House sharing soars to record levels as Australians combat rental crunch

House sharing is on the rise across the country, as the affordability crisis drives many towards sharing a home or welcoming a house mate amid the rising cost-of-living.

More than 210,000 people sought out share homes or potential house mates on share accommodation platform Flatmates in January, marking its busiest month on record. It was 6% higher than the previous record in January last year.

The surge in house sharing activity comes as rents climbed ever higher last year while homes were available to rent at historically low levels.

Flatmates community manager Claudia Conley said January was the busiest month of the year for share accommodation, with lots of domestic and international travel.

“The university semester is about to start, many members are looking to move for new jobs, most leases are renewed at this time of year, and migration is high as people flock to Australia for that quintessential Aussie summer experience,” Ms Conley said.

“Add to this a cost-of-living and rental crisis leading even more people to turn to share accommodation than usual, it’s no surprise that this January has been our busiest month ever.”

The sheer demand for house sharing was on display in the beachside Sydney suburb of Tamarama, where there was one room available and 344 people looking for a house share.

In neighboring Bronte, only four rooms were available compared to 846 home share seekers, while there were two rooms available in East Perth and some 388 users looking for a home to share.

PropTrack senior economist Eleanor Creagh said many people were looking at house sharing to help ease affordability pressures amid the cost-of-living crisis and incredibly tight rental markets.

“It is expensive to rent and also to buy and this pressure is culminating in average household sizes increasing after falling through the pandemic,” Ms Creagh said.

“Rental prices have surged in recent years and many tenants are likely to be spending a larger share of their income on rent.

“This is seeing an increase in renters seeking shared accommodation in order to ease the burden of the cost of renting.

Top 10 most in-demand suburbs with limited or no supply

Source: Flatmates
Suburb State Browse Listings Rooms
Tamarama NSW 344 1
Bronte NSW 846 4
East Perth WA 388 2
Elizabeth Bay NSW 188 0
Clovelly NSW 525 3
Fitzroy VIC 1,738 10
Malvern VIC 301 2
Barangaroo NSW 138 1
Highgate WA 132 0
Fitzroy North VIC 374 3
Curl Curl NSW 123 0

“Increasing rental prices have not been the only challenge in the rental market, vacancies are low and competition is fraught with properties renting quickly.”

Australia’s median rent on surged 11.5% in 2023 to reach $580 per week in December, following a 15.6% increase in 2022.

Meanwhile, the proportion of homes available to rent has dwindled, with the national rental vacancy rate reaching 1.09% in January, down 0.15 percentage points over the year, according to PropTrack.

Ms Creagh said mortgage servicing costs had also surged, incentivizing homeowners to rent out their spare rooms to ease the higher cost-of-living burden.

Tamarama has one room available on and 344 people looking for a house share in the suburb. Picture: Getty

The good news for room seekers was that there had been an 18.8% increase in new property listings in January since the same time last year, Ms Conley said.

However, demand for house sharing is still significantly outweighing supply, with many suburbs recording home-seeker-to-lister ratios of more than 100 to 1.

Flatmates had 67,700 new members join in January, just shy of its previous record of 68,500 in January last year.