Money Matters, What's mine is yours

‘Happiness is entirely a matter of chance’: a case for housemates (sort of)

Not every housemate is going to be like the Urinator. I once spent a couple of months sharing with a girl called Thuy. When it came to keeping things tidy, we were on the same page. We watched girly movies together and talked about guys on the odd night when we were both at home, but we also had separate social lives. Housemates but not best friends was the key to our functioning household.

You might prefer a different level of housemate interaction, which is fine as long as you find like-minded individuals. domain.com.au’s Sue Green suggests ‘[s]pend[ing] time choosing new flatemates – decide in advance the qualities you want and check they match these. Factors to consider: age and gender, smoking and drinking habits, hobbies and interests, amount of independence required, personal belongings brought into the household, attitudes to socialising…’ in her article ‘Avoiding flatmate hell’.

Of course, finding a suitable housemate is like finding a suitable life-partner. As per Charlotte Lucas, ‘Happiness…is entirely a matter of chance’:

If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar before-hand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life. (Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice)

No matter how well you and your housemate bond initially, there will always be ‘vexations’, but as long as both parties communicate their concerns and work towards resolving issues, then you shouldn’t end up with a fail housemate smoking in his/her room, throttling your internet.

Should you find an awesome housemate, however, you’ll need to determine whether their contributions are taxable income. If they’re family, then they’ll be paying you ‘boarder money’, which is exempt from tax. If they’re Lady Catherine de Bourgh and they’re paying $400 per night for the privilege of living in your ‘most inconvenient sitting room’, that’s ‘arm’s length commercial rent’ and needs to be declared. Check out the Government’s Taxation Ruling No. IT 2167 to figure out whether such contributions are boarder money or rent money. And don’t despair if your housemate situation leads to rental income paperwork and capital gains tax; claimable rental expenses and negative gearing can fatten up your tax return considerably. 🙂

21 years and 0 months to go,

M.

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