applicants you are considering are legitimate.
Have a browse of their social media like Facebook and Instagram.
However, don’t use this as your absolute dealbreaker, or as one criteria to write them off as a prospective new roommate on a whole.
The idea is that this sort of search gives you a slight background into the person, and maybe their hobbies and interests, if you can expect a girlfriend/boyfriend around if they’re in a relationship and other surface level characteristics.
How to find roommates offline
Finding a roommate without online tools is more of a challenge – but it can be done!
You just need the right way to get the word out if you haven’t already. Check out our tips below.
Ask your friends (but think twice before living with them)
Friends and friend networks can be a great way to spread the word and find potential roommates.
As a bonus, you usually know a little bit about this person and have a little more peace of mind when viewing them as a potential candidate.
You might even find a friend who is also looking for accommodation. While this can seem like a match made in heaven, it’s something worth giving a second look.
Yes, living with your friend may sound like a blast – and it might be for a while, but once the honeymoon period wears off, your studies become busier, and household chores pile up – the situation can become a bit sticky and unpleasant.
Find other students in your year or university
If you’re already enrolled in university, and you’ve made a few friends but you’re still without a roommate then it’s time to put the word out that you’re on the lookout.
Student notice boards often advertise flat and house sharing opportunities, so use this to your advantage and display your ad here. You can attach a few photos and what you’ve written about the place so far.
Make sure to attach a form of contact details where you feel comfortable for people to get in touch, whether it’s email or WhatsApp.
If you’ve made a few loose connections with other students already, then ask them to keep an ear out for another student who’s looking to rent a place in your area. Use one of our tips as a backup plan though, as this isn’t a concrete strategy for finding a roommate.
Contact the admin department to help with off-campus student accommodation
Depending on your university, your institution may have off-campus student accommodation options available.
These are usually vetted, shared accommodation facilities that are well equipped and safe – which are great benefits.
You can ask to apply and they should provide you with the details to do so.
How to interview candidates and find the perfect roommate
So you’ve found a bunch of promising people, one of which might become your new roommate.
It’s time to organise a meet and greet, to see if you’re compatible and this is someone you could happily live with during a portion of your studies.
Picking a good meeting place
The best place to meet new people you are unfamiliar with is in a public space.
A great idea is getting together for tea or coffee, which is a hassle-free arrangement that’s easy to fit into your schedule.
You may also want to bring along a friend if you feel worried about anything going wrong, but vetting the person briefly and meeting in a public space is already a good start.
Once you’re comfortable, you can discuss when they can come by and pay the apartment visit to get an idea of the living environment.
Which questions should you ask a roommate candidate?
You can start off by getting to know each other.
Find out what the person is studying or working on, and get a feel for their interests by asking them what hobbies they’re into and what they like to do in their spare time.
Once you’ve broken the ice and have an inkling for their personality, you can move onto specific questions relating to your hunt for a new roommate.
We’ll give you a couple more questions to help you build a picture of your prospective roommate.
What are your cleaning habits?
This is a super important question when sharing a space with someone else.
Don’t just ask them about how intensive they are with their cleaning habits – but get to grips with chores they loathe and others that aren’t a problem. Share your cleaning habits too. It’s only fair to be transparent to get a real feel for your potential new roommate.
How often do you have visitors over?
When sharing accommodation as students, you probably won’t have access to a lot of space and a constant stream of visitors can change the dynamic of your living arrangement fast.
They may have a significant other, and this could be someone they mention as a visitor which is information you may choose to factor into your decision. Remember, you haven’t met their significant other – which is really unpredictable.
If they do, and you’re worried, you can just ask to meet up again and ask them if they can bring their boyfriend/girlfriend so you don’t have any concerns.
Also, find out if they host any monthly events like book clubs, dinner parties, or even a poker night or games night once a week (you never know).
A dinner party could be quite fun to get involved with and preparing one with your roommate for friends may be a bonding opportunity.
Other events may require you to make your own plans out of the house for an evening – which is well worth knowing.
Do you smoke?
Another important question to get a clear answer about.
If you’ve already found accommodation, your space may already forbid smoking in certain areas – but for others, the fact that someone smokes at all may be a deal-breaker.
You may or may not have covered this when creating your post seeking a new roommate, so adjust accordingly.
What’s your normal bedtime and routine?
This may seem a bit personal at first glance – but it isn’t.
Some turn in early, and rise early to get started with their days, while others may be night owls.
You’re living together in a limited space, which means it isn’t advantageous to be woken up by one another and cause unnecessary conflict.
It would be best if you both had fairly regular schedules and the chances are that the person sitting down with you is wondering exactly the same thing about you.
We found some great additional questions that you can filter through and jot down if they jump out at you. Have a look at The 21 best questions to ask potential roommates to get the perfect match.
What else should you do when meeting a roommate candidate?
You are welcome to bring any photos of the apartment so they can get a better feel for the place (only if you’ve found options already).
It’s best to have some questions to ask to get a feel for their schedule and personality.
Ask them about their studies, what they like to get up to in their spare time and get a feel for their social life too.
Ask them about their interests, and what they’re looking for in a living situation. This can give you some insight into the type of atmosphere they’re looking for and whether this fits your idea of the ideal living situation.
You can also get to know a bit about their abilities around the house! They might love cooking or baking, or maybe they’re a master cocktail maker, or wizard in the garden, or even technically inclined and can help out when the WiFi goes down!
What to do once you’ve found a roommate
Now that you’ve found the ideal roommate, you can get to grips with some of the fine details which are important to your future living situation.
With these out of the way, you’ll have more time to spend enjoying your new place, getting to know your roommate and spending time exploring Cape Town.
Agree on rental terms
Make sure you agree on rental terms in advance, and that you’re both on the same page with the length of your lease.
Also, make sure you understand what you’re agreeing to in your lease and any other stipulations you should be aware of.
We cover a list of criteria to keep in mind in 17 things to know before signing your first lease.
Plan household chores & meals
A great way to set a strong foundation for your shared living situation is to plan meals, and chores so you and your roommate can stay on top of things.
A chore schedule can help you avoid minor disagreements, and planning a few meals a week together can create a time for you to get to know each other and share a few laughs while cooking something interesting. You can also get creative and make meals based on themes depending on the week, if you’d like.
We’ll leave it up to you, as to how you’d like to manage dividing up the household chores (calendars and charts work well) – but we do have tips to help you plan weekly meals effectively.
To help you plan meals effectively, use The Cape Town student’s guide to meal preparation to get some awesome tips for keeping your kitchen well stocked and organised.
Plan the move
The last piece of the puzzle, once you’ve found your new roommate, is moving in and getting set up!
Our recommendation would be to pack only the essentials. Don’t go overboard with decorative items and things that will weigh your suitcase down.
But, if you’re moving into a houseshare, with plenty of personal space, you may want some help moving the larger items.
Cape Movers specialises in long and short distance removals. They’re well-equipped to handle small moves and full household removals and pack your items safely for transportation.
They also offer storage facilities to help you out if you’re not able to move into your accommodation on time.
Visit their website and get in touch using their contact form.
Transport Syndicate is a professional transport solutions company specializing in short & long distance removals. They pride ourselves in offering excellent client service and strive to exceed expectations.
They’re incredibly friendly and on the ball, also offering protective materials to keep your items in mint condition during your move.
Contact Julian today for a hassle free quote, and check out their facebook page for some great reviews.
What to pack
Packing for university can be made easy by starting with all of the essentials you need, and adding a few items to make your space feel more like home.
We provide some of the must-haves for moving out, from kitchenware to everything you’ll need for the bathroom and to handle your studies in an organised way.
Have a look at Student Accommodation: A Survival Guide to a comprehensive guide to student accommodation. You can also check out 20 Student Accommodation Life Hacks for 2020, containing some creative tips to help you manage your living space and study effectively.
Build a strong friendship with your roommate
Once you move, you might catch yourselves getting preoccupied with life’s tasks and find that there isn’t enough time to bond with your roommate.
Having a good relationship with your roommate is beneficial for so many reasons, but above all – it just makes sense. Living in a space you can share comfortably with someone, will make coming home at the end of a long day of studies much a pleasure.
A good starting point is setting boundaries that you both agree on, surrounding living in the same space.
Things like chore schedules or general agreements around cleanliness are usually good ones, and they’re usually things you can both agree on (if you’ve done your homework about your new roommate).
It’s also important to make the time a few times a month to go out for drinks or dinner somewhere and catch up or do something fun like making pizzas at home. This time spent doing something that you both find engaging and fun will help break the ice and you can get to know each other better.
Finding a roommate with us
Looking for great student accommodation? We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention our modern rooms and the plenty of amenities available at NEST.
We’re based in Mowbray, close to public transport (right across the road from the Jammie for UCT students), and offer 10GB of Free WiFi, undercover parking, a rooftop gym, a common lounge with Netflix, and your own room with all the basics a student needs.
The building is also monitored with CCTV with 24/7 security staff and includes fingerprint scanners upon entry to put your mind at ease about safety.
Send us an enquiry with details about your stay and we’ll be in touch with you to arrange a call or a visit to Nest to see our lovely modern rooms.