Travelling overseas at the tender age of 18 is a thrilling experience. The world is your oyster. There are places to go and people to see. The possibilities are endless.
For me, back in 2006, it was the start of an epic adventure, one which I could never have foreseen panning out the way it did. Had you asked me in 2005 about my plans for London, there is no way I could ever have imagined that I would end up living in Acton Town, in the west of London, in a house with ten other antipodeans. This is where Gumtree can lead you. It is my top recommendation and first stop when researching an overseas move.
Photo: Travelling in Austria 2006
My original plan and the initial part of my stay in London was to stay with family. I was going to spend a year getting to know my English family, especially as I was going to nanny for my two youngest cousins. I arrived to my uncle’s home and plans quickly changed as an Au Pair stayed on longer and I got offered a job in a friend’s company. I lived with my uncle for a few months, and then my grandmother for a few months. It was nice to spend time with family but then I was introduced to the world of Gumtree house shares!
I had some family friends living in London from Australia. They were living in “shared accommodation”. So, you just find people online and chat to them, and then live with them? Having a random bunch of people to hang out with, at any time, in funky parts of London? My 18yr old sense of adventure was set alight and I needed to know how people go about this whole “finding a houseshare thing”. My friend conveniently worked at Gumtree in London. She told me all about the site and how it worked and I was on the website that night!
I really hadn’t planned to live on my own, or with ten other people, but the possibility of being so free and having so many new experiences was just too good to resist. I started browsing around, mostly by price and also by some of the areas I knew my friends lived in. I also had to be conscious of where I was looking as I needed to be able to get to my current job easily enough. I found the website easy to navigate and scouted for ads I liked. I quickly stumbled across this gem and really loved the sound of it:
Im a 24 year old female and need a new FEMALE roommate to share my funky room with
BIG ROOM FACING GARDEN WITH 2 DOUBLE BEDS, TV/DVD PLAYER, LOTS OF ARTWORK AROUND THE WALLS, REALLY COMFORTABLE VIBE. 2MINS WALK TO ACTON TOWN TUBE STOP. 10MIN WALK TO SOUTH AND 15MIN TO CENTRAL ACTON OVERLAND TRAINS. BUSSES RIGHT OUTSIDE THE HOUSE, OFFY, 24HR GAS STATION AND GUNNERSBURY PARK (WHICH IS FAB). BACK GARDEN WITH BBQ. THERE IS 3 BATHROOMS/TOILETS (2 ARE VERY NEW). FRIENDLY/SOCIAL MALE AND FEMALE ANTIPODIAN HOUSE
IDEALLY I WOULD LIKE SOMEONE WHO IS TIDY (PLEASE BE HONEST ABOUT THIS ONE GIRLS...I DO NOT WANT A 'FLOORDROBE' HAPPENING). SOMONE WHO IS EASY GOING AND APPRECIATES HONESTY....AND A GOOD GIGGLE!
BILLS DONT GENERALLY COST MUCH AT ALL, AS WE GET DOSSERS AND THEIR MONEY PAYS THE BILLS.
IF THIS SOUNDS LIKE YOU, AND YOU WANA POP ROUND FOR A LOOK - JUST CALL ME ON 07904482560
This sounded perfect for me. I quickly began email conversations and within a few days I went to visit my first ever houseshare inspection. The advertiser seemed very nice and showed me all around the large 5 bedroom home. It really was only 2 minutes walk from the Tube as advertised and the room was HUGE. We had a double bed each, cupboard space and drawers and the rent was really affordable. I didn’t mind sharing if the price was so good and the people were nice. I left on a high and couldn’t wait to get home and email her!
This is what a keen bean 18 year old looking for a house in London sounds like. The email conversations of prospective housemates in London, Emma and T:
Sent to my Father via Email:
The email that won me the spot in the house hehe!
Not wanting to sound desperado..................but........... PICK ME!!
Thanks so much for having me and showing me around. It seems really cool! It was only my first one I’ve ever looked at though have seen a couple of my friends places- yours wins!! But i've described the digs to some others and they said that it sounds like a great deal.
The room is gorgeous and I love the view- and the fact that it has a nice garden- but your artworks are fab and its got a great vibe- and a double bed, looooooove double bed.
Am really keen! its a perfect location. Love that it’s close to a park (I like exercise) and sooo close to Tube would be excellent for my work at Hounslow and even better for going out and coming home from Central London!!
It must be hard for you now cos i guess you gotta pick who you want to live with. Just to let you know I can sweeten the deal by bringing my lap top and getting wireless connection........ but who said anything about bribery.
No in all honesty, I think you are a great chick and I think we could have a whole bunch of adventures together.
Am ready to say yes as soon as you give the nod and can move in on August 1st or as soon as room is ready- which I believe is then.
I wont be on email tomorrow so if you could text me, or I can just wait till Thurs.
Subject: RE: Gumtree add, Acton Town.
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 2006 22:50:28 +1200 (NZST)
HAHAHA...I MUST HAVE WRITTEN A GOOD AD, BECAUSE I HAVE 5 PEOPLE COMING TO LOOK AT IT. THATS COOL THAT YOUR MATE WORKS FOR THE GUMTREE!!!
THANKS FOR BEING FLEXIBLE, I HAVE LOTS TO GET DONE AND NEVER ENOUGH TIME! I LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING YOU TOO...HAVE A LOVLEY DAY :)
SORRY HUN, NO INTERNET, NO LANDLINE AND NO SKY TV......WE HAVE A STANDARD "TECHNOLOGY" RATING AT OUR HOUSE! ALTHOGH I'D LOVE 2 HAVE INTERNET, NO ONE HAS A P.C!!!!
CHOW 4 NOW :)
So… I got the house! My over- eagerness and witty charm won her over. It also may have had a lot to do with my laptop…. But I won! I couldn’t believe that my first time on Gumtree, my first houseshare, and I had my very own place to stay.
I lived at the “Acton Massive” house in Acton, London for 4 months. It was really an incredible experience. Living with 10 people, sharing a room with a girl and being just 20 minutes from Central London - all at age 18! I moved on to explore new locations in the city and moved back to Oz in 2007. I’m actually still in touch with 3 of the girls from that house and just got back from a weekend party at one of their houses. Friends of life can be made through houseshare experiences.
Photo: Housemates at the Walkabout pub in 2006
I struck it lucky with my first time on Gumtree but there are many other great stories of people finding great places to live via the website. I can’t recommend it more highly. I now use it for many different things, job hunting and buying and selling goods. It wouldn’t be until 2011 when I would encounter Gumtree’s houseshare services again. This time… an interstate move!
My second luck with house hunting via Gumtree was in Melbourne, May 2011. The Ad read “"Furnished Private room/bungalow to rent St Kilda".
I thought … OOOOHH Bungalow. It was actually the first place I saw that made me think, perhaps I want to live on my own. I had been staying with a friend for a few weeks in East St Kilda and really liked this area of Melbourne. At that stage I was just browsing but then that living situation had to change and I shifted to another friend’s place. I then went to stay at a friend’s place in Mitcham. I didn’t like it quite so much… 40 minutes from the city in Melbourne is a long way and it was a bit too residential for the hip Melbourne lifestyle I was looking for. I loved staying with friends and easing in… but it really was time to get my own digs.
Photo: St Kilda house 2011
I so desperately wanted to live alone. I’d been travelling for 3 months before that and had constantly been staying with friends, family and travelling with my Dad. I love them all … but I wanted some space and to be independent. The bank balance didn’t really agree with this plan… so it was share houses I searched for on Gumtree. I was heading up to Sydney within a few weeks and wanted to bring down more of my gear… so I was on a time limit.
Searching a single area made things easier. Knowing where I wanted to live made it a lot easier to narrow down my search. Amazingly – I found the ad again for the bungalow, despite the fact it had been a few weeks since I saw it. I also decided to take a stab at Brunswick as a friend lived there and I had heard it was a cool area. So I arranged to see some places at the complete opposite sides of the city.
I went to the St Kilda Bungalow first. I loved the idea of being able to live in a house with people, but also in a separate room/ house so that I could have my privacy. Now “Bungalow” was a slight embellishment. It was in actual fact… a shack. Well, a converted garage into a granny flat, but it was love at first sight! My own little St Kilda shack… and by little I mean a massive open room with a double bed, desk and space for more furniture of my choosing. I had a nice chat with the guy who was leaving, the brother of the head of the house and really expressed I was keen. He said he’d let his brother know and they’d be in touch.
Photo: St Kilda house on Melbourne Cup Day 2011
Then off to the other end of the city. The place was ok. The head of the house was quite straight to the point and didn’t seem like he was fussed on who lived there, as long as they paid the bills. It was nice, and it seemed convenient. I left and prayed that I got a call from the other St Kilda house, as I was now mad for it.
I went to visit my friend who lived just a short way away (also the former housemate from my original houseshare experience in London) and pined for my bungalow room. As we sat there discussing my possible residence, I got a phone call. It was the head of the St Kilda house. Ok… a quick call is either a definite yes or a definite no. There was very little chit chat, saving my precious nerves, he said “sorry I wasn’t there to meet you, but my brother says you’re pretty cool, so if you want it. The room is yours!” YES!!!!!! Another first time lucky situation! Gumtree Gold strikes again.
I stayed for 18 months in that house and had a ball! I had cheap rent, great location, good housemates and all thanks to Gumtree.
(Photo of me at the front of my house)
I really can’t recommend this website more highly for those looking for new accommodation. The search options are fantastic, the process of interaction is safe for both parties, and the website is trusted. If I ever need to move out in future, you can guarantee I’ll be on the site again.
Here are some tips for finding a houseshare with Gumtree:
- Choose a location! The search in a new city can be endless. Pick a suburb or two, and stick to it.
- Have a budget. There is such a range of properties on Gumtree, you need to know how much you are willing to spend.
- Pay attention to detail. If it says “female only” don’t waste your time applying if you’re a guy. People are specific when they are looking for people to live with.
- Have a quality response. Don’t just write back “Yeah. I need a room.” Make your response tailored to what the person is asking. They are looking to match with someone to share their living space with.
- Be flexible with viewings. If you want the place, you have to get there at a time that suits the tenant. If you aren’t able to meet their times, the house can quickly go to someone who is more available.
- Be up front. If you like the house, and you want the house, tell the person. Show them you are keen and give them dates of when you can move in.
Happy searching Gummies!
Posted by Lovelly on 13 February 2015 - 12:24pm.
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