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Flat sharing when flat broke: 2.5 million Aussies move in with family or friends in past year

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Shared housing is quickly becoming the answer to the skyrocketing cost of living, according to new research by Finder.

A Finder survey of 1,070 respondents revealed more than 1 in 10 (12%) Australians – equivalent to 2.5 million people – have moved into shared housing in the past year.

The research found 5% of Aussies admit the soaring cost of rent has prompted them to return to share accommodation – that's an estimated one million people.

A further 3% sought out shared accommodation because they could no longer afford their mortgage repayments.

The remaining 4% went back to shared living because they missed living with others.

Graham Cooke, head of consumer research at Finder, said as housing costs bite into budgets, many are taking action.

"Rents and mortgages have gone through the roof – they are the number-one source of financial stress in Australia and people can no longer cut costs elsewhere to get by."

The average Australian could save $16,000 a year by swapping flat sharing for living in the family home rent-free, analysis by Finder shows.

That's assuming they are saving $300.50 per week on rent, which CoreLogic figures show is about half the $601 paid for the median-priced capital city rental in the December quarter. It also assumes these funds were put in a savings account with a 5.5% p.a interest rate.

Cooke said a year spent living with family or friends could make a big difference.

"Reducing or eliminating accommodation costs – if you are in a position to do so – will significantly improve your cash flow and you will accrue savings much quicker."

Cooke said while shared living might take some getting used to, it was a financially savvy thing to do when times are tough.

"Not only will you reduce your housing costs but potentially you'll save money by sharing utility bills and even lower grocery costs."

Cooke urged households to park any cost savings in a high interest savings account.

"The faster you can grow your cash buffer the more resilient you will be to economic headwinds."

Finder's research found 16% of Australians already live with others.

Have you gone back to shared living (e.g. living with roommates or family members) in the last 12 months?
Yes, I couldn't afford my rent5%
Yes, I couldn't afford my mortgage3%
Yes, I missed living with others4%
No, I already lived with others16%
No, I haven't gone back to shared living in the last 12 months71%
Source: Finder survey of 1,070 respondents, February 2024

Here's 50 easy and practical money-savings tips that will help you budget and save money quickly.

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