Finding the perfect flatmate (do they even exist?)

Unless you’re a super wealthy millennial who forfeited the avocado on toast brunch dates (I prefer pancakes anyway), or have comfortably nestled into your parent’s garage, an inevitable part of living in New Zealand is going flatting. I think my mother, who never actually had to flat (#throwback to housing subsidies for new home buyers!) is inwardly repulsed by the idea of living with complete strangers. I’ll admit, it’s not the greatest idea, but when your friends aren’t quite ready to leave the basement, what other choice have you got?

So here’s another fun blog post, essentially part of the SEJ Guide to Adulting (in a bookstore near you…in about 5 years) on how not to end up co-habiting with weirdos/axe murderers/people who leave the toilet seat up (is there anything worse?!). I’ve done my fair share of flat hunting and flatmate acquiring, so here’s my top list of what to look out for in flats and flatmates.

  1. Starting with a personal favourite of mine – and this could go either way – Cleaning rosters. This really depends on the level of OCD you require in your fellow flatmates. I tried and failed with a cleaning roster in my old flat, but I strongly recommend asking about this one; it’ll tell you a lot about the people who live there. If you’re big on organisation and cleaning, this will tell you that you’re about to flat with some great people who are ridiculously organised. But, on the flipside, it means they’re unlikely to be relaxed and if you’re looking for a chill flat, avoid one with a cleaning roster. Similarly, you will want to check if they’re clean and tidy, which is amazingly deceptive in flatmate interviews, but use your best judgement.
  2. Friends & partner policy. This one is an interesting one. I’ve seen a fair few flats advertised that say ‘no sleepovers’ or ‘no friends after 10pm’. For me, these types are worse than the cleaning roster implementers and are to be avoided at all cost. Unless you’re a hermit that’s looking for other hermits to avoid external human life with, then, by all means – go forth.
  3. Cooking restrictions. Again, another interesting one. I’m an avid cooker/part time baker and don’t like to have restrictions imposed on me on how much cooking I’m allowed to do – ads that say ‘light cooking’ are immediate red flags for me. Shared cooking between flatmates also isn’t up my alley – so many problems. For example, what happens on the nights I cook with my friends/partner/cat/Jamie Oliver cut out? Or what happens if you’ve got one flatmate that just cooks terrible food and you consistently deliver Master Chef quality dishes? How is that equal? You’ll also want to check the cooking of your future flatmates – I’m not a big fan of the curry /no extraction lovers, so just another one to be aware of in your lengthy interrogation of a new recruit.
  4. Hobbies. This is a good one, as I am a fan of the flatmate you never see/one that has interesting stories from their various hobbies. Basically no hobbies = always home. If they’re at home playing loud music (particularly during my allocated quiet yoga time), then they’re not going to gel well with me. Flatmates with a good array of hobbies e.g. sports and crochet enthusiasts will make for good co-habitants. Shared interests are also ideal and hobbies tell you a lot about an individual.
  5. Filling the gaps – this one mainly pertains to finding new flatmates. As a ‘knowledge worker’, I have little to no practical skills, which means simple things like a broken dishwasher become a mammoth task. A great tip is to finds new flatmates that have skills you so desperately lack- so for me, a tradie who’s clued up with a hammer is a winner to fix the something I will eventually break. Surprisingly, physicists also make for great flatmates (despite their also lack of practical skills, typically) because they can bring some great banter. And communications people are just great all round (I do disclose a bit of bias here). So, find what you’re missing and recruit!
  6.  Assessing life stages. This is pretty straight forward, but I’d recommend avoiding people who are in a completely different life stage to yourself and your fellow flat fam. I tended to avoid students in my old flat because it wasn’t the quiet and productive study environment conducive for a student’s performance. Similarly, I’d recommend avoiding people who are in their late fifties (for example), if you’re a flat of mid 20’s professionals, as they’re unlikely to want to bond over a Friday night game of vodka Monopoly (yes it exists and yes it’s a good time). First time flattees are also good to avoid, unless you’re feeling generous and willing to teach Dishwasher Tetris 101 (again).

So there you have it, 6 (this could have been 60 – count your blessings) fantastic tips of what to look out for when you’re choosing the place you will spend a majority of your downtime. Choosing the right flat is important and can be challenging, but your flatmates can become life-long friends (or so I’m told). This post has been all about the people – but there is undoubtedly a post coming on choosing the actual flat itself – and why TradeMe/Facebook photos are super deceptive. Stay tuned!

 

Advertisements

#sejtips – avoiding becoming a human burrito in winter

Winter is no longer coming, it is now definitely here – cue the Game of Thrones memes. Apparently people are less social in winter and although it might be tempting to don the onesie and stay in Netflix and chilling every night (or maybe Netflix, no chill if you’re a single pringle), humans are social beings and eventually you’ll need to come out of your cocoon to greet the world. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a helpful list of all the fun things I like to do in the midst of the winter – Kathmandu puffer jacket mandatory. These should help you avoid becoming a literal human burrito (it is very tempting when it’s this cold)

#1 MOVIE DATE

Preferably Gold Class with squishy arm chairs and unlimited amounts of popcorn. This one is for the less adventurous among us, as it’s really just one step up from Netflix and chill and no one will frown upon you if you wear your PJs and ugg boots (particularly if you’re out West). Depending on your mood, head to Hoyts Sylvia Park for a lush experience in their Lux cinema, or if you’re feeling a bit more #basicbitch, then definitely Henderson for $8 movies and non-judgemental staff.

#2 SALSA

We pretty much went from 0 to 100 with movies to salsa dancing, but what better way to warm up and get the heart rate going than some dancing? And what better way to justify the fries and six pack of nuggets you got on the way? Viva dance studio is great for a variety of dancing styles – salsa is pretty lit on a Saturday night, but they also have Zouk, Bachata and for those wanting something slightly different: Bollywood dancing. Get off the couch and get going!

#3 KAROAKE

Keeping up with our theme of racing hearts (does singing Bohemian Rhapsody count as cardio?) in nice warm indoor spaces, head on down to karaoke for what is pretty much guaranteed to be a good time, with some ‘social lubricant’ (many margaritas). You also don’t really know your friends until you’ve drunkenly sung the greatest 90’s anthems together on a Saturday night. Get amongst! My recommendation is Rock Bar, but Queen Street is flush with these beauties. Get googling and book in a great group date night.

#4 FONDUE

Winter is absolutely the time to be bulking and adding an extra layer of fat really helps to keep the electricity bills down. Chocolate fondue is warm, indulgent and a great way to spend a chilly winter evening. A definite step up from inhaling an entire bar of Whittakers’ new toffee chocolate whilst binge watching the new season of House of Cards. For the Shore Kids, there’s the House of Chocolate Dessert Café & Cakery and for the city slickers, head down to Parnell to the Chocolate Boutique. And why stop at fondue? The Chocolate Dessert Café have waffles, deliciously decadent cakes, cupcakes and truffles… Avoid if committing to #junkfreejune.

#5 HOT POOLS

Thaw your frozen bones with a trip to the hot pools. No one knows cold like a frost-stricken Aucklander in the middle of winter and a nice relaxing hot pool mission is definitely what you need to feel your fingers and toes again. It’s also super relaxing and great for the muscles, so it’s practically rehab. Parakai Springs is always a good option, albeit a bit of a drive (stop at the Whenupai Bakehouse Café to justify the journey) – they have a big indoor hot pool and hydroslides for the inner child. Alternative options include Waiwera (they do ½ price for the last 2 hours) or West Wave (see earlier comments re pyjamas and uggs).

#6 ICE SKATING

If you’ve given up and accepted that you will be cold this winter, don another puffer jacket (you can never have too many) and go ice skating. If you’re unco, like me, then you’ll want to go with someone who has slightly more coordination. Paradice Ice are a fairly good bet for a good ice skating experience, but, again in the outer ‘burbs. Aotea Square also has an ice rink open from 16 June. Remember to take your life-proof case so you can Instagram your excellent figure skating #winterOlympicshereIcome.

Also, here is a #winterpun, enjoy:

Image result for winter pun

 

When gym is not #bae

gym-meme

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a gym junkie. I’ll be the first to admit that I send the odd (okay maybe slightly more frequent…) snapchat of my workouts and I’m definitely not that quiet about it. #Sorrynotsorry for being a millennial. But today’s blog post isn’t for people like me, it’s for those people who just want to go to the gym. Perhaps so you can justify eating an entire chocolate cake as your ‘preworkout snack’.

Disclaimer – I’m not a personal trainer (if was, I’d have that 6 pack by now). I just wanted to write something that the average person could identify with without all the jargon. So here’s some #sejgymytips for the non-aspiring body builders, who just want a work out, for whatever reason that may be:

-My number one tip has got to be: get pinteresting. Pinterest is an amazing resource and I use it to plan 99% of my workouts (the other 1% is bodybuilding.com, but it’s not as user friendly). You can search whatever workout you’d like – for example, I would do a legs, chest and back, or bi and tri workout. Their circuits are also pretty amazing. If you don’t have much of an idea of what you’re doing and don’t want to splash out for a PT, definitely jump on pinterest – but grab one of the workouts with pictures to guide you.

-On that note: if you don’t want to do super serious weight training on the machines, try with circuits. Circuits are great and there are a lot of bodyweight ones if you’re not keen on loading up the barbells. They’re also a fantastic mix of weight training and cardio that I enjoy. This is the same line of thinking as a Kayla Itsines workout, without the pressure of doing 12 full-on weeks.

-Start small. If you’re gymming to lose weight or get that Kim K body (lots of squats!), it’s not going to help you to start with massive weights – trust me, I’ve been there and all those heavy weights do is stop you from being able to manage the stairs at work for days on end. Generic advice I got given here (though take this with a grain of salt) is that you want to be a little bit sore, but still able to use your body and function as a human being the next day. Once you stop being sore, then you can try up your weights.

-If you just want to go to the gym and not think about what you have to do, I highly recommend classes. If you’re willing to spend a little bit more on a world class gym experience (no I don’t actually go here, but used to when I was on a good student rate), then Les Mills is 100% the way to go. If you want to be able to afford daily coffee as well as your gym membership, then try something like Snap Fitness (I like Browns Bay or Constellation), they actually do pretty okay classes.

-My last piece of advice  (I won’t overload you, I could probably talk about the gym all day) is to reward yourself so you actually want to go to the gym. If you’re not going to get high from those sweet cardio endorphins, then chances are you’ll need some other motivation so your membership doesn’t turn into a monthly donation to your local club. I used to reward myself with gold star stickers (because I’m, at heart, a grown child) and once I racked up 5 stars a week for 5 weeks, I’d get a massage. Other motivation ideas could be buying yourself new workout gear or going to all you can eat ribs at Deep Creek (although perhaps counterproductive to those gym goals).

Oh and make sure you stretch- always stretch and if you’re not sure what to stretch, get pinteresting! Good luck and go hard or…whatever pace you want really. Just do you.

 

Fun with money

The first thing I will say is that this title is probably very misleading. This post isn’t about the fun you can have dropping a couple of hundred thousand dollars at the Gucci store. This is about the fun things I’ve learned that really aren’t that fun, but help me have fun (this is a very overt way of saying that if you budget well, you can have all the dollarz to buy new shoes AND pay your rent- what?!).

I’m the first to admit that I’m really not that great with money. My brother was always the one into finance and I made it through being the hippy, happy-go-lucky one. That was until I learned about monthly pay runs. When I was a student, I was being paid fortnightly in my part time job – that was hard enough! Once I left uni, I found the next greatest challenge wasn’t a lack of money, it was a great lack of financial planning. It was a steep learning curve after spending a week eating almost exclusively tuna and rice (no I don’t regret buying that extra kookai dress on sale).

If you’re like me, you’re well aware that there zillions of resources online to help you out with budgeting etc., but have absolutely no motivation to troll through them. Like yes, duh, of course it’s helpful to put your spare change in a jar and see how much you get after 365 days. However, actual cash and I rarely make friends, so in reality, a lot of these tips just aren’t that applicable. Thus (I love the word thus..), I decided to compile all the things I’ve learned since converting to monthly salary that mean I don’t run out of money for essential things like Taco Tuesday at Mexicali Fresh. And here they are:

  1. Budget. Ain’t no way you’re going to get through the month without some sort of figures guiding your spending. Trust me – $20 for dinner out here and $5 for coffee there really adds up and before you know it you’re back to instant coffee for the next 3 weeks. My friend gave me a great website (shout out to Katie for being a solid good adult) that has an excel budget template that I use. I update my spending weekly (or at least try to, it’s important to have aspirations). If you spend more on one category consistently, it may be good to adjust your budget.
  2. Utilise online banking; i.e. be the dick at the checkout who stands there idly on your phone transferring money to the account that’s linked to your card. This way, every time you make a purchase, you’re forced to think about what you’re spending money on and how much you have left for that thing. For example, I added online accounts to my ASB where I transfer lump sums for food, rent, entertainment and petrol at the beginning of the month. I consider these to be essentials and this way know that at least I’ll be able to drive to work 25 days into the pay cycle.
  3. Be promiscuous – have relationships with multiple banks. My best saving tip is to sign on with another bank where you have just a savings account that’s not linked to any card.  When I get paid, I transfer a certain amount of my pay to this account and aim to leave it there. If I need to tap into my savings because the dog peed on my laptop and no longer works (yes this actually happened -_-), then it takes at least a day to process and I know that I’m not just wasting money on the pair of shoes that are only on sale today…
  4. Know that shit happens. When doing your budget, try and set aside money for the annoying things that you can’t plan for. Like your car breaking down on the way to Tauranga or the aforementioned laptop issue. My friend has two savings accounts – one for long term (your Bali trip this September) and one for emergencies. Disclaimer –  I don’t actually do this, but if I was properly money savvy, I would…
  5. At the risk of letting this run on, I’ll wrap it up for a nice even 5. My final money saving tip seems pretty basic, but is worth a mention – find another things to do. I would say a good 90% of my spending seems to go on food and eating out. My suggestion is to turn cooking parties into social gatherings. A personal favourite is to go for a walk (it helps to pitch it as an ‘adventure’) and then make brunch at home afterwards. You can do french toast and champagne for about $8 per person, opposed to an easy $25+ in a cafe.

There you have it  – 5 somewhat easy ways to be better with money and show off how successful you are as an adult human being. Now reward yourself with a nice bottle of champagne. Go on, you earned it. Jokes, remember how much better that champagne will taste from a vineyard in France #savinggoals.